Living in the U.S. for the last… many years I gradually got used to the fact that kids go back to school from early August to mid-September. And still, every year on the September 1st, I think of it as of the back to school day because for the first 22 years of my life (well, technically 15 – since we would start school at 7) it was the day when all schools and all other full-time educational institutions would start their new school year.
Because of that date that imprinted in my mind probably forever, I got an urge to post something related to it. Last week there was a community project for back to school perfumes – whatever association you’ve got with that idea. My answer was Serge Lutens De Profundis, but since I’ve previously told that story, as I was reading other commenters’ interpretations, I kept comparing their ideas with my memories.
The responses were quite interesting, people had many connections:
- Perfumes, associated with places – Library (CB I Hate Perfume In the Library); trees in the park surrounding the school (Ormonde Jayne Woman), campus in the forest (Annick Goutal Nuit Etoilee) – my school was in the downtown, and whatever the smell was, it’s not something you want to recreate with your perfume.
- Perfumes with the smell of pencil shavings – Serge Lutens Santal Blanc and Chene, Berdoues Arz el-rab – though I’ve sharpen my share of pencils while at school, I have absolutely no recollection as to how those smelled.
- Perfumes with apple note – Hermes Sous le Toit de Paris and Nobile 1942 La Danza delle Libellule – I didn’t know “an apple for the teacher” saying until I moved to the U.S. long after my school years, so it is not my association as well.
- One-off clever associations “Fracas – for the fracas that the first week of school tends to be” and “going Old School” with vintage Diorella – can’t say anything about Fracas, and did previously cover school years, Diorella and my first love.
- Perfumes that people wore during their school years – too many to list what others wore, and since for the first 20 years of my life I was in almost monogamous relationships with Lancôme Climat, this perfume is not associated for me with starting school. Besides, I wrote about it multiple times before.
And then I read something I could relate to. I don’t remember what perfume it was but the association was: new perfume in the wearer’s perfume wardrobe (connection – new clothes for the new school year). And it suddenly resonated with my memories.
In my school years we wore uniforms. It was the same type of uniform for all schools in the country: brown dresses with black aprons (or white aprons for dress-up occasions) for girls and navy suits for boys. They were slightly different from city to city but you wouldn’t confuse it with anything else, you could tell it was a school uniform. But even though those uniforms weren’t too exciting, every year before the start of the school year I had a surge of excitement while getting a new dress and aprons.
Once I started thinking about school and clothes, my immediate association was Guerlain Habit Rouge Dress Code.
It wasn’t like that everywhere, but my school had a very strict dress code: we weren’t allowed to wear anything but those dresses and black aprons – no extra sweaters or cardigans, no colored leggings or tights, no jewelry. Of course, we weren’t allowed any make-up. How about perfumes? To tell the truth, I have no idea. Most likely not, but I don’t think anybody would think of doing it: perfumes were scarce commodity, not for the everyday use. I don’t think even teachers wore any perfumes to work.
It is not that I think that Habit Rouge Dress Code would go well with school uniform: in my opinion, it’s a more mature perfume; and probably I wouldn’t have even liked it at that age. Also, it is far too unisex for the times when I wore that uniform. But I like Gurlein’s Dress Code today and feel excited about wearing it more often than just in the beginning of a school year.
For the real review, if you haven’t tried Habit Rouge Dress Code by now and are curious about what you’ve missed, read Kafka’s review. I just want to say that I think it’s a pity that Guerlain decided to produce it as a limited edition.
I have many questions today. Did you have to wear a uniform to school? What was it? Were you allowed to wear perfumes? Did you? Do you have any association for back-to-school and perfumes? (I promise not to fail you if you do not answer them all)