Epiphany Perfumes or ‘A Change Is As Good As A Rest’…. The Perfumed Dandy’s Weekend Forum

Dearest Guerlain Powder Puffs

I did so enjoy our talk last weekend on the subject of deceased scents that we’d like to see re-instated.

So much so that I thought…

Let’s do it all again!!

Not the same subject, bien sur, but another fragrant forum.

Sunday will be the first after the Feast of the Epiphany when, according to the scriptures, the Magi arrived at manger-side to see the baby Gee and realised his, well, shall we simply say, somewhat influential future.

What has this to do with aromas dearest waffling Dandy?

Well, in the millennia since then an ‘epiphany’ has come more generally to mean a moment of illumination or divine realisation.

That time when the scales fall from our eyes (or in this case nose) and the truth, finally, is seen (or smelt).

So, to this weeks questions…

What epiphany moments have you had when it comes to perfumes?

About which scents have you changed your mind and realised that in fact you loved them when before you found them a bore or worse?

Or are your fragrance judgements infallible?

Are you the pontiff of perfumes?

Now I have a few fragrances towards which I’ve altered my attitude over the years and will be happy to share…

If you tell me yours I’ll tell you mine.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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35 responses to “Epiphany Perfumes or ‘A Change Is As Good As A Rest’…. The Perfumed Dandy’s Weekend Forum

  1. Lilybelle

    I can never think of anything on the spot, but last year I fell in love with L’Heure Bleue. Not that I had an aversion to it, but I suppose the time was finally right.

    • Dearest Lily
      I think moving from indifference to love is just as much an epiphany as hate to love. In an unusually profound moment, JK Rowling said “Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.” And so far as perfumes are concerned I’m sure that’s true, many of those scents consigned to the dustbin of discontinuation probably went there more because we couldn’t be bothered about them en masse than because they inspired ire.
      Alors. Enough philosophising.
      L’Heure Bleue. I can well imagine why most overpowering perfume is off putting at first. That great floral wall in the heart, the olfactory equivalent of a Phil Spector record, is just so big! It’s ‘like the see, there’s no way round it’. In fact I suppose many people with an aversion to big florals never make it to the soft, comforting dry down.
      Gosh. That got me thinking. Thank you.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  2. rosestrang

    I was chatting about epiphanies just the other day with a Catholic, the meaning of epiphany has shifted in much the same way as the word ‘sublime’ – a concept that fascinated me at art college – back then I’d feel obliged to correct anyone who said ‘this cake is just sublime’, how annoying I must have been!
    Anyway, revelations, perfumes, hmm…
    Mainstream though it is, I’d have to say Infusion d’iris, because back in 2008 it was through this perfume that my enjoyment of perfume became something different – i.e. not just something pleasurable but something transporting. I’d moved to Stoke on Trent for a job as an art curator for the NHS and was pining for the landscape of Scotland, so I began to search online for something suitable.

    Anyway I’m rambling on, but essentially what made Infusion d’Iris more than a perfume about the scents of nature was its nostalgic iris note, benzoin and subtle incense – all this combined actually made me cry when I bought and opened the perfume! It was the fact I smelled not only the natural woodland smells, but the very emotion of longing, which in a strange way is pleasurable.

    Nice topic again Sir Dandy!

    • Dearest Rose
      This is music to my ears.
      I love tracing the journeys that words go on through time, like endless stage coach rides across rough hewn country roads, jostled and crowded with little sense of a final destination and still less comfort.
      I often get angry too when I hear a word being used ‘incorrectly’, an involuntary twinge, or sinking of the heart. Then I realise that words exist only in their time, that they are subject like buildings to demolition, refurbishment, redesign and reconstruction.
      London’s St Paul’s today is what? The fourth or perhaps fifth church to carry the same name….
      I laugh to think of you correcting college contemporaries on their use of the ‘sublime’ (a word I have a tendency toward in its modern meaning), I’m sure, after a fashion , they found it endearing.
      More moving is the story of reaching out for open landscapes of Scotland amongst the post industrial scene of Stoke on Trent (a city I have only visited once or twice, so I shall be careful what I say).
      Infusion d’Iris though was an epiphany for many, it’s handling of an Iris note made newly available in quantity and concentrations previously unthinkable a revelation.
      Great choice.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • rosestrang

        Haha, endearing hmm.
        Your words about the changing nature of words reminds me of a 3-line poem someone wrote when the maternity building in Stoke on Trent was being demolished – ‘All will become dust; people, buildings, distant stars – and always more are born’. I made sure that, d other poems from the public, were projected onto the building before demolition – it was one of my favourite projects
        I’ll say what you’re reluctant to about Stoke on Trent – it’s a pretty ugly place, I kept wandering around looking for redeeming features as I found it quite depressing, but by the time I left after a year long contract I’d left half my heart there!
        As you say it’s a post industrial city, it was never going to be protected, lacking as it did beautiful and grand historic buildings. While I was there Spode went into administration, I went along on the last few days to buy some pieces, I just couldn’t believe that someone, or some organisation wouldn’t step in to save it, and the other ceramics manufacturers
        As it turned out, the only person who did was Prince Charles, who put 7 million towards Emma Bridgewater ceramics. What can I say? Coming from Scotland as I do I’m not an avid royalist but that impressed me deeply, and you’d hope it would be an example to other funders public or private.

        As always, Sir Dandy you’ve got me enthused and musing on various subjects. it’s always a pleasure to share ideas. I hope you’re having a lovely Sunday!

      • Dearest Rose
        All of this has made me think of Rachel Whiteread’s House, one of the most eloquent statements ever on the unwise haste of our post-industrial demolition addiction.
        No, Stoke isn’t beautiful, then many places with huge souls aren’t.
        Who knew that Prince Charles was involved in saving Emma Bridgewater? Not I, that’s for sure. Good to see that at least some of the resources of the Duchy of Cornwall is going in good directions.
        And Spode!?! One sees the name, sold off, like many scents, to the highest bidder so it can be made much more cheaply and less well elsewhere.
        Spode. Just a word then now, not connected to a place or a craft or a tradition.
        How sad.
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

    • Lilybelle

      To “smell the very emotion of longing”. That’s lovely.

  3. Nena

    The only one I can think of right now is that I didn’t like Chanel No. 5 the first time I smelled it, but loved it a few years later.

    • Dearest Nena
      And there, I speculate, perhaps you have unmasked the biggest divider and, ultimately, epiphany-maker, of them all.
      One can’t escape the number of people who seem to hate Chanel 5, and I don’t mean dislike, or take against, or are indifferent to… I mean hate!
      Yet, there it is, the biggest selling perfume of all time, and still so in many parts of the world where sales really matter on top of the heap.
      Now it could be that those who buy do so with untrammelled enthusiasm and huge quantities, or that No 5 is destined to to slowly die over time as those aldehydes become unsalvagably unfashionable and unliked.
      But I have a suspicion that people give in to ‘the great ones’ charms over time, something in that sophisticated fullness comes to appeal with if not age, then experience, and ultimately it makes it onto more perfume shelves than people care to admit.
      I wonder then if folks are far from forth coming in admitting their new found fondness for 5….?
      Thank you for sharing.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • Lilybelle

        I’ve had an off and on love/hate relationship with No. 5 for years. There are other aldehydic fragrances I prefer and truly love (Caleche is one), but I keep a small vintage bottle of No. 5 spray cologne anyway. Even though I don’t wear it I’m sort of resigned to having it, and perhaps even needing it, in my collection. Sooner or later she conquers.

      • Dearest Lily
        Yes! That is it, exactly it.
        We may struggle and fight with all our might.
        Eventually No 5 will prevail.
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  4. Mitzi

    Crepe de Chine,, I was in my middle years before smelling it, thought it was to strong, after 5 years I fell in love with it.

    • Dear Mitzi
      Welcome to The Dandy’s. Do make yourself at home, you are most very welcome here!
      Crepe de Chine… aaaaahhh Crepe de Chine.
      Chamomile and oakmoss, aldehydes and lilacs. It was always going to be challenging.
      But the rewards!
      This is a beauty and one well worth changing one’s mind over.
      In fact you have inspired me to seek out my old bottle and dust it down.
      Than you!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  5. Of course I’m not infallible (quite the contrary). 😉

    The one that stands out among others is Shalimar – which I completely dismissed at the start of my perfume journey (with disdain no less) only to have it become my holy grail perfume (basically) a couple of years later.
    Notice it’s again a Guerlain perfume that comes to mind… 🙂

    • Lilybelle

      It was the opposite for me, Ines: the first time I smelled Shalimar it was on an elderly lady in a corner liquor store. She was all dressed up in her best fur collared winter coat, obviously on her way somewhere, perhaps buying a bottle of something as a gift…and this divine effulgence, this marvelous, dizzying, intoxicating aroma, wafted from her direction. I nearly swooned. I felt transported. I’m not exaggerating. I tried to find the scent again and never could, sniffing at fragrance bottles in perfume departments, searching for it. Eventually, years later, I smelled it again on someone. I was braver by that time and asked her what perfume she was wearing. She said, “It’s Shalimar parfum”. It was soooooo good, and I would not rest until I could acquire some, a small 7.5 ml bottle. I adored Shalimar, the edc, the parfum, the body lotion. Today, many many years later, I’m not as wild about Shalimar. It doesn’t smell the same, first of all. 😦 And there are so many variations of it. I can’t keep up with all the new releases. Nothing will ever live up to that first moving experience of Shalimar.

      • Dearest Lily
        What a story!
        I am bowled over with the image of your mink collared grand dame buying her cognac as a gift, already I am imaging for her an infirm lover, a former sportsman perhaps, who has taken to drink, not believing she still loves him, only his memories of past glories and the bottle to keep him going.
        I do hope it was one of those splendid American stores with the red neon signs, so noir, so Hopper. You have set my mind racing!
        These days if someone’s trail leaves me drooling I always ask what it is (if I can catch them in the crowd). Sometimes they look a little startled, but so long as they are satisfied that I’m not mad this normally softens to a smile, occasionally a blush. After all who doesn’t like a compliment!?!
        That tale, I shall be feasting on it all day.
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy
        PS Too true about poor Shalimar, why Guerlain, normally so respectful of their creations should single out one of their greatest for such poor treatment is quite beyond me!

      • Lilybelle

        I think it’s better if one’s first experience of Shalimar is on someone else’s skin, after it has dried down a bit and gone into its magic. I can see how it would be somewhat off-putting right out of the bottle. Mr. Dandy, I’m glad you enjoyed my Shalimar reminiscence. Maybe that lady will make an appearance in one of your tales some day. I would be honored.

      • Dearest Lily
        With your permission that lady has booked herself a place in a future tale…. I know not when or for which perfume (one with a hint of Shalimar about it), but someday she will appear.
        As to your theory that it’s better to smell the divine on another first, very true.
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

      • rosestrang

        You’ve convinced me to buy a vintage version Lilybelle! I do also prefer Shalimar to No 5. I hope Sir Dandy’s musings on your fur coated lady emerge in a review soon!

      • Dearest Rose
        I’m not sure if Lily would agree, but my feeling is that you don’t even have to go back that far for Shalimar to improve considerably… and there’s such a lot of old stuff available on line at very competitive prices. It seems almost criminal not too!
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

    • Dearest Ines
      Now this shocks and fails to surprise in equal measure.
      Shocks because for The Dandy it was love at first sniff, I adore the deep voluptuous smokiness of Shalimar and find it comforting, friendly and easy to be with.
      Unsurprising because I know that many people, like yourself, take against it at first. Perhaps because it is so big? So leathery? So louche? And even those that become fans say they reserve it for special occasions: fine nights out and fancy wear.
      Are you an occasional Shalimar wearer these days, or have you become completely converted?
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  6. Bee

    The first time I met Femme by Rochas I was young and foolish and physically revolted by it. The cumin! It smelled like the rankest horse sweat to me and I was appalled by it. How could anybody choose to smell like this? I wailed and threw the bottle into a box, inside another box, inside a trunk which went into the attic. Luckily after 20 years i found it again and took a cautious, curious sniff and fell in love. The cumin! Mixed with brandied fruits and other exotic spices – how delicious! How alluring and inviting – at last I was able to appreciate something rich and strange. I am so glad Femme waited patiently for me to grow up and become a ‘femme’ myself.

    • Dearest Bee
      Oh yes, just like the lady who’s curves the bottle is based on this is a scent sure to divide,
      That very, well, bodily, cumin is an acquired taste!
      I have an image of you – in a dusty attic a shaft of sun emerging through a skylight – thrusting away the bottle with sound of a Banshee, then locking up the offending flacon in an old steamer trunk for two decades until the time came for you, the time when you were, as you so wonderfully put it a ‘femme’ yourself.
      A scented letter is coming quite shortly on this one so shan’t say too much more for now.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  7. My epiphany came upon me as I sat in a lovely Louis XV chair in Neiman Marcus listening to the USA rep for Guerlain, Marie Line talk about perfume. She felt my skin on my arm and said.
    “You have the kind of skin that was made for Shalimar.” She instructed one of the salespersons to “Bring me the Parfume …the big bottle.” She held my hand to reassure me…and sprayed my wrist.
    “Let it sit.” she said..and we looked into each others eyes.
    “Now SMELL!” she commanded and I did….
    It was a revelation, The stained glass dome of the City of Paris sailing ship five floors above us grew blindingly bright as a heavenly illumination shot threw it and enveloped us on the main floor in an amber glory. I was epiphanized on the spot and in an Saint Teresa like ecstasy I became converted forever to the realization that I too can wear Shalimar.

    • Dearest St Therese of Lanier
      How I wish someone would tell me I “have the kind of skin that was made for Shalimar”.
      In reality I fear it is my soul that was produced for this elegantly compromised creation.
      Your story of ecstatic epiphany is, dear friend, recommendation, if anyone should need it to visit your marvellous site immediately and follow your fine adventures in the world of perfume.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

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