It’s no secret that our sense of smell is an incredibly important part of our memory. Different scents can immediately transport us to a time or place in our lives. Place us with people we’ve loved or lost. We can feel the emotions, happiness, nerves, excitement, fear, longing etc
To me, one of the most powerful memory triggers is perfume. Different perfumes instantly bring to mind people, places, times and events. I can map my life through perfume…
My first ever perfume memory is (naturally) my Mum and her bottle of ‘Tweed’. She actually gave it to me in the end for ‘dressing up’ after I wore away at her constantly. Always been a girly girl. I remember always touching the small square glass bottle and thinking my Mum was so amazing and posh because she could wear perfume – without asking! But the smell. So strong, almost after-shave. A really heady and woody kind of scent. I had a sniff recently and it just conjures up my Mum and Dad dressed for the work Xmas dinner and dance. My mum in new dress and lots of make-up. Hair streaked and lots of perfume on. Dad in a tie, only once each year. Much excitement at my cousin Sally coming to baby-sit my sister and I. Being allowed to stay up late and Mum always bringing us back the after dinner mints. Happy and innocent times.
Various Avon perfumes came and went in our house. Moon Wind was a favourite in a glass candle bottle one Christmas. I loved the flowery smell and used to dab it on my wrists when Mum was not looking.
When I reached Middle School I remember being in love for the first time, with Lee Murphy (whether he liked it or not) and liberally applying ‘Dewberry’ from the Body Shop. It was the thing to wear and so naturally we ALL did. Our classroom must have been like a huge giggling fruit pudding. In our rush for sophistication it was compulsory to perm our hair, wear bright blue eye-liner and ‘iced cham-pink’ lipstick (how do I remember that name). We were a curly, pink, berry-scented army and our goal – the school disco. We learned routines to Mel & Kim’s ‘respectable’ and insisted on slow dances to Berlin’s ‘take my breathe away’. Oh those poor boys…
And so to Upper School. More self conscious days. I was particularly fond of Impulse ‘Gypsy’ (I probably believed the ads). I remember my Mum starting to wear Tresor by Lancome. A beautiful smell. It makes me remember having very long hair and exam leave. Nice times walking the dog, just me and her. During this era my auntie gave me a tiny bottle of Beautiful by Estee Lauder. I loved it and it was my special and rarely used perfume. I also met my first proper boyfriend and spent an incredibly turbulent two years learning about love and heart-break.
Starting work in my very early 20′s I remember Safari by Ralph Lauren. Sadly not made now. A lovely smell in a really big fancy glass bottle. It makes me think of my first job in sales, my favourite bright blue mini-skirt and jacket, my curly perm and gold framed glasses (no prescription – thought I looked clever in meetings!). Hilariously getting a taxi (couldn’t drive yet) to GEC Marconi and winning a 30k order on my own. I knew if I asked for a lift with a senior sales person my glory would be stolen. My sales Manager bought me flowers and praised me.
By night I would wear Ysatis by Givenchy. I tried it again recently and dear good it could strip paint. I remember wearing my hot-pants and dancing all night. And of course, meeting my husband one new years eve in Ritzy!
In my later 20′s my job took me to Milton Keynes and I became a Calvin Klein fan. I always wore eternity to work and smelling it now I can just feel my old office and wonderful memories in a job I adored. I was still in love with ‘Beautiful’ (kept for best) and I wore it when I got married in ’98.
In my late 20′s I was bought Poemme by Lancome. A gorgeous really heady smell and I loved it. But it’s amazing how the sense of smell can bring back feelings of sadness. It’s in my drawer now and one smell brings back the leaves falling, the nights drawing in, driving to hospital in the half-light and sadly losing my Mum on Sept 10th 2002
In 2003 and 2006 I had my two little boys. The greatest gift I’ve ever been given but the most enormous life change. Oh the wilderness years! I was still reeling from losing my Mum so suddenly. I gave up work and stayed at home full time. I don’t regret that for one second, however it was incredibly lonely. I endured post-natal depression and completely lost myself. I gained weight, lived in jeans, t shirts, no make-up except a smidge on a very rare night out. During this time I can recall wearing the dwindling Poemme sometimes. I just can’t wear it now. I would be like spraying on sadness.
Going back to my Mum, when we eventually sorted through her belongings I found the Tresor I’d bought her 8 months previously for her birthday. Unopened and saved ‘for best’. I really cried finding that but it was a life changing moment. I vowed that some things shouldn’t be saved or made to wait for ‘best’. Life is the best. I now wear perfume everyday, no matter what I’m doing. I love jewellery, dresses, heels and make-up. Every day I wear some or all of them…just because…
I tell my children I love them everyday and kiss and hug them. It really is too short.
And the Tresor? It’s in a box in my wardrobe. If ever I ‘need’ my Mum I can smell her and it’s a huge comfort.
This is – briefly – my life in perfume. Now adays I love ‘Chance’ by Chanel, Gucci and sometimes wear ‘Be Delicious’ by DKNY but I like to think my signature scent is – and always will be Beautiful. Anyone brushing close enough to me recently will have my beautiful scent in their memory bank now and just maybe if they catch the scent of it in future I might be recalled. XX
Member since: 26th June 2012
I run thebestof Northampton and am very proud to do so!
38 year old, typically blonde at times, mum of 2.
I love Northampton, love to help business stars to shine even more brightly!