Mountain Chic

Reflections and observations on culture, food, style and travel

Do you have a signature scent?  A fragrance that is undoubtedly yours, and the only one you’ll wear?

My friend Carrie and I obsess over finding our signature perfumes.  There is something so compelling about committing to a single fragrance and owning it as your own an olfactory statement.  Perfume defines moments in our lives, much like music does.  When you sniff a certain scent you are instantly transported to a time, a place, a person; just like when you hear a particular song.  Since I had my son, finding a signature scent has taken on a new urgency for me.  The man I most want to impress is the little man I’m raising – I want him to smell my perfume for years hence and feel comforted and nostalgic for me and for the happy childhood I hope I’m giving him every day (plus, I’ll make Mother’s Day gift-giving easy).


Over the past year or so, I’ve struggled with settling down with a single perfume, though I’ve definitely experienced successful long-term relationships in the past.


In high school, I adored Estee Lauder‘s Beautiful.  I’ll never forget the ad campaign with Paulina Porizkova as an impossibly gorgeous bride.


In college, I practically bathed in Calyx, by Prescriptives.  Words cannot express how much I loved that scent – my first true perfume love affair.  I kept a bottle of Calyx in my collection until a few years ago, when Prescriptives stopped being sold in stores and the perfume vanished.  In the past few years, Clinique purchased Calyx and has reissued it, but, as in many other areas of my life, I haven’t attempted to relive those university days.

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I received a sample of Allure, from Chanel, in 1996, and wore it to the movie theater to see The English Patient for the first time.  The scent and the film were both unforgettable for me, and both are two of my all-time favorites.  I still own a bottle of Allure, though I’ve never been able to commit to it full-time.  It’s like my favorite navy cashmere sweater – I’ll always have it around, even if I don’t wear it daily.

Around the time I started dating my husband, I wore DKNY Be Delicious, and wore it constantly, until the day a couple of years ago an acquaintance told me I smelled just like an apple.  Now, if you’ve seen the Be Delicious bottle, you know it actually is an apple.  But I’d always smelled more of a floral fruitiness.  After that single comment, all I could smell was artificial green apple, and since have barely touched a perfume I wore continuously for nearly 10 years.

Over the past year, I’ve dabbled in Silver Mountain Water, by Creed, and Hamptons, by Bond No. 9.  I’ve also fallen for a few of the Jo Malone colognes: Earl Grey & Cucumber, Wild Fig & Cassis, and my favorites: Blackberry & Bay and Wood Sage & Sea Salt.  These scents are light and lovely, but only last a few hours on my skin, which is outrageously frustrating considering the prices of these fragrances.  Plus, I like my perfume to smell like perfume – not overpowering, but definitely there, trailing after me when I leave a room or part from a hug.


Recently, I’m alternating between Byredo‘s Gypsy Water and Chanel‘s Chance.  Gypsy Water has garnered me more than a few unsolicited compliments, and though very delicate, it seems to last, especially when paired with the body lotion.  Chance is a gorgeous and surprising fragrance that lingers and changes in an enticing way as you wear it.  Funny enough, the other day my sister-in-law smelled delicious, and I couldn’t place the scent, even though once I asked her, I learned it was Chance – a fragrance I owned myself.  I love a perfume that can be popular but also smell so different on different women, so you can make it your own.

When I told my husband about this post, he laughed.  “Why can’t you just wear what you feel like?  Why does it have to be one?”  And he has a point.  I’ve invented a dilemma for myself (it wouldn’t be the first time!).  How about you?  Are you devoted to a perfume, or do you play the field?  I suppose my history shows I’m afraid of commitment, but just like Liz Taylor (a prolific perfumer herself), I’m open to keep trying.


One thought on “The Search for My Signature Scent

  1. Andrea Rossin says:

    Go see Dawn Spencer Hurwitz in Boulder at the very West end of Broadway just before you leave town to head to Lyons, across from amante coffe, at THE ESSENCE STUDIO, and she can mix you up your very own scent. I hear Madonna really likes her work, as does the Denver Art Museum.

    Love your blog!!!


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