Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The "Scent"imental Trail

I believe the very first spritz of perfume that landed on my skin was Diorissimo. A perennial favorite of my beloved late grandmother. One weekend afternoon, while we were getting ready to head out for our Sunday family day, she dispensed a spritz of Diorissmo on me. That very same innocent spray of ostensible lily of the valley ignited my insatiable hunger and passion for perfume.

It's the very same passion for fragrance that made me realize I have a highly sensitive nose that can detect different subtle scents in most perfumes. When I was young, I aspired to be a nose to create perfume but the dream was stubbed out by more practical academy pursuit and my mom's conclusion of me not being a nose material.

Fast forward 20 years or so, my mother was proven wrong during my stint in LVMH parfums. At a work trip in Paris, LVMH's nose Alberto Morillas (creator of FlowerbyKenzo) and I had a day sniffing scents in the lab while I impressed him with the ability to identify many raw scents. He pronounced that I have the olfactory prowess of a "Nose". Friends who have been on scent shopping trips with me would be amused and impressed by the fact that I could accurately sniff out and identify the different notes in a perfume. My friend Tessa could be my alibi as she looked at me with a ridiculous look with her eyes rolled back while I spelled out all the ingredients of the Balenciaga perfume when it was first launched.

Being "knighted" an amateur nose by a real nose has only fueled my love for perfume more and I couldn't walk past perfume counters without stopping by. Courtesy of my dad and grandma, I owned 3 bottles of perfume (Escape by Calvin Klein, Tresor by Lancome and Beautiful by Estee Lauder) at age 14, back when everyone in school were just starting to rub on "Smell Like Teen Spirit" deodorant (which brand was it again??). Right now, I unabashedly own more than 50 bottles of perfume.

My cream of the cults...all my cult perfumes I've amassed thus far

Perfume marks memories. Scents are known to be strong memory trigger. Chanel No.5 brings a cocoon of warm and fuzzy feeling to me as it was also worn by my late grandma. cKOne makes me miss my dad as I remember him rushing to the store to snag me a bottle after knowing I wanted one. Estee Lauder Pleasure will always remind me of my first real crush in Junior College, Brandon, as I sprayed the friendship bracelet I made him with its crisp peony notes. L'eau d'issey by Issey Miyaki was a signature of the post A-Level period while I held a holiday job in Esprit. Uni years were scented by Davidoff Cool Water. Creed's Spring Flower was bought in celebration of nabbing my first proper job. L by Gwen Stefani invokes happiness as it was worn during my holiday in Melbourne and Sydney with my buddies Dan and Jeremy. Some scents I can no longer wear as they stir up memories I'd rather forget like break ups and rough patches.

All these scents are the olfactory equivalent of marks on the totem pole of significant events in my life. My early 20s was characterized by a frenzy purchase of fragrance every now and then as the scent became "expired" by certain emotional associations. Now that I'm more grown up, stable, and comfortable in my own skin, I'm finally slowly down with the purchase. I've finally whittled down my staples to three winning scents which are my signature scents.

 The Signature Scents: Jo Malone Orange Blossom, Chloe by Chloe, Petite Cherie by Annick Goutal

So here they are, the three winning bottles: Petite Cherie made it here because of its olfactory merits with wonderful peach, jasmine and musk. All the breakups along the way (I first got it in 2004) didn't deter me from spritzing myself with it. Jo Malone is an emotional signature as my dad told me the scent reminds him of his childhood where breezes brought with them the heady scent of orange blossom and wearing it makes me feel closer to my milieu and my father. Chloe by Chloe is another olfactory treat bought during the time where I felt I'm, for once, comfortable in my own skin.

It does look like these three will be in my collection for the long haul.


Tiffany said...

that's such a romantic post on perfume :) what's the camera u use, bmuses? very well taken on the light and adjustment :)

Anonymous said...

i remember the name brandon lol!

actually i think you need a chemistry-type degree to be a nose, so your mom was wrong!


B said...

@ Tiffany, I shoot with the Olympus Pen E-PL2. It's a small camera with big functions that rivals all the big ass camera. It's not a point and shoot and you can change lenses and all but smaller and handier than most big ass camera like say the Canon Mark II (which I want to get by the way)

@HL...OMG you remember Brandon too? Cos I was still kind of "seeing" him long distance for a bit up till Year 1 of uni!

And do you remember I had a stalker called Spaceman888????? Hahaha...

You don't need a chemistry degree but there's specific courses you need to take to be a nose. And you're trained to memorize up to 2000 different raw scent and ingredients...yes 2000!

Anonymous said...


Pleasure in JC, Issey post A-levels, Cool Water in uni.....

Your perfume milestones tell me we're about the same age ;P

At last count, I've 26 scents in my collection... Of cos the latest addition being the 2 lovely scents from Jo Malone (all thanks to you!!!)

Cheers, Ivy (aka Jay Kay's wife)

B said...

Haha...yes my perfume milestone tells my age! I think Pleasures was freshly launched during my JC years!

What happened to my youth?? It's like suddenly gone in the blink of an eye!


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