L’Ombre dans L’Eau (Diptyque)

I wasn’t interested in Diptyque until recently. About a decade ago, I tried a few scents and they weren’t what I wanted. They were too simplistic, and they all smelled like somewhere I had been before. The sense of déjà vu was so intense it left me feeling irritated.

I revisited Diptyque on a whim when my husband and I were out shopping one day recently. I left the counter with Eau des Sens (a conversation for another day) and a very generous sample of L’Ombre dans L’Eau, which turns out to be exactly what I need in my atmosphere right now.

When I wear perfume, I wear several. I put a little of one thing on my neck, something else on my arm, something else on my ankles, like that. I like to smell different scents when I move around, and that way I don’t get too tired of anything. I like the process of figuring out which scents work together, and of amplifying aspects I enjoy in a perfume, and of downplaying what I don’t.

L’Ombre dans L’Eau goes very nicely with Chanel Nº19, or at least I think so.

Of the two, L’Ombre dans L’Eau is far more literal a scent. My sample is the EdP version, and oh, it is green and so sour and snappish. I can’t get enough of it. The rose is there, too, but I appreciate how the sour greenness never goes away. It makes me smile.

I’ve seen reviews of L’Ombre dans L’Eau, and it’s interesting how memories affect perception of the scent. For some, it is a greenhouse. Others smell sunshine. It’s childhood, in a garden they know.

Do I need to say that’s not what it is for me? I smell the darkness, and the damp. The snapped branches, the crushed leaves, in my memory they exist at the edge of the woods. It has rained, the sky is dim, it is no one’s garden. The overgrowth should have been enough to tell anyone this place belongs to trees, and vines, and thorns, not to a girl. I’m there, though, and I can see it backs up to a home, fenced in but visible, where there are roses and where a woman lives who would never welcome the sight of a child appearing from the bushes.

The yard is quiet, lush, hers. She is not around, but the imprint of ownership remains, despite the rain having provoked each and every leaf to strive against it. Getting caught inside would be terrible, but I need to see the roses.

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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.