Trouble magnet.

There was a time when L'Aimant ("The Magnet") spoke to me only of mystical attraction. I shared my first two L'Aimants -- parfum de toilette and eau de cologne, both vintage numbers with gold crown caps -- with two friends who liked it so much they felt compelled to score bottles of their own. Thereafter we wore L'Aimant and thought of each other: a nice confluence of scent and sentiment.

The third L'Aimant broke my lucky streak. I spotted it in an antique store-- a mint-condition 1970 gift set consisting of matched flacons of pure parfum and EdC in a gorgeous ivory moiré box lined with hot pink velveteen and embossed with gold lettering. I bought it for a friend, cash on the barrelhead, no returns or refunds... but she changed her mind. Another friend accepted it with joy, but something about the whole thing unsettled me, and I stopped wearing L'Aimant for a long time.

The fourth L'Aimant also came from an antique store. A 1950s vintage extrait in pristine condition, its tiny flacon resides in a cunning presentation box of hot-pink-and-gold imitation shagreen. It expends its first minute on skin in a lusty, full-throated aldehydic bellow echoing that of its sibling rival, Chanel No. 5. But despite their visible similarity, it is possible to prefer one over another using personality as the distinguishing factor. L'Aimant is friendlier, more approachable, more good-humored. She offers the warm handshake, the courteous welcome, the mixed drink; she makes an effort to put you at ease-- while Chanel No. 5 keeps to her corner and eyes you with cold indifference. These twins are not at all identical, and thank god for it.

It's fitting, I think, that I should end VintageFest 2014 with a fragrance that has been a part of my collection almost from the first. It's also fitting to end this difficult year with a perfume which (though it smells sweet) invariably reminds me how ambivalent and unpredictable life is. You reach for and hope to touch the simpatico. I wish that for myself and for everyone this coming year.

Scent Elements: Aldehydes, bergamot, peach, strawberry, neroli, jasmine, rose, geranium, ylang-ylang, orchid, vetiver, sandalwood, cedar, vanilla, amber, tonka bean, civet, musk