Monday, February 8, 2010

The Object of My Desire: All Bottled Up!

Don't ask me why as a 13-year-old I put Jovan Sex Appeal for Men aftershave on my Christmas wish list. I was barely sprouting hair above my lip when I made this odd request, and Barney Bishop reminded me of this retro fragrance when he wrote about it on his olfactor-iffic Website, Fragrant Moments.

I have to say, when it came to Christmas, my parents sought to please, even if it meant walking into the local Skaggs drugstore and picking up this macho scent. I seem to remember it as the same year I asked for the Donna Summer "Bad Girls" LP. Well, it, along with the aftershave, was wrapped up under the tree. All I can imagine is my sweet mom walking into Mark's Records and buying that racy-looking album.

I was beside myself when I peeled off the wrappings of my bottled treasure, and I promptly took it into my bedroom with plush brown carpeting and a beanbag chair, and placed it in a place of honor on my Early American dresser. (Donna Summer playing in the background, of course.) I believe it was the power of advertising that lured me to the brand, and not the fragrance itself, for as I remember, it had the odor of gasoline, and -- maybe it's my imagination -- seemed to slightly burn each time I wore it.

A couple of years later Jovan dropped in rank to Polo Ralph Lauren. Then Polo to Drakkar Noir, and then Drakkar Noir to Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent. I am always amazed at how scents trigger memories, more so than taste, at least for me. Polo reminds me of being the ultimate prepster in high school, Drakkar Noir of my sophomore year at University of Missouri, and Kouros, my junior year at the University of Bordeaux, France. I've changed my scent many times since then, but every time I catch a whiff of any of these vintage fragrances in a crowded room or on the street, I'm always transported back in time.

Here's to a Scent-Sational Monday.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

The Elegant Thrifter


  1. You're absolutely right. Scent is more direct, right to the brain. And I do believe its biological....

  2. Great post! don't usually wear fragrance but my all time fave is Channel no5. yes like food, it does bring memories...

  3. I grew up in Tunisia and every summer we would move to our beach house in Gamarthe an hour up the coast and spend 3 months up there. We would spend ALL day on the beach slathered in Ambre Solaire a greasy liquid with , I am certain, NO sun screen! well I have line on my face but nor really that many more than anyone else, considering; ( I have been wearing sunscreen RELIGIOUSLY for years) but the smell of Ambre Solaire takes me back instantly to those fantastic summers. You hit the nail on the head! thank you for such a great post and a great blog. post

  4. Stan, thanks for the shout out. I'm so glad my post evoked such memories for you. Joop reminds me of high school. Drakkar reminds me of a cousin who wore to much of it. Grey Flannel reminds me of Sunday school. Obession reminds me of my dad. And Penhaligon's LP No 9 reminds me of my brother. All great memories. Great post.

  5. Loved this post! Fragrance is such a memory trigger for me also. Can't believe some of the stuff I wore in High School.

  6. Yes, scent IS a powerful memory-jogger. It's very visceral.

    But my burning question is: Did you use your Jovan power for good, and never for evil? Just wondering. . .

    Ah, sometimes we really should be careful what we wish for. Especially when we are 13.


  7. Nothing says "1983" more than Kouros by YSL.

    I hope you used your Jovan power for good, and never for evil.


  8. Wow, Polo, Drakkar and Kouros trigger memories of my uncles groomed themselves to go out! There are so classic and 80s!

    The women versions of your post maybe will be Poison by Christian Dior, Colors by Benetton and Opium by YSL

    Great post!

  9. Jovan Musk Oil for men was HUGE when I was in my formative teen years. To this day, if I smell it, it takes me right back. I've actually followed men that still wear it (although I can't figure out why they do...)

  10. I totally agree, there are so many memories I have that are attached to certain perfumes. There have been lovely perfumes that I have worn in the past and because I wore them during a not so good time in my life, to smell them again brings back this flood of bad memories and so I can no longer wear the scent even though I still like the scent itself. The human brain is a strange yet wonderful thing.

  11. I am curious what you wear now?

    POLO was such a huge fragrance for guys when I was in high school...I could sniff that stuff out a mile away and just loved it.

    When I was in High School, I love Bennetton Colors...and that burned like crazy every time I put it on my skin as well!!



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