Wake up and smell the roses ….
I have long read about and recognised the benefits of aromatherapy oils but had not realised how instantly soothing fragrances could be – until very recently, that is. Having lost my mother, feeling exhausted from grief, sleepless nights, mental note-making, eulogy writing, choosing music for the service and making sure that everything was right for the funeral, my head felt in a complete fug. Someone gifted me the most thoughtful ‘care package’ that included a delicious lavender body balm from Arbonne. Just opening the blue apothecary style jar and the waft of lavender eased my sore head and eyes. Whilst it is difficult to lift oneself from the melancholy of mourning, I was surprised at how much better I felt, instantly. The lavender really did soothe mind and soul.
Smells are evocative and can transport you to another time, delicious home-baking takes me instantly to my grandmother’s kitchen, the waft of the lightest rock cakes, sticky jam tarts with the shortest pastry cases, coconut dipped madelines and Sunday tea time. Equally, so too does the rather more unpleasant smell of boiled eggs! – I spent many an evening hand rolling boiled eggs in sausage-meat and then dipping them in egg and fresh breadcrumbs as part of a Scotch egg production line! And worse still the embarrassment of carrying the sulphurous smelling eggs on the bus to my Saturday catering job in London’s Marylebone – as a teenager I lived in a permanent state of ‘blush’ and those eggs took my mortification to a whole new level. So, the good and the bad – all from one kitchen.
Then away from the smells of home, there is fragrance, Aromatics Elixir was my mother’s signature scent and even now that heady combination of rose, jasmine, ylang ylang and vetiver brings her back to me – nestled up to her while she soothed my broken heart or coached me through my next job interview; road trips with her as driver and me as navigator,belting out Brenda Lee songs; the joys of pregnancy and motherhood and all the other occasions that she would hold me close to her. I smell Aromatics and instantly see her gorgeous red hair and her beaming smile. Even my children, when they were very small would be out and someone would pass wearing Aromatics or we would pass the Clinique counter in a store and they would say ‘I can smell Nanna!’
Like all the women in my family, I am a serial monogamist in my relationships with fragrance. My very first grown up experience with perfume was Anais Anais, sweet, pretty, feminine and perfect for a teenager. Progressing by way of Trussardi and Claude Montana to Calyx by Prescriptives in the late 80’s. I wore this on my wedding day and still, 25 years on, it is my favourite scent. Despite Prescriptives being no more – thank the perfume Gods, Clinique relaunched Calyx early last year. In the interim I moved between Caleche for the Winter and Prada Infusion d’Iris in the Summer, both have Iris as their heart note and the same can be said of Calyx – this is the common denominator of all three scents, although they are very different. I have a ‘type’ of fragrance, fresh, powdery and soft but distinctive. (The Trussardi and Claude Montana were a deviation from type, powerful, cloying, sweet, nausea inducing! but I can be forgiven as I was looking for something individual)
Which brings me to fragrance layering, one of the greatest compliments I ever receive is if I am told ‘Ooh you always smell nice‘, I inwardly do a little jig … But of course when you become accustomed to a fragrance you often can’t smell it on yourself. I do have a propensity to ‘go mad’ with my spraying, so if you meet me and I knock your socks off with too much perfume – do tell me! It helps to create that wafting quality when you use both bath and skin products before adding a final spritz of perfume – always on the skin not on your clothes (it will go stale and may also stain your clothes!) but using a combination of bath/shower and moisturising products will definitely get your scent to linger longer.
And then there was the Virgin Vie incident. Not normally a party plan kind of girl, I offered to help out a friend. As a party hostess you were ‘gifted’ something as recompense for plying your peers with copious amounts of alcohol and an adult crisp. I was rather stuck on what to choose, so they chose for me and gave me some bath products with an Oceanic fragrance. My youngest son who had an olfactory awareness beyond his years came into the bathroom post shower declaring ‘Ooh mummy, can you smell fish?’ Perhaps more Oceanic than I was ready for!
Ever had any scent mishaps? and what is your favourite scent ever?