I was working on tomorrow's post about Samsara when I started to think of my perfumed past. See, when Samsara came out in 1989 my teenage self didn't like it one bit. Guerlain, in general, was not really on my radar. I knew Shalimar, of course, but my general impression of it was of a heavy vanilla. I could also recognize L'Heure Bleue when I smelled it, but never bothered even to learn how to spell its name. I think I considered it buttery and weird.
Perfume has always been around, and I was interested in it just as I was in makeup and anything pretty and feminine. Adult around me wore things like Charlie, Aromatics Elixir, Chanel No.5, and of course, my mother wore Chloe exclusively for decades. There was also the very distinct scent of Maja, a dusty bottle of 4711 (I'm not sure I knew it was actually a perfume. It was more of a general household solution, and something that my mother inexplicably applied to mosquito bites).
As a tween and a very young teenager I remember having an innocent violet cologne someone brought as a gift from Italy, and a drugstore perfume oil with a pink cap and a label that said Cleo. There were also tiny vials of pure rose oil that Bulgarian relatives brought on rare visits. But the first proper perfume I was given was Le Jardin by Max Factor. I didn't really like it, but still went through one bottle after another, simply because it was deemed the right perfume for a 12-13 year old. About the same time my sister and I received gift sets of two German perfumes: My Melody Flowers and My Melody Dreams. Somehow I ended up with the pink one, because my sister's signature color used to be blue (nowadays we both prefer red). Thankfully, I no longer remember what they smelled like. It was later replaced by the beautiful Anais Anais, which I think we had to share.
Friends around me wore Jontue, Enjoli, and Ultima II. My father alternated between bottles of Polo and Drakkar Noir. My mom kept wearing Chloe and cleaned the light switches with Fidji, Azzaro 9, and O de Lancome. By high school I was wearing Tamango (Leonard) and Creation by Ted Lapidus, while my most sophisticated friend wore Beautiful. By senior year of high school I was officially very much into perfume and always had a few bottles on my dresser. It made me feel grown up and I loved that moment of choosing which perfume to wear for the day. My mom bought me a gift set of Colors de Benetton which I wore with abandon (and then some). It became so deeply associated for me with my first serious boyfriend that I could no longer bare to smell it (or even look at the bottle) after we broke up. I cried hysterically when my well-meaning mother bought me a new bottle, so she quickly returned it, and instead gave me a bottle of YSL Paris. I tried to love it and wore the perfume and the matching lotion on various first dates that year. It didn't work. Neither the guys nor Paris were a good match, no matter how much I wanted to have a new boyfriend and to smell pretty and rosy. Everyone else I knew was wearing Giorgio.
By the time I was 19 I had enough. I bought a bottle of Paloma Picasso with my own money, had a bunch of new friends and a new attitude. A new boyfriend followed quickly, but ironically the guy had absolutely no interest in scent. It didn't stop me from adding more perfumes to my collection: Valentino, White Linen, Eau de Soir, Lauren, and believe it or not-- Red Door (which mostly sat there untouched. It reminded me of Giorgio). Paloma Picasso was still my favorite. I went through at least four bottles in eighteen months and considered it my signature. I had a taste for chypres and green perfumes, and mostly detested vanilla.
By the time I shed the unscented boyfriend and met the man you know as The Blond I was building a perfume wardrobe. I bought bottles of Eternity, Tiffany, Safari, and who knows what else during those first months. I bought him a bottle of Minotaure for the first birthday we were together (and also started to make over his wardrobe). Obsession joined my collection not long after that, and was the first proper amber-vanilla perfume I liked. Pantehre de Cartier will forever remind me of the time we got engaged. By the late 1990s I discovered Annick Goutal and reveled in how French the perfumes and I smelled. I rediscovered Guerlain, developed a taste for oriental perfumes, and my dresser could no longer hold my entire collection. The Husband and I were already living in NJ, and the close proximity to countless perfume stores and counters was the beginning of the process that lead me here.
There you have it: From Le Jardin to Ferme tes Yeux in six paragraphs. And I still owe you that review of Samsara.