I love perfume blogs, and I read this article on Bois de Jasmin and was totally inspired. Ever since I can remember, perfume has been a huge part of my life. Most of my earliest memories are tied to scent in some way and to this day I keep perfumes solely for the memories they provide.
I am a very little girl and my mother is getting dressed to go out with my dad. I am fascinated by her bottle of Dior Poison and like to crawl up onto the bathroom counter to play with it when she isn’t watching; I also do this with her plethora of makeup, transforming myself into Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. I like to watch Mom put on her makeup. In her dresser drawer, she has a tiny bottle of Poison that I wish she’d give me - it’s the perfect size for a four-year-old, I think. Mom likes perfume; she also wears Liz Claiborne in the triangle bottle and Chanel No. 5. This is the late ’80s, when perfume was perfume and it made an entrance. “Fruity florals” didn’t exist when I was a child.
When I smell Poison on my mom, all heavy tuberose and sophistication mixed with the comforting “mom” scent of Lubriderm and cigarette smoke, I know that a babysitter is coming over and Mom might put on her pearls. I will fall asleep on the couch and my parents will come home late; I will wake up to the crackle of gravel under the wheels of our old blue Suburban. They will smell like beer and cigarettes, because they both smoked then. I will be in that half-place between sleep and awake, but I will remember. Many, many years later I buy a bottle of Poison for myself. I rarely wear it, but I like the comfort of knowing it’s there. Nowadays, Mom likes to wear Donna Karan Cashmere Mist, Flowerbomb and Thierry Mugler Angel, a perfume SHE stole from ME.
It is 1997. Titanic hysteria is in full swing and I am in the midst of a Beanie Baby craze. My parents take my brother and I to meet our cousins at the Mall of America, a place we’ve never been but I’ve dreamt of all my life. (In a … fortunate? … twist of fate, I later end up working there.) I have a bright purple winter coat from Land’s End (my best friend Ali has the same coat in raspberry) and upon entering Bloomingdales, a department store so fancy to my small-town child eyes it makes my head spin, I spray some of this brand new Clinique fragrance on said coat. I feel very grown-up. I have decided I want to live in a city so I can go to a store like this every day. I yearn for a bottle of my own but Mom says ten-year-olds don’t need perfume. I make do with asking for samples from the ladies at Grand Forks Daytons and hoarding them in my jewelry box.
I am 14 years old. If you ask me, I am grown up enough to have my own signature scent. My friends and I have been wearing Ralph Lauren Ralph and Victoria’s Secret Love Spell, but after falling in love with fashion magazines like Vogue and Elle, I think I’m too mature for those teenybop scents. The one I’ve chosen for myself is Marc Jacobs’ eponymous scent, a rich, buttery gardenia. It feels sophisticated but not too old for a girl like me. I get confirmed (begrudgingly) and use $60 of my gift money to purchase a small bottle from Marshall Fields. I am thrilled; I spend a lot of time admiring the bottle on my dresser. My best friend Ali has started wearing perfume too; she is wearing Michael Michael Kors. We douse ourselves heavily before cheerleading and school dances, hoping to enchant boys. Maybe we do. When I smell Marc Jacobs now, a fragrance I’ve long since left behind, I don’t think of boys at all. I think of Ali curling my hair for a dance in her lilac bedroom and the closeness of my lifelong girlfriends. I think of a pile of girls on Ali’s bed, reading magazines and painting nails, piercing each other’s ears and experimenting with sex and love.
Thierry Mugler Angel is my first “grown up” perfume. I buy it right after turning 21. I am living in a house off Dinkytown in Minneapolis with three of my best friends, best friends I cherish to this day. It is my junior year of college and to this day my favorite year of my life. I spend a lot of time lusting after Angel, which takes no prisoners and leaves the dreamiest trail, before I finally buy it. I wear it throughout the entire winter of 2008-2009, from campus bars to my internship at the Star Tribune. I kiss a lot of boys while wearing it, fall over drunk a few times, do a lot of karaoke. My best friend John sometimes steals a spritz or two before we go out. I don’t wear Angel very often anymore - too nostalgic, maybe - but I smell it often on other people and I always remember that hopeful 21-year-old girl in an American Apparel minidress, tights and broken-down boots.