Perfume is very personal. It is an art form which reflects the mystery of its creation and interpretation. Its stunningly crafted scents unravel unknown emotions as if it had some magical powers that would activate when it comes into contact with our skin.
With a fascinating history, perfume’s trail leads us from Ancient Egypt, where it was used in rituals, to France, where the gild of perfume-makers was established. However, the era of ‘modern’ perfumery was born much later, when designer perfumes were firmly put on the map with the dawn of great names like Coty, Guerlain, Roger & Gallet or Coco Chanel with the iconic No 5. Names that remain prominent to this day.
Today’s scenario is different though. The chic, exclusive boutiques were replaced by massive stores where hundreds of bottles wait for being tested on impressive, blinding displays. Boots is one of them.
On one of my occasional visits I spotted the superb, amethyst bottle of Alien by Thierry Mugler. I picked it up and gently sprayed it on my wrist and I instantly felt my mum’s presence next to me. Her warm scent was dominating the air, leaving a sensual trail of floral jasmine, amber and Cashmeran wood notes, as if she had appeared from a secret portal.
My mum, Lori, loved her career as a Biology teacher and Alien defined her personality like no other fragrance and was part of her along with her job, her high heels and the classic fuchsia lipstick. It was the jewel of her vanity table and it became her scent, imprinted in her clothes, in her room, in her car, as an aromatic mark that would follow her wherever she went. In that very moment, it was ‘a presence in abstraction’ as Giorgio Armani described the fragrant impact. It brought back vivid memories that were lost on the imaginary roll film from my head. Everything felt so real for a matter of seconds and then, once its initial strength faded away I was back to reality, inhaling a vague mix of too many scents.
Spool back in September 2019 when I left Romania and I decided to follow my dream of becoming a journalist, exactly how I imagined years and years ago, when I was using an old Nokia to interview my grandparents. I landed 1,800 miles away from home, in Sunderland, England, a city where I had never been before, but where I felt full on enthusiasm nevertheless. I enjoyed every single day of my first year at university and I had the chance to meet amazing people with funny, geordie accents who gave me a much needed sense of belonging.
The familiar scent of Alien made me realise how much I miss my mum. Even though I feel grateful for everything that I have, I miss the time spent with her, from chatting in the car on the way back home to going shopping together or watching our favourite cooking show. Alien will always be the therapeutic key to our precious memories. While I might have got used to being apart from her, nothing can feel the void.