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'The Scent of a Woman'
Member Name: lamorna
Date: 27/05/03, updated on 27/05/03 (882 review reads)
Advantages: Sensual, Heady, Feminine
Disadvantages: I didn't discover it sooner, Can't buy it locally, I'm two thirds of the way through my bottle
I truly thought I knew everything about classic French Perfumes and the established French design and perfume houses. The names Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, Guerlain et al roll off my lips as easily and lovingly as Al Pacino, Robert de Nero and Edward Norton-all top totty in their own particular genre. I am able to identify classic French perfumes at a distance with one sniff, but it took my 2002 Christmas gift from my mum to wake me up and shake me out of my complacency and make me question, “Sisley! Who are they? I’ve never heard of them!” Where have I been, and most importantly, how have I missed out on what is regarded as the most beautiful perfume in the world?
Apart from the distinctive fragrances of the classic French perfumes they all have a history and a story to tell. Many of them were created with one person in mind and named after them, perhaps an Empress, a Princess or a film star. The original designs of the beautiful glass flasks they are presented in are frequently a product of the glass makers and the perfumers collaborating to make an object of beauty to compliment the fragrance itself as well as adorn a dressing table or boudoir. The ingredients were usually natural combinations of flowers, herbs and spices, unlike many modern chemically enhanced perfumes which remind me of toilet cleansers and can be overpowering and rather offensive in public places.
I always open gifts from my mum to me in eager anticipation as she has impeccable taste and knows me well enough in that I like girlie things. I am surrounded at home by things she has bought me over the years, from the perfect set of make-up brushes to the art-deco enamelled earrings. The year 2002 has been a bad year for all the family and mum had already told me she’d bought something special for my Christmas gift.
The soft caramel coloured suede leather pouch with the gold tasselled drawstrings in the form of a Dolly Bag said ‘Eau du Soir̵
7; on the front in pale gold lettering. Inside was a clear atomised glass flask with a gold cap and ‘Eau du Soir’ Eau de parfum, Sisley, Paris, France engraved on the bottle, again in gold. I already loved the presentation and the enclosed booklet told me this suede pouch was designed especially for my handbag. A second smaller suede pouch was enclosed with a tiny gold funnel inside obviously to refill the handbag atomiser from a bigger bottle. How delicious is that? Remember, I had no preconceived ideas about the contents. It wasn’t a name I knew, so no previous hype could influence my opinion making me spray and say ‘Oh Chanel! It’s beautiful’ because it had to be didn’t it? I would have expected it to be beautiful by the name alone.
I gently sprayed my wrists and waited. Wow! Think of Woman! Think of the film stars of the 1950s. Think of Lauren Bacall, Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford, and Bette Davis. Think glamour, a soft focus camera lens. Think full red tinted lips, elegant hairstyles, full bosoms, nipped in waists, seamed stockings, high heels, silk dresses, fur stoles, long, almond shaped, red varnished fingernails. Think Feminine! I was momentarily transformed that Christmas morning, complete with my Christmas Eve hangover, from Lamorna in Dorset wearing her jogger bottoms and hooded top, to a world of elegance, far removed from the Christmas morning full English fry-up and my inevitable sweating struggle with the turkey. I was in another world of silken robes and feathered, backless mules.
I needed to know more about Sisley and ‘Eau du Soir’ and my web search brought up a couple of surprises. Firstly, that Sisley doesn’t have an official website and the only information available was from the many perfume websites, mainly USA based, offering ‘Eau du Soir’ and other Sisley products at a very widely discounted price range. These were all in US dollars but I do know ̵
6;Eau du Soir’ is at the top end of the price range and that my mum bought my gift in a Debenhams Store. I did glean that this elegant perfume was created as recently as 1990 and has only been available in the UK for a very short time. This explains why I had never heard of it. The favoured words used by the perfume websites to describe the perfume are ‘refined, woody and mossy’. I just say ‘Woman’
My second surprise was rather romantic. I knew I had heard the name Sisley before and my web search took me to dozens of pages about the English born Arthur Sisley who was one of the school of French Impressionists along with Monet and Renoir. I would love to know if there is any relationship between Sisley the Design House and Sisley the artist.
Do you know what I do sometimes? I take the atomiser out of the tactile suede pouch and just sniff the fragrance. This seems to sensually sweep through me and headily lift my spirits like a drug. I already have a ‘signature’ perfume, ‘Mitsouko’ by Guerlain, but Sisley’s ‘Eau du Soir’ is gradually nudging this into second place.
‘Eau du Soir’ by Sisley, Paris, France deserves the acclaim it receives as the most beautiful perfume in the world, but no, it isn’t a perfume, it’s a scent. Perhaps Al Pacino might have described it as, ‘The Scent of a Woman’