Chanel Shower Gel

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For reasons scientists are not entirely clear about, the olfactory sense is closely linked to memory. As performer Garth Brooks once commented, a whiff of a certain perfume and he “was right back in high school.” All of us associate certain smells with times and places in our lives.

A woman of a certain age has probably had lots of different favorite perfumes over the course of her life. Fragrance is a lot like fashion in that, on the surface, both seem to be dominated by fads, but, in fact, some enduring classics emerge.

Despite the faddishness of the perfume world, there are still some scents that seem almost timeless. I like to put Chanel No. 5 in that category. First introduced in 1923, this venerable perfume is still well liked even by modern celebrities. The newest celebrity spokesperson for the line is Nicole Kidman.

Youth Dew, which came out in the 1950s, is still a classic but it tends to be regarded as more “dated.” It’s a rich, powerful, Oriental scent that is-as an overall style-a bit heavy for today’s tastes which favor light, fruity, on-the-go kind of fragrances.

In the world of perfume, even surviving a decade can put you in the near-classic category like Tresor by Lancome (1990), Obsession and Eternity by Calvin Klein, and Happy by Clinique.

If you want to give your mother perfume this Mother’s Day you have two main strategies. You can select one of many new fragrances on the market (which is a good idea if your mom likes to try new things or if you happen to know she likes a particular new perfume) or you can go with the classics.

From time to time, a beloved fragrance is discontinued. A good case study for this phenomenon involves a perfume called Evening in Paris. Created by Ernst Breaux (the “nose” behind Chanel No. 5), this perfume was phenomenally popular and came in a very distinctive deep blue bottle in the U.S. in the 1950s and 1960s. Its fragrance resembles Chanel No. 5: it’s a sparkling adelhyde type floral. But anyone shopping the perfume counters in the U.S. after 1990 could not have found a trace of Evening in Paris. Even if you asked for it, most sales people would not have even heard of it.

Then it came back. It’s available in the most unusual of locations: The Vermont Country Store (http://www.vermontcountrystore.com). This catalog typically features country and New England items, not fine fragrance. But this particular retro-scent had a large and vocal fan base and enough requests came in that the company started to track it down. It turns out Evening in Paris is still manufactured, but in France. They imported it and it’s back.

The Vermont Country Store also offers other nostalgic fragrances including Tigress and Tweed and some Yardley products.

It gets more difficult when a retro-scent is no longer manufactured. In those cases, you can’t even turn to hoarders because perfume (unlike wine) tends to decay with age.

So how do you find a retro-scent that your mom liked way-back-when? When searching for anything nowadays, your first step is the obvious one: Google the perfume name (and possibly some variations) to see if anyone has it. There are many large warehouse type perfume sites that have a little bit of everything. More obscure fragrances may be available on their own site.

Not every story has a happy ending. Some fragrances truly are gone forever. If that’s the case, you can go to a perfume website or blog (check out the links at www.theperfume-reporter.com) and ask other perfume lovers.

If a scent is no longer available but people know about it, you can get a description. From that description, a knowledgeable sales clerk or perfume friend (go to the websites) can recommend similar type scents. For instance, if you know your mom’s favorite scent was what they call a woody floral, you can get an updated version (Safari by Ralph Lauren comes to mind).

Remember, perfume is much more than perfume today. You can buy a wide range of scent products today including body creams, lotions, shower gels, soaps, and other products for the bath. If your mom has always worn spray-on fragrance, stick to an eau-de-parfum or cologne (the eau-de-parfum is stronger and will cost more). If your mom is getting more streamlined these days, a shower gel and fragrant lotion may fit the bill better. Emollient creams and lotions are good for dry skin. For dry skin, a spray-on fragrance simply will not last very long, so the idea of combining a cream (to moisten skin) and a spray-on is quite practical.

Joanna McLaughlin wears too much perfume and writes freelance on fragrance. She can be read most regularly at http://www.theperfume-reporter.com.

Chanel Shower Gel
Chanel Shower Gel

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