Sometimes, the most potent scent memories are the ones that come as a complete surprise. Deliberately smelling some vintage Fidji or Aramis in order to conjure a recollection of a fond relative rarely fails to have the desired effect, but a different, perhaps more immediate buzz is created when the past invades our minds without our conscious bidding.
As has been my overly-organised, spontaneity-killing way in recent years, I packed a few specific scents this summer with the express intention of creating an indelible impression of our holiday upon the olfactory regions of my brain. L'Artisan Parfumeur's Mimosa Marin candle came with us, together with Amouage's Eternal Oud home fragrance, as well as certain carefully selected perfumes. I used them all religiously, determined to persuade the old synapses to file the smells under 'Summer 2011'. The strategy proved pretty successful - as it always does - but nowhere near as powerful as something else I did, without any appreciation of the effect it was having. What am I referring to? Well, every now and then, when I couldn't be bothered to light the Artisan or give in to the pull of the Oud, I filled our room with Bulgari's Eau Parfumée Au Thé Blanc cologne... and like a twit with a blind spot the size of LVMH's marketing budget, I didn't stop to consider the implications of my actions.
The other day, I was going through my fragrance collection and sure enough, I came across the Bulgari. I picked it up, lifted the cap, had a quick sniff... and within a mere moment, I was back on the Cote d'Azur, greeting the sunshine with a cup of tea and a pain au chocolat. I'm sure I could almost hear a moped beeping in the distance.
So yes, the pollen-rich floral notes of the Artisan and the uncompromising, seductively physical woods of the Amouage certainly performed as expected, but not nearly as well as Jacques Cavallier's unassuming, translucent creation. I certainly didn't see it coming, but it looks like this particular musk-laden rendition of white tea will forever be linked with a glorious four weeks spent in the land of Fitzgerald, Picasso and diet-disaster doughnuts.
But what about you: when was the last time you had a completely unexpected, totally unplanned perfume-inspired trip down memory lane?