Usually, when I went back to England for the spring or summer holidays I would always have some perfume in my suitcase to hand out to my mother and friends. It was a tradition: get back to the familiar surroundings of my parents’ house, unpack, and hand out the goodies; vintage Chanel extraits, Jacomo Parfum Rare, old Guerlain bottles to decorate the bathroom. Before 9/11, I would also frequently send lavishly decorated packages in the post filled with perfume, CD compilations, letters, strange artefacts; but once the rules changed and prohibitions came into place, all that was over. It is strange to think that it is now impossible for me to do any of these things.
One perfume I randomly gifted my mum one summer in England was 24, Faubourg by Hermès, a smooth and lustrous creation by the brilliant Maurice Roucel (Iris Silver Mist; Tocade; Insolence); a very perfumey perfume in its homogenised richness and glamour, with no obvious stray notes or beginnings and endings, and which I have always quite liked for its flawless construction but never quite loved – to me there is an emotional opacity to this scent that can almost come across as mindless; even if that shielding quality – a dependable and semi-elegant armour – is exactly what probably makes the perfume so enduringly popular.
With its warm, salted ambergris and vanilla finish profused generously with deliberately controlled lashings of vetiver and tuberose/orange blossom over adult jasmine, this glowing and undoubtedly very sexy perfume is to me always reminiscent of that other inimitable glamourpuss of the previous decade, Giorgio by Giorgio Beverly Hills: just Francofied and given a more dignified makeover. It is distinctly wearable; versatile, and subtly, animally feminine in a way that most contemporary perfumes never achieve, although I find it personally slightly wearing if I am in too much regular contact with it ( I just can’t find any chinks of light). Still, this was a surprise hit for my mum, who garnered more compliments when wearing 24 Faubourg than almost any other perfume she wears – the hairdresser was all over it; others have commented on positively it as well, and it has now become part of her repertoire. I don’t know if I have ever smelled it on her, personally (she usually wears First or No 22 vintage parfum when they pick me up at the airport) but now I finally have another bottle that I found at an antiques store, which I will be hopefully taking back with me and giving to her, on some future, as yet unspecified date.