My man dropped by Saks recently to pick up a new suit, and afterwards brought home some fragrance samples he thought I might like.
Rightfully, he guessed my taste.
I tend not to wear a lot of fragrance, and prefer to wear largely unscented products; I like to smell myself through whatever I am wearing, and like my man to be able to do the same.
(There is indeed a magic in scent, and there it is.)
As such, when I do gravitate towards a particular scent it’s generally something light and clean, sometimes with an undercurrent of something deeper; citrus (grapefruit usually), maybe with a hint of tobacco, leather, or wood. Fresh Hesperides is my habitual go-to (the lotion is something special), and Voluspa candles in Warm Perique Tabac.
I try not to experiment too much outside of that. Veer too far off course from your usual profile, and you risk subverting the particular sensory morse code that identifies you as you. I’m no rocket scientist, of course, but I do suspect this delicate balance must have some kind of special significance in the ways and means of interpersonal relationships (i.e., what you smell like is a big deal, especially as concerns anyone you might be sleeping with).
In good fortune, this new fragrance – Balenciaga L’essence – fits my bill pretty closely. In Nicolas Ghesquière’s typical style, it’s elegant and a touch subversive, not too stuffy, not to frilly, maybe sort of androgynous…a fragrance not for young girls nor old ladies, but for grown women.
Men’s women, at that.
(One whiff from the vial, and at once I feel like lacquering my nails, pouring a Scotch, and lighting up a cigar.)
I’m getting excited about the scent; I think I like myself in it. Before I get carried away in the rapture, however, I have to beg the question: will my man feel the same?
In the scent, I recognize the man in the woman; but will the man recognize the woman in the scent?
Time will tell.
My man has an acquaintance who, once upon a time, worked in those big perfume factories over in Jersey. He tells me she claims that repeated exposure to completely synthetic essences is a known contributor to clinical depression. [1.]
“She says you’re safe if you stick to florals, fruits…anything they probably make from anything real,” he says. “It’s that other, weirder stuff you have to watch out for. Synthetics. It’s all chemicals. They eat your brain.”
Super! I take a big sniff of L’essence.
Noting the leathery undertones, I make a point to wear it sparingly (though wear it I will). I have a vague sense that this intel about brain-eating chemicals might be bullshit, but one can never be too careful; once you lay down those initial neural pathways with yourself or someone special, you’re probably committed to a certain set of memories and associations. Might as well attempt to make them happy ones.
(Perhaps I should re-consider burning those tobacco-scented candles in the bedroom, as well. Summer is coming, after all; I can always go with a nice citrus.)
In the meantime, however, I spritz it on. Life has always been full of mysterious and unknown dangers…and hey: eventually, something will kill you. Besides, I am curious what my man will think.
Fingers crossed, I hope for reward in the risk.
[1.] A brief gander through the Internet reveals a number of sites claiming the same story about synthetic fragrances and depression, though the top hits largely seem to consist of organic beauty and holistic living blogs, most of which fail to cite sources. Out of all that sound and noise, I found this page to be fairly informative, naming “hydrocarbons such as formaldehyde, styrene, toluene, and phenol” as the number-one culprits behind perfume-related blues; big thanks to the science and legal team behind the “Supersalve” organic cosmetics company for the info.