Chanel Nº19

For 26 years, now, I have worn Chanel Nº19. My choice has been almost exclusively the eau de toilette version. There was a brief period during which I had a small bottle of pure parfum. This Christmas, I received a bottle of the eau de parfum as a gift. I love all three concentrations. What a glorious green.

I’ve smelled hundreds of perfumes, and I always come back to this.

Some people call it a bitchy perfume, or a witchy one. I don’t know, is it? Maybe sometimes.

To me, it smells like everything: being a bitch, and not being one. Brittle, crystalline; creamy and soft. Flowers, roots, something freshly snapped, something forgotten on a dark shelf, sealed in a jar. The scent is all those things, it depends on the day, on the air, where I’ve applied it, how long it has been on my skin.

There have been changes to the fragrance over the years. I’ve heard people say the newer versions are too awful to wear. They are certainly not the same. Some moments of the development are not entirely enjoyable, but on my skin that passes quickly, and I’m happy to deal with it. There is no question, I’d rather have a reformulation than none at all.

Questions about favorites have always been difficult to answer, but I am in a time of life when something unique (for me) is happening. I am deciding very little about it, but the extraneous slips away, more and more each day. I’m not working at it, but after all the time I’ve spent wondering who I am, asking myself questions I can’t answer, I’m left standing here looking at myself. I didn’t need to think harder, look harder. I needed to wait.

And I’ve settled into green. Everything that means. I’m drawn to it.

Green scents in general have an appeal: fig, green tea, galbanum, pine, iris in certain light, leaves, snapped branches and roots, grasses, herbs, unripe fruits. Sali Hughes talks about sour greeness in scent, and yes. I get that. It’s pleasing, and it comforts me, feels like it belongs.

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