Remember when Bath & Body Works first opened in the '90s? This blog post does a good job of taking you down memory lane—the chain came around at just the right time, when Bill Clinton became our president, political correctness was a way of life, and, moving on from excessively overwhelming '80s fragrances like Poison and Obsession, we were all wearing "natural" scents like Elizabeth Arden Sunflowers and Gap Grass, because it was a new decade and we were earnest. B&BW had a "country" theme, with items stocked in baskets and salespeople wearing gingham aprons, and the products had a very farm-fresh feel, which was perhaps ahead of its time, considering the craze for farm-to-table everything now. B&BW's scents were clean, fresh, fruity, and simple—think Sun-Ripened Raspberry and Cucumber Melon—and you'd get a shower gel, lotion, and body spray. (Another way B&BW was ahead of its time: It's where I was introduced to layering my fragrance.) My favorite scent was Freesia, and if I ever smell it again, I think I'll be instantly transported back to my bedroom circa 1993, where I was likely pining over the captain of the basketball team (he didn't know I existed) and listening to Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814.
The other day, I caught a whiff of Jo Malone English Pear & Freesia and it was almost as though "Love Will Never Do Without You" started spontaneously playing. It was like my adolescence, only better. In Malone's version, the soft floral freesia gets a jolt of sweetness with a perfumey English pear (did B&BW have a pear scent too?), but lest the scent start to smell too much like broken teenage dreams, it settles nicely on a sophisticated, drydown of wild roses, amber, patchouli, and woods. In other words, it's an incredibly lovely, nuanced, feminine fragrance designed for a woman, not a gawky, awkward, mall rat. I stopped by to sample the body cream today, and hours later, I'm still smelling my hand obsessively like a teenage girl waiting for the boy she likes to call. (Or text? Kids these days don't talk on the phone, do they?) I thought I was too grown-up for fruity-floral scents, but this just goes to prove that certain things have staying power. Okay, Janet Jackson hasn't made a decent album in years, and only Facebook knows what happened to my crush, but when it comes to scent, sometimes it's good to keep things simple.
Bath & Body Works photo courtesy of From the Heartland: Vintage Bath & Body Works.