Perfume – 1, Snowstorm – 0

When blogger Denyse Beaulieu‘s mother asked her “Why perfume?”, it didn’t surprise me.  It’s a question I get asked alot and to be honest, I ask myself on the occasional low moment.  “Why perfume?” was certainly front and centre last Wednesday while driving on Highway 20 to the Dorval Public Library with over $2000 worth of perfume in the car, my laptop and speakers, packages of scent strips and a ham and cheese sandwich for supper.  While driving through the snow with both hands on the wheel and the radio announcer warning people not to go out unless it was “absolutely necessary”, I’m thinking… “I’m giving a perfume talk… major necessity!  Right?”

My second thoughts were, “Where are the police escorts?  What are all these idiots doing on the road?  Trying to get home from work… puhleeze!  Some people really do take themselves WAY too seriously!”

Anyway… I got there in one piece.  Gail helped me with my wireless Internet connection.  Roland gave me words of encouragement… he’s been my biggest supporter from the beginning.  Beverley helped me set up and later hand out scent strips, while Carl helped me to print out the list of perfumes for the evening.  And then they arrived… 10 fearless people who risked their lives to attend a 90-minute perfume lecture… my kind of people!  They were mostly 40-and-over Quebeckers.  To them, a snowstorm is just a minor inconvenience.   Laura even drove out in the snow to get her mother to attend the talk and Elizabeth came back after leaving the library.  Imagine!

In the darkness, I could see people smile  as I spoke about Crêpe de Chine and Diorissimo.  As the images of Gabrielle Chanel and Audrey Hepburn flashed across the screen, they murmured.  There was a reverential silence during classy Carole Bouquet’s “Tu me détestes n’est-ce pas?” commercial for Chanel No. 5 but they laughed when a young Alain Delon got splashed poolside during an advertisement for Eau Sauvage.  And as Jacques Polge explained what aldehydes do to perfume, the snow swirled outside swept up by the frigid 60-kilometre per hour wind gusts.  But nobody cared about the weather… only No. 5 mattered… and Shalimar… and Mitsouko… and Cuir de Russie… and Givenchy III… and 15 others.  We all stopped in the middle of just another mundane snowstorm in Montreal to honor the great ones… Ernest Daltroff, François Coty, Ernest Beaux, Jacques Guerlain, Edmond Roudnitska and Germaine Cellier.  I like to think that they were looking down at us… smiling… as we stopped and paid homage to their great chypres and ambers and florals and leathers.

When it was all over and everyone headed out to their cars, Monique who likes to wear Diorissimo in the spring,  insisted on helping me with my many bags.  “Why make two trips when you can make just one”, she said.  Perfect sense, I thought.  You don’t hear alot of that much anymore… which brings me back to driving through a snowstorm to give a talk on perfume… absolutely perfect sense!

I’ll be back next week with a perfume review…

Leave a comment


  1. FiveoaksBouquet

     /  February 6, 2011

    Normand, I love the title of this story. I’ve been reading your blog and had to comment on this entry. Congrats on a successful perfume excursion through the snow! It sounds like you did a wonderful job and made the effort of getting there worthwhile for the participants. It must have been quite a bit of work to get that presentation together and set it all up.

    It is true that for Quebeckers, a snowstorm is a “minor inconvenience,” and certainly nothing to prevent the enjoyment of perfume. Good job! No doubt at all that the perfume greats of the past were smiling down on the Dorval Library that day!

    • Hi! Thanks for the comment. Well… throughout the day I had my doubts… I thought I must be crazy! But now that I look back… it was actually almost mystical. Surrounded by snow and talking about jasmine, roses, iris, tuberose… a great antidote to the winter. Have a great week!

  2. Normand, it all sounds so wonderful! I wish I could have been there.

    I’m so happy to hear you (and your perfumes!) arrived safely and that the snow did not prevent people from coming to hear you speak.

    Perhaps your talks could become a series!

    • Hi! And your recommendation to include Youth Dew was right on! During the evening, the scent strips were taken out of ziplock bags, passed around and the put back in. At the end of the evening, we put the ziplock bags on a table so people could help themselves to the scent strips. I hung around the table because I was dying to see what people would go for.. and Youth Dew was a favourite. And it got even more of a buzz when I said that a large bottle cost me $40 at a fancy department store! Who knew? Thanks, JoanElaine, for that great recommendation.
      So… when is it your turn?

  3. Denis L

     /  February 7, 2011

    Félicitations Normand !

    Malgré ce temps bien maussade, tu sembles avoir apporté bien du plaisir à ces 10 bienheureux.

    Tu remets ça bientôt pour en faire profiter d’autres ?

  4. isabelle

     /  February 7, 2011

    Bonjour Normand,

    Ah! J’aurais aimé y être et saisir le succès de ta conférence. C’est bien seulement cette tempête qui m’a obligée à être prudente. Cette journée de bourrasque fait penser au parfum Neiges de Lise Watier. Je me demande à quelle catégorie d’odeurs la neige peut être associée. Certainement pas du floral….

    • Selon Michael Edwards dans son Fragrances of the World, Neiges est un “florale, fleurs blanches, frais”… Des fleurs en hiver?


      • FiveoaksBouquet

         /  February 8, 2011

        Lorsque je l’ai senti il me semblait être un fleuri aldehydé poudré.

      • Tout à fait! Je crois que votre description est plus juste. Je l’ai senti juste une fois… et les aldéhydes étaient évidents.

  5. Elizabeth

     /  February 11, 2011

    I had a wave of nostalgia that snowy Dorval evening when you mentioned Niki De Saint Phalle perfume by Niki De Saint Phalle ….. it used to be one of my favourites. …

    • Niki de Saint Phalle has such a devoted following. I mention it rarely… but when I do… there is ALWAYS someone in the crowd who wore it at one point in their life. It’s still available… I run into it occasionally.


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