Wednesday, July 11, 2012
It may seem odd to be so possessed by fragrance, yet wear only two different scents. But I know it is the lore, history, and imagery of perfume that really possess me. Recently, I read "A Scented Palace, the Secret History of Marie Antoinette's Perfumer", by Elisabeth de Feydeau, which beguiled me to no end. The story is about Jean-Louis Fargeon, the personal perfumer of Marie Antoinette and the fragrance purveyor to the Court. De Feydeau draws upon the papers of Fargeon to paint the scented world of Marie Antoinette including her beloved Parfum de Trianon, a tuberose with a rich floral bouquet.
Many of my forever muses lived in scented worlds of their own and it is that part of their lives that helps me recall them so intensely. My grandmother's Lily of the Valley as well as the lemon scent of her hands instantly take me back to her 1930's painted kitchen table where I am perched on a stack of Boston telephone directories watching her wrap the last piece of my age six birthday cake, my legs dangling between the chair legs. I am convinced the memory of these precious details would be forever lost without the conveyance of her special scents. And when they happen to find me, they whisk me to a vivid yesterday because perfume is Memory's Muse.