Walking into work Thursday, I passed by a woman in her late 20s wearing business casual pastels in the hallway. In her wake I smelled something sweetly candied and familiar. After a moment's reflection, I had it. Prada Infusion d'Iris. It's a funny thing, to realize that you've improved your sense of the scentscape in the world around you. Whether your nose actually gets better, or just your understanding of what your encountering around you improves, it seems as though you can suddenly smell more things. It's a lovely notion, that even in the middle of life we can learn to use and be aware of our bodies in new and different ways. Not to rediscover things we could do as children, but to literally learn to be aware of things we never were before. It reminds me of all that I have left to see and do in the world.
I didn't go to work on Friday. I had a commitment three months in the making that preceded my new job. And, without violating any confidentiality, let me say this -- I got dressed up in my fancy suit, and I went to a small county courthouse, and I sat there as a spectator and support person in the life of someone else and prayed for the law to do the right thing, to do justice. And, remarkably, it did. When I was getting dressed on Friday, I stood in my heels and gazed into my perfume cabinet and considered: what scent would work? What scent seemed to embody the confidence and strength and restraint required for the trial? And what scent would possibly embody the prayer in my heart, that the system might vindicate my hope that my faith in it was not misplaced and that a woman wronged would get what she deserved?
I ultimately choose...
...Chanel No. 5 EdT.
No. 5 is good for so many things. It's mostly sold through romantic fairy tales featuring exquisite actresses of significant renown. But really, No. 5 has the ability to be so much more. You can rely on it for those days when the somber circumstances demand a conservative black dress and tearful goodbye. It can get you through meeting your significant other's parents for the first time. It's prefect for that rare refined night on the town -- the ballet, the symphony, the orchestra. It's appropriate for the close quarters of a holy Mass, like Ash Wednesday or Good Friday. And, as it turns out, it works well for a very important court date. All morning long, as I would stretch my back or swing my hair or uncross and recross my legs, that light, lovely remarkable fragrance would waft gently toward me. It was there at the beginning when I helped her breath slowly and there at the end, when she hugged me in stunned relief.
I've been working on notes for a piece comparing the No. 5 EdT, EdP, and parfum for a while now. They are all beautiful and distinct, and everyone I think prefers one over the others even if you don't love the scent. But whichever one you prefer, the fact is that No. 5 has an incredibly rich history and cultural significance and its status as an icon is well-deserved. Because it's not the reputation that made me reach for it Friday morning. It was that the actual scent is this subtle, refined scent that demands you take it seriously. It's a serious perfume for serious moments, fervent prayers, sincere efforts. No. 5 is a classic for a reason.
I can't imagine not having it in the arsenal.