But this post is not only about introducing the patchouli series. It is about change of heart in our perfume choices in general. I opened this post by asking you, how your tastes in perfume have changed over the years. I want to expand on this question and further ask: How do you feel about these changes? For me, accepting certain changes has not been easy. I grew up with a very clear instinct to passionately love green perfumes. Chypres, whether warm and animalic or strict, cold and austere were my primary love at an age when I could never have been able to say what a chypre was. Paloma Picasso’s Mon Parfum, Jean-Louis Scherrer 1, the original Nina, Rose Cardin de Pierre Cardin, Clinique’s Aromatics Elixir might have been completely age inappropriate, but I didn’t know and didn’t care. Chypres were my primary love. Related to the family in more ways than one, I also adored green, bitter and herbal perfumes: Clinique’s Wrappings with its sour herbal character held inexplicable, instinctive attraction, Cerutti 1881 with its chokingly bitter taste made me feel poisonously adult and Estee’s Private Collection was to me the brightest, most shining example of what a good perfume should be like: worth its money to the last penny, even though I could only afford the smallest size with my pocket money.
And through it all, I realize now, that I felt a certain kind of superiority, a certain snobbery towards those that in my eyes didn’t know any better. Not only could I not understand why people would choose anything remotely sweet smelling, but to my shame, I also felt a kind of pity. Furthermore, anything heavy on vanilla or even worse, a vanilla-patchouli combo was instantly translated as trashy in my mind. The women and girls that wore these perfumes instantly earned a desperate label in my mind. Do I forgive myself for the snobbery? Well, yes in a way… I was a teenager and youth comes brandished with such entitled superiority, such sheer conviction that one knows all and what’s more, one knows best. There is a certain hilarity in that. That doesn’t mean I am not ashamed of the way I thought then. Unfortunately however, there’s more to this… I have changed a great deal in the last five to six or so years when it comes to perfume choices. Suddenly I started appraising perfumes not in terms of whether I like them or not for personal use, but in terms of whether the scent in question was a well constructed, good perfume. Was it perhaps a fantastic perfume, even though I wouldn’t consider wearing it? The journey can be described as a great hobby that started off as completely egocentric (please my senses, my instincts), to something far more academic: perfume for itself. Then came this blog. And as I started wearing a different perfume almost every day, so I slowly found myself actually buying things I never expected I would buy. Suddenly I found that there no longer was a difference between what I appreciated and what I would actually crave to wear. For the past few years I find myself craving different things depending on my mood, the weather, my style of dress, the season, you name it. Choice seems completely arbitrary, no longer connected to a favorite family. The only limiting factor now, is whether I love something, and to my surprise still, even after so many years, I can love things from every fragrance family. And yes, it still surprises me. There is still a cognitive dissonance sometimes when I crave vanilla, patchouli, sugar, comfort, softness. My erstwhile self comes back to mock me sometimes. “You used to be chicer. You used to be sophisticated!” she says with her stupidly superior 15 year old voice as I pick up a comforting gourmand. I’ve yet to find a good answer to retort to her, even though I know that truthfully, I am far more sophisticated now than I was at 15. I can’t completely dissociate the label chic from the term Chypre or the characterization “green”. I can however feel secure in my judgment on what is good and tasteful and liberate myself from any worry with the confidence that my choice does the image I want to project justice.
Images: Heart via www.sxc.hu, grass and dewdrop via Flickr (originally uploaded by Scott Robinson). Last is the artwork depicting a girl trying to resist Eros. Unfortunately I no longer remember the artist or the title of the painting. If you know, then please drop me a line in the comments so I can attribute it.