Twenty year ago, in a pre-ubiquitous Internet era, the only information available for fragrances was what an SA could tell you (in the country where I lived back then – not much) or what you could smell with your own nose (with the experience I had at the time – again, not much). Looking back I realize I was very susceptible to the power of suggestion. I also think that an importance of how a bottle looks in my decision-making process stems out of those earlier years. I’m not talking about the desire to have a real bottle, I’m talking about the fact that sometimes I do not want to even try a perfume if I dislike a bottle design or an ad campaign.
My beautician Polina, a woman who was ten-twelve years older than I was and had a great influence on me, was on a mission to make me to expand my perfume horizons and distract me from the idea of having a signature scent that I entertained in those days. I was very resistant (I had the best perfume in the world, why would I need another one?!) but she was persistent.
I should probably clarify our relationships with her. Those of you who had seen Steel Magnolias can picture better the atmosphere Polina had created at her place. She worked with clients at her apartment, in the downtown of a big industrial city, but it felt as if we were in Truvy’s Beauty Parlor. Even though we, her clients, were paying for haircuts, coloring, manicures and many other services, we were coming there not only for that but to spend time, discuss news and fashion trends, exchange some gossips or recipes and check out the latest eye shadow or lipstick color. She always knew what hair cut each of us should get, what color goes better with our complexions and which shoes style should be worn this season. On many occasions we followed her advices even against our wishes and judgments. Was she always right? Of course not. But we were young and she was very opinionated and compelling. I outgrew her at some point of my life and then moved really far away but I’m still thankful for many things she taught me (she was the one who pushed me into the perfumes exploration direction) and for some things that I learned because of her (standing my ground when it’s easier to compromise or keep silent).
One day she pulled out from a drawer a satin lined box with a dark ruby colored bottle with a black tassel. It was a bottle of parfum Venice by Yves Rocher. I knew nothing about that brand, but it was French, the bottle looked very nice and Polina told me that is smelled like a plum pit. When I think about it now I realize that I have no idea how a plum pit smells. I can imagine a sour cherry pit scent. I clearly remember an apricot kernel smell. Even an apple small seeds’ smell. But plum?.. As I mentioned earlier, I was impressionable and the bottle kind of looked like a plum pit (a bottle on the picture is of the EdT version, parfum bottle was smaller and slicker). So for many years I thought that Venice had a plum [pit] note in it.
There is not much information out there about this perfume. All I could find, it was created in 1986, notes include jasmine, rose, vanilla, musk, oakmoss and sandalwood. No plum. I don’t remember why I bought Venice EdT. Most likely, a parfum wasn’t in the U.S. catalog. So I do not know if the difference was only in concentration. It is discontinued now.
I liked Venice and wore the EdT version for a while but then put it away and haven’t tried for several years. I found and tried it again recently. I still like it but I’m not sure if I actually like the perfume or my memories about it. It’s hard to describe the scent. I do not smell jasmine or rose. There is some bitterness in it. And some sweetness. I’m not sure what it reminds me of. A plum pit maybe?
As always, feel free to post a link to your blog’s post(s) related to the topic.
Image: my own
See all episodes:
Weeklong Test Drives, Season 2: Yves Rocher
WTD, Episode 2.2: Iris Noir, Tendre Jasmin and Naturelle by Yves Rocher
WTD, Episode 2.3: Rose Absolu and Pur Desir de Rose by Yves Rocher
WTD, Episode 2.4: In the Search of the Perfect Lilac
WTD, Episode 2.5: Voile d’Ambre and Vanille Noire by Yves Rocher
WTD, Episode 2.6: Nature by Yves Rocher
It’s interesting who draws us out of ourselves, isn’t it? I imagine Polina’s apartment as you describe it, as an oasis in the industrial landscape. I enjoyed this post very much…and when next I’m near an Yves Rocher shop, I shall have to sample their wares.
>> It’s interesting who draws us out of ourselves, isn’t it?
Other people do influence us a lot, in different ways, whether we want it or not, regardless or their intentions and our attitude towards them. I remember how I stopped using one of the perfumes I liked and wore for a long time after one of my co-workers called it a “bug spray” (after sniffing it from a bottle!). Her opinion wasn’t even that important to me! But I through away the remaining perfume in a while because I couldn’t bring myself to wearing it any longer.
I just put some Venice on my wrist a few minutes ago, before reading the rest of your story with descriptions. I identify as “old” all the smells that seam familiar to my mind. They could be familiar for whatever reason, not necessarily because I know them. It’s just a feeling. This one is definitely “old”. I like it… for that. I smell a lot of vanilla and I agree that it is sweet with a bit of bitterness. Just like my memories about my past No plum pit at all. I know exactly how plum pits smell, it is used in cooking. There are variations (smoked and burnt), which are interesting too. Actually, I am curious now… I like the flavor of plum pits. Are there really perfumes with plum pit notes?
I do not know about any: don’t remember seeing that as a note in a description and since I do not know how exactly it smells I cannot say if anything reminds me of it in the smell.
Undina, I haven’t even heard of this one! The Secrets de Essenses line gets attention (and I’ve purchased two myself—mini’s) but I know little to nothing about the rest of their offerings. I too wonder what a plum pit smells like…
In couple of months, when it’s a season, I will try to sniff a real plum pit from a local crop.
I don’t have anything really brilliant to say, I just really like this post! It’s very evocative of this particular time and place and person.
Sometimes, especially when I’m late to the discussion or I have absolutely nothing to say on a subject, I wish there was some type of a button or a code phrase to leave as a comment just to tell the author that I didn’t miss the article, didn’t NOT read it.
So I appreciate your kind words.
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