My little stinker
The most thoroughly obsessed of the perfume community will understand that a scent purchase often stems from a peculiar chain of events that takes place online. The route that led me from Guerlain’s Vol de Nuit to a 40 year old Avon pussycat can be explained thus:
- My beloved Vol de Nuit EDT had almost run out.
- I searched the Escentual sale to price up a new bottle but was seduced by my long yearned love - the Parfum Extrait.
- Whilst waiting for my golden propellers to arrive I perused the web to read discussions about the extrait concentration of Vol de Nuit and noticed that Avon’s classic cheapo chypre – Timeless has been likened to Vol.
- I performed an Ebay search for Timeless and discovered that it was winsomely populated by the kitsch novelty bottles of vintage Avon colognes from the 60s and 70s, Timeless, Occur, Moonwind, Charisma and Sweet Honesty were abundant.
- I encountered a curious little glass cat who had no box and despite being nearly full of ‘Occur’ was likely to have gone off given that he’s roughly my age, perhaps older. I found him charming and bought him simply for his quirky feline wiles.
- He arrived, he hadn’t gone off.
I was stunned. I even emailed to seller to ask the provenance of the whiffy feline. Apparently he came from an elderly aunt who collected cat figures. She must have displayed him so I can only guess that the opaque milk glass bottle somehow managed to deflect the ravages of light and kept his liquid belly in tip top condition.
He’s very pungent. On first whiff I smelt an archetypal fougère, so close to Brut that I wondered if the splash-on style hole could have been refilled at some point? Comparing notes on Fragrantica, the similarity could be explained. Both share a whopping dose of oakmoss, musks and bergamot, peppery floral notes (carnation for Occur, geranium for Brut), plentiful herbs and spices and a sweet base of all sorts of sticky tonka-tastic and honeyed wonders.
When the initial Brut sensation wore off, up crept (or pounced) the feral animalistic heart of the fragrance for which it is famed; civet and (the now banned) nitromusks. I knew at this point that I was certainly smelling the wondrous filth that is Occur.
If you’ve ever smelt Francis Kurkdijan’s Absolue Pour Le Soir or Parfum D’ Empire’s Musc Tonkin, you’ll recognize the heady whiff of animalic uber-notes. In fact Occur contains an even stronger dose of ‘eau de urinal’ than either of them. It takes at least half an hour for it to emerge, but when it does I am walloped by the wonder of pre-IFRA fragrant toxicity. I am very happy to poison my skin with this stinking brew. Fortunately, a creamy combination of white florals and milky sandalwood sit alongside this pissy whiff, recalling aspects of Arpege and Ma Griffe that render it more splendid than rancid.
Fittingly, my first ever perfume was by Avon. I can't remember which one as I was less than ten years old. My mum sold Avon and gifted me a plastic daisy shaped brooch filled with a solid scent that I recall smelling deliciously of honeysuckle. Perhaps Avon was responsible for the inception of my obsession?
My lucky American readers will be able to pick up these quirky Avon vintages for a mere few dollars on the USA Ebay site. They are collectible but not valuable given the enormous number of them produced in the 60s and 70s. In Europe prices are a little higher given that, although very common, Avon was not quite as mightily prolific over here.
Take a peak at these curious Avon creatures lifted shamelessly from Ebay, I wonder what scented wonders their bellies contain?
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