My latest purchase

Friday, 31 May 2013 | Tags: , , , , ,

I just bought some new perfume: Jour D'Hermes. For me this is big news because perfume is one of the most difficult products to get right. It's rare I find one that is pleasing to me at my current place in life.

Jour D'Hermes

That’s partly because out of all the senses, smell is the most complex.  We have up to 400 receptors in our nose, helping to detect an unknown number of scents.  There are far more smells than there are colours the eyes can see, and the eyes can see up to 10 million colours.

No other sense can catapult you to another time and place the way a whiff of something familiar can.  The smell of lilac transports me to summertime in my childhood bedroom.  I would lie awake for hours staring at the Charlie’s Angels stickers on my wall (I always thought those girls had the perfect job). There was a purple lilac tree right outside my window, and to this day that scent brings back vivid pictures and feelings of my 10-year-old self, who longed to be a secret agent.

Scent is a primal, evocative, haunting, and perhaps the least understood of all the senses. As a teenager I received my first bottle of perfume as a gift.   White Shoulders. Today, and even then, I don’t actually like the way it smells. But someone gave me my own perfume!

Later when I got into wearing too much eyeliner, I moved on to Giorgio, which is what I’d buy The Housewives of Wherever if I had to buy them a present.  For me it screams, cougar.  And this is what I spritzed on myself when I was 17!   Thankfully the term cougar hadn’t been invented yet.  


Then all through most of my adult life, my defining scent was
Amarige by Givenchy
.  I can’t make my brain remember its specifics, but I know I’d recognize it instantly if I smelled it.  I liked it just fine, but what made me wear it is that I got so many compliments on it.

Just like the way a dress looks great on you and terrible on me, a scent smells different on everyone.  That’s because everyone’s unique body chemistry affects the notes in perfume differently.  And some scents last longer on certain people for the same reason.  If you’ve got dry skin perfume won’t last as long, so you might want to invest in a “parfum” over an “eau du toilette” since it has a higher essential oil content, making it last longer.

I hate to admit it, but branding has an influence on which bottles I try at the perfume counter.  If something is branded as being extremely cute or overly girlie, I shy away. Take Marc Jacobs’ Daisyicon. I look at that bottle and the ads and think, “I’m not that girl”. For all I know, I’d love the way it actually smells. And Chanel No. 5? I really wanted to love it because to me the branding says, “I’m a grown up sophisticated lady.” But when I did a blind test, I just thought it smelled old.icon

Is it possible for a scent to be around for too long? That’s what Kristina found after she spent months tracking down her old standby Grand Amour by Annick Goutal.  When she spritzed it on, she thought, “This is so me five years ago.”

I believe in making fresh starts and in the power of reinvention.  Perfume may seem like a small piece of that puzzle, but it will indeed form a distinct part of my personal packaging as I soldier on through this phase of life.  And the funny thing is, as I take a whiff of my wrist today…is that lilac I detect?



Top photo by anetz/flickr

top of page | | back to posts |
  • Subscribe to the A&K Newsletter

  • LeilaniNY

    Let me start by saying I’m a new fan of the Beauty Call show and watch it in the states (NYC metro area). I’m telling all my friends to watch it to help build your American fan base! I loved this post and agree – perfume does the same thing for me. My not-very-new but beloved fragrance that I’ve been wearing for over a year now is (untitled) by Maison Martin Margiela. It smelled odd when I first tried it on but evolved into something wonderful in an hour. It’s especially good for spring and summer. The fragrance I wear to be transported to my most idyllic vacation is Carthusia’s Mediterraneo – purchased in Capri for a big birthday trip – and smells of the heavenly lemons of that magical island. I love the big brands and still wear Coco Chanel sometimes for evenings, but in the end, I usually like wearing fragrances that are a bit unique. That said, I will be checking out Jour D’Hermes because, hello – it’s HERMES.

    • annaandkristina

      Glad you found us, and thanks for sharing with your friends! I’ll have to look for the two fragrances you mention. They both sound interesting – lemon tones do sound quite magical! Love to hear if you smell lilacs in the Jour D’Hermes too. Thanks for reading!

  • LeilaniNY

    So elated for your reply to my earlier Guest post! Will report back on the lilacs, for sure. Would love to hear if you’re ever able to try the two fragrances I mentioned but should just warn they are tricky to track down (i.e., (untitled) is only at Saks and Mediterraneo just online unless you are traveling). But so worth it! And apologies for the ridiculous Guest gravatar. As it turns out I have neither yellow yarn hair nor a tissue plastered on my face (how my daughter’s “Achoo” artwork showed up as my gravatar here is completely beyond me).

  • Eugen

    I remember when I was young and mentioned to a female friend that I was thinking of buying perfume for my then-current girlfriend. She said not to, that perfume reacts to a woman’s body chemistry and you could end up with something quite horrid. I thought she was joking but decided to check into it. And was I ever surprised how different a single perfume can smell on one woman or another. I was fortunate to have gone to a perfume store allowed me to smell the scent on a piece of paper and then two of the women kindly offered to show how different it would smell on each of them. I was gobsmacked.

    I’ve come to appreciate the effort a woman goes to to find that subtleness a proper perfume exudes. But I think it’s well worth it.

    Now, if we can only convince guys to stop bathing in cologne, or cheap variants thereof! I fail to see how any woman finds that reek remotely appealing. And some guys think spraying more on is the solution. Gad.

    • annaandkristina

      The whole scent thing is quite interesting, isn’t it? Agree with you about guys who bathe in cologne!