The Perfume We Aspire To

Chanel No 5 perfume

Marilyn Monroe famously said all she wore to bed was Chanel No. 5. That always puzzled me. No. 5 is elegant and restrained, so ladylike, and it doesn't have half the pulchritude Marilyn does. Marilyn might have done better with No. 5's lusty cousin, Guerlain Vega. While No. 5 stares coolly as a man walks out on her (how dare he!), Vega begs tearfully for him not to go, then laughs at him when he tells her he loves her. But it occurs to me now: maybe No. 5 wasn't really what Marilyn was. Maybe it was what she wanted to be.

How much of your perfume choices reflects what you aspire to, and how much reflects who you really are? I know I'd like to be a vintage Dior fragrance: elegant and unusual, like Diorella; passionate and unexpected like Dioressence; and strange and womanly like Miss Dior. Sadly, my unkempt hair alone kicks me down the perfume hierarchy to something found on the sale rack at Walgreen's.

My perfume cabinet could provide years of material for a fragrance-savvy shrink. I see a bottle of Guerlain L'Heure Bleue that is supposed to reflect my complicated sensitivity. On the other hand, next to it is half a bottle, no cap, of vintage Dior Diorissimo, that I want to communicate how pure and straightforward I am. Half a dozen bottles of perfume, from Guerlain Shalimar to Piguet Bandit, want you to believe I'm one of half a dozen varieties of smoldering heartbreaker. Yet another half dozen bottles (Balenciaga Le Dix and Hermès Calèche among them) tell the world I live for good taste. But then again, a few other bottles want you to know that I'm not that kind of stuffy person at all (hello Fabergé Tigress).

Maybe perfume is like an olfactory mood ring, but instead of telling how you feel, it makes known how you want to feel and who you want to be. Some lucky people may epitomize exactly the perfume they use, and the perfect Serge Lutens Bois de Violette probably is out there drinking champagne in Paris. But for the rest of us, perfume choices represent possibilities and maybe even ideals that we can adopt when we need them.

Marilyn Monroe probably did have a slice of No. 5 in her, and maybe she was tired of Vega stealing all the limelight. What we aspire to is, after all, part of who we are. As Walt Whitman wrote, "I contain multitudes". I'd like to paraphrase Whitman to say "I contain multitudes; therefore my perfume cabinet contains multitudes of bottles."

Note: image via Images de Parfums.

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87 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    so true! all my friends that wear #5 are the antithesis of Marilyn Monroe! “proper ladies”- not age specific but grown up ladylike in a big way.

    i vacillate between Ivoire, Fidji, Vent Vert, Ma Griffe then over to Bal a Versailles, Fumerie Turque, Diva, L'Arte de Gucci, Habanita then skip on over to Eau de Mervielles, Quelques Fleurs, Pomegranite Noir, not to mention the endless bottles of scent that caught me then lost me after a few spritzes…..save me from myself!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ah I love Chanel no 5, it was my first gift from a boy (I was 14), I adjust the scent I am wearing to either fit my mood or the occasion. I wear Chanel no 5 when I need to project sophistication, (and I am usually wearing black, cashmere, and my grandmother's pearls to boot!) I wear Private Collection TG when I'm on date night with hubby, for a little romance…..

  3. Anonymous says:

    Lol, I love your adaptation of that line by Whitman. I bet he was particularly foul-smelling.

    My scent choices are less aspirational than they used to be – I think I am by now resigned to (or accepting of myself). I am also more interested in smells for themselves and not for what they say – or signally fail to say – about me. That said, I do have a bottle of Fracas :-)

    A colleague of mine commented the other day that wearing tuberose when men are reputed to dislike it is 'counter-productive'. Which misses the main point of why I wear scent now – to please myself. I'm solipsistic, rather than aspirational, in my choices nowadays – I enjoy wrapping myself up in Chinatown or West Side, I can appreciate the quality of Le Parfum de Therese or Un Fleur de Cassie, I enjoy the newfound curiousity that reading this great blog and other intelligent writing about perfume has stimulated. :-)

  4. Anonymous says:

    Being given Chanel No 5 from a boy at fourteen? Bravo!

    And what a classy boy!

    I completly agree. My mood certainly reflects what I'm wearing and how I want to have people view me. Just like I sort my clothes mentally into “high maintenance” and “low maintenance”, I do the same with perfumes…and with my moods. Sometimes you just need the confidence of Chanel, and then there's some days when you just go crawling back to your original Burberry and your bathrobe. At least I do. :)

  5. Anonymous says:

    My aspiration would be L'Interdit by Givenchy. Sadly, I have never sampled it, but just the notion that I could have a smidgen of the grace, beauty and effortless class displayed by Audrey Hepburn is enough to make a girl almost bid on an Ebay auction.

    Most days I settle for something light, fresh and clean smelling since it is such a rare occasion when I leave the house clean! (I have an 18-month old and feel just plain lazy some days!) As I learn to balance my life and home, I find that my tastes have grown and a bottle of Chanel Coco Mlle. might be something I would purchase for “date night.”

  6. Anonymous says:

    Over time I've settled into some regular perfume choices that I think (hope) reflect my best self as I envision it: not of the mainstream, androgynous, a thinker, maybe a little mean at times, but interesting. My short list: Domenico Caraceni 1913, Bandit, L'Heure Bleue, Ivoire de Balmain, the original EL Private Collection.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I could live happily with your perfume selection! It would be interesting to do a sort of “perfume fortune telling” by the contents of someone's perfume cabinet.

  8. Anonymous says:

    SFL, you are one classy chick. And No. 5 from a 14 year old! Nice taste, that one.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Yes, that's exactly it. Sniffing the perfume I'm wearing is a good way for someone to tell where my head is at.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly when you refute what your colleague says. Perfume is so personal. Other than wearing it discreetly when you're with other people so that they aren't overwhelmed, I say you've got to please yourself.

    I love reading the names of the perfumes you've listed. Like poetry!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Audrey Hepburn is a wonderful role model. (Make sure you get the vintage or the Les Mythiques version of L'Interdit when you sample it!)

    With an 18-month old, it's a wonder you find time to put on perfume at all.

  12. Anonymous says:

    'Fortune-telling ' is a GREAT idea…

    Angela, feel free to visit, and go through mine…

    Eclectic would be the kinder appellation….

  13. Anonymous says:

    From what I've read in your past comments, your perfume collection would be Shangri-La itself. I'll bring the champagne!

  14. Anonymous says:

    I am not sure that any of my scent choices are aspirational, but more reflective of my mood. Scent is more like poetry to me. Sometimes you want something towering like Mitsouko or Tabac Blond or Apres l'Ondee to puzzle over and consider, sometimes you want comfort like Amour or Violet Empire or Karma, and sometimes you just want to smell good like Eau Noir or Diorella or Gucci Pour Homme. (Or a thousand other somtimes's that that perfect verse or scent fulfills.)

  15. Anonymous says:

    I don't aspire to be anyone or anything else – I yam what I yam, to quote Popeye the sailor man. ;)

    I tend to think of perfumes as emphasizing different facets of myself: Perhaps facets that I'd like to accentuate and improve upon? N'Aimez Que Moi is the sentimental, nostalgic side, Apres L'Ondee is the introspective, wistful one, Diorissimo – sparkling, youthful brightness (eh…I need to work on that one, actually), and Or et Noir, the velvet-clad diva who loves to perform and be seen.

    I am currently smitten with Fumerie Turque, which is quite different from my other favorites. Perhaps it's a side of myself that I haven't explored yet!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Agreed, those frags are lovely.

    I bet our fragrance wardrobes say a lot about us….

  17. Anonymous says:

    Ooh, I can't wait to hear what you think of DC 1913. He is my new boyfriend. Ask Robin to give you my email address, and send me a note, and I will send you some so you can try it. I was thinking of having my middle name changed to “Galbanum”, but then I went back to my first choice of “Finesse”. :-)

  18. Anonymous says:

    Great topic. And ITA about Marilyn — aspirational fragrance. I would picture her in Fracas, myself.
    The messages we send with our perfume, unconnected with the scent itself, are interesting. And thinking about them forces us to confront our own biases. For instance: let us suppose that, say, Paris Hilton Heiress smelled like Vol de Nuit. Heh. Would you wear it? Would you ADMIT you were wearing Heiress if someone asked you, or would you forget? Anti-aspirational scents. My line is somewhere between Hilary Duff and Britney Spears, apparently.

  19. Anonymous says:

    In a thread somewhere I speculated on whether anyone would be bold enough to call their kid “Opoponax”. I mentioned that I might have liked a daughter called Iris, as that is a favourite perfume note of mine. So a woman who contemplated changing her middle name to “Galbanum” might just have the necessary bottle! : – )

  20. Anonymous says:

    Hmm, interesting topic. I think I adopt both approaches – aspiring to some things and choosing scent by mood at other times.

    My aspirational scents would be Cuir de Russie, 31, rue Cambon, EL Private Collection, Le Dix (if I could just catch it at its least powder-emitting moment!), 24 Faubourg (if only I didn't turn it to dead badger!), Arpege, Sous Le Vent and Mme Rochas.

    My introspective, slightly offbeat and wistful scents would be Bois des Iles, Black Cashmere (until I run out!), L'Eau d'Hiver, Blue Agava and Cacao and Apres L'Ondee.

    My comforting, classic feminine scents would be Plus Que Jamais, Nahema, Perles de Lalique, L'Attrape-Coeur, Grand Amour, Songes and DKNY Gold.

    My modern, casual, daytime feminine scents would be things like Burberry Woman, Lovely, Narciso Rodriguez For Her, Cashmere Mist, Burberry Beat, Pleasures and Coco Mlle.

    My trashy mac n' cheese scent is Hugo Boss Femme!

    My evening/romantic perfumes would be Intuition, Gucci by Gucci, DKNY The One.

    Now I am not sure any of my evening choices would also qualify as “aspirational” – I think I may only do “daytime aspirational” – so any suggestions for classier evening numbers welcome!!

  21. Anonymous says:

    No doubt.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Great list! Oddly, I think more of my evening scents than daytime scents are aspirational. Probably because when I'm going out I'm aspiring to Monte Carlo, 1961, with Cary Grant at my side (*sign*).

  23. Anonymous says:

    Argh. I meant *sigh* with an “h”.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your offer! So nice.

    “Galbanum” isn't bad, and sure beats “Styrax”. I kind of like “Ambergris”, too.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I remember that thread! I do love the name Iris.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Hmm, scent as poetry–that's really nice. It would be fun someday to match perfumes to poets.

  27. Anonymous says:

    See, you're more emotionally fit than I am. You're satisfied with yourself, and I still need to dress up as something more.

    Fumerie Turque! Maybe you're exploring your exotic, slightly masculine side–your inner Omar Shariff!

  28. Anonymous says:

    You've got me pegged! If Heiress smelled like Vol de Nuit, my bias wouldn't let me ever admit it (although if Heiress smelled like Vol de Nuit I'd faint dead away). I know I'm a snob, and yet if you saw how I live you'd choke laughing.

    I have a friends who teaches at an art college, and she had her students do a project called “The Scent of Me” where they described their own perfect scents designed packaging for them. I should ask her to tell me more about it.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Ambergris wouild be good for a chubby chlid! Styrax would be the spawn of Satan, no question. There has to be some of that in Yatagan,without even checking on Osmoz… What about boy twins called Styrax and Civet? They would be playground terrors all right!

  30. Anonymous says:

    It chills my bones to think of it!

  31. Anonymous says:

    I think that would be a very interesting project, I would love to hear more about it.

    We're supposed to be openminded and unbiased critics (hah!) And I can get almost anywhere on that platform, including BBW. But the celebrity scents, depending: no. Britney, Kimora, Paris? No, no, no.

  32. Anonymous says:

    I remember being very aspirational in my fragrance choices as a 20-something girl, fresh out of college and into the working world. Taking to heart the axiom “dress for the job you want, not for the one you have”, I picked a few mature professional women I admired and copied them – right down to shoe, hairstyle and fragrance! After a couple years in the professional world, I relaxed enough to develop my own style and wear my own fragrances (thankfully!).

    I would suppose even if you were Marilyn Monroe, you might do somewhat the same. Norma Jean didn't come from much and even as famous as she became, she always seemed rather insecure. My guess is that she knew some more mature, elegant, woman who wore No.5 and perhaps hoped that some magic existed within the fragrance that would endow her with a sophistication she may not have felt she otherwise had in her. It certainly is food for thought.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I'd say that's a pretty good description of my own situation, as long as you replace '20-something girl' with '20-something boy'… these days I choose my fragrances purely based on how much I like them, although I'm still fine-tuning my personal 'style' in that arena and am happy to be surprised by a knock-out fragrance that isn't what I would think of as 'me'. And as I'm single, I indulge my taste for fragrances for my sake alone. It's all about ME-ME-ME ! :P

    By the way, Angela, that was an exceptionally enjoyable and well-written article to inspire our thoughts today!!

  34. Anonymous says:

    LOL…IMHO many of these perfumes should aspire to live up to their hype! During recent sniffing forays, I've found myself disappointed by classics I've heard of but never tried, i.e., Joy, Shalimar, No. 5, Fracas. My apologies to their fans, I mean no disrespect, but they do nothing for me. Sorry to sound like a Philistine. However, I wear fragrance for my own enjoyment, and if a scent is boring/unbearable, there's no reason for me to use it, no matter how famous it is. Hey, maybe these fragrances should aspire to be MY perfume! (hee)

  35. Anonymous says:

    Sorry to be so literal, A, but I don't think Vega was on sale when Marilyn Monroe was alive (at the height of her fame anyway): it had been discontinued, I believe. I'd never heard of it until recently.

    As for your question, it's a very interesting one. I will have to ponder it. I've worn lots of great classics without really asking myself why.

  36. Anonymous says:

    I know what you mean. Of course I could imagine indulging in some rampant reverse snobbery and saying, “You'd never guess it was Paris Hilton's Teen Ho, would you? It smells like the finest Guerlain.”

  37. Anonymous says:

    I can very well imagine it. Maybe it's what she wore when she married Arthur Miller, too. (But maybe not what she wore when she married Joe DiMaggio.) Somehow it all add's to Marilyn's intrigue.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Djsf, thanks! And I love the ME-ME-ME part of your comment–that's how I feel about it, too.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Don't give up on those classics yet! I know I've definitely eaten my words on some of them when I've tried them later on.

    Wearing a fragrance for your own enjoyment sounds perfect.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Oh, I know she couldn't have worn Vega. I had just received a decant in the mail as I was writing, and as soon as I sprayed it on I thought, “Aha! Marilyn's real version of No. 5!”

    B, you probably are a classic and don't need to wear them in any aspirational sense. I still need to live up to them, but I don't mind–in fact, I like it.

  41. Anonymous says:

    I think my aspirational perfume is Mouchoir de Monseiur…. I have never really taken to it, but one day perhaps. Not that I want to be a dandy, but the civility of always having a scented handkercheif, of the evocations it has for me of the worlds of Proust and Edward VII, of being the perfect gentleman (that's the aspirational bit!), is very appealing.

    In reality I far prefer comforting scents and scents evocative of my SE Asian upbringing and which reflect my artistic temperament. Where all this meets currently is in my samples of Bois de Iles parfum, L'Artisan Vanilia and newly gifted bottle of Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille. When I want that artistic temperament to growl a little, I reach for Yatagan.

    S.

  42. Anonymous says:

    I can imagine exactly what Mouchoir de Monsieur represents–being confident, sure, always correct, always knowing. Then again, the scents you like for comfort sound wonderful, too..

  43. Anonymous says:

    Maybe I bought Fleur Du Male because I aspire to be confident, strong, likeable, and other things…
    Sigh…

  44. Anonymous says:

    just a side note. “real” men do love tuberose as it mimicks the scent of a certain area of female anatomy. my DH adores tuberose is perfume, as do the more grown up men I've been with. Little boys ran to the nearest thing smelling of Paris (Hilton)

    We so wear what we aspire to be. My cabinent has several full bottles, but millions of samples. I like to think the samples are bits or persona I try on and the full bottles as something I've found in my self to wear when I want to amplify that aspect.

    That being said I am at a loss at what to wear to my HS 10th reunion. suggestions? I used to be a shy timid thing, skinny as a rail and so very boy needy. I like to think I've blossomed, both in the physical sense as well as the mental.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Like many others here, I think of fragrances as philosophical prompts; auric sylphs that inspire or confirm mood, interpretation and emotional stories. Some scents are good pals to represent who you want to be—however; some are so powerful to the wearer, that they infuse themselves into the psyche and reform personalities and experiences. It's as if being inhabited by another time or spirit…something intangible that inspires sensuality, reflection, concentration or nostalgia. No wonder essences have been used for centuries to enhance spiritual ceremonies; they must've represented the capturing and re-living of ancestoral memories to their awed wearers. No other art can reshape experience, perception and memory like that of perfumery. Fragrance truly changes the inner perception of person and forms us into who we want to be…or don't want to be…

  46. Anonymous says:

    Nice tip about tuberose, thank you.

    Why not try some tuberose–maybe Carnal Flower?–for your high school reunion? All the boys who didn't ask you to the prom will be all over you, and all the girls who gave you the cold shoulder will be jealous as their husbands make eyes at you!

  47. Anonymous says:

    I have that site bookmarked–it's wonderful.

    Walt probably is a little skanky, but what about Byron? Maybe M7? And Keats? Something heavy on the lavender, I think. Emily Dickinson? Fleurs de Rocailles.

  48. Anonymous says:

    All those things, and with a sensitive side! Nice.

  49. Anonymous says:

    So, perfume can make us better people! I want to study your religion, nlb, I like it.

  50. Anonymous says:

    For a long time I've wanted to be exotic… mysterious… full of Eastern promise and so have gravitated towards perfumes like Opium and Black Cashmere with Clinique Elixir being my default scent. But I think it's only in the last couple of years I'm actually old enough to wear these scents with any conviction and to actually feel comfortable with them!
    Even more recently, I've only started to feel comfortable with the idea that – like my wine drinking (red in winter, white in summer and rose if in doubt) – my perfume wearing is much more enjoyable if it's seasonal – and it's OK to like a lovely floral (hello Diorissimo!) – that's still as much 'me' as the heavier scents.
    Anyway, my post is just a shameless excuse to plug a perfume rediscovery – Guerlain Voile d'Ete. I bought it for a holiday a few years back and have just repeated the experience in advance of my holiday this year. I didn't appreciate just how *nice* it was 1st time around but now it appeals to my wannabe exotic side (carnations and spice) but it is also lovely and soft and sits close to my skin.

  51. Anonymous says:

    Of course fragrance is at its core ,au fond profond ,aspirational, even for the famous ones. Easier to don than a gown, more intimate a well.

    Your wardrobe of scents highlights what a multi-nuanced personality you (and all frag lovers too) are :)

  52. Anonymous says:

    My first fragrance – on my 14th birthday – was Madame Rochas. How inappropriate, you may say. But I felt it may represent me in 25 years or so – so I wore it to the last drop.

    Next was O de Lancome – more appropriate, nice and fresh and BORING

    I like woods, spices, leather, pipe tobacco and certain nuts – coconuts, almonds. And certain flowers – like frangipani and honeysuckle. And citrus fruit. Vetiver and patchouli and musk and incense. Combinations of which can always be found in my fragrance wardrobe.

    Opium

    Nu

    Hypnotic Poison

    Narcisso Rodriguez

    Tuscany Leather

    Musc Ravageur

    And also

    Ananas Fizz

    Azuree Soleil

    Eau de Merveilles

    L'Eau Par Kenzo

    And also Maitresse because I adore the bottle :-D

  53. Anonymous says:

    Hello NowSmellThis ! Thank you for a beautiful post!

    After over a year of regular visits I've decided finally to send my first comment. I'm both a perfume lover and a fan of Marilyn Monroe.

    In regards to her connection with Chanel No. 5 she is known to say this famous quote. She was a face of this brand, in that time too. However in private she was also said to admire Joy by Jean Patou. This mixture of bulgarian roses and jasmine was desired by many women soon after its release in 1929.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Angela, I just love this article!

  55. Anonymous says:

    that's exactly the perfume my DH and a few others decided had that …er…um… feminine musk to it. good suggestion

  56. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful article. It always struck me that she might wear No. 5 as an aspirational fragrance, but you really hit the nail on the head with your prose. She is definitely a person who would aspire not only to be the No. 5 type of woman, but to be taken as seriously as a No. 5 woman.
    I could never se Monroe in Fracas, it would play up her sexiness, but I think it would overwhelm her gentleness.
    I can't think of an aspirational fragrance of my own. I sometimes wear Clean for Men when I want to smell cleaner than I actually am.

  57. Anonymous says:

    My parents went on vacation to the Carribean when I was around 15 and brought back a little atomizer of No. 5 in parfum from duty free. It was 1985, I had a subscription to Vogue, knew I'd go to Paris one day, and liked to wear vintage suits I bought at Seattle thrift shops. So, in every sense, it was an aspirational fragrance for me and always, always puts stars in my eyes.

  58. Anonymous says:

    Note to self: must revisit Canal Flower.

  59. Anonymous says:

    Voile d'Ete is a nice one, especially when it warms up outside. Plus, I think it has a little of that exotic “Eastern promise”, too!

  60. Anonymous says:

    You are so kind! Multi-faceted is so much nicer than schizophrenic. I do think fragrance lovers are a special breed, though.

  61. Anonymous says:

    It sounds like you went from being a correct, proper girl to an exotic temptress of a woman! I hope you vacation on tropical islands and wear a sarong and carry a drink with an umbrella in it.

  62. Anonymous says:

    Welcome! I can very well imagine Marilyn wearing Joy. It is as lush and gorgeous, but sensitive, as she was.

  63. Anonymous says:

    Thank you!

  64. Anonymous says:

    Maybe Fracas is better suited for Elizabeth Taylor. Isabeli, above, said that she really wore Joy, and I can completely imagine that. Although I can also see Marilyn wearing something slightly powdery from time to time, too.

  65. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if I ever saw you at one of the Seattle thrift shops a few years later? I had my subscription to Vogue, too–my window into a world where people tossed off “bon mots” and were comfortable in the fanciest restaurants–and I scoured Value Village for 1950s cocktail dresses and men's pajamas. I would have been so impressed knowing you wore No. 5.

  66. Anonymous says:

    Oh, I see. Sorry, misunderstood. I must try and track Vega down somewhere.

    Nah, I'm a little scruffy thing – that's partly why I moved to London all those years ago: you could be much more 'bohemian' than in Paris. I couldn't possibly be one of those groomed French women. I just never thought about it in depth, but I will now. It *really* is very interesting.

  67. Anonymous says:

    Actually, I must have thought about it 'subconsciously' since I went from innocent-ish Fleurs d'Oranger to Tubéreuse Criminelle. LOL!

  68. Anonymous says:

    Very interesting! the Fleurs d'Oranger to T. Criminelle progression could be the plot of a novel.

  69. Anonymous says:

    I just sniffed 31 Rue Cambon for the first time and it is officially my aspirational fragrance from here on out. Words cannot describe how I feel about this scent. It's everything I want to be.
    White Aoud and Songes are my everyday aspirational scents – for day and evening respectively. Both make me feel like a lady; WA with its formaldehyde opening is like Grace Kelly in a surgeon's mask; Songes is just pure fantasy, all those rich white flowers tinged with banana, rubber, and bubblegum.
    When I'm teaching or otherwise business-like, it's Nuits d'Hadrien or Guerlain Vetiver. Never hurts to smell like a man when you want to get the job done. Wouldn't mind Eau Sauvage for those days as well.
    But 31 Rue Cambon seems to combine those moods – ladylike and businesslike at the same time. Elegance and gentility with a streak of take-no-prisoners intensity. I love it!

  70. Anonymous says:

    Be my guest, A! You're the one with the imagination. Just dedicate the book to me – I don't even want royalties. ;-)

  71. Anonymous says:

    I loved the downtown Goodwill, Retro Viva near the Market, and the strip in the U-District! My girlfriends and I would take the bus from the 'burbs, smoke clove cigarettes, and drink espresso. Tres chic. I remember a little black and white number I had that I would wear with ropes of “pearls”…After reading your post I wore black to work, with just one strand of pearls, Chanel red lipstick, and the No. 5 (my current bottle is the Voile Perfume from a few years back). Thanks so much for the memory lane wanderings about perfume, fashion and identity!

  72. Anonymous says:

    That was a great post – and yes, you're probably completely right about Marilyn and No. 5. It really doesn't feel like a good fit.

  73. Anonymous says:

    Don't be surprised if I follow through on it….

  74. Anonymous says:

    Retro Viva! I shopped there. I also went to (now my mind is blanking it out) a vintage shop near the market that moved to Fremont and had a woman's name in it–Fritzi Ritz? I've loved vintage clothing ever since.

  75. Anonymous says:

    31 rue Cambon is a perfect aspirational scent. I don't know that I could ever truly achieve it, as much as I love it. I adore Songes, too.

  76. Anonymous says:

    It is a beauty. Now I'm jonesing for a decant….

  77. Anonymous says:

    Thank you. Marilyn seems so much more passionate and vulnerable than No. 5.

  78. Anonymous says:

    I would agree that No. 5 was aspirational for her. I read somewhere (I wish I could remember where) that she was particularly sensitive about the way her breasts looked. So much so, that she often would sleep in her bra, especially if she was with a man.

    So she reportedly wore No. 5 AND her bra to bed.

  79. Anonymous says:

    And to think of how many hundreds of thousands of men have dreamed about those breasts! Well, I guess we all have our hang ups.

  80. Anonymous says:

    I've thought about this before. I laughed when I saw this post, because the good friend I have who's a No. 5 wearer is a big, loud blonde, with outrageous cleavage & a strong Wisconsin accent. She's gorgeous, but she makes Marilyn Monroe look like Audrey Hepburn. The scent works perfectly on her — I don't think of it so much as frags being aspirations, as that you want them to balance out your personality or something. Like, you wear something to draw attention to what's less obvious about you, rather than more so.
    Great post!

  81. Anonymous says:

    Now that's a really interesting concept–wearing fragrance to balance your personality. I've thought about balancing a look with a fragrance, but never really thought about balancing a character. It makes sense. Thanks for the comment!

  82. Anonymous says:

    I really love this post, very thought provoking. Thank you Angela.

    This is a constant process that shifts with time, I think, and had never considered the Monroe quote in this way before…I'm male, gay/married, 34, and an extremely messy chaotic (and not rich to say the least) “contemporary” artist born in Topeka and living in Amsterdam. For years I wore the original La Prairie and have now moved on, as that has been discontinued, to Sabi from Henry Dunay (even though my collection numbers 250 bottles plus, these are “signatures”). I think the last post about balancing character is spot on. Thank you again for initiating a deep philosophical vein of questioning worthy of further extension and elaboration.

  83. Anonymous says:

    I swear that perfume people are, as a rule, interesting people, and it certainly sounds like you fit that mold. Sabi is a wonderful perfume.

  84. Anonymous says:

    I have always tried to figure out why I have this obsession with perfume. I often ask myself, just before spritzing some fragrance in the morning : ''how am I feeling today?'' ''who do I want to impress???'' If I wear a suit: Chanel, if I wear jeans, Costume national?

    Perfume is ''la touche finale'', a way to dress up – and make a statement.

  85. Anonymous says:

    Agreed, perfume is a great way to accessorize.

    Although sometimes, it's fun to wear Chanel (no 5) with jeans and a cashmere (cream or red) sweater…… A sort of shabby chic, if you will. :)

  86. Anonymous says:

    Perfume is a great way to make a statement, and a great way to do “mood control”. I love it.

  87. Anonymous says:

    So true! Mixing it up can sometimes be more interesting.

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