I was standing on an escalator in a department store a little while ago, thinking of nothing special, when I noticed the most beautiful scent coming from somewhere.
It was transporting me to a land of caramel cake, baroque interiors, crackling fires, and overblown roses shedding their petals from a vase on to a polished wooden table. I recognised the perfume completely, but could not name it. I glanced around sharply and peered back down to the floor below, which was the fragrance floor, to see where this lovely, sensuous aroma was coming from. I couldn’t figure it out.
Disappointed, I stepped off the escalator and wandered on, unthinking, until I realised that the scent was still there, ahead of me! A middle aged woman walking in front – was it. She was wearing Youth Dew.
She had on a well cut woolen coat, and her grey curly hair was styled into short, jaunty curls. That, and that lovely perfume, were the only impressions I got of her as she walked off briskly through the women’s wear department. I wish now that I had looped around to see her from the front, but I am much too polite and well-behaved to go stalking people for a whiff of their perfume. I mean, it’s just not something you do, is it?
Chandler Burr did once. In one of his most memorable pieces, he tells of following a woman across a park in New York to ask her what perfume she was wearing: Aromatics Elixir. That too is another show-stopper from an age when stylish women could recognise sublime perfumes, and were not afraid to wear them.
Have you ever followed someone in public, lured by their perfume?
Have you ever been followed?