Perfumes that transport Andy into the world of fantasy and fairy tales.
Reading the stories of Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm is a fond childhood memory, and even today, though I may have outgrown storybooks, I can experience the world of fairy tales through my choice of perfume. The best perfumes are more than the sum of their parts, creating miniature worlds within which the wearer can explore, pretend, and escape.
I may enjoy Chanel No. 19 for its beautiful iris note, but it’s experiencing a fantasy, of spring flowers blooming amid thawing snow, which makes me want to wear it again and again. Culling though the perfume stories that exist in my mind, I thought of these four perfumes below, which I wear to evoke the opulent castles, evil witches, and mysterious forests of my favorite written fairy tales.
Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles
Hansel and Gretel was one of my most beloved stories as a child, and when I want to smell like I’ve stepped into the pages, I turn to Fille en Aiguilles. From the first dab, I’m plunged deeply into a Black Forest fantasy, where I imagine myself parting sticky pine boughs and stumbling upon a cottage made of gingerbread and candied fruit. Where the perfume adds wisps of incense smoke and dry woods, I fill in the blanks, imagining sweet smoke rising from the chimney and a promise of warmth and welcome inside. Yet, these somber touches hint at something darker too, not unlike the ominous turn the fairy tale takes as soon as Hansel and Gretel enter the old woman’s candied cottage. I like to imagine that Serge Lutens had a similar idea in mind when creating this perfume, because every time I wear it, I find myself gullible as Hansel and Gretel, gleefully falling for the fantasy time after time.
Caron Pour Un Homme
I recently discovered this perfume, but just as soon as the dreamy blend of lavender, vanilla and amber rose from my skin, I knew this was the scent of a storybook Prince Charming. Just like any fabled hero, Pour Un Homme might have classic “good looks”, but its simple structure suggests honesty and softness, a case of substance rather than bravado. Imagining that Sleeping Beauty is a perfume lover, I can’t help but hope that her Prince Charming brought a bottle of Pour Un Homme to her rescue—after all, this simple blend, reminiscent of lavender water, would provide some much needed refreshment after 100 years of sleep!
Etat Libre d’Orange Rossy de Palma
Assigning fairy tale queens a perfume based around rose, the queen of flowers, might sound too easy, except that Rossy de Palma steers clear of clichés. I’m inclined to think that this perfume suits both the benevolent and evil queens of lore equally well, because it straddles the line of charming beauty and smoldering darkness like few other perfumes that come to mind. On the one hand, this rose is rich, opulent, and regal, with warmth appropriate to a kindly royal highness who sits on a throne of plush red velvet. On the other hand, a substantial dose of dark patchouli, incense, and spices make Rossy de Palma seem just as suited to a queen of darkness too. In my fairy tale fantasy, I smell a presence wearing Rossy de Palma somewhere nearby, and I’m never sure if I’m about to meet a malevolent Queen of Hearts or a gentle monarch.
Lolita Lempicka Lolita Lempicka
With its exquisite bottle that one would expect to contain some magical potion, Lolita Lempicka might just be the quintessential fairy tale perfume. All of its vanilla and cherry compote sweetness is offset by a generous dose of green, bittersweet licorice and earthy patchouli, suggesting a slightly lethal allure. Added to foil the dark timbre of these elements is a powdery iris and violet blend that adds a dreamy sense of softness. And amazingly, Lolita Lempicka brings these seemingly disparate elements into perfect harmony, with excellent sillage to boot. This is the perfume I wear whenever I want to be reminded of the elements of black magic and poisonous alchemy that pop up in some fairy tales. As a perfume of great duality, I sometimes wonder whether wearing Lolita Lempicka is more akin to falling under the spell of some potent elixir, or dosing out a potion of my own to all who pass in my bewitchingly fragrant path.
What fragrances invite you to dream and fantasize? What are your fairy tale perfumes?
Image: Ivan Bilibin’s fairy tale illustration.