Wednesday, May 19, 2010

SCENTS MEMORY




Woodhue Pure parfum is a gorgeous long discontinued sultry fragrance. Top notes include orange accord, zesty bergamot, and citrus sparkle. Middle notes feature Jasmine Base notes are a blend of sandalwood accord, vanilla, Cedar, and musks

From an ad for a Vintage bottle of perfume---half full.



Does anyone remember Woodhue? To me, it says crisp cold nights, heading out for a date, wearing a skirt-and-sweater outfit and my mouton jacket, scented with the above “accords” and sparkles of the wonderful stuff which smells like if you opened a cedar chest in which you’d spilt a Watkins vanilla bottle some time earlier.---now THAT’S an accord. I loved it.






Chantilly was a second favorite---it was a bit stronger, heavy on the vanilla as well, and much like a too-flowery seat in a funeral parlor, but pleasant. Girls poured it on, and at parties and in church, the group of us radiated the sweetness of honeysuckle cookies.





Royal Secret became a definite covet when a beautiful young woman moved to our town and went to work in the same office as I. She was tall (I was not), very slender (ditto), and had long black hair and exquisite manners; she could make you laugh til you cried with her slightly-bawdy sense of humor, and we all just loved her. I just remember it smells elegantly sweet, and I longed for some for a long time, then wore it proudly, cause that was what beautiful, elegant Penny wore.



Shalimar is of equal sweetness to all the above, with notes of vanilla (perhaps the drawing-card of all the ones I’ve ever really liked---my first experiments with fragrance were furtive visits to the baking cupboard. When Mother or Mammaw weren’t looking, I’d dab a bit behind my ears and in the “crooks of my elbows” and sail off to third grade, confident in my beautiful aura and aroma).

I haven’t bought Shalimar since that day in the 80’s that the duck flew down the chimney and broke the fancy bottle in my bathtub. Cleaning up duck poo and broken glass can change your mind about a lot of things.



Joy was the fragrance my Mother wore most; she DID have a long Estee’ period somewhere in the Sixties, when the Lauder coffers were being enriched by every woman South of the M/D line. There were a few years in there, when in any southern gathering, or even in church, you could float heavenward on the pure '"Esty Law-der" fumes, unadulterated by any other scent save for Brut and Old Spice and old Mr. Godbold’s comb-over Vitalis.



Arpege I remember strongly---that being the operative word, for my very first week at college was spent in a haze of saturating fumes. We were there for Rush, and my roommate wore gorgeous clothes and a cloud of Arpege which preceded her down the hall and out into the world. I hid my face when she picked up the bottle, and after the interminable atomizer hiss, held my breath til I could flee out for air. It was WAY too much of a good thing, and I wondered that she was invited back anywhere after Ice Water.





And then, there was Intimate---take Arpege Girl and multiply her by twenty, all living on your hall. Mornings were a feverish rush to get awake, showered, and OUT of there, before you smothered, and running the gauntlet past twelve rooms, all with open doors exuding a miasma of Kents and Intimate---OH, my. It was like everybody was smoking cigars dipped in Aqua-Velva.

Intimate was the epitome of what my Daddy always said about some perfume: It smells LOUD.





Then there was the crème de la crème: Blue Waltz. Several of my friends wore it and I thought it smelled lovely. It was for sale in the drugstore, in Woolworth’s and in the local Ben Franklin---well within a child’s saving-up range. I would walk by and open a bottle, inhaling an appreciative sniff; I’d turn the bottle back and forth, admiring the almost-heart-shape of its squat little body. Once I even removed the cap from the big display bottle---that thing probably held a pint, and my hopes were dashed when it didn’t smell like anything at all---just colored water. I’d just known it was enough Blue Waltz to keep me in fragrant bliss for the rest of my life.

I dared to sneak a sample only once---a tiny furtive dab onto each wrist when Miss Hazel was busy making milkshakes----nobody in the store seemed to notice, and I walked out with a gleam in my eye and the confidence of Audrey Hepburn---I was GORGEOUS. And then, my Mother caught a whiff of my contraband, and I was in TROUBLE.

“I’ve TOLD you about that cheap trashy STUFF!” she said. “I’d better not EVER smell that tacky mess on you again!” And so was my one foray into the world of Blue Waltz. It remains, like the exquisite fruit at Goblin Market, a never-found-again grail, a never-equalled perfection.

And since all those, I’ve had brief fling with Giorgio, a slight flirtation with Design, and besides the above "dresser set" of Shalimat from Chris, the only bottle on my shelf today is my Daddy’s bottle of Obsession for Men. The afternoon he died, I walked out of his house with his watch on my wrist, his teeth in a baggie, and the plump bottle from his bathroom shelf. I took the teeth to the Funeral Director and gave the watch to my son, and I still go spritz a little whiff of the Obsession onto the shower curtain for remembrance, or onto my shoes, if I’m going out. Full circle back to my third-grade love affair with Vanilla.

I coulda just married the Watkins man.

14 comments:

Keetha said...

I love that ending. Scent is such a strong memory-trigger.

It was Love's Baby Soft sampled at Turner Drug Store downtown for me. Later, Windsong, also from Turner's.

In high school and college, I wore Eternity by Calvin Klein. Talk about loud! Like you with Intimate, I think everyone in my dorm freshman year wore Eternity.

Marlene said...

Oh my, you have brought back so many memories.I remember Blue Waltz in the McCrory's in town.Raised on my Mother's Chanel No.5, wore Woodhue in the 60's, loved Obsession, went through the Georgio phase until a colleague bathed in it. I have given up all scents lately as so many people have allergies...and I'm mainly in my garden anyway..Thanks for the memories! Love your blog.

racheld said...

Perfume does spark the memory banks, doesn't it? I hoped someone would chime in with their favorites. I think we could tell each other's ages by the our scent history.

Marlene, you mirror mine almost exactly, and I'm so glad to have you visit! Thank you for the kind words.

Tonja said...

Just saying that word...woodhue...brought that scent back to mind! I can bring to mind Intimate, and Arpege, too. And, you didn't mention Opium...that was a fav with my group of friends. BUT, non so lovely as Estee Lauder's Youth Dew. For the longest, the closest plce you could get it was Atlanta, and that was 5 hours away! So, only the girls whose parents travelled often had some. But, we all covetted it! It was and still does bring delicious pictures to mind! My Mom always wore Chanel #5...oh, it smelled so dainty and sweet.
Thanks for reminding me of those days!

Maggie McArthur said...

Ah, Rachel -- as you know, this is a topic so dear to my smelly heart! With the exception of Shalimar, I'm not a vanilla girl, but I am a Guerlain girl so I suppose that explains the Shalimar exception. The vanilla in Shalimar is mysterious.

Chantilly was my very first parfum -- I think that my daddy gave it to me for Christmas when I was thirteen. I felt sooooo grownup! In my teens I kept a bottle of 4711 in the fridge every summer;a splash was as refreshing as a non-alcoholic gin and tonic. I loved Estee's Private Collection, still do.

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

OH my gosh! I can't tell you the memories those perfumes bring back! What a great post!! :)
Patrick bought me a "Joy" and and he was so proud. I have owned several of the others...DIL wore Shalimar for years...
What memories.
I now wear "Beautiful" by Este' Lauder. Gift from my daughter years ago...and I'm hooked.

And Rachel, thanks for missing me, Sweetie. How neat it is getting to know you and having you as a precious follower!! :) Your comments ALWAYS make me smile!
Hugs and love,
Mona

Jeanne said...

Hi Rachel, it is really late and I just came over to thank you for the sweet comment on my post. Now I am all caught up in your post about perfume. I love this post and it gave me several good laughs. My mother loved Chantilly, my best friend wears only Shalimar and I wear only Opium. I once bought a bottle of Chanel #5 when I went on a trip to Cuba. (before Castro, I was 16) It is so late I will tell you about that perfume another day. It will make you laugh.

Goodnight my friend,
Hugs, Jeanne

Jeanne said...

Hi Rachel, it is really late and I just came over to thank you for the sweet comment on my post. Now I am all caught up in your post about perfume. I love this post and it gave me several good laughs. My mother loved Chantilly, my best friend wears only Shalimar and I wear only Opium. I once bought a bottle of Chanel #5 when I went on a trip to Cuba. (before Castro, I was 16) It is so late I will tell you about that perfume another day. It will make you laugh.

Goodnight my friend,
Hugs, Jeanne xoxo

Cape Coop said...

I spent an obscene amount of money a few years ago to buy a tiny bottle of Ondine, my mother's old favored scent. Oh, the rarest of darkened memories- my scented mother, resplendent in a dress of mermaid green sequins and her braided "fall" which was dressed in platinum chains, leaning over me in my cozy stuffed creature filled bed, to kiss me, caress my arms that encircled her throat and whisper "I love you, Rebecca" before she floated away to some party with Daddy.
To this day, a tiny whiff will take me to those glittering moments.

racheld said...

It's so wonderful to hear everyone's reminiscences of their aromatic histories. I can savor the lovely scents from here, as you speak of your tastes and your moments.

Rebecca, if you're like me, you'll dole out that Ondine in coffeespoons, making it last as long as possible. Such a small way to step back into the kaleidoscope of bright memories is priceless, indeed.

Cape Coop said...

Not even, Rachel! I barely take a whiff- that's enough scent to fuel my memories.

Kouign Aman said...

Muguet de Bois
Love's Fresh Lemon (everyone else wore 'BabySoft')
Jontue (til a roommate in college wore it. On her it always smelled like fat-person sweat - but much stronger than the real thing could ever be. I gave her my brand-new bottle bottle, for fear I smelled the same way, wearing it). Every other girl in school wore Charlie.

no signature scent since then. I should try some that arent quite so dimestore, I suppose.

Mom wears Opium, but so faintly, I rarely know it. The girl person enjoys picking a perfume - has from infancy. Of the choices on the shelf, she's rejected the vanilla-based ones and most often choose Rare Gold (Avon), or her dad's Polo.
Mostly tho, she smells like Johnson's Baby Shampoo.

Kouign Aman said...

PS Rachel, such a well worded post, great memories, love the pix. Excellently done, as usual.

Kim Shook said...

I started out with Wind Song as a young teenager - that stuff was so light that it floated out of the bottle. And I think that I went through the obligatory (if you were a teenage girl in the '70s) Love's Baby Soft phase. I love all different perfumes (and am a sucker for a pretty bottle), but my 'signature' frangrances are Ysatis for the fall and winter and Chanel's Cristalle for spring and summer. My mother wore Arpege and Ma Griffe when I was growing up and the fragrance of either can take me right back to THERE.