Thursday, 4 November 2010

A Sniff Back In Time

I was wandering round the supermarket a few days ago, probably looking for something like pinenuts or piccalilli as is my habit, I walked past a woman, and instantly it was 1987 again. Rather than having some sort of Back To The Future experience, or travelling in a Tardis (please note, I would love to travel in a Tardis), I'd walked past a woman who was wearing exactly the same perfume as my 19 year old self.

I've always had a bit of a nose for perfume - nothing linked to taste or sophistication, but simply being able to recognise it at first sniff. It gets much less easy nowadays, now everyone and his dog have their own signature scents, and I wouldn't know my Britney Spears from my Bobby Davro but in the olden days (which is how I refer to my youth) I was pretty spot on.

I wish I could remember the first perfume I wore but I can't. I suspect it was some Coty concoction that came in a gift pack with some talcum powder. I do however remember my mum's perfume - she wore Tabu, which I'd recognise now but it was probably discontinued around the time of all the kerfuffle in the Falklands. The first perfume I distinctly remember wearing was exactly the same as I smelled on this woman, and it was Ysatis. I first stumbled across it when one of my friends wore it and I adopted it from then on. There was of course quite some discussion about how it was actually pronounced - my friend pronounced it "whysattis", my mum went for the slightly more unusual "yistarzi" (I don't know either) and I went for "eesattees".

Still no matter how you say it, it's what it conjures up. For me, it was nights out with the girls, first dates, first jobs, falling over drunk, first heartbreak, random kisses, restaurant meals and a first wedding. And every single one of those images whizzed through my mind as though these were my last moments on earth.

I've tried other perfumes, I think it's probably quite rare to stay with the choice of your youth. I've worn Poison, Paloma Picasso, Loulou, Ghost and Beautiful, and countless others I've dabbled with inbetween, those that have slipped from my mind like a half remembered glimpse of a face you once knew. I've tried other perfumes, I've fallen over countless more times, had more random kisses and even another wedding.

I'm now almost exclusively a Chanel woman, not quite ready for No5 but building my way towards it with the baby steps of Coco. I'm a woman now, but the girl still lingers.

So come and tell me, what was your first perfume (or aftershave)? And what memories does it hold for you?


  1. I got Charlie as a Christmas present from my Godfather and couldn't believe someone thought I was grown up enough to give me perfume! Wonderful memories.
    I'm a Chanel woman myself these day but only cause they stopped making Givenchy III:(

  2. Aw this takes me back....Lou Lou, strange shaped bottle, bright blue. Loved that perfume but guess I would think it smells soo sweet and sickly if I could catch a scent of it now..

  3. The olfactory system or the sense of smell is very powerful. Part of the brain plays an important role in storing emotions and emotional trauma. The theory being that odour can help release stored emotions, (I learned that when I did my Aromatherapy Diploms course).
    My sense of smell is my best sense, (Ican't see or hear you well but can smell you a mile off). I wear perfume every day, it is a ritual like brushing my teeth or applying makup. When I was pregnant some days it was unbearable and I could smell my perfumes that were upstairs on the dressing table as I walked through the front door, I had to give Samsara away it was just to nauseating! Your sense of smell is hightened when pregnant, to help protect your young, it is another safety aspect of when we used to live in caves and we were less sophisticated. Isn't our body so wonderful. I have worn many perfumes over the years and right now have 9 on my dressing table (I counted them after reading this). Two I always have though are No5 and Coco, something lighter for work and summer and winter changes. Your perfume choice of the day often follows your mood I find. First ever perfume when I was about 5 from an old aunt was Devonshire Violet pure perfume! Which was vile. I spilt it on the piano and it took off the varnish.No I didn't get in much trouble!!!!!!! The smell lasted for years. Oops!!