Judged against a more contemporary exercise in minimalism, it's going to come up looking overdressed. Compared to the roaring jasmine fantasia of Joy, it seems rather close to the vest. Compared to much of what was produced in the seventies, it's downright conservative. I've always preferred it to Joy, and it remains one of my favorite Patou fragrances. There's a golden warmth to it which sits it alongside Teo Cabanel's Alahine, another favorite of mine, however different they are in many ways. 1000 strikes an interesting, rewarding balance between violet and rose, with jasmine calling an easy truce between the two. Joy has a warmth to it, too, but it seems cold next to 1000, and much more single-minded. 1000 is beatifically rich, both creamy and translucent. It feels serious but isn't grim. It's mossy and faintly animalic yet as clean and bright as Chanel No. 5.
For many, Chanel No. 5 has signified class and costliness for decades, but in my household, Joy was the known name. My mother wore Joy when we were kids. She didn't actually wear it--not often--it was too costly. Mostly she admired it. Joy wasn't an everyday perfume, but a signature scent you didn't wear so much that the ink would run dry. My mother got a bottle as a present on her honeymoon and cherished it throughout my early childhood, until my sister, noticing how low it was getting, did her the favor of topping it off with water.
I still remember that feeling of loss; the way my mother reacted. I'm sure my sister remembers even more vividly than I do. We still refer to the incident in slightly coded terms. It was like, losing Joy, we'd lost our one chance to be as important as other people we might never meet; we'd lost our one available glimpse into what it felt to live like they did. Joy was probably the first perfume I ever smelled, or was conscious of smelling. It was understood to be something my mother didn't come by easily. People like us, basically, did not intersect with something like that too often.
When something so precious came into your life it held an exalted position there, presiding over routine experience like visiting royalty. It reminded you who you were and weren't while giving you some indication of what you might aspire to be. The color of Joy still seems more golden than any other perfume to me. Set out on my mother's dresser, it appeared to glow. The loss of it was like the death of a fantasy. When Patou and Chanel talked about preserving the exclusivity of their fragrances, they didn't mean that only rich women should buy them, but that a dream should be kept alive, a certain kind of significance observed and upheld.
I bring all this up because 1000 has always carried the residual weight of my memories about Joy. I haven't had that reaction with any other Patou fragrance, much as I love many of them. The bottle and packaging for 1000 and Joy are similar if not identical at this point. I believe they always were, and that in launching 1000 Patou hoped to capitalize on the established prestige of Joy. The ad I've attached would seem to indicate this, posing the two side by side, as if synonymous. But asserting them as equals would seem to risk making the sum total less than its parts, so in a way it was a risky move, and a little confused. But confusion seemed to be the desired effect, a hope that the admirer of Joy would extend her affections to 1000.
A 1972 ad for Joy asserted: "There is only one Joy." In that ad, no other bottle stands nearby, stealing its thunder, though 1000 came out that very year. How do you market another exclusive perfume when you already produce the most exclusive fragrance known to man? An early ad for 1000 calls the fragrance a limited edition perfume: "Because 1000 de Jean Patou is so rare and available to so few, each flacon is registered. A hand-numbered card accompanies this totally unique perfume..." 1000 was just as exclusive, then, in a slightly different way. I'm sure I saw these ads as a child, and merged the fragrances in my mind as virtually the same thing. At the very least, I viewed them as important parts of the same special universe.
I do find some similarity in the fragrances themselves, and of course the color of 1000 is that same rich golden embodiment of luxury. When others think of Patou, Joy is surely foremost in their minds. I'm not sure 1000 is. I know a lot more now about Patou and the Patou fragrances than I did as a child, enough to know that 1000 arrived pretty late in the game, under Jean Kerleo as opposed to Henri Almeras, the perfumer responsible for the house's esteemed fragrances of the twenties, thirties, and forties. Still, for me, 1000 remains more iconic, speaking a language I remember distinctly from childhood.
I have a 75 ml bottle of 1000 in eau de parfum concentration to give away to one of our readers. This is a more recent formulation of 1000 and holds up impressively against vintage. The main difference is felt in the absence of natural musks. To be eligible, please tell me what perfume you remember embodying luxury and almost mystical properties when you were a child and why. I'll draw a name on Thursday.
Oh, my, how this brings me back to my own childhood...no one in my family was lucky enough to have Joy or 1000, but I remember playing surreptitiously with my grandmother's powder puff in her bathroom, dousing every bit of myself with it and swearing up and down the river that I'd not touched it. Being white as a ghost made that lie blatanly obvious, but my grandma never blinked. And then, when I was 10, she got me my very own bottle of this magical stuff, and I knew I was almost a grownup. What was this elixir? Dimestore White Shoulders. Nothing magical, right? Yet it set me into a lifetime of fragrance, and I rotate between about 25 "favorites," Joy being one of them, with several waiting in the wings. As yet another Alahine addict, and a Debut fiend, I would love, love, love to bring 1000 into the fold! Merci for your beautiful writing, and for this spectacular giveaway.
Mine has to be Opium. For as long as I can remember my mother has had an old bottle of the EdT in the original rust lacquer splash bottle, and as a child I always loved to steal a sniff of it every now and then. I don't know that I associated it with luxury necessarily, although as I grew older and learned about Yves Saint Laurent and the history behind Opium I'm sure I started to, but more than anything Opium embodied glamour and decadence to my young nose. The drama of it just always seemed so far beyond what I knew in my every day life. I suppose the fact that by the time I was old enough to remember smelling it my mother had stopped wearing it added to it's mystique, like it was simply too dramatic and sensual to wear whenever you felt like it. Even back then I knew that Opium required a certain context to work, darkness was a must and smoldering makeup finished off with an immaculately lacquered manicure was preferred. There was always this aura of something really bad-in-a-good-way about Opium, something forbidden, dangerous even. If any perfume was responsible for shaping my tastes as I've grown up Opium is it.
thank you for this review-insight-it's so strange-only 2 days ago I stongly remembered and thought about my first perfume impression
it was my french teacher( I was 7)wearing Madame Rochas. This being comunist Romania in the'60 it was clearly a subversive, extremely elegant and dangerous act
I remember being very immpressed by the beauty ( could not tell why) of that perfume
For years I kept looking for it and, even these days it has a special " there is another, free world out there" meaning for me
Sadly there was no Joy at home but I love it and 1000 . My sister's "Emeraude" was what I craved .I imagine it was only E.D.T and now I have extrait. It's richness was about warmth and wanting to be just like my sister .She had records and off-the -peg Mary Quant .I didn't ,in the end , even fall for Shalimar no it was Vol de Nuit and being a glam fan who wanted the sparkle Anthony Price gave to Roxy .
For me it was Chanel No. 5. It was the only perfume my mother owned, and she only wore it when she was dressed up nice, "going out", so to me it was the height of luxury and sophistication. I don't think I even experienced another perfume until I was old enough to go to the perfume counter myself. Not a lot of perfume fans in my family, unfortunately.
I love this article because I lurked around the fragrance and cosmetic counters in my teens, and I always skirted the counter with the Joy display because I was completely intimidated by the price and apparent sophistication of it. It just did not fit me. I still have never tried Joy or 1000! I grew up in a relatively fragrance free household because of my mother's migraines, but my grandmother wore White Shoulders whenever she dressed up for some event. I loved watching her get ready with those final sprays of White Shoulders. My mother only used Chanel No 5, but it was a rare moment when she used it, so I don't really have a memory of it.
Lovely to read this one, Brian. I remember that my mother always liked fragrance and had several perfumes on her dresser, although she wore them infrequently. Estee Lauder Youth Dew is the one I remember best. It conjures her in dress, hat and gloves whenever I smell it.
Although it may not be the masterpiece that Joy is, I remember thinking Grey Flannel was very classy. My father wore it for years, and I would sometimes sneak into his medicine cabinet just to look at the bottle.
As for 1000, I would *love* to own some. I've tried it at Saks a few times and think it is wonderful!
Thanks for the giveaway!
The perfume which embodied luxury when I was a child was my grandma's Madame Rochas. For me it was the smell of her house, her wardrobe and drawers and to me it was like the perfume of another age, because I even could smell it in the old photos box. I could imagine my grandma wearing it in her youth, dancing in wonderful ballrooms, as she liked to do.
Then my grandma stopped wearing it (I don't know really why) but I know she has always said that it was her favourite perfume, so last year I gave her a bottle as a Christmas gift (very hard to find, indeed) and she was very happy. After twenty years without wearing it, she rediscovered it and now she keeps it for special moments.
I would love to have the chance to try Jean Patou 1000. Please, enter me in the draw and thank you very much!
This is an easy question. Back in the gloomy communist era of the seventies a pack of German chewing gum was the height of imperialism. At least for a little boy. This is why I never really understood how my grandmother came by a bottle of Diorissimo. She never told me and I did not ask. It was the sort of question that did not have an answer. For me it was like asking how does heaven look like. It was not a question of money, although we have never had much of it. It was just something that would not be allowed to enter the borders of a communist country.
My grandmother had an old dressing table with a beautiful mirror where the Diorissimo stood, mainly untouched for months. Somehow the bottle was all the time in front of the other things. It was, of course, forbidden to touch it. I could ask for any other thing there but not this one. And I never did. I knew that my grandmother would use it on my birthday, on her birthday and on that of my grandfather’s. I remember clearing the dressing table of all other items on it and leaving just the Diorissimo, I have been doing this every time I was alone in the house. I just sat there, in front of the mirror, with just one bottle on the table and I had dreamed about the day I would be able to get one for myself. I have thought it would be the only perfume I will ever have and the only one I will ever use.
The bottle got empty after many, many years, my grandmother passed away, and I grew up. The communist regime has come to an end and I could finally get myself a Diorissimo. And so I did. But I could not fully recognize the scent I have become accustomed to. It seemed different. I found out it was different due to the reformulations. So after all those years of yearning for it, my grandmother’s Diorissimo still eludes me. Now I know that I will never really have it. Only in my memories.
I used to have a little bottle of 1000 in the seventies. I can't recall where I got it, though it was unboxed. I kept it carefully, but it turned quickly stale, much to my dismay. It was probably a tester, left out in a store on a light-heated glass counter... Anyway, I recently got the body lotion from TKMaxx, and that gives me some idea of what it's meant to smell like. And I really like it.
To me as a child, the height of luxury in perfume was Chanel No.5. This was entirely down to advertising and that famous Monroe quote, as I'd never smelled it. I can't recall that my mother ever owned any perfume, she didn't even have a dressing table.
When I did finally sniff No.5 as a teenager, I was disappointed. I discovered that aldehydes were not my thing - I didn't know that's what I was ssmelling of course, but I knew what I disliked! Nowadays, I can appreciate No.5 for it's iconic status, but I still don't wear it.
My older sister had a thing about Shalimar when she was in high school. Just the exotic name was enough to cause a certain thrill. Now, 40 or 50 years later, I have become a full-fledged fan of Guerlain. Of course, the house of Patou is legendary, and it would be very exciting to have a bottle of 1000!
What a lovely draw! To me, a scent that embodies luxury and is almost mystical takes me back to my childhood, with Magie Noire by Lancome. My mother would wear it and it always made me imagine jewelery (and my mother didn´t wear it) and also a sense of peace and calm, that approached mysticism. I still would feel the same if I had to smell it.
Hi Brian--I don't know if I'm eligible for the draw, as this is my first comment on your blog. If I am, however, please enter me.
My story is somewhat similar to yours, I think. My family was 70s working class, but my mother always kept a department store credit card. She used it to by cosmetics counter makeup and Chanel No. 5. The spray, in the black bottle. My mom was very self-conscious about her weight and therefore spent very little time and energy shopping for clothes, but her makeup and her scent were fabulous.
The following comment was left by reader Cate:
"I think the epitome of a luxury perfume that I knew as a child would be Chanel # 5. We lived in a small town in western Minnesota, and my mom only wore ti when dressed up for a special evening out. I feel the same way about 1000 today, it always makes me feel special when I wear it."
When i was a child, my mother wore Diorissimo, exclusively. Every year for her birthday, my father would give her a new bottle. Diorissimo is the smell of my mother kissing me goodnight before leaving for a party.
I tested 1000 recently, and found it extremely beautiful.
I was surprised by how easy to wear I found it: it felt lush and womanly but also "smiling", if it makes any sense.
For what concerns your question, I was about to write about the small sample of number five, that made me dream when I was around 12 years old.
But then I remebered: Valentino by Valentino.
I was no more than 5 years old. The bottle stood in its golden glory in the bathroom. It belonged to my very glamorous grand-aunt. The ribbed bottle, the idea of spraying the golden juice, everything fascinated me. I knew I couldn't play with it, and it made it very very precious in my eyes. Mistery, luxury, elegance in liquid form.
Today, luxury would be a row of vintage Shalimar and n°5 extraits...I have very mainstream tastes apparently, like my aunt!
In our house Dad always used Old Spice and Mom used no fragrances. I have no idea where my love of perfumes came from, but it's been there as long as I can remember. When I was a young teenager and finally had some money of my own from babysitting for the neighbors, I bought Mom Nina Ricci's L'Air du Temps. I thought the bottle was so pretty and would look great on her dresser. She gave me a big hug and said thank you, but seldom wore it. I felt sorry for the perfume so I finally moved it onto my own dresser and gave it the love it deserved! That was back in the early 70's and I've read that L'Air du Temps has been reformulated -sigh! I don't want to mess with my memory of it so I'll probably not buy it again.
I really enjoyed reading your story about Patou's 1000 and am excited to have a chance to win a bottle. Thanks Brian!
"When Patou and Chanel talked about preserving the exclusivity of their fragrances, they didn't mean that only rich women should buy them, but that a dream should be kept alive, a certain kind of significance observed and upheld." -- What a nice way to think about it!
I remember seeing those ads about how Joy was the most expensive perfume imaginable and whatnot, then I'd occasionally see it in a friend's mother's bathroom and wonder how anyone I knew could possibly afford something so expensive. I didn't know the actual cost, but I figured if it was breaking records ....
I also had a friend when I was 7 or 8 whose older sister was named Shalimar, after the perfume of course. She seemed very glamorous and I always assumed the perfume must be fabulous as well. It must have been years before I actually smelled it.
For me, three perfumes come to mind that explain why I enjoy so many fragrances from the aldehydic family. The first is Arpege. My father would give my mother Arpege parfum each year for Christmas. I still have one of the empty bottles and the box in came in. I loved the way Arpege smelled on my mother.
The second perfume is Chanel No 5, of course. My mother used to wear the cologne version, which smelled so very good. She still has a smidge left from an old bottle. Still smells great. The modern EdT and EdP just aren't the same.
The third is Houbigant's long lost Essence Rare. By the time my mother began to wear Essence Rare, I was in high school and got a bottle for myself. I felt so sophisticated and mature when I wore it. We were both deeply disappointed when it was discontinued. It's one of those fragrances I often wish would see the light of day in its original form. Yes, I know. Dream on.
What a lovely post and lovely comments. Happy holidays to everyone!
My mother used to wear Arpège from Lanvin. I remember vividly this heavenly smell, when she prepared to go to a symphony concert with our dad, my sister and me already being in bed when we were little.
In the 50s, my mother was considered a great beauty and very chic, but as a child I was not impressed with the two fragrances she wore (Bond Street and Shocking). On the other hand, she had a friend that used to spend the night with us occasionally, who was the wife of a well-known graphic designer. She was not a beauty--had prematurely gray hair, wore shirt waist dresses and lots of bracelets--but she wore this heavy oriental fragrance with a massive sillage that left me dizzy and intoxicated. It was a guilty pleasure, because I was sure my mother disapproved of it (chypres were considered to be young and chic then).
What was that perfume? I still don't know, though I'd recognize it if I smelled it again (so not a Guerlain). It haunts me.
My, how this post brings back memories. Not so much because of 'Joy' or '1000', but becasue of that association between childhood and scent and mothers, some very important secret embedded in the code of a perfume we can never quite interpret until much, much later.
My own mother - a perfumoholic all her short life - had, when I was a child, a fur coat, cut like the swinger coats you sometimes see on 'Mad Men', in sheared beaver, I think it was, but printed with a leopard print. (I'd have to pass if you asked me about that fur exactly, I was very young.) She would often wear it when going out to dinner or parties, and I never forgot that palimpsest of scents on that coat - imagine, if you will, a heady blend of Jolie Madame, Mitsouko, Shalimar and Fidji. (Boggles the mind, doesn't it? ;-) )
Those evenings - when I was dropped off at a babysitter's - always concluded with me being picked up asleep and waking up on my way home, wrapped in that sumptuous coat, impregnated with the scent of, well, not exactly Mother, per se...but let's call it - Eau de Womanhood. A palimpsest of all the things that womanhood meant - grown-up pleasures often intimated, but never stated; lipstick, evening wear, sophistication, dinners out, parties and perfume, the suggestion of delights no four-year-old could ever understand, but which came with the territory of being a woman grown.
There was a knowledge, that secret code embedded in that fur coat I never quite could comprehend until many years later, and by that time, I could only be grateful I had a mother who wasn't afraid to show her daughter a little of what would some day be hers, too!
I can remember hiding in her closet, wrapped in that fur coat, trying to absorb some of that sophistication by osmosis, but as we all know, that's not how it happens...
For the same reason and because of those same powerful memories, I can never wear any of those perfumes, simply because they're so closely associated with my mother, and even now, I miss her still.
She never wore '1000'. That, I might be able to do! ;-)
Thank you so much for this, Brian. Yet another trip down memory lane I never expected, but very much enjoyed!
My family had a rough financial start. My father went back to college when I was young, and we were living off my mother's secretarial income. They were good at pinching pennies and making things that were boring seem special. And I still recall that my mother gave me my first perfume (Chantilly!) in a glass perfume bottle with a stopper. It's funny, because luxury is relative, and at that time, perfume was a real luxury. We ate day old bread and lots of rice and beans-- so something as extravagant as perfume was incredibly special. And in that special bottle, it seemed pretty incredible to me then.
Others that followed: my grandmother gave me a mini of Chloe Narcisse and Chloe (those were GORGEOUS and pure parfum), and I hoarded them for years. And Ralph Lauren's original Lauren was my first department store purchase on my 13th birthday. This was a time where I had only once had brand new clothes from the mall, so it was a huge luxury.
It was nice to read your post as it brought back my childhood memories.
When I was a little girl it was really hard to get any "western" cosmetics and perfumes in my country. It was during the communist era.
Once my mum got a bottle of Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps. We considered it a rare treasure. I remember that my mum didn't open it for months. It stood untouched on her dressing table. For me it was the embodiment of luxury, the western world and sophistication.
That's an interesting question. As a boy perfume wasn't very important, but I remember being very impressed with my grandmother's Fleurs de Rocaille. Clearly she took that one very seriously, because she would put a drop or two on her palm, add a tiny bit of water, and then put it on. Maybe it was the parfum concentration, or maybe she was just trying to stretch it out...
As I grew older there were Brut and Pino Silvestre, but the one that I really liked was Eau Sauvage. I don't know who gave me the bottle. But I wore it so rarely and applied so lightly that it lasted a long time. Looking back from 40 years later and a newly-discovered affection for "nuclear sillage", I find that very strange. Boys do weird things.
It would have to be Bal a Versailles. My mother had a small bottle of the perfume given to her by my uncle. It seemed so very elegant sitting in a box lined with yellow-gold satin and with its classic illustration on the bottle. When I went off to college, it became the fragrance that I wore on very special occasions.
A comment from "perfumemaniac" at Yesterday's Perfumes (http://yesterdaysperfume.typepad.com/), one of my favorites:
"I'm going to give you two perfumes, Brian — a description of one, and the name of the other.
First, the description. I used to take piano lessons, and my piano teacher, a curly-haired, salmon-lipstick wearing 60-something chainsmoker named Mrs. Foley, wore some intensely floral perfume that, mixed with the cigarette smoke on her clothes, reminded me of gasoline fumes. For some reason, this was the height of glamorous decadence to me! (I bet she was wearing Joy! Seriously!) I think part of the reason I remember it so is because it made me uneasy. It smelled so adult, so unnatural, perfume and cigarettes the ultimate naughty vices.
As for the perfume whose name I remember: Fracas. An older lady used to come into this French bakery where I worked as a teen, and she smoked More cigarettes. (You could do that inside back in the day!) She just seemed so worldly, and I loved how she came in, got a chocolate croissant and coffee, and sat by herself chain-smoking and smelling so intensely floral.
Weird that my glamorous vision of adulthood smells involved kind of jaded, older femininity. I had quite the gay camp sensibility even as a child!"
Oh yummy, vintage. I am feeling vintage these days...Please enter me in the draw. Thank you.
Ooh, what a wonderful drawing - thank you for offering the chance to win an amazing scent. Growing up, Diorissimo was the scent my mother wore, and she was always the epitome of luxury.
This topic really led to wonderful comments! There's something very rich and complex about the relationship between perfume and mothers. When I became an adult, my mother had the somewhat disturbing habit of buying my latest favorite scent for herself, which ruined it for me. Even though I loved and admired her (and thought she was beautiful), I did not want to smell like her!
I would love a chance to own this.
I always love your musings and stories. Luxury to me is nothing I remember from my childhood because my mother didn't wear any type of perfume or fragrance of any kind.
I suppose I'm giving scent memories to my own four daughters. Luxury is laying on my bed with all of them and smelling all my perfume bottles, trying them on each other and finding out what they like the most out of my collection.
Please let me add 1000 to it. :)
Shalimar on my mother as she went out the door in her black Persian lamb coat...mmmm
It is a smell of Climat in parfum concentration. It was sold in USSR era Russia (1970s). I tricked my father into buying it for my Mom's birthday (my Mom never wore perfume) and ended up getting Mom's bottle for myself when I got admitted to the University years latter. It smelled magical and it was French. A lot of Russian women wore Climat at that time, including my physics teacher whom I considered to be a sophisticated woman. I still remember how the three of us (Dad, Mom and myself) tried to open the bottle with a fancy stopper (even the way bottle was close was different) and ended spilling quite a bit. And how I soaked clothes in the parfum puddle and they smell wonderful for a long long time. When I came to this country, I thought that one can get anything here, so I tried to find Climat. I even wrote to Lancome (I thought it was very brave of me these many many years ago), only to learn that Climat was long discontinued. I did not get the full "finality" of the discontinued term at the time and tried to buy Climat on line from various e-stores in a pursuit of magic. Later I took advantage of reissued by Lancome Climat. Still have it, almost love it but it does not embodies luxury to me anymore. For this I turn to Amouage Gold edp. That is my story. Natalia
For me luxery was Chanel #5, although no one in my family wore it that frequently. When visiting my aunts I do see their savored bottles on dressers and vanity tables holding a place of status. Next to this was probably Estee Lauder (coming from a working class family)and a very small town with no major shopping.
My personal admiration was often for my sisters choices. She was always popular and sophisticated, running off to study law in the big city. For me here..the smell of old Lauren and in general jasmine come to mind.
Have only sniffed the current version of Joy and 1000 once, definitely prefer 1000;)
Great memories of my teenage and early adulthood years. I bought a used Joy from a highschool friend, because her father had given it to her and she did not like it. It was very inexpensive, I was so happy because I had always heard it was the most expensive perfume in the world. A few years later I bought 1000. To me 1000 was more elegant and smelled like "privilege" compared to the rosy Joy, but even before owning Joy and 1000, when my parents took me to buy my first perfume at the age of 16, I chose another Jean Patou, Eau de Patou. Around the same time I found a bridal magazine at the house of a friend of my mothers. Out of boredom I started to look through it and found a beautiful bridal gown designed by the house of Patou. Right there and then I decided I would have that dress for my wedding. Although that never happened, I always considered myself a Jean Patou girl. I love the three mentioned perfumes for different reasons, and the three of them have a special place in my heart. I found that although Joy was proclaimed the most expensive, 1000 was more aspirational, 1000 was the woman I wanted to become, Joy was the sweetness of my early adulthood, and Eau de Patou was my teenage dream. Later years would bring Ma Liberte and Sublime to my life and even later I discovered some of the old beauties like Colony. Patou's perfumes are very much the reason why I am so passionate about perfumes.
Luxury for me was when my grandmother, who almost always wore just Youth Dew dabbed on a bit of Cabochard for the evening. I still keep a little bottle of hers and sniff it once in a while.
Two perfumes come to my mind: First, my mother's Chanel No. 5, which was reserved for special nights out. I always thought she smelled wonderful when she wore it. The other fragrance that I can still smell to this day is the Emeraude my grandmother wore. She lived well into her 90's and wore it almost daily. Every time I smell it I think of her.
I would love to win the Jean Patou 1000. I've never tried it, but would love to love it!
Alice C (in Arkansas)
All of my childhood memories of perfume luxury are tied to Estee Lauder- I remember my mom had a set of them in a little red velvet case, and my very stylish grandmother wore White Linen.
No more perfume please! Send that bottle elsewhere. Although I do love JP's 1000, I guess our family loved Caron best.
My first memory of my mother's perfume was a bottle of Bellodgia. It sat near a jewelry box stuffed with her beautiful rhinestone pins. I used to dab it on as I'd play with the jewels, tipping them in and out of the sunlight to create showers of rainbows darting back and forth over the walls. What fun!
PS: My Grand-loo, as we called her, kept a bottle of Narcisse Noir on her dresser- I never dabbed on anything from that bottle- it was too strong, and I couldn't bear the scent until I was well into my 20's. Now many years later, that same bottle has come to live with me. Do I need to tell you how much I cherish it now?
My mother is very stingy in many ways... she has never been generous with presents, love, praise, or perfume. Nor is she good at receiving them.
When I was little, she loved L'Air du Temps. I remember when I was about 8 shopping with my dad for a Christmas present for my mother... At the department store, we came across the Lalique bottle of L'Air du Temps.
I was transfixed.
It was the most beautiful thing I had seen up until that point. It couldn't be more perfect -- it was love of wife, love of mother, all rolled into one. It said "I notice how you smell, and love it", "I am gifting you with the best because I love you". I was so excited, that I couldn't wait until she opened her present on Christmas Eve. When we got home, I snuck some of her EDT, and sprayed it on... It was so beautiful... As I fell asleep, I dreamt about how perfect her present was...
This to me was the smell of luxury, elegance, and love...
My mother, alas, was not happy when she opened her present. She was angry that we had dared spend so much money on a present, and first thing on Boxing Day, marched back to the store to return it unopened.
I haven't been able to look at a bottle of it since...
Needless to say, there were no Patous, no Guerlains, in our house. My mother did occasionally wear Chanel No. 5, but never the perfume or EDP. My journey through perfumes has been a solitary and stubborn path until I found the online perfume community.
Nancy's comment "Shalimar on my mother as she went out the door" could have been mine, although my mother's fur wasn't Persian lamb but rather a long brown mouton swing coat, All the fun and glamour went out the door with her, alas, leaving me with some noy very interested babysitter. Shalimar is still a perfume that makes me feel sad. I never wear it.
The perfumes that included me in the mystical and luxurious world inhabited by grownups belonged to my mother's older sister. Aunt Ruth never married, had a career when that was unusual for a woman, worked hard, but liked to have fun. Sometimes that fun included me.
Aunt Ruth was more likely to wear Chanel No. 5 when she took me to a matinee at the theatre, but Lubin Gin Fizz meant something more lively would happen. Friends would come over for drinks and meandering around the edges of the party I would hear bits and pieces of their mysterious and fascinating lives. I would mull things over for days. I now realize that many of my aunt's friends were gay, but that wasn't spoken of then, so there was a lot to figure out.
My best memories of Gin Fizz are afternoons spent at the races, with my aunt and her friends managing in an offhand way to teach me how to read a racing form and handicap a horse race. That's pretty much the way I learned fractions decimals and long division, which was a mercy since arithmetic classes in grammar school never held my attention. I very rarely go to the races now, but when I do I can reliably at least break even.
And here, at the start of a cold New England winter, I can still smell the citrus and juniper of Aunt Ruth's perfume in counterpoint with the dust, the horses, her rose and violet scented lipstick, cigarettes and leather handbag. And I can feel all the friendship and encouragement of people determined to have some happiness in their lives, no matter what harsh circumstances surrounded them.
My mother wasn't really much for perfumes, and so the scents that I think of as epitomizing grown-upness, if not actually luxury, are the quintessential men's colognes of the seventies Paco Rabanne and Pierre Cardin. Nowadays I suppose they seem commonplace, dated, maybe jokily cheap, but to me they seemed enormously desirable, something to aspire to: a reason to become an adult.
I adored Shalimar even before I really understood the allure of the scent. My grandmother had that beautifully voluptuous bottle on her dressing table and I thought it was the chicest thing ever created. Now when I smell that now familiar scent wafting off a passing stranger, I can't help but think of that bottle with its glowing amber liquid inside.
Perfumes were quite scarce growing up due to a much-hated great aunt's overdosage of Estee Lauder products. Things like Youth Dew came to be synonymous with misery, so I think I inherited a dislike of fragrance. Fortunately, I did not have to smell the choking clouds of fragrance and chilling atmosphere. Mysteriously, another Lauder fragrance, Pleasures, ended up as a gift on my mother's dresser. Whoever gave her that clearly set foot in a mine field. What fun that I should be so into fragrance. But I really loved 1000 when I smelled it recently, and I'm glad to see it get some love on the blogs.
What a wonderful giveaway! I hope that i am not too late! I first discovered 1000 when iw as an exchange student to Japan and my host grandmother wore it. I was absolutely captivated and whenever I can afford it I buy a bottle for myself! It is such a luxurious perfume and perfectly suits me. Even though being a man I somehow get away with it!
If there is no 1000 on my shelf, I instantly reach for Caron's Yatagan. It is the perfect male scent!
Love your blog by the way
"...my sister, noticing how low it was getting, did her the favor of topping it off with water."
What a sweet, thoughtful and kind thing your sister did for your mother.
I mean that in all seriousness. I'd bet that your sister grew up to be a lovely person.
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