I am standing in front of my perfume shelves unable to choose a fragrance to commemorate the birth of 2007. “I have no perfume to wear,” flashed in my head, although a moment later I am wincing from the ridiculousness of this notion. I remember some socialist thinker asserting that the problem of modern society is the surfeit of choice. Indeed, there might be some truth in this. I discard Bvlgari Black, because my Russian superstitious alter ego whispers against wearing black on the first day of the year. I am not in the mood for Guerlain Shalimar, and I wore Caron Nuit de Noël a few days ago. This seems like a tough decision. …
Although I approach my inability to choose with a sense of humor, the power of scent to mark important events in our lives cannot be denied. I still remember my grandmother’s Lancôme Climat mingling with the scents of roasted walnuts, candied cherries and cocoa as she prepared the New Year feasts. The delicate breath of Diorissimo worn by my mother is an indelible part of memory as well. Or that of the rose cleansing cream my aunt would use when preparing to go out on a date with her then fiancé.
I approach New Year with special tenderness because during my childhood it was the most important holiday of the year, replacing the religious ceremonies of Christmas in the Soviet Union. The adults spent considerable effort to obtain enough champagne to last through the celebrations, while the children awaited New Year’s Day to unwrap their presents. In our family, the festive spirit lasted until mid January, coinciding with my mother’s birthday.
Although it has been many years since I have spent New Year’s Day with my entire family, I always try to recreate the spirit of the holiday as I remember it from my childhood. I prepare special dishes and save the best champagne to be opened as the clock strikes midnight. I prefer to spend the day in the small company of people I care about, rather than at huge parties. I try to wear a fragrance that would make the day feel especially wonderful. Hence, the complexity of choice that I am facing today. Eventually, I reach for Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower and open the bottle. The champagne effervescence of orange blossom is foiled in the velvety lusciousness of tuberose. It possesses a transparent quality, which alternates with a disconcerting, yet appealing density. The composition resembles the sensation of silk faille against the skin. Above all else, its luminosity makes this rainy January 1st seem brighter, and that alone makes Carnal Flower perfect for today.
The photo depicts my maternal grandmother Valentina who was responsible for instilling in me the love of art, perfume and food.