Smells are Songs, Part 2

July 27, 2014


Estee Lauder in the 1980s, had a fragrance lineup that was undeniable, unbeatable, and so pervasive that most high school and college girls (that I knew) had at least a couple in her arsenal of colognes.  Cinnabar was one of my favorite autumn fragrances.  Brings to mind Friday night football games, hot cocoa, dances after the game, and great fall student life.  I credit my friend Melissa Roden for introducing me to this.  It was her signature scent, but I adopted it, too.



Revlon’s Ciara was one of those know-it-anywhere fragrances.  Readily available at department stores and our local pharmacy that happened to carry some really nice colognes.  When I think back on my wearing Ciara, I’m fairly certain I overdid it.  This was a powerfully strong scent, perfect for leaving a cloud of aroma in one’s wake.   Lauren Hutton’s appearance in this ad campaign made me seek this out.


And back to Estee: White Linen.  This lovely, lingering yet soft scent was perfect for spring.  As a matter of fact, I’m certain I reserved it only for warm-weather-wear.  Crisp, sophisticated, and in by my estimation, very preppy and clean.  Yes, a staple.



Lancome made this wonderfully hypnotic perfume: Magie Noir. This fragrance was “discovered” by my friend Shana Strickland, who made this her signature scent.  It embodied the exotic, night-time mysteriousness that she personified.  I didn’t dare wear this cologne until we moved away from one another after high school.  It was that much a part of her.  But when I did add this to my collection, I always had compliments on it.  Oddly enough, I never purchased a bottle of this in a spray version.  I preferred the smaller bottle with a glass stopper; I wanted to pick and choose the pulse points I applied it on (behind ears, knees, and wrists).  Yes, I was definitely wandering into adult territory with this one.



My first foray into Calvin Klein’s fragrances was with Obsession. It was a gift from a boyfriend’s mother.  It was one of those hot up-and-coming fragrances and she chose this for me for my 20th birthday.  Being the fall/autumn gal that I am, I’d say she was spot-on with her choice.  It was the right time of year, and the right earthiness for me.  Nothing floral about it at all. . . down to its earthy amber color.  It fit me well.  Thank you, Miss Pat.


Clinique’s Aromatic Elixir will probably go down as one of my all-time-favorite fragrances.  Ever.  And it was introduced to me in the Alpha Chi house by a lovely girl named Jill Nunnelly, one of my college style-icons.  It worked for me.  It was a magnet for all who smelled it; the fragrance that everyone would stop and ask me “. . .what do you have on?”  In my life, this is the one scent that worked with my chemistry to smell quite a bit different on me than in the bottle.  And I became addicted to all things Aromatics.  Body wash, lotion, candles.  I wanted this scent around me at all times.  This was still active in my perfume collection when I met my husband in NYC.  I credit this scent with landing the second date 😉



Prescriptives’ Calyx was an adult purchase.  As in my first paycheck from American Airlines,  a Bloomingdale’s cosmetic department purchase.  I was introduced to this by one of my flight attendant roommates, Rachel.  A California-girl who had worked in cosmetics before she signed on with AA and flew trans-continental flights from JFK to SFO.  Rachel had an impact on me that she will never understand.  She was from the other coast.  This was an awakening for me. . . the first time I considered a green, floral/woody fragrance.  Time of year didn’t matter for this one, because I simply adored it.  Just as I adore Rachel, to this day.



And we’re saving the “fun” for the last installment: men’s cologne and the memories that linger. . .





One morning spent Pinning (Pinteresting?) former perfume-loves of mine led me to the idea for this blog.  I expect it to morph into several things, but here’s where I’ll begin:  Scents.  Perfumes.  Colognes.  Aromas.  Smells.

“. . . Smells are songs like time machines. . .” is a quote that was recently written on my Facebook wall.  Just one of many sage observations from my college roommate and sorority sister, Cheli.  She always did have a way with words.  A perfect example of personification and simile/metaphor all rolled into one.  By the way, she was a journalism major, and she’s made a career out of her word-smithery.  I love you, Chels-Bels.

Her sentiment rings so true in my life.  I’ve always known that of my 6 senses;) smell has always been the one most linked to memories. . . concrete times and places and people I’ve encountered.  It’s actually my favorite sense.  And let’s think about that “song” reference, too.  Songs, like smells, will transport me to an explicit place or time.  I love the comparison.

So here are several of my time-machines and a self-indulgent walk down Memory Lane, beginning with my adolescents :


Love’s Baby Soft. Who doesn’t remember their first perfume-love? This was mine, circa 5th grade. Jimmy Carter was President. There was a gasoline-shortage but no dearth of this sweet stuff.  It was love at first whiff with this powdery goodness.

And then came the perfumey-hair phase:


I used each of these at some point. The best-lingering scents were the two on the left: Faberge Organics  and of course, the Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific. But how could I forget the Body-on-Tap shampoos and conditioners?  This phase began in junior high school and to this day, I never buy a bottle of shampoo or conditioner without it passing the Smell-Test.  I adore perfumey hair.

And then, true “grown-up” scents. . . colognes marketed to people like me.  People who wanted a scent for each outfit and mood:



Which brings me to my Musk phase. I freely admit I bought into the whole “pheromone” thing. Musk oils were some of my very earthy-favorites. Jovan’s Musk Oil for Women was a bit more appropriate and wearable for day-time academics and school activities. But its night-time counterpart, Coty’s Wild Musk, was reserved for serious skating-rink allure.  I was convinced this stuff would insure an invitation to couple-skate.

And then, my first designer fragrance, for which there was no turning back:


I can wrap up my high school years with this classic.  Lauren by Ralph Lauren.  My first bottle was a gift from my high school sweetheart, who gave it to me in a perfectly-presented Easter basket.  I’ll never forget this gesture of 16-year old romance.  It was the perfect gift from the perfect first boyfriend.

Smells are Songs: to be continued. . .