Be That Aunt

Christmas is a-coming.  And if you’re like me, there are nieces and nephews that need presents…

A couple of years ago, I ran across this post at Perfume Posse that caught my imagination, where March was talking about Dior Poison, and various commenters mentioned that their aunts or other special people had gifted them with that fragrance, and the discussion moved through an exploration of how often aunts seem to be the ones who ignite our passion for good scents. The concept stayed with me, especially after EauMG started doing her delightful “Holiday Gift Guides for Nieces and Teens” series (check out the 2012 guide here).

I only have one niece.  Just one, so far.  I have three delightful nephews, currently ages 14, 8, and 3.  And there is a slight, slight possibility that someday I may have another niece (or nephew), via my baby brother and his sweet wife, but I’m not betting on it.  And while it is very satisfying to give a nephew a scented gift – I gave Curiosity a mini bottle of Chanel Egoiste for his birthday in June – it’s more a matter of Preventing Axe Abuse than anything else, when you give a teenage boy a fragrance.

In any case, right now, as regarding nieces, Primrose is it.  She just turned twelve, and of course I gave her perfume. In the past I’ve given her various smelly stuff, like cucumber shower gel and vanilla lotion and Bonne Bell Lipsmackers in Dr. Pepper, as well as a mini bottle of L’eau par Kenzo (a watery fruity-floral) and one of Cynthia Rowley Flower (a pretty, clean lily scent).  This year, she got a Grab Bag of Joy, comprised of a pink sparkly notebook, pretty gel pens, some raspberry shower gel, some Lip Smackers, some hair things, some horse stickers, and a mini bottle of Juicy Couture parfum.

I had mixed feelings about choosing that perfume. I don’t approve much of Juicy Couture the clothing line, what with their propensity for splashing “JUICY” across the hind ends of people who really should not be wearing sweatpants in public, not to mention their propensity for encouraging people to wear sweatpants in public in the first place.  I’ve seen more JUICY sweatpants in airports than I cared to, y’all.

But the perfume is pretty nice. I admit, I don’t care much for the EdP, which smells like Watermelon Bubblicious to me.  Gah. I loved  Bubblicious when I was Primrose’s age, but I’m no longer Primrose’s age.  Haven’t been for a loooooong time… but I digress.

Back to the Audacious Aunt concept, though: I love what Magpie says on that Perfume Posse Poison post about her “crazy/fabulous aunt” giving her Je Reviens and Niki de Saint Phalle, which she can’t imagine being appropriate for a nine-year-old.  Then this:

 March Reply:
December 22nd, 2008 at 4:49 pm Let’s all say a prayer of thanks for crazy aunts.

sweetlife Reply:
December 22nd, 2008 at 1:41 pm It’s always an aunt! I’ve been working on a little series of posts about Other People’s Perfumes — the one magic bottle that my non-perfumista friends often seem to have lurking around–and in 75% of the cases to date it has been the gift of a crazy, fabulous aunt.I am now aspiring to become that aunt.

March Reply:
December 22nd, 2008 at 4:45 pm BE THE AUNT. I get regular emails that start off, “I’d like to get some Perfume X for my niece and her mother says blah blah blah inappropriate blah blah.” And of course I always say BUY IT. What the he** are aunts for?!?!? My 7YO niece already has a sample collection.

I can’t remember who gave me that 30ml bottle of Karl Lagerfeld Chloe edt when I was twelve, but did I ever love that stuff!  It left the Avon Sweet Honesty (a gift from my grandmother Sarah Lou when I was eight) in the dust.  Was it my grandmother Nell who gave it to me, or one of my three lovely aunts? I have no idea.  Nell’s gone, and so is Sarah Lou, and none of my aunts remember… I wore Chloe for a decade, dabbing it on wrists and behind ears so that I could smell it, and anyone sitting next to me could smell it, but so that anyone outside my personal space couldn’t. That one little bottle lasted me until shortly before I got married, and I loved it.

But the reason that perfume was so magic wasn’t just the smell. It was the feeling of it: the luxury, the beauty, the promise of womanhood it held. Chloe is a bosomy, flirty fragrance, ripe with peach and tuberose and jasmine, undergirded with a mossy-woody base, and for decades it’s been my concept of a womanly perfume.  Although my ideas of what constitutes proper perfume have expanded exponentially, Chloe still sits in the pantheon, smiling benignly down at me and giving me permission to grow up, to be a woman.

My darling Primrose is a girly girl, extremely so. She loves pink and purple and horses, and unicorns and stars and flowers and rainbows, and nail polish and and jewelry and sequined shirts and headbands… And books, she loves books. I adore her. And I’m looking forward to giving her that tacit permission to explore womanhood as well as girlhood, as the time rolls around.  This year it’s the tangy fruit and white flowers tied with caramel ribbon of Juicy Couture. By the time she’s sixteen, it may be, say, the greenery and honey and ripe florals of Amoureuse – or the incense and spice and roasty wood of Aomassai.  Or the outright sensuality of Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Lumiere Noire, with its rosy narcissussy patchouli. Or the reserved stern-librarian dry gorgeousness of Iris Silver Mist.  Whatever.

I’m going to Be That Aunt.