“What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No. 5, of course” – Marilyn Monroe

There’s a very good reason why the perfume industry has grown to USD 31 billion and continues to enjoy healthy growth.

When it comes to triggering memories and emotions, your nose knows best. You don’t have to be a scientist to have experienced that when you’re exposed to certain smells memories come to life. I’ve found that no other stimulus, with the possible exception of certain songs, connects me with the exuberance of my youth like the smell of saltwater, freshly brewed black tea and the sweet sticky perfume of jasmines in the balmy air before the sunsets.

I grew up in Smyrna near the Aegean coast.

Summers for our family meant time on the beach. With the beach trips came the smell of cocoa butter on the skin, salty sea breezes, plastic beach balls and occasionally that rare delight, hazelnut spread which we’d buy from the only grocery store there was – Tansas.

If someone made a perfume releasing all of those scents and finishing off with a freshly brewed tea (because no day is ever complete without a few cups of fragrant black tea if you’re a self-respecting Turk), they can name their price. What I, or for that matter anyone on earth, wouldn’t give to relive those childhood days, so carefree, full of wonder and exploration.

My Two Scents’ Worth

The smells that lift us up, take us out of the dark places and fill us up with joie de vivre, they are almost never found in perfume bottles. Here’s me calling the emperor naked; as many times as I’ve tried Chanel No. 5, I can’t tell you what it smells like. I doubt whether any man can either.

I was presented a wonderful perfume L’Occitane Terre De Lumiere two Christmases ago, made by that brand (L’Occitane) which claims to capture the essence of the south of France named after the most enchanting part of the day called the golden hour (Terre de Lumiere), right before the sun sets. I loved it and wore it numerous times but if I can’t recall what it smells like. If I went to the shops to get another whiff of it, it will not make me feel anything special.

The problem is that perfumes – well they’re not authentic. They are contrived to be pleasant and no matter how much money and energy is poured into transforming them to liquid gold, they don’t transport me to those days of being green and fresh on this earth.

In the way that art imitates life, perfumes merely imitate what nature gives us with her generosity for free. Lavender and jasmine grow in abundance in the gardens of Lane Cove homes. My daughter and I pick them if we come across them. These flowers are an important part of our relationship and their smells will forever remind us of each other one would hope.

Of course, children’s memories form in a way I cannot comprehend so she’ll have to describe to me what smells she most likes when she’s old enough. It could be that of chocolate pudding or cookies baking in the oven, which happens more often than I ever thought possible. There’s something about having young children in the house that inspires one to bake, something I thought I’d never do.

Most people report that their favorite smell is cookies fresh out of the oven followed closely by melting chocolate in the second place. I hope the perfume industry doesn’t latch onto this. I remember only too vividly the vanilla-scented perfumes of the 90s. If I had money back then, I would’ve bought them all.

Over to you…

What are the smells of your youth? Are you finding those smells around you these days? E-mail me, Eda@WritePublishGrow.com and tell me all about it.