Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Quest for Long Lost Scents

"For a year I bought up every bottle I could find, and in the end probably collected about 50. The stash lasted me a decade, until 2002, when I had only a half bottle left. I stowed it at the back of my closet, to be opened only when I really needed to remember what my twenties smelled like. In the last few months, I’d been taking out that old, now discolouring, bottle more and more often. On a few nights I wore the ancient skin cream as if it was the most precious lace. It still smelled fine, a bit weak and baking soda-ish, but still nice, although the lotion had separated and quite frankly I felt like a weirdo slathering the stuff on. So we’ll leave the psychological analysis of what my renewed interest in a 19-yearold baby lotion says about my current state of mind for a different day. Best to tell you instead that this week I am in New York City, and I brought the bottle with me, and I have made a hobby of stealing out at lunchtime to various perfume shops, intent on replicating its contents".

Thus describes Mireille Silcoff her memories-loaded baby lotion by Johnson's & Johnson's in an article named "Smell is the Nearest Thing we Have To Bottled Time Travel" at The Ampersand on the National Post. The article includes a New York City touring of perfumeries, such as Aedes de Venustas and CB I Hate Perfume.
The piece will ring several bells for anyone who has stockpiled perfume in a spree to curtail possible shortage and will have you reminiscing about formative smells in your own past. Highly recommended reading.

thanks to 5oaks on POL for bringing it to my attention


  1. annemariec22:15

    Lovely, lovely piece. Thanks for the link. Lots of things that could be said about it, but the main message for me was that we should treasure the things we love, no matter how (apparently) simple and ordinary they may be. I have never been to Aedes de Venustas but I have had that sort of treatment once or twice. I am so hoping that the boss of AdV reads Mireeille Silcoff's piece.

  2. I have to share a story very much in this line, thought curiously reversed. In my teens my first perfume was Benetton's Tribu. Unlike the strange mindless clones that brand now sells, it was a proper scent, Bulgarian rose with a lovely powdery quality. It was a Christmas gift and since it was sold out almost everywhere and I really wanted it, my Mom got me a 100ml size because it was the only one she could find.

    Well a few years ago, I dug out the remainder of the bottle from the perfume cabinet, and since it was kept in a cool, dry, dark place it was still exactly the same. Exactly the same, to the point that when I sprayed it, I was an awkward teenager in high school again. No matter how much I loved the scent, it had become irreversibly entangled with my memories of that era. I never wore it again.

  3. Annemarie,

    it is, isn't it. I agree with you and try to remember it when I stockpile: when will I ever wear these things? And then I try to wear what I have and enjoy every minute of it.
    I have heard good things about Miguel, but if she had a complaint, yes, they should know about it; it's for the best for all of us.

  4. Patuxxa,

    what a poignant story, thanks for sharing. Adolescence especially is such a tender phase in our lives, so olfactory souvenirs should be especially vivid, I suppose.


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