Diana Vreeland : Perfume is an extravagance

From Diana Vreeland’s autobiography, D.V.,

“There’s a whole school now that says that the scent must be faint.  This is ridiculous.  I’m speaking from the experience of a lifetime.

I always carry purse scent – that way I’m never without it.  Do you notice any scent on me now?  Don’t come any closer – if you have to sniff like a hound, it’s not enough!

Perfume is an extravagance.  But it’s odd that Americans, who God knows are an extravagant people, have never used scents properly.  They buy bottles, but they don’t splash it on.  Chanel always used to say, keep a bottle in your bag, and refresh yourself with it continually.”

Can you believe that Diana wrote this in 1984?  It sounds like it might have been written yesterday!

A sales associate at a major department store wears an Estée Lauder perfume and whenever she sees me she asks if I can smell her fragrance.  She does this while lifting her hair and leaning towards me?  I’m always afraid that a security guard is going to attack me from behind as I lean into her bosom to smell her Knowing!  Of course, I understand her dilemma.  She doesn’t work for Estée Lauder (she works for a competitor) and so she keeps her perfume close to her… very understandable.

But in general, people don’t seem to put a lot on!  And, things won’t get better any time soon.  While talking to a friend about my perfume lectures, she said, “You could get more people but there is such a movement against wearing fragrance today!  You just can’t wear it anymore!”  Regrettably, she is mostly right.

I think there’s a movement against extravagance!  Just look at the clothes we wear today… BORING!  It’s not very different than what we wore 10 years ago… or even 20 years ago.  Coincidentally, I heard an interview on the radio this week where an observer mentioned that day-to-day fashion hasn’t changed much since ultra-casual hip hop which has been around since the 90s!  Hopefully, we’re at the end of an era and extravagance will come charging back… bringing along big, beautiful perfumes with it.

The last extravagant decade was the 80s with those over-the-top, Dynasty-inspired fashions.  You know… for all that has been said of the ridiculously big hair and godzilla shoulder pads… we got some really great perfume out of that era – Poison, Opium, Coco, Paris, Boucheron, Knowing and for the men, Obsession for Men, Drakkar Noir, Bel Ami and Fahrenheit.  Loud, yes!  But great nonetheless.  I MISS THE 80S!

Have a nice week everyone!  I’ll be back next week with a perfume review… something big I hope.

Image : 1933 drawing by Étienne Drian with text “La robe de la Belle Ferronnière portée par Mme Cécile Sorel

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  1. FiveoaksBouquet

     /  January 9, 2012

    Normand, thats a strong argument for perfume, from you and Diana Vreeland–not only appreciation but generous usage–I’ll buy it! I always carry a purse container of the perfume I am wearing. What I would like to see as a GWP when there’s a perfume promotion is a purse atomizer for transferring an amount for carryng purposes and refreshing during the day. Over the past couple of decades I can count the times companies did that on one finger. I wouldn’t dream of going out without perfume or without backup in my purse. If I can’t immediately find an atomizer or small bottle, I throw the whole bottle in my purse!

    Strong perfumes in themselves are not necessarily my preference but even though I like subtle scents, lavish application is de rigeur!

    • Thanks for the comment! When I test perfumes, I don’t necessarily put alot on because I, myself, might not like it and then I’m stuck with it for the rest of the day. But during the summer when I’m out walking, I love to exaggerate. This past summer I wore Encre Noire a lot and it was fun to get a blast of that clean, dark green vetiver scent… particularly on those windy days.

  2. I can absolutely HEAR Diana Vreeland speaking those words. Even better, Diana Vreeland as played by Ileana Douglas in “Factory Girl” e-NUN-ciating EV-ery fourth SYL-lable as if her life depended on it. 🙂

    • I know. I italicized the words exactly as they appear in the book to get the cadence and the emphasis right. I’ve read that book at least 10 times… and at least once aloud to get the feeling right. Thanks for the comment!


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