Inception of Love for Perfume: Diorissimo, Chemistry and Tresor

Lily_of_the_valley_g

What sparked your love for perfume? My own passion for scent is a journey with no end in sight, yet I can attribute three main factors to its inception: Diorissimo, Chemistry and Trésor.

As Nabokov noted in Mary, “Nothing revives the past as completely as the smell.” If my early memories had a scent, they would be redolent of Diorissimo, lilies of the valley blossoming on a misty spring morning. Diorissimo was my mother’s favorite fragrance, its little pink box with black and white checks concealing a small bottle of extrait de parfum. She worked at the chemical engineering research institute, which was an organization with a very vague purpose. Or perhaps, it is just my confused memory, because what I recall of the institute had little to do with either chemistry or engineering. Yet, imagining my glamorous mother trailing a scent of Edmond Roudnitska’s legendary creation down the halls of that dingy grey building never fails to amuse me. She would drop me off at the pre-school and then leave, yet the scent of her would remain.

Ananiashvili

That veil of scent leaving an imprint upon the memory is what I wanted to have as well. However, it was a specific veil, differing from the cloud of “Krasnaya Moskva” my school teacher would force upon me when chastising for a lack of interest in the pioneer activities. It was also completely unlike a wave of “Shipr” cologne one would notice when passing a careening drunkard. “Shipr” (chypre in Russian) was often a drink of choice for the Soviet alcoholics when vodka was not in stock (and yes, it took a long time to overcome my prejudice towards chypre genre.) The scent I was craving was ethereal and elegant, a blend of white flowers and crushed leaves. I would surreptitiously dab on my mother’s Diorissimo before my ballet classes, feeling elegant and ethereal myself (despite whatever mirrors told).

Another motivation to learn more perfume was provided by the Soviet emphasis on natural sciences, or rather a particularly engaging lecture in an organic chemistry class. Its gist was that plants and animals produce chemical materials through a process of biosynthesis. Based on their biosynthetic origins, plant natural products can be divided into three major groups, one of which is the terpenoids. While the terpenes comprise the largest group of natural odorants, they also form the largest group of the modern fragrance ingredients. Only one such example is hydroxycitronellal, an aroma chemical with a lily of the valley character. Many of the connections I had to make myself, reading in my spare time, yet it was—and still is—an exciting discovery.

Tresor Then 1991 brought a collapse of everything as we have known it to exist. Suddenly, the red pioneer scarves were tossed and giving directions became difficult because of the constant street name changes.  What do I remember about this time? Lancôme Trésor! Achieved masterfully by Sophia Grojsman in 1990 by using four ingredients that made up almost 80% of the formula, this shimmering cloud of roses and peaches was with me until I left Ukraine a couple of years later.

Photo: Nina Ananiashivilli in Swan Lake, from ballerinagallery.com. Trésor advertisement from psine.net.

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48 Comments

  • helg: Great post as always V!

    I too associate Diorissimo with something ethereal and ballet-like , like a protagonist in the Swan Lake. A good scent to entice one into perfumery. (mine was Opium at a tender age).

    Tresor is not so much to my liking alas (too sweet for me, too potent , memories of people wearing it everywhere) , but still ,I can see the connection with the era and the comforting smell it had for you.

    Chemistry is a fascinating course of study , although I am a Humanities graduate myself…But I do try to keep track of the essential things in order to understand what I am talking about.

    Cheers! October 21, 2005 at 6:59am Reply

  • parislondres: Beautiful post dear V!
    My earliest memories are those of Mitsouko, Joy and then a bit later En Avion – all from my mother. Oh and my grandmother’s Shalimar (this is something I wore for a few years in the early 1990s) and her rosewater skincare routine…..
    My mother is still someone who will never step put without a dab or spray.
    I love Diorissimo too and did wear Tresor at one point and actually must say that I do not care for Tresor too much. My first grown up perfume was Jicky and I am never without any. I guess my love for perfumes come from my family and my upbringing in India (I remember the anticipation when my parents or some relative would visit France – wait for a new bottle of perfume). I also remember all the sandalwood paste that is used for our religious ceremonies – I love the smell of fresh sandalwood paste and also flowers like jasmine, tuberose, marigold etc..
    Chemistry is a truly fascinating subject but am from a social science background but I do enjoy reading when it comes to perfumery.

    Hope you are well. Will write a proper note soon. October 21, 2005 at 8:02am Reply

  • Judith (lilybp): What an absolutely lovely, evocative piece! I am sure that it sparked wonderful memories for your readers. My own– Mothers are, of course, supremely important. Mine wore Joy pretty much exclusively, with occasional forays into Chanel No. 5. I remember going to Europe with her when I was 11; we bought perfumes in Paris, being very careful to get every friend or relative her own “signature scent.” My aunt’s ss. was Je Reviens; I mention this because my aunt was (and still is) a determinedly unstylish (in fact, anti-stylish) woman, and the fact that she ever wore perfume at all (much less had a signature scent) strikes me as remarkable–and slightly comical. It speaks to a time in which women of a certain class, regardless of how uninterested they were in things like this (my aunt) or how busy they were (my mother was a lawyer who worked pretty much constantly and had very little free time), nevertheless felt it necessary to get their hair and their nails done once a week, and to possess a “signature scent.”
    My mother gave me Shalimar and Miss Dior when I was young; I remember not caring for the first and liking the second (particularly the box and bottle!)–but not enough to buy it on my own. I went through a hippie phase (dating myself here) in which I wore essential oils (more “natural,” dontcha know), but the first real fragrance I had a strong craving for was Opium. I clearly remember the first time I smelled it: I asked the woman wearing it, “What is THAT?!!!’ (never having smelled anything like it before)–and immediately ran out to buy a bottle!
    Enough! Thanks both for your beautiful essay, and for bringing back precious memories. October 21, 2005 at 8:20am Reply

  • Marina: *wipes tears*
    What a wonderful post, V! Admiring and sniffing my mum’s collection of perfumes was my first step into what now is a full-blown obssession 🙂 I don’t remember all of the fragrances she had and I can’t imagine where and how she got them (before Perestroika), I remember the wonderful bottle of Madame Rochas, Anais Anais…I *think* she had Magie Noir…
    You gave me some ideas here, V! 🙂 Off to think and research 🙂 October 21, 2005 at 8:47am Reply

  • Tania: V, that was a masterful, moving personal essay. I am impressed with you all over again. It makes me want to reread Nabokov’s Mary, too.

    Thinking about mothers and their scents, I’ve just recently realized my mother loves perfume, too. I always thought I had nothing in common with her. Imagine my surprise a couple of years ago when I asked her what she wanted for Christmas, and she said, without hesitation, “Perfume!” I never knew. I kept buying her jewelry, assuming she didn’t like what I liked. It turns out she has always loved perfume, but I hated hers when I was a child. A little Jean Naté body splash, a couple of pots of perfumed Avon creams (Soft Musk and Topaz, as I recall), and the dreaded bottle of Tabu I spilled one horrible afternoon, an event that turned me off fragrance for years. Now I buy her things that I like to smell, and all of us are happy.

    I’m surprised the drunks drank chypres! I assumed they were drinking cologne. That’s a pretty intensely scented alternative to vodka, isn’t it?

    And P.S., what happened to Poison? 😉 October 21, 2005 at 9:40am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: E, thank you. As I was reflecting on what shaped my early memories, those fragrances are very important. Of course, when I was growing up the choices were very limited, and like Marina notes below, I am amazed how my mother was even able to procure French perfume. Most of the choices of the day were Soviet makes, and if they are no longer made, it is probably for the best.

    I love Opium as your fragrance of choice, which was a more recent discovery for me. Of course, I am always swayed by the bottle as well. October 21, 2005 at 10:42am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: I also enjoyed reading your comment, dear N. I just imagine how elegant your mother and grandmother were! You follow right in their footstep. Jicky is one of those compositions that strikes me immediately as crisp and elegant.

    My memories of India are inseparable from the scent of jasmine and sandalwood. Another one is bakul flower. I have some bakul attar, and it is an interesting scent. Was it popular when you were growing up? I keep reading references to it in Tagore’s novels. October 21, 2005 at 10:47am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, thank you for your wonderful post! It is fascinating to reflect on the generational differences in terms of how women would groom themselves. One day I was talking to my friend’s mother (a Russian expat), and she was showing me photos of her work in Cambogia, from 1970s. She was doing extensive research in the area, in the most difficult of conditions, yet the photos show a young women looking Brigitte Bardot-like–full makeup, carefully coiffed and well-dressed. I was stunned, yet she reassured me that it was the case among all of the women of her day. One just did not leave a house looking a particular way, whatever the occasion. October 21, 2005 at 10:54am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, oh, I wonder the same thing! I have no idea where my mother got her fragrances. She also had Climat, Magie Noire, Fidji and Jai Ose. There is a separate story connected with Jai Ose. One day, it was discovered that the bottle was opened and partially emptied, which everyone blamed on me! I did lots of mischief, but it was completely unjustified in this case. October 21, 2005 at 11:02am Reply

  • Robin: V, what a lovely post. Diorissimo was one of my early favorites too, but I came to it in quite a different way: I just “discovered” it shopping, and immediately bought a bottle. I think I was as taken with the sophisticated bottle as I was with the fragrance. October 21, 2005 at 11:21am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, thank you. I always want to reread so many of Nabokov’s works, from Mary to Speak, Memory. He points out a link between scents and memories more than once throughout his works.

    It is quite interesting that now while I like the fragrances my mother wore, she herself would not imagine going back to them. Instead, she just asks me about my latest favourites. She loves florals from Serge Lutens (although Tubereuse Criminelle was handed down to me eventually, because my stepfather objected to it), Ormonde Jayne, Les Parfums de Rosine and DelRae.

    As for Poison, I was reflecting on when I might have worn it, and it occured to me that it could not have been before the collapse of the Soviet Union. It must have been much later. However, yes, I still have a soft spot for Poison and Tendre Poison, even though I would never dream of subjecting them on somebody else, especially the former. October 21, 2005 at 11:26am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, “Shipr” (Chypre) was just a name given to cologne. If it was in any way inspired by Coty’s creation, let me just say that it was as close to it as moonshine is to cognac. As for taste, you got me there. I have never tried it and have no intentions of doing so, even in the name of science! October 21, 2005 at 11:31am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I loved the bottle and the box too! Pink was a shade so rarely seen in Ukraine when I was growing up. The colours of the textiles as I recall were rather basic. My school uniform was black and brown, which might explain why I refuse to wear brown to this day. I do not know if Marina feels the same way too.

    Diorissimo is the embodiment of elegance for me to this day. October 21, 2005 at 11:34am Reply

  • carole: Beautiful post! My mother is very elegant, and she wore Je Reviens. We were on vacation in St Pierre, which is a small island off the coast of Newfoundland. St Pierre is part of France, and the choices in perfume blew my mind. Mom bought Je Reviens, and she was given samples of Arpege, which she gave to me, and explained that it was my signature scent. I was thrilled. I wore it until it was gone-no hoarding. I even wore it to water the chickens! I believe Je reviens must have been reformulated because it does not smell the same as my memory says it should smell. October 21, 2005 at 11:53am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Carole, what a great discovery! I remember being similarly generous with my first perfume applications–no hoarding either. Of course, I am smiling at the image of you veiled in Arpege around chickens. That is the most elegant vision including chickens I can think of!

    Je Reviens was reformulated, but it is relatively easy to find a bottle of original formulation on ebay. Just look for the old style Lalique bottles. They tend to go for under $10. October 21, 2005 at 12:04pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Marinochka, black is definitely a favourite colour and so is red. *looks at own ensemble today, consisting of jeans, red tank top and black jacket over it* I loved my pioneer scarf when I first got it. It was so bright and shiny. I would iron it every day for the first week. Then I got bored with it, but by then it was no longer needed…

    Then again, I like blue, magenta, purple, and various jewel tones, and I do not remember those colours being used often in anything from my childhood. October 21, 2005 at 12:07pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, Baltics were always so much more advanced than us! Everything was much more European (or so it seemed at the time) in the Baltic republics–outdoor cafes, gothic architecture, food, etc. In the 88-89, we finally got blue uniforms, and I remember thinking how smart they looked.

    Ina would also remember Dzintars much better. Do you remember these fragrances at all? I, for some reason, cannot. October 21, 2005 at 12:11pm Reply

  • linda: Very evocative! What a lovely post. My love for fragrance started with a bottle of Opium. My stylish aunt wore it and I wanted to emulate her. Ah, the memories! 🙂 October 21, 2005 at 12:18pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, yes, once upon a time I used to be so easy to please, when it came to fragrance! Those days are long gone. I am laughing out loud over the comment about Cobra. I do have vivid memories of it.

    BTW, if you have not seen the movie “Goodbye, Lenin” I would highly recommend it. My East German friend and I were laughing for the most part of it. It is a little bit Ameliesque, but very enjoyable, especially if you have had a socialist experience. October 21, 2005 at 12:23pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Linda, stylish relatives are a great way to be introduced to fragrance. My stepmother is another very stylish woman, and I still remember seeing her enter the room in a cloud of Paris. October 21, 2005 at 12:25pm Reply

  • lachezanne: Thank you, V, for such a wonderful article! It’s a wonder that scent memories are so indelible, given that scents themselves are so ephemeral. I think my love of fragrance existed before my love of any particular perfume, but I still vividly remember the joy I felt at receiving my very first bottle of scent. It was Chanel No.5, and my oldest brother gave it to me for Christmas one year – I was only 11, and it made me feel so grown-up! I have loved it ever since.
    Love of fragrance, along with the love of food, was something my mother and I shared, and I still can’t smell Arpgege without thinking of her. She had flings with Paloma Picasso, Pierre Cardin (gone but not forgotten), Coco, and even Jungle Gardenia (!), but she always went back to Arpege. October 21, 2005 at 12:52pm Reply

  • mreenymo: Diorissimo.

    That brings back poignant memories, V.

    It was my beloved maternal grandmother’s favorite fragrance. It smelled so feminine, so perfect on her that I cannot bear to wear it myself. It would be too bittersweet, as my grandparents, now departed, were the very center of my young life.

    Hugs! October 21, 2005 at 12:55pm Reply

  • carole: Lachezann, I thought you meant she had AFFAIRS with Paloma Picasso and Pierre Cardin. My eyes became huge-wow, I thought-whata woman! God, I am a twit at times. October 21, 2005 at 1:49pm Reply

  • Evan: For me, the earliest perfume memory I have is Chanel No 5, which was my paternal grandmother’s fragrance. As the child of a single mother, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother while my mother was at work, and I remember the black and gold bottle sitting on a table beside her bed. She also used Chanel No 5 powder, which was in a white plastic tub that sat next to the perfume. She was a little untidy so there was always a light dust of the powder distributed over the table and on nearby furniture, on the little statues she had from her time living in Asia while my grandfather was in the Army, a little like Miss Havisham and yet instead of being redolent of decay and sadness this dust, especially when you wiped it with your finger, gave up the sweet ghost of No 5. I would occasionally spray a little on my hand and hope no one would notice (fat chance with Chanel No 5). It wasn’t until I was a little older, toward adolescence, that I stopped doing this, at the age when it seemed necessary for me to “pass” as just a normal boy.

    My mother wore Cinnabar (a present from my grandmother), which I also loved and attribute my preference for unabashed spicy heaviness to the cloud of this scent that always followed her around.

    I was also very interested in chemistry as a young person, and set up my own little lab in the basement. At the time I didn’t really think much about the relationship between chemistry and perfumes, but I think that early and ongoing interest in chemistry really plays an important part in my love and interest in perfume today. I also had quite an interest in plants and spent a lot of time tending to roses and tomatoes at my grandmother’s house. Later I developed an interest in rare, strange, colorful and “poetic” ones, and started making “theme gardens”: all Biblical plants (ones mentioned in the Bible), all poisonous flowers (belladonna, morning glories, etc.), alchemical/medicinal plants (foxglove, santolina, roses), whatever would grow in the Pennsylvania climate. I even remember at one point attempting to steam-distill roses, using a modified pressure cooker (messy, futile and ultimately disastrous).

    I remember also taking trips to the mall as a teenager with a female friend of mine, smelling perfumes. One such trip sort of devolved into a conceptual art project that involved spraying ourselves with one squirt of every perfume in the store (which was about 100 or so). If you’ve never done this, don’t do it.

    Anyway, just some random memories. Thanks for this post, V. I think there is a very intimate connection between smell and memory, and to someone who likes to rhapsodize about the past, perfume is the perfect catalyst for both real memories and dreams. I have so many powerful memories and associations with scent (I’m mildly synesthetic) that I could go on about lemon peels and latex painted pinewood, or lignic paper in nineteenth century books and asphalt but I’ll save it for my weblog which I’ll put up sometime soon. October 21, 2005 at 3:01pm Reply

  • Tania: I am so jealous of all of you with your elegant mothers! My mother was gloriously crass; to this day she would rather buy twenty polyester gaudy Hermès knockoff scarves from Wal-Mart than buy one real one. She likes collectible plates sold on TV, perms her hair until it nearly dissolves, and had her eyebrows tattooed on years ago, so that now they have faded into a kind of navy blue.

    All the same, I love her. But she isn’t the one I was emulating when I decided to start wearing scent—oh no. October 21, 2005 at 3:06pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: A, now I can see that you have always been very elegant. No. 5 at the age of 11! The first time I tried No. 5 was as a fake version, and it put me off the fragrance for a long time. Thankfully, I have revisited the true No. 5 since then.

    Needless to say, your mother sounds quite glamorous! October 21, 2005 at 3:18pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, there are some fragrances that have too strong of an association for me as well. For instance, Paris is my stepmother’s fragrance, and nomatter how much I liked it, I could not wear it. She placed her mark on it.

    Climat was my grandmother’s fragrance, and it is not the one I would wear, because it is just too nostalgic. October 21, 2005 at 3:21pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Carole, I nearly spilled my tea reading your comment. Affairs with Cardin! 🙂 October 21, 2005 at 3:23pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Evan, thank you for sharing these memories! I am fascinated by your descriptions of your grandmother’s house. I could almost smell the scent you are talking about as I read it.

    My great grandmother’s house had a very particular smell, especially a large cupboard, where she keep her herbs and various other interesting things, including chocolates. Opening that cupboard (always done surreptitiously, for we as children were not allowed to do so) was such an excitement. The risk of being scolded were high, but it did not seem to matter.

    No, I have never tried spraying 100 perfumes on me. There is something not exactly appealing about the image. Or olfactory profile of that undertaking!

    I loved the story of your basement chemistry lab. I just experimented at my uncle’s lab, occasionally causing disasters. October 21, 2005 at 3:30pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, everyone has their own conception of what they consider beautiful and appealing. My paternal grandmother was a woman who would look down upon things my maternal side loved so much. She was not particularly affectionate either, but she is the one I have always felt closest to. She passed away a few years ago, before I had a chance to go to Ukraine. I was determined to find her grave when I went back to Kiev. It devasted me to no end when I could not. I still remember walking around the cemetery in the awful July heat, looking and looking. I left my simple yellow flowers, the kind she loved the most, on an uninscribed stone. October 21, 2005 at 3:36pm Reply

  • Katie: Oh V, that was a very nice post. Tresor and peristroika. What a great memory to share with us.

    My own ma really never wore perfume at all much, and yet like so VERY MANY US women during the 70s, she had a collection of Avon perfume bottles. The enchanted me when I was little, but I was never allowed to touch them. As I got a little older, she got gifts (presumably from my dad) of Anais Anais and Xia Xiang (sp?), but she really didn’t wear them either. She was strangely anti-perfume for someone attracted to the idea of it, and indeed, I had to sneak wearing perfume even when I was in high school. I got chastised and threated with a grounding even when I was a senior and was 18 when she once caught me wearing perfume. Weirdly, she had no problems with me wearing makeup though. October 21, 2005 at 3:53pm Reply

  • Marina: Hee! Brown uniform with black apron, collar and cuffs as an everyday school wear. On special occasions (read, Lenin’s birthday, May 1 or 9, etc.) we would have to wear white apron, collar and cuffs. 🙂 *nostalgic sigh*
    Luckily it didn’t turn me against black or brown. Those still are the two main colors in my wardrobe…hmmm…must discuss this with my psychoanalyst. 🙂

    PS How could I have forgotten one bright accessory that we were allowed- a bright red Pioneer necktie…:-) October 21, 2005 at 12:01pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, thank you! Tresor and perestroika–well, both were revolutionary, albeit in different ways.

    At school, we were not allowed to wear either perfume, nailpolish, jewellery or makeup. We were also not allowed to wear hair in a ponytail (only the braid), not to mention down. If one of us would be caught with nailpolish, we would be sent to the chemistry class to ask for acetone to remove it. Right now, it just seems so ridiculous. October 21, 2005 at 4:03pm Reply

  • Marina: PPS. I wonder what Ina’s memories are about her schooldays. I *think* her uniform would have been blue, but I may be very mistaken. I just remember that, on vacation in Latvia, I got to see their school uniform and thought there were so much more “stylish” than ours LOL, so something was different about them. And, another perfume my mum had was something by Dzintars… October 21, 2005 at 12:04pm Reply

  • Tania: V, that’s so sad about your grandmother’s grave. My mother wants to go back to Vietnam because she failed to find her father’s grave the last time we were there.

    I make fun of my mother, but she is a lively lady who loves what she loves and has no shame about them, and I suspect that I am more like her than I realize. 😉 October 21, 2005 at 4:06pm Reply

  • Tania: About it. Has no shame about it. I am half asleep right now. October 21, 2005 at 4:08pm Reply

  • Marina: Oh yes, I loved my blue uniform. Of course very soon after they introduced blue uniforms, the teachers couldn’t make us wear any uniforms anymore, we were free-thinking individuals and all that. Those were the days of bright neon colors *shudder* LOL

    About that particular Dzintars scent I only remember that I thought it was very sophisticated, which tells us exactly nothing, because I also concidered a dupe of Poison called Cobra to be the hight of sophistication. Oh, the good old days… October 21, 2005 at 12:16pm Reply

  • Diane: Dear V, what a fascinating and beautifully written post. From our conversations and letters, I have known that Diorissimo was your mother’s scent when you were little, thus has always had a special place in your olfactory memory and heart. My favorite aunt–a beautiful woman with natural elegance and skin as white as lilies of the valley themselves–wore it and I have always cherished Diorissimo for its soft and clean beauty. It is the best lily of the valley focused scent, IMO, and I have tried them all. In fact, remember our first exchange? I was so eager to try Crown Alpine Lily… well, it had been one of the few that had eluded me. Forgive me, *a little hug* 🙂

    My mother was all about Chanel No. 5 and it smelled marvelous on her. She also was one of those mothers who always looked impeccably groomed and elegant at school functions. I was always proud to wave at her and let the world that that beautiful lady was my mom. I have this one favorite photo taken at a Thanksgiving event when I was 6 years old. It was a turkeys and Pilgrims dress-up evening and I am in full Pilgrim regalia–black costume made out of a trashbag with a white collar and bonnet made out of poster paper. I am holding a paper turkey. My mother is standing next to me in a fitted forest green frock, wearing the most radiant smile. She was wearing Chanel No. 5 and I felt ridiculous.

    Chemistry: I took AP Chem in HS and I loved it when we got to titration, particularly acid-based titration. What can I say? I love pink.

    Tresor was my scent of choice when I was 19 and clubbing. I smelled like 75% of the girls at the club. Needless to say, that could not happen anymore thanks to this wonderful perfume-loving network that I have found.

    I loved reading everybody’s answers. This is such a wonderful thread. Moreover, the memories you and Marina have of Soviet days fascinates me to no end since it is a major part of my area in history. And sweet V, I, too, am sorry that you could not find your grandmother’s grave. *squeeze of hand* October 21, 2005 at 6:04pm Reply

  • Diane: P.S. I have been reading Transparent Things. Nabokov is simply a genius and his way with words and references to scent and smells are profoundly sensual. He is one of my gods. October 21, 2005 at 7:24pm Reply

  • Test Subject: I can hardly profess to have had much exposure to perfume in my childhood and it is only recently that I’ve learned to appreciate it (with expert help :-)). My Mum rarely wore perfume but I do remember that she had a bottle of Chanel No. 5. Whenever she put it on it meant two things: first, Mum and Dad were going out; and second, my brother and I would have to cope with the babysitter. The other thing I remember is that my Mum would keep the bottle in the medicine cabinet. Whenever I’d see the bottle, the same question would always pop into my head: what happened to Chanel No. 1, 2, 3 and 4? Perhaps that partly explains why I pursued math and physics rather than chemistry.

    It was wonderful to read today’s post and everyone’s comments. October 21, 2005 at 7:32pm Reply

  • kristen: What a gorgeous post!! I love how fragrance can mark certain periods in our lives….one whiff and it all comes back. For me, Comptoir Sud Pacifique Vanille Freesia reminds me of my first day of work after graduating college (I actually can’t wear it now, because the memory is so strong that it makes me feel inexperienced and nervous!).

    My grandmother loves Tresor…she’s such an elegant lady, and Tresor reminds me of her so much, that I make sure to buy her a bottle (or the lotion, which she also loves) for her birthday every year. 🙂

    Kristen October 21, 2005 at 9:13pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, remembering the ancestors must be one of those customs in Ukrainian/Slavic culture that has eastern roots. I can completely understand your mother. I would go back to Ukraine just to try finding it again. October 21, 2005 at 9:37pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, thank you very much. I really enjoyed reading your and everyone else’s posts! Your mother sounds like a stunning woman! Whenever my mom would go to the parent’s functions, the result was that fathers would not focus well on whatever the teachers would be saying. Of course, that is the story as coming from her, therefore make any adjustments yourself. 🙂 Nevertheless, she is a striking woman.

    Crown Lily was not meant to be, but the outcome of that exchange is something I cannot be happier about. 🙂 So far, Diorissimo is the only lily of the valley soliflore I like, since most of them tend to be either too metallic or too soapy.

    Thank you for mentioning Transparent Nights. It is one of Nabokov’s works I have not read, therefore I have to look into it right away. October 21, 2005 at 11:13pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: P, yes, I really enjoyed everyone’s comments today. I really appreciate everyone sharing their memories with me.

    As for Chanel No. 5, I am laughing over your comment. Well, in the end, you seem to have done as much chemical engineering as nano, at least based on your thesis. October 21, 2005 at 11:18pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Kristen, how wonderful about your grandmother! I saw a photo of you and her on your blog (I presume that it is the same grandmother?), and she looks like a stylish woman!

    Just the other day I was revisiting Christian Dior Dune, and it struck me how much it reminded me of the first time smelling it. It seemed so perfect to me at the time. October 21, 2005 at 11:23pm Reply

  • [a}: I LOVE Diorissimo!! January 10, 2007 at 5:11am Reply

  • Ivoire: I see a most curious pattern emerging: Diorissimo, Magie Noire, the occasional Chanel and Rochas… But Diorissimo seems to be curiously omnipresent in “first love” (of perfume) experiences – I mean, considering how many other perfumes (even by Dior himself) there are.

    Anyway, I can’t really say what started my love of perfume (I live very much through my senses anyway), but Diorissimo, Femme (Rochas), Mitsouko and (later on) Magie Noire and the (I believe, very underrated) Jean-Louis Scherrer were favourites of my mother.

    I started collecting perfumes at a very young age, around fourteen. Whenever I read about a famous perfume, I told my dad (who travelled a lot) to bring mum and me such-and-such perfumes from the duty-free shops. I think it started (in earnest) with Joy – because I had just read in some magazine about a jet-set party that Jacqueline Onassis was wearing it (“the most gorgeous fragrance I’ve ever smelled”, the reporter wrote) and that it was “the most expensive perfume in the world”, so naturally, I just had to have it, either for me or for mum. (Gimme a break – I WAS only fourteen. There are no greater snobs than fourteen year old girls! ;))

    Well, amazingly enough, I failed to see its appeal – and so did my mum.
    The same happened with Chanel Nro. 5. I am still puzzled by the popularity of those two perfumes – because God knows that otherwise there is nothing wrong with my olfactory system… Go figure.

    Oh, and while it lasts all too briefly to really “count” as a perfume, I am somehow surprised that nobody mentioned the (Grand)mother of all perfumes: Koelnisch Wasser 4711! Now there’s a childhood-full of carefree summer memories…;)

    P.S. I realise it’s been a year and a half since this topic was abandoned, but the presence of Diorissimo in many of your early reminiscences got me thinking. (And in my case, thinking equals writing. :)) February 2, 2007 at 7:55pm Reply

  • [a}: diorissimo is my fave perfume ever! it reminds me of my grandma’s garden (she had an arch of jasmine flowers) April 20, 2007 at 7:37pm Reply

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