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Long weekend, no access to Le Blog.

Today, I am taking off for 4 days to camp on San Juan Island (one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Seriously).

So, I leave you all with the kind of blog entry that BREAKS ALL THE RULES:

1) It's SUPER long.
2) it has only one measly photo.
3) It's not about decor.

So, my little lawbreakers and design fiend friends, I really hope you enjoy it. It's a true story about how I met my favorite perfume.

See you all on Sunday where I will update with more bitchy design-y things, as usual.


If you want to eat less, wear Jil Sander perfume.

If you want to feel somehow magically more cultured, sophisticaed, elegant and grown up, wear Jil Sander perfume.

If you want to feel civilized, wear Jil Sander perfume.

But if you want a crazy Australian to accost you at your workplace, when you're a 20-year-old college girl working at a coffee shop, definitely accept the unusual gift of a bottle of Jil Sander perfume.

My favorite perfume was given to me by a rough-faced Australian patron of a coffee shop that helped me pay my bills during college. I worked in Portland, Oregon at a corporate kind of coffee shop in the business distrcit downtown. One of the best parts of the job was that various sorts of suits worked nearby, so even though I woke up every weekday morning at about 4:30am to get up and go open that damn shop, just a few minutes invested in curling my hair and putting on some lipstick meant that (coupled with, of course my charm and, well, unfortunate DD breasts that seemed to pop out of my barista apron) I was guaranteed to earn an additional $13/hour in tip. In a coffee shop, these are GOOD tips, I tell you.

Some of the engineers and lawyers and computer types were particularly kind, either in an avuncular way or a more flirtatious way. Australian Guy, however, came out of nowhere. He showed up one day, he had a lot of simple and basic questions for me. Are you from here? Are you a student? He was so tall - maybe 6' 5" or something, and he had this massive head that looked as though he had been in the passenger seat during an accident and his head somehow got shoved into the glove compartment. Of course, as tall as he was, this was not possible. My box-head theory didn't hold up. He wasn't ugly, he just wasn't put together quite right.

One day he came in and he kind of jogged or skipped in. Not in a joyful, but a frenzied kind of way. He stopped and handed me a bag from Saks and asked me to have it. I looked inside and there was this matte black box. It looked expensive. Considering where I grew up, it was. No one in my family ever walked into a Saks (except me, and I didn't buy anything there even when I did dare to go in). I thanked him. He seemed so happy that the coffee girl kept it.

All hell broke loose with my throw-away boyfriend and I must confess that I just bluntly told him, even when he was crying, that it wasn't a big deal, I didn't even like the guy, and I was going to keep it.

If you've ever smelled the stuff, you'd know why.

Ok, let me back up. For one thing, the boyfriend wasn't WORTH keeping. Ok, he was the nicest guy, but he was dumb. Really dumb. On my first date, we went to this fantastic hipster (CAN those two words go together?) Mexican joint called La Cruda, and he picked up his laminated menu and ordered - - I spell this phonetically for you now - - the taco "Plah-tay." Say it with me: "Tah-ko Plah-tay." Most of us would just read the menu and order the Taco Plate, but whatever.

So, moving the story along here, Boyfriend = Dumb.

So when I smelled this Jil Sander, I was all of 20 years. I lived in a rented room that wasn't legally a room. Like, if the city knew someone was renting this to me, they would be fined. It was tiny. It was all I could afford. But it was in this beautiful apartment. This apartment was my first taste of some better way of living - at least in my mind, anyway. The floors were wood. WOOD. Your heels would click on the floor when you came home. How elegant. The woman who let me this room was tall and lean and a photographer. She "had an interest in chairs," (I once heard her tell a client), which is to say she let her even more fabulous friend store her furniture in our apartment while she was traveling. And these chairs were older than my grandmother and they were gorgeous. The other 20-something (who rented a ligitimate room) was also equally amused that we managed to live in a place with far more taste than we deserved to be around.

So this Jil Sander perfume was like the way this life should smell. I bought a vintage red satin coat around this time and this coat, with red lipstick, and this apartment with it's sexy click-click-click heels-on-floors sound and my non-legal-room's glorious street-facing balcony was as cool and sexy and sophisticated as anything I had experienced. And this beautiful bottle with its I-AM-A-SERIOUS-PERFUME golden hue (not some wussy clear-colored dimestore perfume) was as beautiful as it smelled. The bottle is like serious jewelry. Or great architecture.

Of course, it's just a $65 perfume. I now look at it and think, with handbags breaking the $1000 mark, this is cheap stuff, no? But it's not. It's great. And if you want to eat less, and feel cultured and act sophisticated, you can wear this and achieve that. It's perfect.

Australian Guy was a little weird on day 2. He was even more jittery and my coffee shop manager, who was also kind of like an older sister, told me to just give it back. She was prone to high drama and, again, she was proving this. But I listened.

On day 3 he came into the shop and I gave it back. I told him it was so lovely, but that I had a boyfriend who took his kind gesture as an overture, and maybe it was best to give it back. Out of respect. He wouldn't take it. His eyes started to water. He just said no and he walked off.

A few days passed. I kept making coffee. Lattes, lattes, lattes. So much milk. When you work at a coffee shop behind that massive espresso machine, waiting for each of those stainless silver carafes of milk to hit 140 degrees you stand there, with your weary wrists, and you think, holy fuck, this is just so much milk. Ok, so it's not a very deep thought, but it's like 6am when you're doing this and it explains now why all my co-workers think I am a simpleton at Starbucks when I order, always, a tall coffee with room. You just gotta keep it simple.

I digress. Again.

Well, dutifully, I made that coffee, as I had for two years and I chatted with my customers and I looked out the big wall of windows and got drinks ready for regulars as I saw them walking up to the door (this is what you do to earn the all-important extra measly $13 per hour). For all my well-intended scouting out that window, I didn't see him at first. I heard him. I hear a wild banging on those windows and I whipped my head around. I think everyone whipped their heads around. And there was Australian Guy, madly banging the windows with his fists and making this wild noise. Some mix of laughing and wailing and yelling. He was screaming at me while making his way down the window, banging on the glass as he moved closer to the door. Amanda, the manager, made it to the door in time to lock it. I don't think he was actually heading in. I think he was just going to have his fit and move on.

Occasionally, Vogue or Elle or Harper's writes about some society woman and her signatures - maybe a pair of singlasses, or a favorite brand of linens, or, occassionally, her fragrance. It's always some fine patrician connection, like, "Fracas is what my mother wore..." or "I first bought this in Paris as a young woman..."

When W comes to interview me... you know, when everyone realizes what a style icon I am, what can I tell them about this signature scent, this thing I still believe is one of the most beautiful things in the whole world? I guess I tell them that this favorite perfume, this most defining scent, this perfume most matched to my tough and headstrong personality, was offered up by a square-headed Australian sociopathic stranger. Glamorous, no?


the House of Beauty and Culture said...

This is dead chic! And I mean the real chic (just like your description of the unwrapped wrap dress)- not the rubbish people think of as being fashionable. Style personified - fabulous.

franki durbin said...

best post ever. oddly enough I used to wear Jill Sander. It was the first fragrance I ever bought at Neiman's. It was about 8 years ago now, believe it or not, and I still remember feeling like I was putting on a more mysterious woman's aura every time I wore it. How funny you brought all those memories back.

And about your stalker story. Ahh, sweet memories. We'll have to dish sometime, love!

JJ said...

Jill who? ha!
I feel this way about Prada's scent. When I found it (about 2 years ago), I seriously thought I had died and woken up inside the bosom of someone Anna Wintour-y.
I bought it and wore it everywhere and everyone commented on how delicious I smelled. (I even lured in my man with it). >>>And then the spray pump broke.<<<
Now I fight with it on a daily basis. So typical!

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

Oh my........I simply must get some. Oh dear, I don't think they sell it in Marrakech:-(

ALL THE BEST said...

I LOVED this post!! I MUST get myself a bottle!

Brilliant Asylum said...

Your tale was so funny and beautifully written. I have no doubt that W will come calling one day.

beachbungalow8 said...

you're insane. can we be emailing pals. because i have a feeling, you email like this.

this was my favorata posting you've done thus far. f*** the photos. that's only because most of us can't write like you.

oh and there is also some notion that nobody cares, 'what you had for lunch' well. i do when it's you writing about your lunch.

xoxo your new, self annointed bff

beachbungalow8 said...

oh and thank you for using avuncular. love that word. said...

What a wonderful story. Fragrance has such a way of taking us back in time to exactly the moment. I have never smelled Jil Sander, but I am sure it is a knock-out. I will test it next time I am at a fragrance counter and if I burst giggling I am sure you will hear me from afar. Thanks for the not to be forgotten story. Poor Aussie!

Anonymous said...

This was hilarious - you're a great writer, and also VERY stylish. Maybe W will interview one day, who knows! said...

Anon - you made my day. All of you did, really. I didn't know if people would read this post and think it was rambling ans self-indulgent, but your feedback has been really kind. I hope to get a few long and funny ones up every now and then to keep people amused. Thanks so much for reading.

ita darling. said...

have you ever smelled Hermes Eau de Merveilles? I bought it in Portland Oregon Nordstrom with the insurance money that I got after my car got broken into- at a very weird point in my life for a myriad of other reasons.

I think Eau de Merveilles is my Jil Sanders. though i can't wait to smell that too.

great post.

Anonymous said...

Check out pg. 258 of the Turin/ Sanchez Perfume book to see their opinion of Jil Sander #4 perfume.

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