Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Scents of a Woman...

I'm working on a couple of things to post, but they aren't done yet, so I went to Patrick's to see what the Sunday Seven was. It's to name up to 7 cologne or scents you've worn and liked. This is an interesting idea to me for many reasons, e.g., Coco Chanel once said, "A woman should wear fragrance wherever she expects to be kissed", so of course I've chosen to do it (write about this topic, as well as followed Coco's excellent advice). If you want to play too, click HERE.

1. Chanel 22 - This is my very favorite scent of all time. The first time I wore it was my 22nd birthday. A couple of weeks earlier I'd fallen in love at first sniff, at a perfume counter in the old Louis Sullivan Carson, Pirie, Scott store on State Street in Chicago. I immediately bought a bottle, but I held off wearing it the first time until my birthday, because I loved the serendipity of falling in love with a scent called No. 22 right when I was about to turn 22. I've worn it ever since. Not for everyday, of course, but on my birthday, and on holidays, and if I'm going to the symphony, or the opera, or to a dinner calling for a little black dress with pearls, you can bet this is what I'll be wearing. Also if I'm feeling down, putting this on always makes me feel better. Sometimes I wear it to bed at night.

The scent has an interesting history. In 1921, Coco Chanel commissioned Ernest Beaux to create some perfumes for her. Chanel wanted scents that were compositions, with floral aldehydes added to make them last. This was a new idea. Up to this time, perfumes were mostly single scents that had to be applied frequently because they didn't last. Beaux was a chemist and perfumer who was experimenting with aldehydes, so he accepted the assignment and created the scents. Chanel's first choice was the scent that became No. 5. It was called that because, according to some stories, it was the 5th scent Beaux presented to her, but also because 5 was her lucky number. Chanel introduced No. 5 to friends on May 5, 1921. She gave it, free of charge, to preferred clients, and she also scented the dressing rooms in her boutique with it.

No. 22 was also created by Beaux. The second scent from the house of Chanel, it was introduced in 1922, but Coco Chanel chose this scent for America, and accordingly, until recently, it was unavailable in Europe. Some time in the past couple of years, it became unavailable in America too, because Chanel discontinued it. To say I was upset when I discovered this is an understatement. I immediately went on eBay and began buying what I could find. The only thing affordable (and for the most part, the only thing available) was the lotion and Voile, a lighter, alcohol free formula that was reminiscent of the scent, but lacked the richness of the real thing. Then one day last summer, hurrying through Neiman's at Northpark on a Sunday afternoon, I saw a huge display of Chanel scents. Always hopeful, I stopped for a moment to see what they had. I burst into a huge smile when I saw my beloved No. 22. It turns out that in February 2007, No. 22 was reissued when Chanel launched a line of 10 scents that they began marketing as niche perfumes. They're called that both because that's how they are marketed (not advertised and not widely available) and because the scents are made with rare ingredients. The line is called Les Exclusifs. Four of the scents are from the 1920's: No. 22; Cuir de Russie; Gardénia; and Bois des Îles. The other six are new scents created by Chanel perfumer Jacques Polge. The bottles are big (200 ml) and expensive. I was dismayed when I saw the price and realized that no matter how much I wanted to, this wasn't a purchase I could casually make. So imagine my surprise (and delight) when this is what Alex, Kath, Mike and Chris bought me for my birthday last September! I always get compliments on it; I don't think I've ever worn this without someone asking what it is. Happiness!

2. Diorissimo - This is my 2nd favorite scent. It was created by Dior perfumer Edmond Roudnitska in 1956. It's light and floral, with lily of the valley and jasmine. It's hard to find, although Saks still carries it, and of course, there's always eBay. I like to wear it in the spring and summer; it's too light for fall or winter. I've read it was a favorite of Princess Diana.

3. Banana Republic Classic - This is what I usually wear to work. It's a citrusy, light cologne. It sort of smells like good soap; a clean scent that's never overpowering.

4. Rosewood by Banana Republic - This is a warm, sweet (but not too sweet) scent, with bergamot and amber. The spray bottle is poorly designed, though: domed at the bottom in such a way that it's impossible to use all of it by about a fourth, so until/unless the bottle is redesigned, this is a scent I won't be wearing again.

5. Tresor by Lancome - Created by Sophia Grojsman in 1990, this is the strongest scent I own. It smells of rose, amber and musk. It's almost too strong for me; I'd love a lighter version. I only wear this in the winter.

6. 4711 -This is also a light, citrusy, unisex cologne. 4711 was created in Cologne, Germany in the early 18th century. It's called 4711 because that's the address of the house of Wilhelm Mülhens, who manufactured it. I like to wear it in the summertime, by you can wear 4711 year 'round. I keep this in the medicine cabinet for guests.

7. Jean Nate - This is a light, lemony scent. I don't wear it much anymore, but when I was in high school, I loved this scent and wore it often. It was created in 1935 by Charles of the Ritz. It's still around, but these days it's manufactured by Revlon. It's very inexpensive; a good buy.


Melissa said...

Oh Judi, I so adore you! While I'm not familiar with all of these scents, by your descriptions of them they are sooo me! Well, except for the Channel 22. I got a bottle of 5 for my high school graduation and it wasn't a favorite. Come to think of it, though, I don't remember what 22 smells like.

My very favorite is Jessica by Jessica McClintock. I bet you'd like it too.

And, might I add that I'm so very impressed by your knowledge of the origins of so many scents. It makes me wish even more that you were my neighbor; oh the things I could learn.


emmapeelDallas said...

Well I will check out Jessica McClintock. I'm guessing if you like it, I'd like it!

emmapeelDallas said...

p.s. - if you get the chance, check out 22. It's nothing like 5, which I've never particularly liked.

Lisa :-] said...

The only one of these I've worn is Jean Nate. I have a gigantic bottle of it in my bathroom right now.

I love spicy and musky scents, and have a hard time finding any I like. Florals and food (vanilla?) seem to be "in" right now, and I don't like any of them.

BTW--Jessica is like "Muguet des Bois (lily of the valley) with a thyroid problem. I like the scent of lily, but everyone I know who ever wore "Jessica" smelled like they bathed in it. I don't know if it's just really strong or if women don't know how to wear perfume...

Cynthia said...

I adore Chanel 22. It always made me feel so sophisticated when I wore it. Jean Nate was my perfume of choice in high school as well.