The Beauty of Scent, Scrutinized for Pleasure

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Vivienne Westwood Boudoir

The last couple of weeks have been full of reminiscence for me. It started with a reminder of how I wore and loved Vivienne Westwood's Boudoir, and I was driven to locate (not without effort) and purchase a bottle. Then, yesterday, Olfactoria posted over at Perfume Smellin' Things about another long lost love of mine, Le Feu d'Issey, a spicy and captivating scent I wore when I was younger. It is a fragrance of energy and light, with a mysterious edge.

Now, my mind is searching for all sorts of memories of perfumes I have worn in the past, and I wonder where some of the long-since disappeared bottles have gone, my original Shiseido Feminite du Bois included. Could I have been dumb enough to throw them away in a move (or seven), many years ago? I hope not. I hope that I gave them to friends or donated them to Goodwill. But most of all, I wish I had them back now.

In the case of  Vivienne Westwood Boudoir (created in 1998 by Martin Gras), there has been a happy reunion. I remember the period in my life when I wore this, it was about 10 years ago, and I was between relationships (read: single and loving it). I went to a lot of metal shows, became a fixture in my favorite dive bar, had short, spiky hair, wore a lot of black winged liquid eyeliner and had more confidence than I probably should have had. Boudoir was the perfect perfume for me; it oozes sex appeal, hints at innocence but never quite realizes it, it truly personifies its name. It is something I would wear when I was alone to feel more beautiful, and I would always wear it out, because it attracted a lot of attention. 

Notes: aldehydes, bergamot, hyacinth, viburnum, marigold, orange blossom, jasmine, orris, red rose, narcissus, carnation, cinnamon, coriander, cardamom, amber, vanilla, tobacco leaves, sandalwood and patchouli

I have a lot of positive associations with Boudoir. It reminds me of feeling free and young, feeling desirable and desirous. Wearing it again all these years later has done something positive for my ego, and my mood. It is a beast of a perfume, it speaks loudly and at a fever-pitch, and it takes no prisoners. The much-talked about skank factor is still there, but does not seem as noticeable on me as it used to be. Perhaps there has been a change in formulation, or maybe it's my perception or body chemistry. Now, the sweet, heady floral punch is balanced by the perfect amount of amber. It's not the resinous, natural amber of something like Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan, but more of a vintage perfume amber, something that smells aged and dusty. This is a classic, sensual floriental perfume made very, very sexy. 



Boudoir seems to have quite a polarizing effect on perfume lovers. Fans of it are very devoted, but there are not too many of us left (in fact, fewer and fewer all the time, partly due to the lack of availability in some countries). I can understand why some have deemed it cloying, some have even said it is best suited for Edwardian prostitutes. It is powerful, and if you are not in love with it, it can seem to take over your immediate space in quite an unforgiving way. 

I, for one, am so happy to have reconnected with Boudoir. My husband (and even my cat!) have responded very favorably towards it, which encourages me to use it all the more. These days, I enjoy being surrounded by a cloud of clean-but-dirty, slightly powdery, cleavage-enhancing fragrance. It is the scent equivalent of a satin chemise with opulent French lace trim in a nude-pink shade. It feels good, it smells good and it makes me smile. There's not much more one could hope for, is there? 

What I would like to know from you, readers, is what perfume do you like to wear that amps up your sex-appeal? What is it about the scent that gives it those sensual qualities?



[I found my bottle from a third-party seller on Amazon.com, a 1oz bottle for $44.95]

12 comments:

  1. Carrie, I love the idea of you in your favorite dive bar, confident and sexy, smelling of an Edwardian prostitute. The thought makes me laugh with delight, and it makes me wish more women wore perfume.

    Sexy fragrances are an interesting topic, and I'm having a difficult time nailing down what that means for me. Perfumes I think of (conceptually) as sexy, don't seem to land me in the boudoir...

    I present for your consideration:
    Chanel no 19 earned me a frisky afternoon within five minutes, yet Agent Provacateur has yet to leave me dishabille...

    TMI? Sorry! ;)

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  2. Dee: I think for me, the sexy part comes with a confidence boost, and that's what Boudoir does for me. Perhaps it's the same story with you and no. 19? Maybe it's also how the people in our lives respond to certain scents, too. But that wouldn't explain how one can feel sexy in a certain scent when they're by themselves. I don't know, it's just one tangent of the fascinating (and complex) chemistry and psychology of scent. All in all, it's pretty awesome to smell like ye olde corner prostitute.

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  3. I love that post! I wore Boudoir too! I never would have thought we'd have such a shared scented past! On me Boudoir was rather surprising, which was what I loved about it, nobody thought of the nice, blond girl in quite that way. ;)

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  4. Oh Birgit! You are really something of a perfume buddy to me, aren't you? More than most. I love the idea of you wearing Boudoir. From a personality standpoint alone, it makes sense to me. You have an adventurous quality about you that suits wearing Boudoir as much as my "exotic, solitary stranger" thing I've got going on.

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  5. Yet another dearly loved fragrance given a one star rating in "Perfumes: The Guide".

    Great review, Carrie. I love that you wore a sexy fragrance when you were alone. One of the sexiest fragrances in my collection is L'Artisan Al Oudh which I only wear at home, and when I'm alone. Al Oudh makes me feel vibrant and I love just basking in that feeling.

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  6. Thanks Joanne!

    I still have yet to read Perfumes: The Guide, but I love seeing how my own assessments of fragrance measure up to those of other people. I really need to get that book, and several others relating to perfume.

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  7. I tried Boudoir, well, 10 years ago. I barely remember it and never owned a bottle. I was wearing No. 19 back then. I was in a big "grassy" phase. Now I can't smell grassy scents without thinking of someone too young acting older.

    Sexy...these are scents that are confidence boosters. These have nothing to do with marketing or notes, but ourselves. I feel sexy wearing Vero Rubj EDP and scents like the original Prada and Guerlain L'Instant.

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  8. Carrie - do you have two blogs? I'm all confused! help!!

    BTW I really want to try this one

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  9. Bloody Frida- my blog was hacked back in January, and I had no access to it so I started another one. I recently found that the old one is able to be read again (it was disabled), but I can't get back in to disable it. *SIGH*

    I also occasionally post for Il Mondo di Odore, but somehow I don't think that's the one you mean.

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  10. oh thanks! (I was wondering why I wasn't receiving any updates from you - I was only subscribed to your old blog!)

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  11. well I am one of the devoteds- but I do think it needs to be worn extremely sparingly and you need to be prepared for its effect and ready for attention- if you are then it's divine. I think the reason people may not like it is they just put too much on! it becomes awful if you put more than a few spritzes on I think

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  12. I am glad it's not just me that thinks the scent has changed formulation! I liked the old one better too. :(

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