I recently got samples of perfume and a pretty lookbook from Anne of MCMC Fragrances, which I was excited to try after reading about MCMC on Jenny's blog, and Jennifer's blog as well.

Despite the fact that I am not a strong enough writer to write about perfume, I love to write about it, talk about it, think about it. This morning it occurred to me just how important scent is to me; after all, I did buy a 1980s-era Strawberry Shortcake doll and a first-run copy of Madonna's Like a Prayer mostly because I wanted to smell them again. I keep a half-used bottle of the perfume I wore in the early 2000s (a masculine, musky, tobacco-based eau de cologne) in my dresser. The smell of certain shampoos can send me spiraling into sadness because they were the shampoos that I used during particular periods in my life, and sometimes there is an ache that comes from wanting to go back to something that is so long gone, no matter how sweet the present is. I don't know if this is how it is for everyone (I know there are many people who get headaches from perfume & cannot enjoy it), or if it's because I have a particularly large nose, but nothing is more effective for me for stopping time.

Yesterday I popped open the sample bottle of Noble. When I was little, I spent many summers in Lisbon, or running through orchards along the Spanish border (experiences for which I will always be grateful). Despite the fact that Noble references Haiti and Nepal, one sniff & suddenly I was a suntanned child walking over dry pine needles, rocks, and soft sand barefoot and summer-footed to get to the longest stretch of ocean I had ever seen. The profound earthiness of the scent sent me right back to such a specific time and place that I was moved to tears for real. It was pretty magical.

I love all the samples that I got to try and how the scents are tied to places or experiences (the spiciness of Love, the salt sea tones of Maine, and I have never been to Maui but I imagine that it smells just like that, like heaps of frangipani). I especially love that Anne makes the perfumes in small batches in her studio (just like that other favourite perfumer of mine, Heather from OLO, whose scents make me long for another visit to the Pacific Northwest). I am amassing quite a collection of oil-based perfumes, it seems.

I wouldn't be saying it if I didn't mean it. Thank you so much, Anne. Your work is beautiful.


Jane Flanagan, sara.k, chelsea, Tribal Fox Vintage, katie merchant / thank you, ok, in dreams, Zoƫ {Conversation Pieces}, Celine, Enia Is (Almost) Here, Tracey, Zoe, hila, Lauren, eliska.h: Thank you all for the sweet words! x

erica: Here's hoping there will be more events closer to where we live in the near future!

Leah: So glad you like the Thunder. It's become a bit of a classic, if I do say so myself!

melttigers: Yay! Hope you love it! Coral is so perfect.

anna of (green gable): Yes, next time! Thank you.

mackenzie: Pretty great, hey? I really love it, and thanks.

Darcy: Thank you. I don't think there will be another Little Winter... one of the organizers is on the verge of having a baby and I think it was always intended to be a one-off event.

Aprile: Oh dear...! It's a pretty good phrase, I think.

elegant storms: Me too. Although I do love some parts of winter...

Jess: Thank you! Oh, Dance with Dragons... it was a bit of a slog! It's getting so bloated, to the point where I am bored with some of the characters. That said, I do love getting immersed into that world, and I was a bit lost when I finished, sort of "What do I do now?" Haha.

Alyson Redding: How sweet of you to say! That makes me blush a lil'.

beckie: I don't mind at all! Believe it or not, this photo was taken near a not-very-nice patch of Lake Ontario just off Lake Shore Blvd., next to the legion hall. We were rushed! It seems to be a place where people take their dogs, mostly. I tried to make it look as un-Lake Ontario as possible.


  1. Not a strong enough writer to write about perfume? Hogwash! This was lovely to read.

  2. Your little kid in summer description made me teary. <3

  3. I love the smell of fish. I grew up right by a fishing port and I miss the fresh sea smell, the salt and sometimes even dried up stinky fish left behind... Sometimes when it rains here in Toronto, it kind of smells like a fishing port.

  4. Well strawberry shortcake... completely know what you mean... we used to have a cherry merry muffin and a banancy doll, i'd give anything to smell them again! X

  5. Thanks for this post Anabela, I have been on the look-out for some new fragrances. I have put in an order for some samples ;)

  6. Anabela, this was perfection. Certain smells have always been really emotional for me and can quickly tie me back to where I was living and how I was feeling then. I still remember my BFF in junior high having this particular pear scent in her locker! I have OLO on my list of Portland Places and am excited to find a new scent.

    Hate that I was only one year late for LW. Maybe Abby will eventually come back to pdx.

  7. You write about perfume beautifully. I love this post and now I want to try these scents. I always want to visit Portugal when you write about it.

  8. I hardly believe you to be unqualified to write about perfume, this is a beautiful post. I am much more intrigued to try MCMC scents the way you've imagined them, than had you described their fragrance notes (which I am completely helpless to comprehend).

  9. I think it's pretty common to be moved by scents like that. I was really shocked when someone I used to work with asked me not to wear perfume because she was too sensitive to it - I realised then how much I counted on wearing it to make me happy throughout the day, or to feel unique (even if I was only wearing Daisy!)
    I recently bought a couple of Long Winter Farm perfumes after reading about them here and at Clever Nettle. There's something so special about wearing scent that's been conceived and designed by hand, isn't there?

  10. Oh gosh, this post is beautifully written. I've only recently fallen in love with perfume. Department store brands never quite did it for me, but several months ago, I ordered a few samples from CB I Hate Perfume that completely changed the way I think about fragrance. "Walking in Air" reminds me of walking home from dance rehearsals on frozen winter nights back in college. And "In the Library" smells impossibly like a combination of my college library and my favorite (now closed) bookstore. I had not heard of MCMC Fragrances, and I can't wait to try some of their scents (as well as a few of OLO's.)

    And on a broader note, I just want to mention that I really love your blog. I'm terrible at commenting, but I'm always excited when I see that you've updated. And as someone who plans to go into Library and Archival studies, you and the wonderful life you've carved out for yourself are certainly a great inspiration to me. So, thank you. :)

  11. Anabela, this was such a pleasure to read. I am sensitive to scents, but when I do find something I love, I want to be smothered in it. The way you describe Anne's scents, makes me really, really want to try them!

  12. Isn't scent memory weird? This new soap at my work reminds me so much of my first love that it makes my stomach flip every time I use it, so I had to go buy my own soap! Silly but true. Also, I love the smell of my old strawberry shortcake dolls. Plastic fantastic.

  13. Your words are beautiful, and I can relate so much to them... I never wear perfume myself, but most of my memories are strongly associated with certain smells, much more than images or sounds. Seems like I have a big olfactory memory despite my tiny-tiny nose.

    Sometimes just a little whiff can trigger those memories again, and it's so powerful that I've found myself in the middle of the street crying many times. The smell of a certain brand of lipstick that reminds me of my grandmother, a rubber toy I had as a child, the scent of sunscreen that brings me back to that beach in Menorca, etc.

    Maybe that's why I don't like to wear perfume myself? But your description of MCMC fragrances makes me want to try them so badly.

  14. every now and then i open something new and it smacks me in the face

    the smell of a brand new

    my little pony.

  15. What a beautiful post Anabela! I enjoyed reading it as if it was one of Nabokov's novels. Just lovely!

  16. These sound irrisistable! I have perfume on the brain at the moment.
    Also, this is the best written perfume post I have read in a long time and I have been trawling through full on perfume blogs.

  17. I love perfume so much! This sounds lovely. It's so nice to hear about obscure scents. I hate how many scents are just so recognizable. My theory is to never buy a scent that is advertised or hawked by a celebrity!

    I'm actually working on a post on perfume too and am not sure where to start. This is a good guide.

  18. I loved reading this post. It brought back so many olfactory memories of my own:
    Eau de Givenchy = Christmas (my mother had received a bottle as a gift)
    Mimosa flowers = my first trip to NYC, visiting the flower district at 6am
    Grey Flannel cologne = heartbreak. the cologne my first serious boyfriend wore. It ended badly.
    Lilac = end of year school trips that always coincided with blooming lilac trees
    Woodsmoke = an incredible canoe trip in Temagami I took 10 years ago
    Coconut = teen years, when we would slather ourselves in tanning oil and lay out in the sun all day long, getting that perfect 80s tan

    Thank you for these lovely remembrances.

  19. I've been obsessed with perfume lately too. You always have such an inspiring collection and I always admire how sincerely you root for companies you love.

  20. Amazing blog!! I love the photography. xx

  21. I get the same thing from smells. Tastes also, but somehow scent is closer to music and thus more nostalgic? Every now and then I'll smell something and it is a scent so particularly from my childhood and I can't identify it, but it's such a strong and strange feeling!

    I get headaches from a lot of scents though. I've read that this can often be, where perfumes are concerned anyway, that certain ingredients in the oils are of a kind one can be allergic to. Even sometimes shampoos are too much for me to stand, but then I get a headache at the drop of a hat!

    Do you remember those cupcake dolls? I'm not sure if you were too old for them when they came out, but their smell is SO strong and brings me back to being about 6! It's such a delicious smell, I wish I could find it and capture it always!

  22. This is lovely ... I find the same thing with fragrances, they have the ability to overcome trifles of time and space and transport us somewhere else entirely.

  23. Wow, you write so beautifully, you are definitely a strong enough writer to post about fragrances, don't worry!
    I know what you meant about scents and evoking memories - smell is infact the strongest human sense so that makes sense (sense, haha). :P The other day I caught a whif of the perfume of a passer by, and to me it was the exact smell of the kindergarten I taught at in Poland five years ago... so strange how all those memories can be brought up again just by a scent. Same with deoderants and shampoos/bodywash bringing back teenage memories.
    Amazing post!
    - C x


  24. Anonymous20.8.11

    Oh, how perfectly wonderful! I am always on the lookout for new scents (like I don't have enough already??) and I am intrigued -verily!- by your evocative descriptions of mcmc. And I also am grateful for your mention of OLO because I couldn't remember the name, and I had been meaning to try them!

    Curious about the musky tobacco scent of yore that you referenced! Can you share what it was called/who makes it?

  25. What a great post! It's really crazy that some scents really bring us back to a certain place or someone...

  26. I love this. For me, it's not just a scent that triggers my memories--it can be a song, an article of clothing, a certain food. It amazes me how these inanimate or intangible objects can elicit such an emotional response. It simultaneously breaks my heart (mourning times and moments passed), and makes me smile, to be able to experience them again in a small way.

  27. Love this post! I know exactly what you mean, especially the ache of remembering and then wanting to be in a place or time that is long gone.
    xo Inge

  28. You say you can't write about smells, but I'd say you nailed it! I'm the exact same way, and am on a continual search for the perfect gardenia scent that will transport me to my childhood in New Orleans...

  29. Beautiful words... i´d love to smell one of those perfumes ome day... iIfinally put up a post about your lovely totes on my blog - they really are my Summer companions. Just perfect.

  30. i remember reading that andy warhol would change his perfume every 3 months so he could revisit certain periods through which ever scent it was linked...i rather liked this idea