My father wore Old Spice. The blend, which contained cinnamon, floral, and herbal notes, remains with me to this day. He used the after shave, so he splashed it on every morning, but I was usually asleep when he left for work. So I remember it meaning we were going somewhere special: a wedding, perhaps, or dinner at an expensive restaurant. I guess to him it was simply an antiseptic, and the alum it contained an anti-clotting aid, in case he nicked himself shaving. Very practical.
The scent was created in 1938 by Shulton, and if you believe what online reviewers say, the Procter & Gamble version these days doesn’t bear much resemblance to the original. Nor do the ad campaigns. I wonder what my father would have thought of this: “With a buoy-shaped bottle and distinctive scent,” reads the website description, “Old Spice After Shave is as American as a man on a motorcycle jumping over a baseball stadium while singing the national anthem.” Wow. Patriotism in a bottle!
Of course, other Old Spice fragrances were created over time, and it’s not just about who you are, but what you can do:
Daddy would have frowned, shook his head, and lit up an unfiltered Camel. End of discussion.
But there is something to discuss. “A perfume gives an idea of the image you want to project,” says writer and jurist Sophie-Caroline de Margerie in Elaine Sciolino‘s La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life. “So if you have a very strong, sexy scent,” she continues, “or if you have a lily of the valley scent, or if you have nothing at all, it tells me something about you.” I agree.
The subject of scent is an intimate one, and as such, people can get protective about their favorites. One of my daughters refused for months to tell her sister the name of her perfume, preferring to retain the mystery of her delicious aroma. And a fragrance can become special because of the giver: one of my children gave me a bottle of La Vie est Belle when I visited her earlier this year. I love the scent, but I prize it also because it came from her.
Here’s another I’m enjoying now; the name reminds me of one of my granddaughters.
Some people always wear the same fragrance, as is the case with my former mother-in-law; I can’t imagine her wearing anything but Toujours Moi. I have old favorites: Vent Vert, Chanel No.5, and Ombre Rose, and others I flirted with for just a short time, like Aliage and Calandre, all an olfactory distance from where I started, with 4711 and Ambush.
What about you? Are you a floral, an exotic, a woodsy green? What does it say about how you view yourself, and what do you think it says to others? Don’t know what the fragrance notes are in the cologne you wear? Check it out on http://www.fragrantica.com or http://www.scentmap.com.
Then come back and fill me in. I’m on a need-to-sniff basis…