Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Revisiting Cristalle, again
Only because I was too lazy to go upstairs, I reached for a bottle of Chanel Cristalle. This is one of the very few full bottles of scent that I own. It was exactly one year ago that I purchased this for myself, as a birthday gift (three more days to go, in case you're wondering).
Before I moved to Maine and gave up wearing scent, almost twenty years ago, I had a small collection. Here's what I remember of it: Chanel Cristalle, White Shoulders, Hermes Caleche, YSL Paris, and Ralph Lauren (his first fragrance). There were probably others, but these have made it through the ravages of time and memory. The YSL was much too much rose intensity for me to wear, but I loved to sniff it now and again, and it had such a pretty bottle. Caleche was my first love, Cristalle was my second, and White Shoulders, the stuff you can now buy at Walmart, was the third.
These have all been reformulated since.
My first reaction to the "new" Cristalle was disappointment. It also gave me a small headache. So, my bottle sits in its box, unused.
I'm wearing some now, and it smells delightful, much more flowery than I remembered. My nose is a bit stuffed up, so I may be missing quite a bit of it. It is decidedly feminine, but lately I've been so taken with woods and incense that anything else would probably scream "feminine" to me.
This is very strange. I remember reading someone describing Cristalle as the smell of money. I smell that - the scent of new money, crisp bills with a band around them, never touched by anyone before, never used. . .and here it is, the whole image: A huge round glass vase bursting with flowers, no single one standing out, but overflowing, and beside it, a neat pile of new bills. The white tablecloth that I envison ripples slightly from the sea breeze that enters through the open French doors. The white cloth looks bright against the backdrop of the deep blue ocean and the cloudless blue sky. I see a woman near the table, tanned, and quite fit. There are sounds of quiet laughter and ice cubes in heavy glass tumblers.
This is not a scent. It's my fantasy. Actually, it's an old neighbor's living room (but without the pile of money on the table).
Sitting here with my cat beside me, still in my bathrobe, listening to the pop and crackle of the woodstove, I am far away from the place that Cristalle takes me to. It is certainly not summer. I do not live on the ocean, nor am I fit and tan. You'd be right if you said my sudden imagery was a stereotype of a certain type. That woman would not be writing this. She'd be sitting down to dinner right about now, or at least in the first course. She'd also wonder how anyone could live with a woodstove. Sure, it's quaint, but all that wood and ashes leave a terrible mess. A fireplace is acceptable, and creates a nicer ambiance, don't you think?
Well, my woodstove heats my house. I sniff my wrist. Such a pretty scent. It just doesn't match my life at all. Does it matter?
Photo note: I googled "all white living rooms." This is pretty close to what was in my mind. Not only that, the house is on Peaks Island, right here in the state of Maine. The article? "A Life in the Clouds" from Cottage Living. The window treatment is all wrong for this room. I can't even think of the nicer term for those venetian blinds. Those things always make me think of Brooklyn, not the new hip version, but the Brooklyn where my grandparents lived, with venetian blinds and plastic slipcovers for everything.
Secretly (as if it's an awful thing!), I've always fantasized about having an all-white living room. If I lived alone, I could pull it off. I suppose that side of me who likes this is the one who likes Cristalle (and Cristal, too).
Addendum: Cristalle is cloying after an hour or so. I'm thinking of scrubbing. . .
Addendum II: For the record, I don't like the living room that graces the top of this post. When I said it was "my fantasy", I meant it was where I envisioned my imaginary Cristalle wearer to be. I dislike this room so much, that when I've revisited this post to respond to a comment, I've bristled. So, here's an all-white living room I like, and a link to lots of photos from the Country Living home tour: