Our first fragrance loves
14th February, 2010
With Valentine's Day upon us, what better time to think about the fragrances that made us fall in love with fragrance! We ask our team of writers and some of our future writers, which fragrance made their heart and nose, go Boom!
Mark Behnke is a regular contributor to the Forums under the name, Somerville Metro Man. Mark will be writing a regular niche fragrance column for Basenotes.
When that first kiss did finally come, it was Rochas's' Audace that made me swoon. I owe so much to the House of Rochas and my other boyfriend, Guy Robert!
Marian Bendeth has won three Canadian fragrance awards for her writing on Basenotes and is founder of the consulting company, Sixth Scents.
As the shadows of the day grew longer, Minotaure continued to swell on the air - a sensuous, rich, brawny leather emerged... and I felt transformed.
My unforseen love affair had commenced.
Dimitri Dimitriadis is a regular on the Forums and has contributed his graphics and writing skills to Basenotes. Dimitri also blogs at Sorcery of Scent.
Colin Murchie is an occasional contributor to Basenotes and spend many years moderating the Forums.
We only had one bathroom and as one often does, I'd wake to an internal alarm clock located in my bladder. With contorting knees and facial expressions not unlike a cat after is swallows a canary, I'd quiver outside the bathroom taking delight in the Z-14 fumes. It's a powerful concoction, balsamic notes and deep woods and a thick styrax benzoin drift get right up in your face with more attitude than a mother in law. I'd finally get my turn in the bathroom and after shutting off my internal alarm I'd take my time carefully looking over the bottle and dabbing it on with precision. I'd hold the beautiful smoke tinted bottle as if it were a grail.
What made Z-14 so special for me was that despite its dark bold presence it had a silky zip that added a sense of refreshment. Other "power scents" of the eighties like Antaeus, Kouros or Calvin didn't have the air of comfort for me that Z-14 had. I'd come out of the bathroom smelling a little too fragrant (especially for an eight year old on his way to third grade arithmetic). My father never minded - he'd just laugh. He always gave me samples when he bought a fragrance and I hoarded them. I had my own little men's fragrance counter in miniature form. I'd never use the Z-14 samples since I didn't want them to finish.
Z-14 doesn't just make me think of my first fragrance impression as Valentine's day nears but also it brings up memories of my father whose birthday also happens to be on Valentine's day. I recently read that Halston is revamping the formula (I assume making it less think and more friendly to today's consumer). I hope that they don't do away with the original formula as that wold make me an unhappy widow. It's said that one never forgets their first love, that is in many ways irreplaceable. Z-14 is.
Ali Nakhai is a writer and film maker based in LA and NYC.
Grant Osborne is the founder and editor of Basenotes
Fragrance to fall in love with. Love for fragrance. The deep spell that a magic fragrance gives, and how smelling the thing is a delight impenetrable and effervescent just like love. First fragrance to make fall in love with fragrance? There are so many of these firsts, and each one different.
Adolescence. Fantasy that anything in the world could be gotten at the large department store in my small northern Midwestern American city. Go there and imagine that someday I might wear a round point collared shirt, blue striped with white collar and cuffs. Ride the escalator imagining a fantasy future supplied by the things between those walls yet avoiding looking at my reflection the mirrors on all sides and the ceiling of the escalator’s diagonal passage. Stopping at the chrome, glass, and solid black lucite fragrance counter and the discovery of smell voyages. Universes even. Lagerfeld (the one now called classic or original). Chanel Pour Monsieur (the oakmoss and citrus glory that came before the “concentree” version today so widespread). Lauder’s JHL. Each arresting. That people could smell of this! That this glamour world existed, that I might go where people smelled so exotic and, that I could join that world, clearly so far away and different from my small city on the river! That people could put these on and then take them for granted, turning to do whatever they had to do in their days and forgetting that they smelled of the exotic in the old--read European--world, and thus,in forgetting their scent, make it so much of a part of them and so guileless. So effortless. Such glamour and all the interesting places and people in the world, so easily. Those bottles sent me places and there’s no forgetting them.
Christopher Peterson is the writer behind the Xtreme Scents column, and will continue this subject in a column to be published soon.
The trigger had been pulled while stepping into a taxi out of which a woman wearing Opium had just left. My puerile ears had the good fortune of catching the driver’s phrase “My God, this Opium scent is everywhere and it’s so strong!” My mother nodded her beautiful head in silent demi-assent ~as she always did when she was too polite to disagree or further an argument. Myself I was not yet capable of discerning nuances of speech so as to differentiate a positive from a negative one. I only seem to recall that that was the most exquisite scent I had ever smelled, I was straining to absorb every single molecule I could attach to my nostrils’ Velcro and I was already seriously longing for it as soon as I stepped out of that taxi. I can’t really recall where we were going, whether our purpose was a practical or social one, what we were wearing or how the driver looked like. My memory obliterated all those things, choosing to cherish only the precious memento of first smelling Opium off the sillage of a complete stranger. It haunted me for years and as soon as I had pocket money or could request gifts of beauty I knew what my little heart desired: the forbidden elixir encased in the cinnabar bottle with the black tassel! Other perfumes came and went and I amassed whatever I could lay my hands on, but Opium became my foray into the world of a love affair with perfumes themselves. And for that I'm forever grateful...
Elena Vosnaki is a perfume historian and the owner of the blog, Perfume Shrine.
What made you fall in love...?
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