Friday, March 14, 2014

A Proustian moment

Not long ago, with time to spare before a Eurotunnel crossing my daughter and I wandered into the perfume section of the duty-free shop. And what a stroll down memory lane it turned out to be. The story of my life was there. The first perfume that I associate with my mother is Estée Lauder's Youth Dew which I remember her wearing when I was a teenager. It remained a favourite and was a great standby if I couldn't think what to give her for birthday or Christmas. She also liked the packages of five or six tiny bottles of different perfumes that were handy for keeping in a handbag and I often picked those up for her at the duty-free coming back from holiday.
My own favourite perfume as a very young woman was Rive Gauche. I loved its smart blue, silver and black packaging and the intellectual connotations of the name: perhaps Simone de Beauvoir wore it, hanging out with Jean-Paul Sartre in Les Deux Magots!  Of course the naming of a scent is a powerful piece of marketing - but even knowing that, what magic there is in those names. A present of Miss Dior on my nineteenth birthday seemed so elegant and sophisicated. Later I loved the minimalist chic of Chanel No 5 and Chanel No 19.
There was - perhaps still is - a shop in York that sold discount perfume and my mother and I used to see what they had got when we met in York for the day. Nina Ricci's L'air du Temps brings back memories of those days - and shopping for my wedding dress in Droopy and Brown just up the street.
After my mother died I kept her unfinished bottles of scent and they reminded her of her when I used them. They are long finished, alas.
Back to the Eurotunnel duty-free: 'This was Grandma's favourite perfume,' I told my daughter, spraying on some Youth Dew from the tester. We sniffed it. 'I remember,' she said and so did I. For a moment I was back in my mother's flat in Scarborough, sun streaming in through the windows. It's been six years almost to the day, but it sometimes seems no time at all.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I remember all these perfumes and especially Rive Gauche.

Perfume is so evocative.

Sue

Saturday, 15 March, 2014  
Blogger Christine said...

Thanks, Sue. Yes, it is such a personal and intimate thing.

Saturday, 15 March, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for such an interesting and evocative piece.

Saturday, 22 March, 2014  
Blogger Christine said...

It's lovely of you to say so.

Saturday, 22 March, 2014  

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