Smells like home: Epic Woman

My Aunt Elaine and me, at the family house, circa 1982. Photo by my mom.

As I wrote the other day, I tried, and then set aside, Amouage Lyric a little more than a year ago. After trying it again—with what I’d like to think is a marginally more sophisticated nose—I find that I love it. “In for a dime, in for a dollar,” the saying goes, so while I was at it, I decided to re-try Amouage Epic (Woman). I put it on before bed, and felt the same sense of “meh” that I felt for it the first time around. No hypnotic seduction took place under the sheets that night.

However, as I was gently wafted off to dream of a no-limit AMEX and a Denyse Beaulieu guided tour of Paris, I was struck with thoughts of my mother’s sister, my aunt Elaine. Memories of her formed a cloud around my groggy imagination, when suddenly, more alert, I asked myself, “Why am I thinking of her?” Then, just as suddenly, I realized that Epic Woman smells like her. It’s her smell. I don’t know how, or why, but it just is.

The first time I wore Epic, it felt a little too dense, and a little too dark, harboring a strangely discordant element. Aunt Elaine, in turn, has carried more than her share of darkness. After the early death of her mother, and caring for an alcoholic father who died of cirrhosis, she took care of my great-grandmother until her death, and she took care of my great-grandfather until his death (at home, at 100 years old). She’s bailed my mother out of her own dark days on more than one occasion, providing a home for us at least once during my toddler years.

at Aunt Elaine’s, 1987

During grade-school, when I lived with my mom, weekends and summer days, birthdays, and all the holidays existed under Elaine’s matriarchal eye. As someone with a bi-coastal childhood, and having experienced thirteen different schools before ninth grade, the concept of “home” has never been a place; it is this person. If my aunt were not present at a family event, it could be said that the event did not happen.

She still lives in the family house, on the family property in small-town rural Massachusetts, where she and my mother were born, and where her mother before her was born. The gardens and grounds, which were my great-grandfathers pride for more than half a century, are still maintained diligently by her, to his exacting standards. The place that has been home for generations of my family is, to me, embodied in her person, and in her smell.

Epic Woman still strikes me as somewhat dissonant— and somewhat odd. But it also smells like home, like family.

And yeah, I want a bottle.

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28 thoughts on “Smells like home: Epic Woman

  1. What a beautiful post. It is lovely to get to know a little bit about your and your family’s story. I can feel from your words how important a person your Aunt Elaine must have been for you, how strong a character she must be, how she seems to have made a lot of personal sacrifices for her family, but never got bitter or resentful, on the contrary became the center around which the family could revolve, even when there was so much unsteadiness. Home is not necessarily a place, as you say, I am glad you experienced continuity in such a strong and positive personality as your Aunt. How wonderful that Epic conjures her up for you, dissonance and all. Beautiful review, thank you!
    And such lovely pics of Mini-Dee! Adorable! 🙂

    1. Thank you Birgit. When I write anything personal, there’s always a moment where I think, “is this appropriate?” Scent can carry such powerfully vivd emotional memories—and and you’ve perfectly understood what I hoped to convey!

      Mini-Dee was a nut. 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing this with us D – rarely have I read such an interesting and personal fragrance post.

    1. Thank you for reading Tara! Yes, this post is super-personal—hopefully it won’t turn anyone off!

      Smell is an intimate sense in so many ways, and as far as Epic is concerned, to do a review of the notes (which others have done a wondrous job of already) wouldn’t have done justice to my experience with it.

    1. I showed my husband two pictures from the same event: the first one had a picture of me blowing out candles on my cake. The second one is the one you see here.

      When I asked, “which one should I use to show my birthday party?” he answered, “Do you want to show the Party, or do you want to show cake?”

      I picked the Party.

  3. Your aunt sounds like the rock of the family. Thanks for sharing that.

    Did your aunt actually wear scent? Is it Epic’s notes that reminds you of her, or something about the character of the fragrance that goes deeper than the notes?

    1. I think it’s a combination of whatever perfume and other cosmetic products she used and her natural smell mingled together—whatever it is, it’s Epic!

      She is the rock! 🙂

  4. That was a beautiful review – of both the perfume and the woman! I’m speechless with admiration, really!

    Admiration for both the woman as well as the perfume!

    I can’t wait to try it.

    1. Thank you T., she’s a woman who rarely receives the credit she’s due, and doesn’t seem to mind.

      I can’t wait to hear what you think of Epic!

  5. How wonderful! I’m so glad you told us a bit about such an important person in your life.

    I have to go and find my sample and smell it again, I also dismissed it after first try.
    But I do love Lyric!

  6. What a beautiful tribute to your aunt. Thank you for sharing such personal memories.

    When fragrance triggers our memories, good or bad, it is almost like magic….thoughts appear out of nowhere, our minds and hearts are stirred, the past becomes the present.

    What a loveable little sprite you are in those pictures!

    1. JE: It *is* a sort of magic, and you’ve perfectly captured the feeling— “the past becomes the present.” Astonishing, how the senses can overrule the brain and stimulate an emotion response, even before you know what’s happening!

      Substitute “sprite” for “demon,” and you’re spot on 😉

  7. Lovely post! You know, I thought Epic was my favorite Amouage. I just bought a small decant of it and it is no longer working for me..It might be because I’ve fallen in love with many perfumes since the last time I smelt it..but it seems too pink and ros-y vanilla-y to me..:(..I do love the peppery aspect of it. Maybe I should wait and wear it at the right time and temperature. Or maybe I should move on and smell Lyric and memoir (which I only very briefly tested and don’t really remember).

    1. Thank you Lavanya!

      I truly love Epic, but it’s hard for me to distinguish whether I love the smell of it, or just the memories that flood over me when I wear it; either way, it’s a happy experience, and that’s what it’s all about! 🙂

      1. Yes- it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the two but then, that is hardly necessary as long as you love the perfume..:)

        I’m liking Epic again too! I think what I loved about Epic initially, was the incense and the pepper and just the hint of rose. However, my brain starting amplifying the vanilla and rose and I panicked..I wore it yesterday evening and am able to enjoy it again..Phew!

        1. Haha, I’m glad that you’ve come back around! Isn’t it amazing how we pick up different aspects at different times? Especially with some of the more complex fragrances—Amouage in particular! I’ve been going through something similar with Lyric. At first it didn’t wow me at all. Then there was the revelation—LOL! But now I’ve come full circle, and the last time I wore it (recently, actually), I was like, “meh” all over again!

          I should probably count my re-discovered indifference as a blessing!

          1. Yes- you should (as long as the indifference comes before the bottle..;-))

            That is very true about complex perfumes. I have new found love for Jubiliation 25 (I’ve always loved Jubiliation XXV not 25 ). And then, Puredistance M used to be all difficult amber on me but lately I can smell ‘Caron Poivre’ in it..I really think I have begun hallucinating smells..lol

          2. Oooh, Jubilation 25… I wore that yesterday! It’s really grown on me since the first time I tried it. That’s interesting that you smell Poivre in M… hallucinating smells! I totally get that! 🙂

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