Norell Eau de Toilette (Revlon)

Recently, I received a very polite email from the webmaster of a forum devoted to ladies' designer handbags. He suggested that we might find it mutually beneficial to promote each others' sites since we shared the same demographics. After executing a nifty spit-take with my coffee, I did my best to ponder what on earth he meant  by that. Demographics?... Handbags?... the HELL?!

When one views perfumery as an art form wherein each fragrance ideally represents an exquisite, one-of-a-kind experience, the resulting haze of romanticism tends to obscure the truth: perfumes are products. So are handbags. I imagine there are bloggers out there who review handbags the way I review perfumes: for the sheer pleasure of putting words together in the service of beauty. Or maybe just they get paid to do it. I most resolutely don't.

At any rate, I can't hold it against Handbag Man. Even though it's plain he only stumbled across my blog in a word search after I mentioned handbags in my Jolie Madame post (and he didn't really bother to read any of it, otherwise he would have realized the depth of my contempt for status-boosting luxury brands), he did do me one favor. He got me thinking about the confluence between perfume and purses. How and why are they related? If one were to draw a Venn diagram with two circles, one for fragrance and the other for handbags, what exactly would characterize the overlap? What is the missing link?

I do believe I've found it.

According to Nigel Groom's Perfume Handbook, the original Norell parfum (1969) was classified as a "Floral (fresh)". Michael Edwards' Fragrance Directory seconds the motion. In 1980, Revlon issued an eau de toilette version which Groom dubs Norell II, describing it as a "Chypre (green-woody)". As Edwards remains mum on the subject, I would therefore venture to propose my own classification: "Ladies' alligator clutch (interior)". For Norell Eau de Toilette indeed smells like the inside of a woman's purse, and the oddest thing is how eloquently and convincingly it argues that you might enjoy smelling like that too.

All the peripheral details of womanly day-to-day existence -- face powder, lipstick, purse leather, scented Kleenex -- play out in sequence from the moment of Norell's first spray. For fun and surprise, you'll also find a nice dose of green galbanum, prickly and slightly bitter, though very pleasant. It's as if somewhere in the depths of this proverbial purse hides the remnants of a formal corsage-- a little totem bundle of dried ferns and flower petals held together with florist's tape, a memento of a long-ago lovely evening carried to remind its owner of a past moment of innocence predating all current sophistication.

If luxury goods impresarios were smart, they'd make all their brand-new wares smell like this-- urbane yet romantic, with the potential of becoming the repository of good memories. And then Handbag Man and I might have something to talk about.

Scent Elements: Mandarin, bergamot, lemon, aldehydes, lavender, hyacinth, narcissus, carnation, iris, jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang, galbanum, reseda, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, sandalwood, amber, musk, vanilla, oakmoss, vetiver, cedar, myrrh