When I found a bottle of very vintage Chanel No. 22 from the 1940’s or earlier by chance in 2015 I knew after wearing it for a day or two that it was me. Yes. Me. My actual soul in olfactory form.
Part of finding your signature fragrance is about being honest and having genuine self-awareness and the other part of it is pure luck.
I had loved lots of other fragrances since early childhood. My first perfume was Max Factor Le Jardin when I was four years old. But not until I discovered the old formulation of No. 22, possibly the original formulation, did I truly identify my authentic signature fragrance.
The newer versions are lovely and similar but they’re not quite as much of a vivid representation of my soul. I still count them as one of my signatures but not as easily.
One of my signatures? Yes. After I shared for years that No. 22 was my signature many people online and otherwise told me they associated that fragrance with me and then unfortunately a few made it their own signature out of less than exemplary motives.
A friend of mine who understood me better than most suggested I wear Houbigant Orangers En Fleurs. “What are you wearing right now?” she once asked when I wore Orangers En Fleurs. “You should wear that!” she advised kindly.
Sadly, she’s since deceased (she was in her late 90’s) and whenever I smell Orangers En Fleurs I think of her and of freedom from people’s ill-intentions. Also, it smells absolutely amazing on me.
But where No. 22 was my soul until my mid 30’s, Fleur de Feu (combined with Jo Malone Red Roses) has fit me better in the last two years (and recently) than anything else. It’s intensely personal in regard to my soul.
What will my signature be in a year though? In a year a lot can change and even now I’m starting to feel myself edging away from totally identifying with my concoction of vintage and non-vintage roses. I’ll still buy an old bottle of Fleur de Feu but the search is on for my new signature. Maybe it’ll be my signature afor the rest of my life, but I wouldn’t guarantee it anymore. And yet, it might be. I still smell No. 22 and identify myself in my youth with all of the hope, innocence, optimism, joy and warmth of my soul in those years.