A perfume with a scent so heavenly, so unique, so intoxicating, so irresistible, so evocative, so absolutely divine I get asked, all the time, by total strangers, men and women alike, what I’m wearing. One time a woman followed me for two blocks, until I had to stop at a red light, just to tell me how much she loved my cologne; and to ask for the name.
This is not my ego speaking, honest. I am someone who has a really difficult time finding a fragrance that doesn’t turn on me. You know, isn’t so sweet it makes you gag or even worse, just goes rancid the minute it hits my skin.
Several years ago, when I was reeling after the perfume I was wearing back then which, incidentally, I’d worn for years and years and years was, to my horror, reformulated and made me, and everyone around me, nauseous a friend dragged me to a little boutique she frequented all the time. She insisted I’d find a perfume there I liked.
I was skeptical, but desperate, so I agreed. And, after about three hours with the owner, a woman with a ‘nose’ any self-respecting vintner would covet, I literally danced out of the store I was so happy. Because right there, in my hot little hand, I clutched a bottle of Acqua di Colonia, Officina Profumo S. Maria Novella, Firenze 1612.
Everything about it is unusual, which adds to its allure. To me, the bottle looks more like men’s aftershave than a woman’s perfume. Instead of the name of the fragrance taking centre stage on the front, which we’re used to, what you see is the name of the company which I must confess, meant nothing to me at the time; but, in fact, this Florentine pharmaceutical company has a wonderfully romantic history, with roots dating back to the late 1300’s and they’ve been doing this for more than 400 years. The name, in this case Patchouli, is hidden on the back, way down at the bottom, in teensy tiny letters. If you didn’t know to look there, trust me, you wouldn’t.
Patchouli is an ‘old’ ingredient. It’s not used that much in perfumes anymore, so when people smell it, they’re not sure what it is, which is musky, earthy, exotic. They just know they like it. And for those who are old enough to remember when it was in fashion, they get this dreamy look in their eyes, as their memory kicks into action and they’re taken back to the good times of their youth.
Probably that’s what I love about it the most. Nobody can ‘place’ it, they haven’t smelled it before. It’s vaguely familiar, but not really.
Little did I know, though, as I sprayed myself every morning, my bubble was about to burst. There I was, one early morning, waiting for a coffee at my neighbourhood Starbucks. Suddenly I felt someone tapping me on the arm. It was the owner of the parfumerie. Sadly her landlord was making her move because the building was sold and it was to be demolished. She promised me she was looking for more space, would let me know when she was settled but, in the meantime, she had two bottles left in stock and wondered if I wanted them.
Of course I did.
What you can see in the bottle is now all I have left.
Never did I hear from her. I googled and googled but have always come up empty. Heartbroken, I did try another fragrance while my last bottle was still unopened. It was okay but it was far from fabulous. And no matter how lavishly I sprayed no one ever remarked. It was as if scent-wise I had become invisible. It was expensive, more expensive than this one so I did use it to the very last drop.
But then I was forced to open the last bottle of my cherished Acqua di Colonia. Even as sparingly as I sprayed, people still commented. Which, instead of thrilling me made me sad, because no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t find any other store in all of Canada where I could buy it. And trust me, I tried.
Every day I watched the precious amber-coloured liquid drop lower and lower and lower in the bottle, leaving me with less and less and less. This past Friday I found myself with an hour where I had nothing to do. I decided to take a chance and check their website for the 2000th time, just in case.
Bingo! They have a store in New York. I have friends in New York. I could probably mail them a cheque and ask them to go in, buy a bottle and ship it to me. First, though, I had to make sure they had what I wanted, because during previous visits to the website I’d learned they have many, many different products and dozens of different fragrances.
Not only do they have it, they often ship to Toronto. I can order directly from them (which I did) and don’t have to inconvenience any of my friends. My new bottle should arrive tomorrow or the next day. Yes, it is costing more because of the exchange between the Canadian and U.S. dollars, shipping and duty. But it makes me feel good and, in the grand scheme of things, it’s a rather small indulgence that lasts a comparatively long time, so I think it’s worth it. I think I’m worth it.
If only there was a way, on WordPress, for you to click on a link and breathe in. To lean in towards my neck and inhale.
Ahhh … squisito!