Thursday, May 14, 2015

FOLLE DE JOIE - A STORY OF OBSESSION


Does anyone remember the early days of Tommy Girl? If there was a perfume to define my youth, that cult Hilfiger scent was it. As you may know, a fragrance unfolds in stages. The way it smells when you first spray it on your skin is going to smell completely different as time progresses. The part you smell at the end, the smell that lingers longest and is said to be the "true" fragrance is known as the dry-down, and the Tommy Girl I first smelt in 1996 had the most intoxicating dry down of any I have ever encountered. No other perfume has gripped me in the same way it did, likely because it was the first fragrance I ever loved and not a more objective reason. Though Luca Turin did call it a 'masterpiece' so perhaps I ought to give my nose more credit.

Before my mother bought me my first bottle, my only contact with Tommy Girl was through my best friend's older sister. She'd walk by and my nose would follow. When she left the house, we'd bound into her room and sniff the air like animals. I think I can accurately pinpoint this as the time I became a fragrance junkie. Fast forward to the 2000's, when I was given a new bottle of my favourite fragrance to replace the latest empty one. I can still remember my disappointment. I sprayed it on my neck and wrists and waited for the dry down that never came. All day, all I could smell was the top note. Even three days later, it was still there, mocking me. Something was very wrong. I would later discover the heartbreaking term "reformulation" which, in a nutshell, is where some of the original ingredients have changed. This means a different smelling perfume from one batch to the next. You can read more about it here.

At various points in my life, I have sought a bottle of original formulation Tommy Girl. That is, a bottle that was produced between the years of approximately 1996 and 2000. It seems impossible but I had hope. I relied upon the fact that people mightn't have cleaned out their bathroom cupboards in over a decade (I know people like that!); I considered it likely that someone would try to make a buck on eBay selling something that would by now be considered junk; I pinned my hopes on the hoarders of the world,  and found myself posting messages on forums where I offered people an attractive cash incentive to sell me their old, partly used bottles. No luck. I then hunted the instagram hashtag #tommygirl (of which there are hundreds) and sifted until I found posts related to cupboard cleanouts and blasts from the past. Two people provided promising leads. Though they couldn't precisely pinpoint the year of purchase, they guaranteed that they were really, really ancient bottles. When I received them, I realised they were correct, but they simply weren't ancient enough. Onto Plan B.


I googled the terms "smells like Tommy Girl"; "reminds me of Tommy Girl"; "just like Tommy Girl" and wound up buying half a dozen bottles of fragrances that made me question what the hell was wrong with people's sense of smell. And then it happened. I had sprayed upon myself a sample of Folle de Joie* - the last of my leads - when my sister who, along with my mum, happened to be staying with me at the time - exclaimed: "Mum! Remember Anna's bedroom when she was a teenager? Doesn't she smell JUST LIKE THAT right now?" I couldn't pick up on the scent at the time but later, when I had taken off the clothes I was wearing that day and tossed them into the basket, there it was: an ever-so-subtle hint of that old dry-down. It was enough for me. I get a lot of positive comments when I wear it but I don't think anyone can detect the Tommy Girl similarity. It's so objectively beautiful that even if it didn't remind me at all of my first perfume, I know I will still purchase a full-sized bottle of Folle de Joie when this one runs out. Thankfully for me, it provides me at least a small reminder of those old Tommy Girl days and I am ever so grateful.


*I haven't provided a link to purchase because it's not quite so straightforward for all readers! This fragrance is readily available in the US, but the path to Australia was slightly complicated. Because of laws preventing most US stores shipping this fragrance to Australia, I had to organise a package forwarding service.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so with you, I absolutely adored Clarins Elysium. And they changed it, then stopped making them. And I hunted and haunted ebay clean out sales but had to move on.

    I wear Narciso Rodriguez now which fits.

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