Part of the original reason behind this blog was to document my perfume collection. And while I've expanded beyond that and bought a camera and stopped being quite as lazy as I once was, perfume is still my favourite beauty product. After all the tagline of this blog, after much deliberating, is "A voyage through scent memory," which is a nod to the way I like to use perfume: as a reinforcer of memories. To evoke old and create new.
(It's also a play on a lyric from the song "Silver Sea," written by Kevin Evans and Stephen Wainwright. I know it best performed by Evans & Doherty, but in lieu of being able to find an obscure song from the Maritimes that was recorded in 1988 on the internet, have this version which isn't as good but you'll live. If you can find the Evans & Doherty version, give it a listen. Or just buy the album that I know it best from, A Taste of the Maritimes, which is a delightful compilation album that probably tells you everything you need to know about me and my childhood.)
Seeking to evoke old memories is what led me to my very first indie perfume. I was wandering around on TwoX on Reddit, way before it became a default subreddit and went to shit, and someone had posted asking for simple perfumes, 1-3 notes, nothing too fancy. Someone else recommended Firebird for simple, true-to-life perfumes. I must have been really bored or procrastinating a ton - this was 2012, so it was probably the latter. I was probably avoiding writing the first chapter of my undergraduate thesis. I did a lot of that then, usually while drinking wine. I didn't wear perfume at all, but I started browsing the Etsy site, and started reading scent descriptions...and started picking out ones I might like.
One of my favourite scents in the world is woodsmoke. It reminds me of late summer nights with my cousins and brother and parents and aunts and uncles at the family home. First as kids, making s'mores and telling stories and listening to the late night and some beer change our parents into softer, more relaxed people. Then as adults, still doing all of those things, but enjoying our own beers. It's a very powerful set of memories for me - it spans nearly two decades and they're probably some of the happiest times in my life. One whiff of woodsmoke and I'm back home. I wanted something that would bring me back there.
So bring in Woodsmoke & Vanilla. This scent has actually been reformulated in the last year, so I now have the old version. The description for the new formulation and the old is the same, though (yes, I actually went through my Etsy account to double check).
Spicy, smoky, resinous, warm and sweet- with notes of frankincense and myrrh, fir needles, balsam and cedar, on a soft base of vanilla and honey. Brings to mind firewood, incense, cold winter nights.
This is mostly woodsmoke, tempered with fir, and vanilla keeping you from smelling wholly like a fireplace. It's comforting to me, and warm. The sillage is moderate-high - once my dad asked me what smelled smoky in the living room, so I tend to wear it on days I can guarantee that I won't be going somewhere that perfume with such throw could be a problem. It lasts about eight hours on my skin.
For about two months, it was the only perfume I had and I used it every day. Then I bought a second perfume and started alternating them. And then....well. You know. But I wore this to a lot of important occasions that year (getting my class ring which is a Very Big Deal at my university, presenting my thesis, graduation, moving in with my partner) and I also associate it with the hopefulness of 21 and the year I graduated and moved to Halifax and started library school. This was also the summer that one of my closest cousins (I have a lot of cousins. Nineteen first cousins, to be more precise) lived in Halifax for the summer and we spent a lot of time together exploring the city. It was one of the happiest of times. I have a lot of positive associations with Woodsmoke & Vanilla. It was good. Not like my life sucks now. But I miss roaming the city and the job I had that summer, which was both cushy and low effort (I don't even remember what minimum wage was that summer, but I made $12 an hour to do basically nothing). It was a simpler time. I could still digest lactose then.
For all of these reasons and feeling, it's probably why Woodsmoke & Vanilla has made it through so many destashing exercises. It's where my love of scent blossomed. And it was always meant to be a piece of home when I needed it.