Missoni Original (Missoni)

Once upon a time, my favorite thrift store was one managed by a delightful British ex-pat named Jennifer. She drove a Union-Jack-emblazoned Cooper Mini and harbored a perfume love as big as the globe. The first time I entered her shop (with its dedicated fragrance shelf, whence came my cherished bottles of Coty Chypre and Paris), we fell into friendly talk as easily as if we'd grown up next door to one another. I took the risk of giving her my phone number, which she only used once: to tell me that someone had just donated a full purse sprayer of vintage Missoni Original. Did I have any interest?

I nearly broke both ankles running to my car on my lunch hour, peeling out in midday traffic to reach Jennifer's sales counter within ten hot minutes.

Since then, the thrift shop has closed down, and Jennifer has seemingly vanished-- not merely from the county, but perhaps even from the country. Her recently widowed mother had been doing poorly back in Britain; perhaps she moved back across the Great Pond to be by her side. In its turn, Missoni's 1982 raspberry chypre has become a sort of "grail scent" for me-- one for which I endured many trials, including the time I accidentally dropped it on the ground in the county parking garage and suffered like Saint Sebastian until I could sprint back to rescue it. The fact that it sat there unscathed and unstolen all morning long is one of life's minor miracles, and positive proof that this scent travels under an air of enchantment.

Strangely -- though marketed by the 20th century's most idiosyncratic textile design house outside of Pucci -- Missoni Original reminds me not at all of Missoni knitwear. Its two glowing accords (the rich carmine of raspberries and the deep teal of oakmoss) are positively pre-Raphaelite-- as close to a wearable William Morris Arts-and-Crafts wallpaper as one can find. Amid its brambles one finds needle-pricks of nostalgic pain... and sweet berries glowing like Burma rubies.

Such is memory. And wherever Jennifer may dwell today, I hope she knows she was far more sweetness than thorns to me.

Scent Elements: Aldehydes, cassis, raspberry, hyacinth, bergamot, iris, jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose, geranium, honey, amber, patchouli, civet, oakmoss, styrax