Her fragrance lingers, but only in my mind…

Perfumistas can you assist?

The Fragrant Man was in Chiang Mai recently, at a Writers without Borders meeting.

Chiang Mai, in the north of Thailand is a hub for writers; location independent digital nomads. At the meeting a group of writers read chapters from the books that they are writing and the group provided feedback. The writers then spend the next week refining their chapter and writing the next one.

One of the writers I met is Dr Jia Gottlieb. He is on a fragrant quest for a perfume. This quest will take him to Grasse next month. He needs help though. Perfumista’s can you assist? Let’s hear Jia’s story and see if we can give him some clues. You see, he has the memory of a fragrance on his mind.

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Dr Jia Gottlieb
Chiang Mai

I met her in college, a beautiful young French woman with glints of burnished gold woven into her brown hair. She was petite, slender, shy like a delicate flower. Though 40 years later I can’t remember her name, I’ll never forget how she smelled.

Aside from her ravishing beauty I didn’t notice anything unusual, until I leaned close to kiss her and enter her personal space. It was a space unlike any I’ve ever been in before or since. It was earthy, sweaty, sexual, erotic and primitive. Like being in the den of a feral animal from which there would be no escape, nor any desire to escape.

Dr Jia Gottlieb
Chiang Mai

Jia is currently writing a book in Chiang Mai. He taking his two teenage daughters to Grasse next month where they will be buying their first perfumes and he will hopefully be able to find the perfume in his memory after reading your comment below. Their first stop in Grasse will be The Perfume Museum, Musee International de la Parfumerie, after reading Clayton’s experience on What Men Should Smell Like.

What do you think that a French woman in America would have been wearing back in 1974 based in the description above?

18 responses to “Her fragrance lingers, but only in my mind…

  1. Hello Jordan,
    I was not living in the US for most of the 70s, but I did visit. Musk oils were all the rage in the states in those days. Dana Musk Oil was the most potent and known to be feral, sweaty and super sexual. Maybe a french woman would not have worn that but… why not?

    • Aha, he did mention the musk word in conversation. Thank you for this interesting lead. Jia, also try Klein’s musk (currently available) to see if this is the direction that resonates.

  2. Fascinating. I love this story. But HOW difficult to find the scent…..it could be so many things. We need to know more about the woman. Background, taste, hair colour……

    My first thought was Rochas Mystere, but then that came out in 1978 or so. Then Nina Ricci Farouche, but then again the 70’s musks that people are mentioning are probably closer to the mark.

    An intriguing project!

  3. It sounds like it wasn’t anything with much projection since he had to lean in to smell it. Sadly he may never find it because it could very well have been a combination of her perfume and possibly her shampoo. A lot of shampoos in this country used their scent as a selling point back in that day. Depending on her hairstyle it could have been hairspray too. As for perfumes, musks were big and I remember the Coty perfumes being heavily advertised. If they weren’t in or near a city it was probably a perfume that was more mainstream and it could even have been something from Avon.

    • “He may never find it”; O Poodle, yes it could all be mixed up with shampoo too. But I hope it was a perfume and that it can be found. You certainly keep finding them!

    • Thank you all for your prompt responses. As to the uniqueness of this scent, I suspect it was not a commonly available American brand, but of a French origin. And though she dressed fashionably, she was still of an innocent persuasion, but there was nothing innocent about this scent which suggests that an older woman, again probably French gave it to her. And further, since I haven’t smelled anything even close to it, in 40 years I’m thinking it is unlikely to be a popular brand. It was not beautiful or pleasant in any conventional sense of the word…..

  4. Has Dr. Gottlieb considered the possibility that it might not have been a perfume at all, but her own scent? I remember once surreptitiously burying my face in the way-overdue-for-a-cleaning coat of a young man of my acquaintance. It was a wonderful smell, but not one that came in a bottle.

  5. What a wonderful story that will probably follow him for the rest of his life. I must say though that that it must have been one mesmerizing perfume for him to remember it still after all these years, and I hope Dr. Jia Gottlieb finds a fragrance that suitable to it! It may not have to be the same exact fragrance that the woman was wearing, but any fragrance that will remind Dr. Jia Gottlieb of it might just have to make do.

  6. What about Dioressence? It came out in 1969, and I remember the first time I “leaned” into it. Wow!

  7. I sense it was Habanita or Bandit, very mature, very sexy, very rare perfumes of french origin.

  8. Has there been any update on this wonderful story? Has Dr. Gottlieb found the mystery scent or something like it? I was thinking about this column today and now I see that it is over two years old!

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