Perfume, Fairy Tales and Survival: Why Smelling Good Means Behaving Well and Decimating Enemies

What does perfume have to do with fairy tales? Everything! Is there anything that both IS magic and attracts magic as much as perfume? It’s the invisible secret wand and – with rare exceptions (Dior Sauvage) – it’s always a power for good. Could the heroines of fairy tales survive 100 years of sleep, monsters, peas under the mattress, bears, mean step-mothers, invading armies or high waves without a potion of protection? Never. It is impossible to fight trolls without some Escada.

You know Goldilocks was wearing Robert Piguet Fracas or Givenchy L’Interdit. The Little Mermaid was in something Acqua di Parma, Little Red Riding Hood had Lanvin My Sin, Thumbeline wore Caron Violette Précieuse and Gretel was in Floris Edwardian Bouquet.

Times are tough, Darling, you need armor but flails, grenades, flick knives and flame-throwers are hard to accessorize. Although you could always hide a sword down the back of your dress, they set off metal-detectors. Catapults don’t fit in your Prius. Best to stick with perfume.

The Snow Queen gliding about in Kenzo Kashâya, Maid Marian in Bulgari Rose, La Fontaine and Charles Perrault’s heroines in something Chanel or Givenchy, the Paperbag Princess was definitely in Nina Ricci L’Air Du Temps.

I once was visiting a relative and realized (quelle horreur!) that I had forgotten my perfume, so I asked her if I might use some of hers hoping it was not (quelle horreur!) something hideous like a celebrity’s perfume or (quelle quelle horreur!) sickly sweet. The answer was worse that I could have imagined – she had no perfume. She did not wear perfume. Ever. How is it possible, not just that such a person exists, but that I am related to this person? Darling, of course, I was longing for a cold compress (scented, of course, with mint, cucumber and lime) but I, such strength!, merely smiled, said, “oh, it doesn’t matter” and bought some Heaven Scent at the nearest drug-store because Any Port In A Storm.

And no cheeping about eco-whateverness. There are perfectly decent one-note perfumes at any health food store – a wild-sourced jasmine never fails (ok, it does NOT inspire, but it does not fail). If you are feeling timid, try gardenia (ho-hum) or geranium (acceptable but, let’s be honest, smells like paint-thinner). A little more adventurous? Dianthus or Clematis. Or try one of those flowers that don’t really have a scent but some people pretend they do like Tulip, Bougainville, Iris or Oleander. Or, sigh, Magnolia.

Or Rose! Darling Rose! Anything rose-scented lowers your blood pressure, straightens out your eye-brows, adds a shadow of a dimple and whitens your teeth – it’s just what Rose does. And now we are getting down to it! Lilac! Hyacinth! Heliotrope! PEONY!

Further proof:

  • Snow White – Lily of the Valley; Wicked Step-mother – Dior Poison
  • Cinderella – Sweet Pea; Wicked Step-mother and step-sisters – celebrity perfumes
  • Aurora – Phlox
  • Ariel – Guerlain Aqua Allegoria or L’Heure Bleue; the sea-witch – Yves Saint Laurent Opium
  • Belle – Chanel No. 5, Rive Gauche Yves Saint Laurent
  • Jasmine – well yes, Jasmine, but something full and interesting, like Guerlain Shalimar or Samsara, Dior Oud Ispahan
  • Pocahontas – Diptyque Philosykos, Guerlain Herba Fresca, Penhaligon Quercus
  • Mulan – Dior J’adore, Guerlain Mitsouko
  • Tiana – Jean Patou Joy, Elizabeth Arden Knowing
  • Rapunzel – Coty La Rose Jacqueminot; Witch – Estee Lauder Youth Dew
  • Merida – Lavender
  • Moana – ok fine, Cool Water or Prince Matchabelli Wind Song, but really something more interesting such as Fresh Life

And for those who stamp their feet and refuse, douse them with Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria in Pamplemousse (grapefruit), 4711 Eau de Cologne, Roger & Gallet Carnation, orange blossom water or something from Aura Cacia.

Have a tough deposition, exam, mother-in-law or job interview? Wear Lush Karma – it’s a liquid bullet-proof vest. General blahs? Anything peppermint, bergamot or verbena. Want to slap your room-mate or significant other? Of course they deserve it, but try Aveda chakras. Have to clean the kitchen or do laundry but no motivation? Pine/ spruce to the rescue.

A mask and perfume, Darling, and you are ready for anything. Go forth and conquer.