Smelltrack to vintage store diving

Over the long 4th of July weekend, my other half and I took a trip to Burlington, Vermont—our first out-of-state trek in over a year.

Burlington is a studenty town, full of progressive attitude with plenty of healthful and vegan food options to complement it. Not to mention maple syrup and the number one thing I enjoy there: maple creemees. It is the best soft serve I have ever tasted, with just the right amount of maple flavor (mild to perfection).

Vintage and consignment stores abound. Before we went, I had a dream that we were on a trip somewhere and came across a museum of design. We entered and I found myself overwhelmed with a plethora of innovative clothing styles—I was as elated as a “kid in a candy store.” I even came across perfume bottles shaped like handbags, and I spritzed eagerly but could barely smell a thing. Was it a factice? No, I simply seldom manage to smell or taste anything in dreams… In the end, I explored everything, tried things on, and came away empty handed.

Who knew this would turn out to be a prophetic dream, as that is exactly what happened to me in Burlington. Having been spoiled by my local consignment store, I had fairly high expectations of the many vintage shops, even though I had been in a few of them on previous trips and even walked out of some immediately because of the concentrated smell of worn clothing. This time, I persisted through the initial minute or so of olfactory unpleasantness until my nose tuned it out. Alas, in most cases, one person’s trash was another’s… also trash. At least, not my treasure. It was fun to look, though.

In one store, I came across a bunch of Avon bottles in peculiar designs (a grotesque eagle, a log…), but they all turned out to “smell the same” and not too unlike Cologne Royale Somewhere. They also had a 1940s mini bottle of Bourjois Evening in Paris, which I considered, but besides a grape-forward opening similar to Christian Dior Poison, it had animalic florals but otherwise was mostly musty, so I decided against it.

I brought along a few samples from the Parle Moi de Parfum discovery kit that I bought, and was glad to have them in my aura as I dove through vintage clothing. Tomboy Neroli / 65 is summer sunshine in a vial for me (good thing, too, as it rained 2 out of the 3 days we were in Burlington). The neroli is very orangey and the background is a bit salty, tempered by the lilac. A strong, woody-amber aromachemical becomes apparent quickly and stays for a long time. With this, the fragrance is mostly linear and reminiscent of popular men’s colognes. Somehow, it works.

Haute Provence / 89 at first reminds me of shampoo, with a melony, Calone-like, marine opening typical of many “aquatic” fragrances from the 90s (The Body Shop Oceanus?). The lavender soon makes an entrance, flanked by fruity notes that remind me of retail chains selling frilly blouses and dresses to young women. Mango? (The scent, not the Spanish clothing brand.) If this perfume is supposed to be “naughty,” as I recall reading elsewhere, I can’t tell. I also can’t distinguish the listed narcissus note above all the trendiness—and I’ve spent quite a bit of time with my nose in narcissus absolute lately, for the sheer pleasure and also for my latest scent experiment. The overall scent is quite intoxicating, regardless.

This fragrance also seems to share the “blondness” (a subjective feeling I get, that’s hard to articulate) I perceived in the sunshiney-yellow Orris Tattoo / 29 featuring a brighter take on iris.

To my delight, some of the streets were heavily fragrant with blossoms that smelled like jasmine, but I found out were linden. I’d been looking forward to experiencing this someday in Berlin, but this was a worthy preview. Sweet and indolic—a natural treat.

Regarding vintage, this time: no FOMO.

4 thoughts on “Smelltrack to vintage store diving

  1. Linden blossom is probably my most favorite natural smell. It’s interesting that it blossoms that late here: in Europe, by my estimate, it happens at least a month earlier.

    Every time I visit those stores, I hope to find some treasure… and the only one I found so far was a mini bottle of Chamade that looks exactly like the regular sized one but tiny. Perfume in it wasn’t in good condition but I used it for a while for decorative purposes, and now I plan to empty it and use to decant parfum into it to use (not to contaminate the original bottle by using the stopper.


    1. That was the first of many The Body Shop fragrances for me—a friend had gifted me the whole set! Perfume, shower gel, lotion… “Unisex” scents were a novel concept to me back then.


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