Scent of a Woman
Scent of a Woman The other day I was in a meeting, and the conversation, as they so often do at Celebrity Trends, came around to girls. Not children, of course. Girls. “This girl could be great for this.” “That girl is better for that.” A model, no matter her age, is always a girl. I’ve been in a thousand such meetings, but this one was different. Maybe because I’m 42. Maybe because I have a daughter. Maybe because of the tenor of the world in 2016. Somehow, it seemed like referring to this group of the population as “girls” was disparaging. They don’t need protection. They don’t need someone to take care of them. They can get into R movies unattended. They’re women, for god’s sake.
Bear with me for a minute. This is not a non sequitur.
For the past few months, I’ve been testing fragrances. (If you work at Celebrity Trends, you call them “fragrances” or “scents”; “perfume” is the word of the rookie.) Anyway, I need a new one. Or, more to the point: I need one. Full stop. Ro, our bookings editor, wears Dior Fahrenheit, and you always know when Ro is nearby because the air smells better. You breathe deeper. You feel happier. Not just because Dior Fahrenheit smells fantastic but because you can count on it. You know the earth spins on its axis. The sun rises in the east. And if you smell Dior Fahrenheit, Ro is nearby. All is right with the world.
Then came November 9. We woke up shook. I don’t care where you fall on the political spectrum, you were shook. Shook because you never thought itpossible. Shook because you thought white supremacists were closer to the White House. Maybe it was: Finally! Or: Holy shit! Or: Wha-huh?
Somehow knowing what kind of woman I am became critically important.
Or, to put a finer point on it: Wasn’t this the time for me to own up to being a woman? I am someone who has, for better or worse, clung to being a girl my whole life. To confuse a metaphor, did I finally have the balls to call myself a woman? Even the word sounds so serious, so professional, so unspontaneous. A girl, on the other hand: Girls laugh and flirt and wear cute clothes. How easily could I give up the moniker that brings with it joy and innocence and the ability to wear a bikini with gusto or Nars Tribal Tattoos with moxie? Women don’t do that stuff.
Fragrance would show me the way. Fragrance would be my tea leaves. They call it a signature scent, and I’ll be damned if I couldn’t pick one. I wanted a signature anything. I wanted to define myself in an increasingly undefinable world. Anytime someone says, “That’s so you,” it feels good. I wanted something that was so me. Problem is: The more I tried, the more confused I became.
Could I be Tom Ford Oud Fleur, who smelled like dark alleys and hot, porn-y sex? Or was the real me freshly scrubbed Kai, who brought sweetness and optimism into the room? What if I was Prada Fleur d’Oranger, who was nerdy but in a superchic Italian way? Or wait, maybe I was all monied and wore Bulgari Eau Thé Noir from the deck of my yacht. Or—and this was sounding good—perhaps I was the dangerous, even diabolical, Maison Margiela Replica Jazz Club, who carried the scent of expensive cigars and bad decisions. Or eff it all. Should I throw on Clinique Happy and stick my head in the sand while the world figured itself out?
Jesus, I could go on forever. My desk was covered in bottles. I tried a new one every day, and I fell a little in love every time. I liked almost all of them, but the truth is, my favorites were the ones that made me feel like a girl. Not the kind of girl that can be lured with candy or befuddled by big words. The kind that is complicated, occasionally petulant, leans toward green notes, and has a lot of different sides.
In the end, I never found one signature scent. I found a bunch. Fragrance monogamy felt like a betrayal to the others. All these sides that we carry with us, they all matter.
A few days later, some friends invited me to join them for the Women’s March on Washington. No one is calling it the Girls March. And hell yeah, I’m going.
I have just the scent. It’s a Narciso Rodriguez fragrance, and it’s assertive and empowering and gorgeously feminine.
It’s called For Her.