[Ed. note: I'm having various internet access & other technology issues. Apologies for the lack of posts today — here, a bit late, is Angie's weekly article. Hopefully I'll be back in business soon. Robin]
When I was a kid, the year broke easily into two pieces: a hot, dusty summer of playing at the swimming hole and making forts out of dried Manzanita branches; and the school year of textbooks, reuniting with friends, and tetherball.
In some ways, the start of the new school year was more significant than New Year’s day. Each school year, I hoped my carefully selected outfit from the Montgomery Wards catalog would signal my good taste and worldliness. My new haircut would launch me into the stratosphere of girls boys liked. My memorization of the capitals of all fifty states would awe the smart kids. Maybe, for the first time, some of the boys might even be taller than I was. The beginning of the school year was a time for optimism.
Today — the day after Labor Day — starts the school year for most American students. These days, I’ve taken to perfume to express my optimism for the brilliant new me that will surely take root. (O.K., maybe vintage coats play a role, too. And that chunky cast bronze ring I've had my eye on.) Through perfume, I can express the qualities I want to embody.
First, I’d like my perfume to convey something witty and unexpected. I don’t want to smell like everyone else out there, and I want a little twist, a little surprise for people who get a whiff of me. My new favorite, Dana English Leather, will be good for lazy weekends and is more often worn by retired men than women like me. English Leather wears off fast, too, so I can put something over it later in the day. The love-it-or-hate-it Comme des Garçons + Daphne Guinness Daphne will dazzle people with its offbeat personality of turpentine-like incense, bitter orange, and tuberose. I love the goofy coziness of L’Artisan Parfumeur Dzing!, too.
Of course, I want my perfume to be as interesting, complex, and smart as I plan on being. Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman, vintage Shiseido Feminité du Bois, Christian Dior Miss Dior, and Robert Piguet Bandit are all examples of fragrances that most people don’t “get” on first smell but can come to love. They’re perfect matches for the 1950s cashmere sweaters in brilliant coral, grass green, and robin’s egg blue I’ll be wearing with old Pendleton skirts and boots as the weather cools.
Finally, I’d like my perfume to have the low-key, unflappable glamour I covet. Smooth, rich fragrances like Caron Tabac Blond, Guerlain Vol de Nuit, Lalique Encre Noir, and XerJoff Richwood are good matches. Who knows? The new year might throw in a few rides in a Bentley or a weekend at a country estate. I want to be prepared.
I don’t know that my perfume choices will telegraph any of these messages to other people, but they make me feel good, and I’m old enough now that that’s my priority. Another benefit of being older: the boys are a lot taller.
What about you? Does today feel like a new start for you? What role does perfume play in your (hopefully) optimistic view of the year to come?