Monday, February 24, 2014

Making Scents

When I was a young girl, I loved playing with make-up, teetering in my mom’s high heels and sampling any and all perfumes. Consequently, I can apply lipstick without looking in a mirror, walk gracefully in stilettos, and have a knack for mixing up batches of essential oils to use as aromatherapy for my yoga classes. As a teen-ager, I became obsessed with finding a signature scent, as I felt it would help create just the right persona as well as identify me as a mysterious and intriguing woman. It began with musk oil, which I found to be completely sexy. I doused myself daily in its earthy stickiness until its cloying odor became too overwhelming for my father (he thought it smelled like a cat marking territory), and he banned me from wearing it anywhere near the house. To soothe my wounded ego, my mother bought me a bottle of Jean Nate, a kind of non-descript, un-offensive after-bath splash that I found totally boring, and totally un-sexy. Thus began years of searching for something that would evoke the same kind of thrill and mystery as my beloved musk oil. I tried everything – some were really sweet and over-the-top (think Shalimar or Tabu), while some smelled like baby powder (Love’s Baby Soft), and even tried a men’s aftershave for a brief time (I really liked the blend of citruses but had to give it up when a date showed up wearing the same scent). None of the fragrances I tried seemed to reflect all the personal nuances or sensual signals I was hoping for until I discovered Anais Anais. I’m fairly certain it was named for the racy author Anais Nin, and I was totally captivated by her torrid love affair with Henry Miller as well as the sweetly innocent sexuality of the fragrance. I wore that for a number of years and would always be quite pleased when people would ask what I was wearing or better yet, associate the scent with me. (My daughter told me she would secretly spray some on her school uniform so she could feel like I was close to her! So sweet.) It took a few years to get sick of it, especially when too many people started wearing it, and was once again on the hunt. Then one summer, a French friend who had attended art school with me showed up for a visit. Adeline was very chic, as most French women are, and she left me with a fabulous golden St. Laurent cuff, a Prada bag and, best of all, the thing I had been longing to discover – my signature scent. I've been spritzing myself with Mitsouko (by Guerlain) ever since, loving its distinctive earthy sweetness with its citrus top notes, and the intriguing Hollywood legend that wafted along with it. Apparently Jean Harlow's husband, distraught because of his lack of manly prowess and her subsequent departure, doused himself in the sensuous elixir and killed himself on their bed! I know it's a tad over-the-top and begs the term Drama Queen, but to me, it's exactly the kind of intense emotional energy that scents can and do elicit. Imagine what powers a recipe of aroma and asana could produce? The heady combo has been proven to heal physically, emotionally and energetically. Even modern science agrees. These days it's not unusual to find medical doctors who regularly prescribe essential oil therapy as a viable adjunct to western medicine. I strongly advise that before your next yoga practice you take some time to smell the roses, or the lavender, or the frankincense, or the bergamot, and enjoy the dance of asana with an entirely new and sensuous -- maybe even a little over-the-top dramatic…perspective. Love and light, RT