When Smelling Clean is Dirty

Muguet des bois

Our fragrance columnist Katie Puckrik misspent her youth in sweet, innocent perfumes with a core of pure filth.


Around the time you hit that hormonal bloodbath blandly known as “adolescence”, every personal grooming decision is aswirl with sexual intent. And that includes unintentional sexual intent, the kind exuded by the innocent schoolgirl I was at the age of 14, dating an “older man” of 18.


The perfume I wore on our first date was a real Mata Hari number from Revlon called Intimate. I’d swiped it from my mother’s dresser, and even my tentative application must have thrown a “bitch in heat” olfactory hologram over my white eyelet purity.


Whoever named Intimate wasn’t beating around the bush. It’s crammed with every raw material that screams “do me baby”: musk-filth notes of civet (mongoose sex gland secretions) and castoreum (beaver sex gland secretions), along with jasmine (well-ripened inner thigh) and cedar wood (scent twin of tangy lady bits). Its grown-up bouquet includes that dynamic duo rose and patchouli, spiced with coriander and fuzzed with the warm skin smell of sandalwood.


If it hadn’t been for my ex-military dad lurking in the background and terrifying my boyfriend, Intimate may well have delivered on its promise. As it was, my chastity remained intact and I moved on to my next unsuitably old boyfriend.


He was 20, a would-be poet who appealed to the hidden depths I was trying to cultivate. I was only 16, and this time around I decided to embrace my nubility with the springtime smileyness of Coty’s Muguet des Bois. Muguet des Bois does a pretty little dance with lily of the valley, weaving leaves among the blossoms, tempering the sweetness of the flower with clarifying green.


I was one of those teenagers who always looked younger than my age. I was small and wore my long sandy hair in pigtails. I favored a childish T-shirt with cartoon turtles marching across the front, which caused Poet Guy much consternation. “Can you…stop wearing that?” he finally asked one day as we disentangled from yet another steamy make-out session. In that moment, I snapped into his POV: Little Miss Jailbait dabbling in activities that could land him in, well, jail.


Muguet des Bois was an essential part of my Pretty Baby package, because it turned out that under all of that springtime sunshine was a salty muskiness that revved up in sweaty situations. Once I tuned into that, it was all over between me and my turtle T-shirt, and soon after, between me and Poet Guy as well.


I’d been kind of impressed by him, but was even more impressed by myself for the erotic command I wielded over him – without even having to do much of anything…ahem…erotic. Muguet des Bois, its schoolgirl innocence underscored by a feral hum, was the perfect perfume smellscape for my ascendance to full girl-to-woman power.


Katie is a writer, broadcaster, blogger and Salihughesbeauty.com’s resident perfume columnist. Find more from her on http://www.katiepuckriksmells.com/

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