Suzanne's Perfume Journal

Aimez-Moi, If You Dare: Caron Aimez-Moi

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A month and a half ago, on a hot and humid August afternoon, I was seated at my computer next to the kitchen when I heard a rap on the kitchen door that startled me—firstly, because it’s rare for someone to drop by (I live in a rural area) and secondly, because it was a day in which my mind had slid into a dark underground where, it soon became apparent, the rest of me had followed. Earlier, I had been decanting fragrances and trying to wrap someone’s package up in tissue paper—and in my fragile state, even dealing with tissue paper was a challenge: voluminous, crinkled sheets of it lay strewn across my workstation and half balled-up on the kitchen floor. I hadn’t showered; my hair was smooshed down with the exception of a few wispy strands standing on end; and though it was two o’clock in the afternoon, I hadn’t eaten anything all day, leaving me with a gaunt and tired look. I would have liked to pretend I wasn’t at home, but preferring to have the house open in summer, the screen door was the only thing that stood between me and my caller. Much to my relief, it turned out to be an old friend: my sister’s high-school boyfriend—a guy I think of as a brother because he came to live with my family for a year or two back then, when he was going through a rough patch with his parents. Like a real brother, he annoyed the hell out of me at times but I grew to love him. Even so, when he showed up at my door on this day when my mind had a dug a hole for itself—and a quick glance in the mirror confirmed that my body was keeping my mind company in that dark hole—I wanted to tell him to go away.

I couldn’t, of course. He had been at an agricultural fair about a mile down the road from my house and, passing through, thought he’d stop by to say hello. I blinked at him like a deer caught in the headlights and mumbled something about not having anything to offer him, which was sadly true: in my sorry-ass state I hadn’t done my grocery shopping. He said he didn’t need anything, he just thought it might be nice to sit awhile and chat. “But I look like a scarecrow,” I said in protest, as if this was a justifiable excuse for not talking to someone; as if, by stating the obvious, I could spare myself further embarrassment (for I was not so far gone that I didn’t feel embarrassed). He reminded me that we once milked cows together and shoveled manure out of barns. “We’ve seen each other at our worst,” he said, coaxing me out to my patio, where we spent the next couple hours sitting in lawn chairs, talking about the strange and winding road that is life. Mostly he talked while I listened and, perhaps because I wasn’t able to hold up my end of the easy banter our conversations normally assumed, I learned much about him I didn’t know: the twists his life took in that span of years where he went unaccounted for in my memory, after he and my sister had broken up and we were, all of us, trying to make our way in the world. He spoke of two marriages he entered into rather young and which ended quickly, babies that were lost before they were born, and the kinds of things I’d never considered as being as heartbreaking for a man as they are for a woman.

Whether this conversation provided a form of release for him, I’m not sure, but it did for me. He let me quietly tear up over his stories, then gradually led the conversation back to a happier place—the place he occupies now as a family man with a good wife and a funny, lovely, teenage son. When it was time for him to leave and for me to pick up my husband from work, I felt like I had been gently set right again.

This week I’ve been wearing Caron Aimez-Moi—a fragrance that by name says “Love me,” even though its queer assemblage of top notes is about as inviting as a spoonful of your grandmother’s homemade cough syrup. It almost seems to put up an ugly-duckling barrier to love, this hyssop-like combination of violet, anise, mint and cardamom that first greets the wearer with a brittle and uncertain smile. Smelling the fragrance at this initial stage, I tend to wonder whether the perfumer, Dominique Ropion, might not have been having a little fun with the whole “Aimez-Moi” concept, perhaps intending its opening statement to issue forth as a dare or a challenge. A test of one’s resolve.

Once past this unsettling threshold, Aimez-Moi smoothes out considerably, rewarding you with its anise and violet charms, which do indeed seem charming when the fragrance’s floral heart and powdery amber base rise up to support them. Like most Caron fragrances, this one has a retro-vintage feel to it: there is an old-fashioned rose that cozies up to the violets and reminds me of lipstick; the cosmetic powderiness of orris and heliotrope (along with heliotrope’s cherry-almond facet, too, that candies things up a bit); and the oriental warmth of tolu balsam adding depth and counterweight to the scent’s cool green anise note. Aimez-Moi is warm-hearted yet maintains an element of the flinty about it, too, such that I can see it having an appeal for either gender of fragrance lover. Overall, it’s a fragrance that commands you to love it because it is unique and one-of-a-kind, rather than easy. In fact, the person who sent this fragrance to me was considering making this her wedding scent, and though she eventually chose something else, I can see why Aimez-Moi was a close runner-up. Love me through thick-and-thin, this fragrance seems to say. Love me whether I am near or far away. Love me when I am not myself. Love me.

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Caron Aimez-Moi eau de toilette has notes of violet, anise, mint, cardamom, magnolia, jasmine, rose, orris, heliotrope, tolu, and vanilla. It can be purchased at a number of online perfume discounters, with a 50-ml bottle usually priced in the $35-$45 range. I won a decant of it in a drawing held at Another Perfume Blog.

October 2, 2011: