Perfumes: The Guide, Tania Sanchez amusingly describes the six stages of perfume fanaticism, starting with "mother's bathroom" and moving through Ambition and Naïveté, Flowers and Candy, and First Love. An avowed perfume lover, I'd been stuck in stage 5, Decadence, in which one wears only heavy-handed (patchouli, amber) or barely-there (tomato, tea) scents, the harder-to-find the better. I was convinced that I didn't like to smell "like a girl," and so I gravitated toward unisex or even men's scents, and if I wore something "feminine," you can bet it was heavy on the resinous woods. I can only imagine to what horrors I've been subjecting my coworkers all these years. And yet a few weeks ago, I reached Sanchez' stage 6, Enlightenment: satisfaction in things in themselves. I was at Barneys, and I stopped at the Frédéric Malle counter, and the salesman, bless his heart, told me I seemed like a Carnal Flower girl. "I don't like floral scents," I told him. "You will like this one," he promised. He was right. The star note in this scent is tuberose, and as far as white flowers go, it's kind of a dirty one, which I like. There's some orange blossom and jasmine (also a somewhat skanky-smelling flower, in a good way) for fullness, but then there's a greenish-gourmand layer, with coconut, melon, and bergamot, resting on a warm ylang-ylang and musk base. What this means is that you smell like a bouquet of flowers that you don't know whether to eat or to bang. You smell amazing. Men will hit on you in line at the coffee shop and when you're waiting for the subway. People will stop you on the street and ask what perfume you're wearing. (And then they will look dejected when they realize they can't buy it at Sephora.) You will rise above the mundaneness of everyday life. I am not overselling it; I decided to take a break from wearing Carnal Flower today and had a terrible day. I am convinced it was because of my perfume.
Now, here comes the hard part. This perfume is ridiculously expensive. I mean, I write a blog about shopping and I think it's expensive. It is far more than I've ever spent on fragrance. (For the record, $230.) But, it is so potent that I only need two or three sprays, and even that can be a bit overwhelming. I am hoping this bottle lasts until I'm in the next age bracket. And you know what? Even if it doesn't, I will gladly shell out for another one. (I'm already tempted to get the body cream, but I'm afraid men and women will be trailing me around like the Pied Piper of Manhattan.) I've reached Fragrance Enlightenment, and it smells amazing.