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  1. #1

    Default Perfume Memories

    I was thinking of family today as we get closer to the holidays. My parents both died this August, 3 days apart, both from cancer, after being divorced for 38 years. It's been a hard time lately, and I appreciate my new "obsession" for keeping me busy and out of trouble.

    Anyway, my first perfume memories are of my grandpa- who always gave grandma and mom Jungle Gardenia for Christmas: a gift set with powder. I don't remember the smell in particular, just that he seemed to have a never ending supply. I don't think they wore it much but it didn't matter, that's what they got. Every year. No matter what.

    My grandpa always wore Old Spice. I could never date a man who wore it- reminded me too much of Grandpa. I love the smell, but it is grandpa smell to me, not hot, young, hunk smell!

    As I grew older, the first perfume I remember myself wearing was Love's Baby Soft. I think almost every preteen in the late seventies wore Love's- I have thought of buying a bottle for old times sake but have heard that it has been reformulated. Too bad; you shouldn't mess with the classics!

    I remember my bachelor uncle giving me what I thought of as my first "real" perfumes- first White Shoulders, which I have fond memories, then Emeraud (probably not spelled correctly) which I loathed, both then and now. This was when I was an older teen.

    As an actual adult, I wore Charlie, then Halston, until I bought my first actual perfume counter purchase- Angel Innocent- for my wedding. I am now divorced: got rid of the man but not the perfume!

    Wow- I didn't realize just how much a role perfume played in my past. Just thinking about it has brought back a lot of memories. Please share yours if you'd like. And thanks for BN. I love it.

    The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of itís scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.Ē

  2. #2

    TaoLady's Avatar
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    Sep 2006
    Coastal South Carolina

    Default Re: Perfume Memories

    What a great topic - Ill-Behaved Woman!!! - especially for this time of year.

    My Grand-Daddy always smelled of Bay Rum (It still reminds me of his leather chair and the musky smell of the library).- Mummy of Shalimar. (I though she was quite glamorous I think of her getting dressed for one of the many parties that always seemed to be going on in our Manhattan digs!!)

    My first ex-husband - Canoe. He was/is dashing and worldly. My second ex-husband - an artist and musician - Knize 10. My late beloved husband - (gasp) Royal Copenhagen.

    After swiping Mom's Shalimar I graduated to Chanel 22 (today it's Coco) Had to look at my "Owned" wardrobe to get a glimpse of just some of the frags I've been through over the past 60 years!

    Never felt completely dressed without perfume - have ALWAYS spritzed on something to start the day. Today I have a less-than-modest collection and like you I am grateful to BN for the education and the sharing. Rock on, Lally! Men are like streetcars - if you miss one, there'll be another one along in fifteen minutes and you can climb aboard - or not!!!
    "The world is ruled by letting things take their course. It cannot be ruled by interfering." Lao Tze

  3. #3

    Default Re: Perfume Memories

    My first perfume purchase: Tigress from the Pay and Save drugstore at age 14. It was quite a departure from the Love's Baby Soft that everyone else my age was wearing!

    My first perfume gift: Sweet Honesty from my babysitter about age 10-11.

    My grandmother's perfume: Blue Grass, Elizabeth Arden (although I remember her smelling of Nivea creme).

    My mom's perfumes were chypres, greens or florientals: Deneuve, Estee, First, 24 Faubourg. She's always had great taste in fragrance, IMO.

    My first "HG" was Coco, when it was first released in 1986 or 1987. I purchased it at I. Magnin in San Francisco on the spot after taking a quick sniff. I wore the EDT and layered a spritz of the parfum on top, just like the saleslady instructed me! Went through many bottles and received many, many compliments. I still have my black perfume refillable holder. This was quite a happy time in my life. Somewhere in the 90's Coco was reformulated and smelled totally off to me. I have not been able to wear it since, despite many purchases and repeat testing. Nope it's not my chemistry, it's the scent...oh, well, on to....

    Eternity! I wore this scent for about 3 years and then I started smelling it on everyone. I wore this during a difficult part of my life and cannot stand the smell of it now, in any of its up is...

    Bill Blass Nude...worn for about 4-5 years. I liked it's non floral, different, clean smell. In this phase, I turned my back on "perfumey" type perfumes and wanted things that smelled soapy. People would ask me what I was wearing, but they never actually said "you smell good". I didn't heed any of that and just kept wearing it because I thought it was so distinctive!

    Then I totally lost focus and went through L air du Temp (compliments on this one), Quelques Fleur, Cerruti 1881, and many, many more that I don't remember. This was another difficult part of my life. I was struggling and unhappy and no longer wear any of the scents associated with that period.

    A few years later, living in NYC, I was in the Hermes store when Hiris was released (must have been in 1999 or 2000). I sniffed the sample and recoiled because it was so different. The next week, I was back to purchase a bottle because the scent would just randomly come up in my memory during that week. I wore it for several years (until about 2002) and received many compliments on that one.

    Then I dabbled in Coco Mlle, but it really didn't do anything for me. I was disgusted that Chanel had even used the word "coco" in the name...

    This past summer, I visited the Perfume Shoppe in Vancouver and found Corps et Ames. At the Guerlain boutique, I found Philtre d' Amour. So, I keep testing and occasionally find one that rocks my world! That's what makes this hobby fun.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Perfume Memories

    First perfume that I can remember wearing regularly was Avon's Sweet Honesty. I loved it and had a solid compact of that. Before that (I don't class this as perfume, but I guess it is), I wore 4711.

    In my teens and early twenties, I wore mostly Anais Anais, L'air du Temps and (because it was forced on me) Rive Gauche. I didn't get on with Rive Gauche, so I ditched it.

    In my mid to late twenties, I wore only copy cat fragrances, because I sold them (shame on me!)...but I did learn a great deal about what was 'in' during that time. Most popular and best selling fragrance then was Opium. I couldn't wear it (still don't consider myself sophisticated enough for it), but that was the time when I discovered White Linen. I wore White Linen almost constantly for several years, then I discovered Amarige and Beautiful. I wore those alternately and little else, also for years. It has only been in the past year or so that my interest in fragrances has really grown and widened. I need to add to this when I have more time...
    "I don't know the key to success,
    but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
    Bill Cosby

  5. #5
    DeeOlive's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    Saugerties NY
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    Default Re: Perfume Memories

    Hi Lally (and a big hug included)

    I know what it is like to miss parents, and it gets harder around holiday times - I've lost both of mine, and this year lost my last remaining aunts and uncles - just returned from a funeral 2 weeks ago.

    Your post has opened the floodgates of memory for me.

    I keep a mini of Samsara, another of Shalimar, on my dressing table in honor of my mom - and an old round blue box which once contained her Blue Grass powder. When I was growing up she wore Blue Grass daily; in the last ten years of her life she wore only Samsara; in the years in between it was Shalimar, or Chanel #5.

    From her I developed a love of Guerlain - though I don't wear either of her two favs - I can't bear it. I also remember the scent of her face powder - Charles of the Ritz, and delightful shopping trips with her to makeup counters at Bonwitís, Saks and B. Altman when she needed to get a new supply.

    With my mom I'd get a chance to try a discreet spritz on the wrist of some scent or the other - the salesladies were always very nice and I remember being in awe of them - so made-up and all smelling lovely. Then we would go watch the skaters at Rockefeller Center, or I'd be treated to an ice cream sundae at Schraftís.

    My grandmother was a Youth Dew, Jungle Gardenia and 20 Carats wearer. I'd sit at her dressing table and turn the 20 Carats bottle upside down and watch the gold flakes float in the juice. Don't even remember what it smelled like.

    My first bottle of scent, given as a gift was Je Reviens, which I was allowed to wear only one dab of on very special occasions - like going to the theatre. My dad was an actor while I was young and I can still remember all the actresses in their dressing rooms and the overpowering smell of luxury scents mixed with grease paints and powders. One actress gave me a small bottle of perfume which I cherished and have never found again - I don't know the name. It was a violet parfum in a small round bottle with a cloth violet attached to the neck. I've been searching for it for years and never found it. But when I smell violet in a scent I remember her quite clearly, and how grown up I felt to have a bottle of not cologne, but of perfume.

    During my teen and young adult years in the 60's and 70's I was a part of the whole salsa dance scene, wearing Flor de Blason & Bal ŗ Versailles, working professionally as a model, dancer and singing in a girl group, and then came the new phenomenon of discos in the 70's. I was heavily laced with scents like Opium, Y, Rive Gauche, Halston and Charlie. On trips to the Village perfume oils were all the rage - mostly patchouli things that I don't remember well but they fit in with the bongs and tie-dyed clothes and fringes and the psychedelic club scene at the Electric Circus and the Dom.

    A trip out of the country to Algiers and some time spent in Paris, introduced me to L'Heure Bleu, which I had never heard of, but it captured my heart like nothing had ever done before, and it is still my favorite fragrance.

    By the 80's my tastes had changed to almost all classic scents (I think that in many ways I've become my mom) and I began to explore Chanel, other Guerlainís and Caronís.

    Hopefully I will live long enough to have wonderful memories of my 60ís years when I was introduced to all these luverly new scents here on basenotes.
    The fragrance of flowers spreads only in the direction of the wind. But the goodness of a person spreads in all directions.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Perfume Memories

    Quote Originally Posted by seattlelight View Post

    My first "HG" was Coco, when it was first released in 1986 or 1987. I purchased it at I. Magnin in San Francisco on the spot after taking a quick sniff. I wore the EDT and layered a spritz of the parfum on top, just like the saleslady instructed me! Went through many bottles and received many, many compliments. I still have my black perfume refillable holder. This was quite a happy time in my life. Somewhere in the 90's Coco was reformulated and smelled totally off to me. I have not been able to wear it since, despite many purchases and repeat testing. Nope it's not my chemistry, it's the scent...oh, well, on to....
    Will you salivate if I tell you I still have a bottle of my Mom's Coco that she purchased in San Francisco in 1986? She came home so excited because she was the first person to buy it at the department store's "unveiling". It's about 80% full- I can't wear it as it's too strong for me!

    The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of itís scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.Ē

  7. #7

    Default Re: Perfume Memories

    Great thread - I'm going to have to go away and think about my answers, but I do know my Nana smelled of oakmoss in some form and my Mum always wore Chanel No 5 until they reformulated it. I can't wear it, partly because on me it smells like cherry cough mixture but also because I just don't feel like a proper grown up lady yet (despite being over 40 and a mum). 'm hoping she'll like the Channel No 5 Eau Premiere when it comes out - it might be just the right compromise for her to wear it again.

    Hey it's all coming back now. Like Clemmie, when I was in my late teens/ early 20s I wore Anais Anais or Rive Gauche. I also had a tiny bottle of sticky dark 'patooly' oil that I dabbed onto my chinese cotton padded jacket if I wanted to be cool and hippy. Oh how that dates me!

    In my 20s I wore Opium, in my 30s Coco and throughout I'd sometimes wear Rive Gauche if my Mum bought me it for Xmas. I don't have a bottle now because I wore it throughout my mourning period when my adored Dad died in 2001. You have my condolences Lally. It's very hard. Lorenzo Villoresi's Insenso smells like his sneezes. Don't ask me how that works.

    My first love wore Eternity for Men and that always makes me weak at the knees. When my best friend's hubby wears it he knows I always go back for a second hug when I say hello. He doesn't mind, and neither does she - that's friends for you.

    My husband, bless him, supports my 'habit' and has recently bought me 2 Carons - Tabac Blond and Coup de Fouet. But he himself is strictly a deo-and-go man, who won't wear fragrance. I'd say he was concerned about appearing girly, but he's 6ft 4" tall and built like a bear, plus his best friend is gay, so it's not homophobia. The WordChick and I twisted his arm one Father's Day and bought him a bottle of Guerlain Vetiver. He doesn't wear it though. He smells of oil sometimes, when he's been away working on a ship and I actually like the smell now.
    "A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future." Coco Chanel

    I'm streamlining my collection
    Currently wearing: Diorling by Christian Dior

  8. #8

    Default Re: Perfume Memories

    I always had to buy my boyfriends cologne- none of them ever wore it! I think the younger ones (I mean when I was younger also! LOL) wore stuff like Stetson. One wore Halston Z14; at least I think that was the name. My current man wears Zegna Z, which I love. I used to buy mens' cologne just because I love the smells. I only remember two I have wore as a perfume- Safari and Cigar. Love the smoky, leathery smell.

    Thanks for all the hugs. It has been surreal to say the least.


    Isn't it funny how perfume was (is) such a part of our lives?
    The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of itís scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.Ē

  9. #9

    Default Re: Perfume Memories

    Hi Lally,

    Yes, I am salivating!! That's the real deal Coco you have there and it makes me smile to think of your mom's excitement at the purchase. I wonder if she purchased hers at the old I. Magnin as well? I liked that store. Another scent I was introduced to there was Yendi - that's been reformulated as well and has also lost its edge. The Coco may continue to get stronger as it sits due to evaporation. I used my bottles up pretty quickly - I must have sprayed it on pretty heavily!

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Dec 2006

    Default Re: Perfume Memories

    Great thread Lally and belated condolences for your parents.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Perfume Memories

    Quote Originally Posted by jillsy View Post
    Great thread Lally and belated condolences for your parents.
    Thanks Jillsy... just got home from my grief group, where they all now know about my new perfume lust! Anything to help get through the holidays. Never spent Christmas without my Mom before.

    The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of itís scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.Ē

  12. #12
    beachroses's Avatar
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    Sep 2006
    North Carolina

    Default Re: Perfume Memories

    Jungle Gardenia reminds me of me in my 20's.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Perfume Memories

    wonderful thread, and my most sincere condolences, lally; I lost my mom in late july, which I am convinced prompted this new fragrance avocation. scent does trigger memories and emotions and could well be a part of the grieving process for us.

    mom traditionally received a birthday gift of almond roca candy and a chanel no. 5 gift set.

    Please visit (undergoing redecorating, but still open for business and will be motoring along soon)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sestra View Post
    Kelly Caleche smells like Beelzeebub's urine to me...

  14. #14

    Therese's Avatar
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    Nov 2006
    New York City

    Default Re: Perfume Memories

    Fragrance memories can be so powerful.My beloved grandmother, who to my very young eyes, epitomized glamor and elegance, wore Bellodgia and Dior. To this day, I keep a bottle of Bellodgia on my tray, not to wear but to sniff and remember. When the Frederic Malle store in Paris opened, I stuck my head in one of those tubes and exclaimed, "It smells like Nana." "It" was of course Parfum de Therese by Roudnitska (of Dior fame).
    Shalimar is another story. My mother, with whom I had a very troubled relationship, wore Shalimar. I wore it too, until my bottle broke in my early twenties. I felt free and began to experiment.
    Over the years I have loved Coty's Wild Musk (OK, I still love it), Calandre by Paco Rabanne. Kiehl's perfume oils, Miss Dior, and Diorama, Le De,
    I started to return to Guerlain last decade and have since embraced LHeure Bleu, Mitsouko, L'Instant, etc. I still am unable to wear, let alone smell, Shalimar. My tragedy. But now there are so many scent loves. I love reading about fragrance, trying new scents, choosing with care and free association what I will wear each day.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Perfume Memories

    I was looking through the drug store perfumes today and saw many I had tried at one point or another when I was young. I actually bought a body spray for under three dollars- PRINCE MATCHEBELLI (how's that name for memory lane??) It is cotton candy. I will wear it when I go to bed. LOL

    Happy sniffing!
    The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of itís scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.Ē

  16. #16

    Default Re: Perfume Memories

    I don't have many perfume memories, because no one in my family ever wore perfume or cologne, and none of my ex-boyfriends did either. My first boyfriend's hot older brother wore Fahrenheit. The scent still reminds me of being stupid 16 and boy crazy.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Perfume Memories

    I'm surprised that several of you have mentioned Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass.
    My mom kept some sachet in her lingere drawer, and we kids used to get a big whff of it (when we poked around in our parents private things in their bedroom against orders) and associated it with all things feminine and mysterious--silky underthings and nightgowns--and topics deemed off-limits and grown-up. In reality, it is an old-fashined, slightly powdery floral that is not at all animalic or naughty. My Mom is 88 now. I keep wanting to buy her some new Blue Grass, but I doubt it would smell the same.

    Last year I bought her some Faberge Woodhue, and the fragrance was way off from the old formula. Or I should say, the formula was fine, but the original ingredients were no longer available, having been replaced by inferior substitutes. For the same reason, I resist buying Tigress again. It was one of my favorites also. My uncle gave us a Faberge perfume set with Woodhue (wooden lid) Tigress (fake fur lid) Flambeau (red plastic lid) and Aphrodesia (green liquid with white bakelite lid.) Remember those? I used to go from bottle to bottle, sniffing them and fantasizing stories in my mind.

    I feel the same way about Coty Wild Musk. It smells different now; it is a shadow of its former self. How could I forget that one? I lost my virginity while wearing that fragrance. And yet, the new one fails to conjure up any sentimentality. That is how I know it has been changed. It probably was made originally with nitro-musks. I won't lament their passing because they were bad for the health and the environment, but oh, they did smell glorious.

    In a lonely period of my life, I met a man on a dark, very cold night. We were two strangers who took a chance and fell into each other's arms, unapologetically ardent, with few expectations and no committment. It ended quickly but left a lasting impression. He had long, wavy, black hair like a pirate, in which I buried my face and smelled patchouli.

    So, Lally, let us silently thank all those wonderful people (living and passed on) who bought us our first fragrances or wore them around us when we were young and impressionable. They will probably never know the big favor they did for us. Because of those people, we have developed an appreciation for the art of perfumery which brings us tremendous joy and appreciation of life.
    Last edited by purplebird7; 19th December 2007 at 08:53 PM.

  18. #18
    Lean in closer, dear

    Quarry's Avatar
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    Aug 2005
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    Default Re: Perfume Memories

    To Lally and all those who miss their parents, I offer the biggest, warmest maternal hug.

    Fragrances were not a part of my growing up, so my fragrance memories are principally connected to ... YOU FOLKS! Young but happy memories they are.
    Currently wearing: Aria di Capri by Carthusia

  19. #19

    Default Re: Perfume Memories

    My mom hoarded a stockpile of Golden Autumn. It all turned and she was crushed. She moved to Love's Baby Soft (gag!), the lemony one.

    I had a preteen collection of Tresor, Chanel #5 and Obsession.

    Oooh! Exclimation! and Windsong. YUCK! I wore those daily to convince my mother I really did love perfume and needed the good stuff! LOL!

    My aunts wore Shalimar and Opium. I can't wear them myself because of it...

  20. #20
    If not now, when?

    mikeperez23's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Miami, FL

    Default Re: Perfume Memories

    Great thread Lally - my mom wore Norell by Revlon, Jontue and (perhaps my favorite) Calyx by Prescriptives. Now my mom can't wear scents (allergies) and I think it must be so depressing for her to go scent less.

    If there is a heaven, my friend Silvia is there now - smelling like Must by Cartier.
    Last edited by mikeperez23; 20th December 2007 at 10:34 PM.
    Currently wearing: Yatagan by Caron

  21. #21

    Join Date
    May 2009
    Houston area

    Default Re: Perfume Memories

    This is a great thread. Scent is a powerful memory trigger.

    My Mom wore whatever I purchased for her. I don't remember her really enjoying much perfume. I was an Avon representative at 14, and purchased all kinds of scents from them around 1972.

    Her sister, my aunt, always wore Chanel 5. It smells like the 5 day deoderant pads my Mom used to use in the 1960's.

    My Dad wore Old Spice, and I could never go out with a man who wore this because it would make me think of my father.

    1970's - Avon, various.

    1980's through the 90's - (blue) Rive Gauche by Yves St. Laurent, Charlie, Halston occasionally, Claiborne, Paris by Yves St. Laurent which I still wear, Safari, Tabu. I know there were a few others, but I can't remember them.

    2000 to now - (golden) Zen by Shiseido, Adventure, Ming Shu and Comme une …vidence Eau de Toilette COMME UNE EVIDENCE by Yves Rocher.

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