I’M FICKLE WHEN it comes to fragrance. Last spring and fall I was mad about Creed’s Vetiver Geranium and loved getting compliments when I wore it, but then I walked into a Diptqyue boutique in Westport, Connecticut, and became smitten with Benjoin Bohème Eau de Parfum. Still, over the years, I find myself returning to my all-time favorites listed below.
Acqua di Parma: I first discovered this fragrance in Portofino and fell for it instantly. At the time I had no idea that Hollywood legends, including Cary Grant, David Niven and Audrey Hepburn had similar feelings about this scent, launched at the turn of the 20th century. Although the classic colonia fragrance is light, infused with notes of bergamot, citrus, lemon, bitter orange, sweet orange, rosemary, sandalwood and vetiver, it seeps into the pores and remains a presence throughout the day and into the evening. The eau de cologne is available at Bluemercury, Saks Fifth Avenue and Sephora.
Jicky: My fascination with Jicky began when my best friend told me she had discovered it while living in Paris and that Proust was said to have worn it, along with Brigitte Bardot, Colette, Empress Eugénie, Sean Connery and Roger Moore. She describes it as “summery, sophisticated, uncommon and very French.” It didn’t have the same transformative effect on me, but that’s the thing about fragrance—it smells different on everyone. By the way, my pal, who still has a bottle of Jicky ($337 at Saks Fifth Avenue) now wears Amouage’s Epic, an under-the-radar kind of scent, which is made in Oman without alcohol.
Cristalle: Created in the 1970s, it was the last fragrance that Mlle. Chanel herself had a hand in. It reminds me of my first days living in New York City—a little innocent and a little naughty. The scent, with its top notes of Sicilian mandarin and lemon, a soupçon of peach along with hyacinth and grass jasmine, seems fresh and invigorating, like early spring days. But when it mingles with your own body oils on a hot day at the beach, it’s intoxicating. Buy the perfume, not the toilet water. $94 at Chanel and area department stores.
Bois des Iles: Created by the same perfumer—Ernest Beaux—best known for Chanel No. 5, this spicy, rich and woody fragrance came out of an era entranced by the exotic, whether it was the countries of Africa or dancer and chanteuse Josephine Baker. Recently, I was standing outside a restaurant waiting for a cab when a couple standing nearby inquired what perfume I was wearing. I’ve been sold on Bois des Iles ever since. $280 at Chanel and Saks Fifth Avenue in Chevy Chase.
Eau Sauvage: Dior’s first fragrance for men holds a special place in my heart. My first semi-serious college boyfriend, movie-star handsome and worldly, wore it. It was a far cry from my high-school beaux, who thought English Leather was a no-brainer way to impress their female classmates. Every now and then, indulging in nostalgia, I’ll swipe some of my husband’s Eau Sauvage after-shave and splash it on.
And, if my husband happens to be reading this, and remembers that February 14 is Valentine’s Day, I would be happy to receive a replacement for the bottle of Coco Noir that I’ve run out of.