Suzanne's Perfume Journal

Fragrance: Hermes Eau des Merveilles
Theme song: “I Saw the Light” by Todd Rundgren

It was late last night,
I was feeling something wasn’t right.
There was not another soul in sight,
only you, only you.
So we walked along,
though I knew that there was something wrong,
and a feeling hit me oh so strong about you.
Then you gazed up at me, and the answer was plain to see,
‘cause I saw the light in your eyes, in your eyes.

Or Black, the leather-chypre men’s scent from Pascal Morabito, has a deliciously gothic quality to it.  It smells like motorcycle leather worn by a man or woman who has a fondness for expensive brandy.  And I always, always hear “Beautiful Stranger” when I put on Or Black—even more so than the words, the psychedelic sound of the music with its strange flute trills near the end of the song.

Images: (top) film still of actress Calista Flockhart playing Ally McBeal; album images are from

Fragrance:  Pascal Morabito Or Black
Theme song: “Beautiful Stranger” by Madonna

Haven't we met?
You're some kind of beautiful stranger.
You could be good for me,
I have a taste for danger.
If I'm smart then I'll run away,
but I'm not so I guess I'll stay.
Heaven forbid,
I take my chance on a beautiful stranger.

I started thinking about this during a recent “oh, my goodness!” moment in which I realized that some of the perfumes I wear seem to have theme songs attached to them.  Songs that may or may not have an obvious connection to the perfumes themselves, but that nevertheless pop into my head whenever I’m wearing them.  Actually, I shouldn’t label them “theme songs”—what I should really file this under is Perfumes That Inspire Earworms.  But since I like the idea of a theme song (yup, I have one—a John Sousa march in which I fantasize about catching a fiery baton); since I am kookier than the entire cast of characters on Ally McBeal; and since I have a fondness for anthropomorphizing my perfumes, what follows below is a brief list of perfumes and their respective theme songs (you can call them earworms, if you want.)

Fragrance: Montale Intense Tiaré
Theme song: “Summer Breeze” by Seals & Crofts

See the curtains hangin' in the window,

in the evenin' on a Friday night.
A little light a-shinin' through the window,

lets me know everything is alright.
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine,

blowing through the jasmine in my mind.

Sweet days of summer, the jasmine's in bloom.

July is dressed up and playing her tune.

My Perfumes Have Theme Songs.  What, Yours Don’t?

immaculately groomed when I wear it.  This violet with its green leaves (or at least the suggestion of green leaves by way of sage) is a very masculine violet with a dry, almost antiseptic edge to it.  It’s that edge which seems to inspire the ZZ Top men to play their hard-driving anthem to the Sharp Dressed Man in my ear all day long.  And I’m not complaining, as it’s a good combination: between the fragrance and the song, I feel tastefully polished but with a hopped-up energy and confidence.

Not a lot to explain here: the connection is kind of obvious.  I only very recently came round to loving this sweet little number by Montale, which practically floats around its wearer like the skirt of a gauzy sundress caught on a tropical breeze.  Despite the “Intense” in the name, as far as white florals go, this one is easy to wear: it dispenses with the normal white-floral drama queen antics and gently releases its petals to the sighing wind.  This is not a jasmine-heavy scent; it’s a Tahitian-inspired white-floral accord that features the tiaré flower (a type of gardenia), ylang-ylang, jasmine, roses, vanilla, and coconut.  Its connection to the old Seals & Croft song has less to do with jasmine than it does the notion of a “summer breeze” with flower petals floating upon it.  There aren’t many things in life that are easy, which is why I so enjoy the things that are.

June 27, 2008:

Fragrance: Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel
Theme song: “Sharp Dressed Man” by ZZ Top

Clean shirt, new shoes
and I don't know where I am goin' to.
Silk suit, black tie,
I don't need a reason why.
They come runnin' just as fast as they can
cause every girl crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man.

This iconic men’s scent of the 1970s makes me feel suave and

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I am not a huge fan of television, but every few years a series will come along that inspires that “must-see-TV” feeling.  In the late nineties, that show was the wacky and surreal Ally McBeal, about a group of young, hotshot lawyers so wrapped up in themselves that they are constantly wrestling with their egos and eccentricities and perpetually tangled love lives, not to mention the oddball clients their firm attracts.  The two most neurotic lawyers at the firm, Ally McBeal (played by Calista Flockhart) and John Cage (Peter MacNicol), eventually try to get a grip on their problems by submitting themselves to the therapist’s couch.  Of course, the therapist turns out to be the highly unorthodox Dr. Tracy Clark (British comedienne Tracey Ullman), a smile therapist who urges Ally to pick a theme song for herself—something she can play in her head to make herself feel better; something snappy that will gift her a lift when she walks down the street.  (Dr. Clark’s theme song is the bouncy, 1969 hit, “Tracy,” by The Cuff Links, which she’s had since she was ten years old, she informs a skeptical Ally.)

You know, Eau des Merveilles is such a quiet, intimate scent, and yet masterful in its ability to create an emotion.  For me, that emotion is a feeling of being right with the world, comfortable in my skin, and cozily in love with someone special.  Happily for me, that person is my husband, who shares my fondness for Todd Rundgren and, in particular, this song.  Eau des Merveilles’ translucent quality—its sheer orange notes, baby-soft woods and ambergris, with a sparkling dusting of pink pepper—is the olfactory equivalent of the light you see when you look in the eyes of someone who loves you.  Eau des Merveilles and “I Saw the Light” share a quiet but shimmering presence.