That’s a presumptuous title, isn’t it? Why should I know what perfume will lift your mood? I don’t, so here’s a list of five perfumes that make me happy. My criteria is that they be friendly, uplifting, and maybe a little wacky. No brooding orientals or pretentious oeuvres here. Maybe you’ll find something to perk you up, too.
Jean Patou Colony: On the top of the “happy because it’s wacky” list is Colony, a pineapple syrup-infused chypre. To me, Colony is like an elegantly dressed woman who knows how to burp on command or who does a spot-on imitation of Foghorn Leghorn — all without mussing a hair of her chignon. How can that not bring you joy? For a bohemian take on the same concept, L’Artisan Parfumeur Ananas Fizz (sadly discontinued) adds beach grass and sea air and begs for a seaside vacation. A note: another Jean Patou scent, Joy, is curiously wistful and not — to me, anyway — particularly mirth-producing.
Yves Saint Laurent Yvresse: Yvresse is another joyful light, fruity chypre. I rarely find that one spritz is enough. Oh, it’s potent enough to survive on minimal application, but I find I want to spritz and spritz and chuckle and inhale its nectarine-chypre goodness. It makes me feel like a princess — one of the lesser princesses, without a lot of public responsibility and only rare mentions in Paris Match. (Another note: Did you know Yves Saint Laurent Nu is back in production? Hurray!)
Revlon Jean Naté: What I love about Jean Naté is its cheerfulness. When I wear it, I smell like a vanilla-lemon sorbet in a plastic cup. Also, it’s inexpensive enough and has such a short life on skin that I can splash it on by the palmful. That makes me happy, too. I keep a big jug of it in the refrigerator next to the capers and mustard.
Parfums de Nicolaï Le Temps d’une Fête: So pretty, so lush, so easy. Le Temps d’une Fête feels like a purring cat on your lap while it’s raining outside, and the narcissus you rescued from the garden before the storm set in resting in a vase on the mantle. I find that Le Temps d’une Fête brings me comfort if I’m not already happy, but boosts my happiness if I’m on that path anyway. (This one has been a stalwart in my perfume collection, and I sob to see that it's discontinued. Penhaligon's Ostara, another narcissus I love, has been discontinued, too. Amouage Myths Woman or Masque Milano Romanza might work as substitutes, but they're a bit moody — gorgeously so, mind you — to be purely "happy" perfumes.)
Elizabeth Taylor Passion Extrait: Surprise, huh? Really, it’s not Passion that makes me happy, but dipping into this and other oddball, discontinued gems. Maybe it’s the storyteller in me. When the world feels bland and gray, I can splash on some Millot Crêpe de Chine Eau de Toilette, follow it up with a dab of the Extrait, and live in another world for a few hours — one that flickers in pre-code black and white. Vintage Pucci Zadig Extrait paints the day with Italian women in 1960s hairdos and miniskirts in Venetian palazzos. A splash of vintage Paco Rabanne Calandre is goofily Jetson-gorgeous, too, and makes me ache for go-go boots and Sassoon bangs. To get back to Passion, it’s so perfectly Elizabeth Taylor that it’s almost too ridiculously full-blown, to the point that it demands that you march into the world saying, “Yeah, I’m as beautiful as a dozen pink roses next to a flawlessly groomed white poodle next to a gold Rolls Royce next to a diamond and ruby parure, and I’m won't apologize for it, either. I’m not going to try to be ironic or hip about it.” It cracks me up. I love it. To me, that’s pure happiness.
I know these perfumes probably aren’t your choices. What fragrances do you count on to lift your mood? Please share!