They say that scent is the sense most closely tied to memory. For me, it’s never been more true than with Trésor in Love by Lancôme Paris ($47-77, Belk). This was my signature for several years. Shortly after returning from St Croix in 2010, I took my Black Friday commission money and used it to buy a small bottle. Shortly thereafter, when I had to leave where I’d been living and found myself homeless and couch-surfing, it was the only perfume I had room for in the two suitcases that held everything I own. When I was working in an electronics store and selling shiny new iPhones while I scrounged quarters to pay for minutes for the prepaid flip phone that was my lifeline (I’ve never had a land phone as an adult), having this one little luxury item kept me from feeling quite so broken and destitute, even when I was sleeping in the spare room of a car repair shop’s storage building and didn’t even have access to a kitchen. When I’d lost everything else, this little bottle of pink juice kept me feeling human.
It’s common advice among fragrance nerds that if you’re going on an important first date or to your first day at a new job or meeting a partner’s parents, anything that will make you nervous, you should wear your signature scent, because you’ll be more comfortable. That’s terrible advice. I wore this scent on a first date, and ever since he and I decided we were better off as friends, I haven’t felt any desire to wear it.
I pulled it out today thinking I was going to make the hard decision. Either I was going to work it back into the rotation, or I was going to let it go. The funny thing is that as it progressed through its phases, the memories were different. The top notes, mostly nectarine and sour pear but with a bit of bergamot (and supposedly some pink pepper that I never picked up on) smelled like packing up my suitcases yet again, because it was time to find somewhere else to crash for a few weeks. Once those faded, it was the super-sweet peachy rose with hints of violet and jasmine that evoked curling up in his arms on the couch, with my head on his chest, feeling safer than I had ever felt in my life. The base of cedar and musk is neutral enough that it could belong to any of a dozen scents I’ve worn, but by then I was already exhausted from the emotional roller coaster. I’m glad that I’m stable and settled in my own place now, and I’m glad he and I have replaced an untenable flash-in-the-pan romance with a solid friendship. That said, this perfume evokes the times in my life when I wore it, and how I felt then. So I’m not prepared to get rid of a fragrance that’s seen me through really intense times in my life, but I’m not going to be wearing it, because I don’t need that emotional intensity. It’s going to stay where it was, in the drawer with the others, unworn.
There is a technical point that bears making, though. This fragrance is most commonly regarded as appropriate for spring and summer, but I’ve worn it in the winter, too (mostly because I didn’t have anything else at the time). In the summer the nectarine and peach notes are extremely sweet, almost syrupy. When the weather cools off, the peach becomes deeper, richer, and the sweetness doesn’t project as much. I think it works either way, but it’s not the same scent in warm weather as in cool.
I hope readers will understand if I can’t give this one a number rating; this scent has been too much a part of my life for me to be objective about it.