Friday, August 14, 2009

A long-lost friend

The first real perfume that my mother introduced to me was Ecusson by Jean D'Albret. It was a French perfume, not too sweet or fruity, with deep undertones. It's unlike the modern harsh fragrances we smell at today's make-up counters. This is an old-fashioned classic. She and I both wore it for years. I recall that after a while it was hard to find, and Mother would drive to a little drugstore in Charleston, WV whenever we visited there, to buy a bottle. And, of course, after a while the company stopped producing Ecusson. We were both sad. But being a nostalgic pack-rat, I kept the old bottles:

This fragrance was so memorable that I once had an old boyfriend call me, after I was married, to ask me the name of the perfume I used to wear. He wanted to buy some for his fiancee.

Over the years I continued to look, check online, read antique perfume articles in old Victoria magazines. Finally, I gave up.

Until last week. I went with Alynn and the crew to Birkdale Village (one of the most fun places on earth). And we found a new store I'd never seen before: The Fragrance Shop. PLEASE, go check out their website if you have a long-lost fragrance you've given up hope of finding.

This place is a dream store. First of all, it looks and feels like an old apothecary's shop. The long counters are deep cherry wood. The counters are dark marble. The walls are lined with shelves of 1500 clear bottles, full of liquid gold.

The girls who run the store (I can call them girls because they're my age, y'know!) are knowledgeable and helpful. Their dad started the business 13 years ago. They have stores in Laguna Beach and New Orleans (I think). But I'm excited to have one so close to me!

Last week, Alynn walked in there and asked if they carried "Red II," her favorite perfume. Tom had had a lot of trouble finding it for her at Christmas, even online. These ladies reached up and pulled it right off the shelf. But, like all their fragrances, it's the pure oil -- NO alcohol. Did you know that perfumes you buy are 80%, sometimes 90% alcohol? No wonder they evaporate right off your skin! No wonder women leave their pricey scents in the elevator instead of on their bodies where they belong! With essential oils, it only takes a drop. They dispensed Alynn's Red II straight from their large bottle into her own bottle, and she took it home, happy as a clam.

And I was happy for Alynn, I really was. But I was also sad: I'd asked the girl about Ecusson, and she didn't even recognize the name! But, she said, if I had any old samples of Ecusson I could bring it in. She has a pretty good nose, and might be able to mix something very close for me. That made me happy, and we went home.

And I dug out my old bottles. I found 2 empty (evaporated) perfume bottles, and TADA!!! One bath oil bottle! Yessiree! So Adam and I traipsed over to the store again.

The girl looked at my bottles. The oil, unfortunately, had been tainted somehow and smelled atrocious. There was a faint whiff of Ecusson from one perfume bottle. I sighed. The girl with the "nose" wasn't even there that day.

"It's called Ecusson," I said despondently.

"Ecusson?" A third sister asked. She walked over and PULLED IT RIGHT OFF THE SHELF!

It was like walking around a corner and running into your best friend you haven't seen since 3rd grade. I wanted to hug that bottle.

At first I doubted whether it was really MY Ecusson, but they tried a dab on my arm, and I waited for the "top notes" to dissipate, and for those rich undertones to emerge, and sure enough - it's Ecusson!

We all know how smells elicit emotions and memories for us that we almost didn't realize we had. This fragrance does that for me.

You can buy larger bottles, but I got the little one for now. It will last me 6 months to a year. And the cool thing is that they make other products too: face/body lotion, body oil, a light dry oil mister for after bathing. They open the bottles of these products, insert a dropper or two of your fragrance, and you have your own signature body oil, in your fragrance. It was SO cool. You can ask for a dab more or less, depending on your taste.

I also asked about Ecusson -- The fragrance name had actually been bought by a company here in the US, Long Lost Perfumes. Whether they also acquired the recipe for the fragrance, I don't know.

But isn't it copyrighted? Isn't it illegal for these women to sell this stuff -- other company's products -- right off their shelves?

Actually, no, it's not! They explained to me that the ingredients in these fine fragrances are all natural, and available to anyone. It's true. I went online and found ALL the ingredients for Ecusson. It includes lemon and ylang-ylang, carnation and rose, musk and sandalwood and oakmoss, among many others. Anyone can mix them. It's takes a great nose to be able to blend them in the correct proportions to reach the exact scent you want. These ladies at The Fragrance Shop buy all their fragrances from France, and they are spot-on. She said there are only about 3 GREAT "noses" in the world, people who can dissect an assembly of scents correctly like a great chef can a sauce, with his pallet.

All that to say, I'm smellin' good! Welcome home, Ecusson!


  1. WOW MK - what a story and I'm so excited for you!

  2. Tammy - guess who that "old boyfiend" was? Brad Robinson :)

  3. After such a great I want to smell this Ecusson!! I love reading your blog! You are such a great writer, Mrs. C!!


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