I have always been a very dramatic, as in performative, kind of person. My nickname as a child, bestowed by my father, was Sarah Bernhardt. Always living in worlds far away from the one I actually lived in, books at that time were the way I became a global citizen. It was early on that I began to imbue clothing and other objects with magical powers that could take me into lives I could only daydream about. Perhaps it had something to do with my very glamorous grandmother who I have written about before, bringing me beautifully carved jade or colored glass perfume bottles from her travels to Europe and Asia. Her signature scent was Worth, owing its’ pedigree to the Paris couturier, Charles Frederick Worth, who also happened to dress Sarah Bernhardt. So I think that is why I always think of perfume as having the qualities of a magical potion like the one that Alice in Wonderland drank so she could enter a beautiful garden.
Recently, thanks to my amazing good fortune since I began this project, I made my first “real” visit to Paris after visiting often through novels and beautiful editorials. Staying in a hotel right next door to the original Chanel store (complete with Coco Chanel’s apartment upstairs), I was also footsteps away from rue Saint-Honoré. In some of the rare free moments I had, I wandered along passing perfumery after perfumery from Fragonard to EX NIHILO to Le Labo, actually a brand from New York. I was curious about Le Labo because their cult fragrance Santal 33 can be detected all over New York on persons and in the lobbies of hotels and in stores. Although I found it a compelling, engaging scent, my oppositional nature made me not buy it for the simple reason of not wanting to be like everyone else. So when I came upon the Le Labo shop in Paris I went in to find out if they were more than a one trick pony.
I was greeted by an engaging young man who explained to me the history of the perfumery (which is an interesting one and a story for another day). He went on to talk about each of the lesser known scents and my attention was caught by the one named Another 13, which mimics the scent of paper and is a preferred choice for those who like to write regardless of what gender you prefer to be. The name Colette was mentioned as a muse, and I was immediately drawn to this scent as writing is what I am doing or trying to do well these days. Immediately I was transported back to those childhood moments where just like a director I would create the scene that let me become the person I wanted to become. Consequently, given my current agenda, Another 13 seemed to have a sign that said “Buy me”, rather than “Drink me” as Alice’s magic bottle did.
I watched as a woman named Yacine, a trained lab technician, (and yes Le Labo means the lab), followed a protocol of a strict set of instructions that concocted Another 13 and made me my own personal bottle of magic. Marked, made in Paris France, 25/09/18, it traveled home with me to New York and I have not taken it out until today, a day ironically where I struggled with feeling uninspired when it came to my writing. As I started to write this post and do some research, I found that Another 13 was actually a collaboration between Le Labo and Jefferson Hack, the publisher of AnOther Magazine which those of you who tune in for my Weekend Fashion Bibliography know is one of my most oft featured magazines. In fact, many of the reviews of Another 13, suggest it smells just like a newly opened, freshly printed magazine.
So that really nailed it for me, I will be spritizing it on every time I open my computer in hopes to become the writer I always wished myself to be.
Do you have a “magic potion” that helps you be who you want to be?