Scented Lives Part 1: Jane Bryant (My Mother)

Scented LivesScented Lives is a new series of perfume profiles that explores the perfumes and scents that have been a part of people’s lives. I believe that the perfumes we wear are individual threads that help form the tapestry of our lives, they speak huge volumes about our character and help us form memories of times, people and places.

The series will start with the profiles of my family, friends and those that are special to me and will then branch out to others with interesting scented lives. If you are interested in taking part in the series please contact me on

How It Works

Each subject is asked to pick five perfumes (ones that they have worn) that have played a significant part in their lives. They will then be asked to give reasons for their choices and explain what their associations with those scents may be. The series aims to use perfume as markers for significant points of the subject’s life, whether happy or sad, and to help them unleash their olfactory memories.

MaJane Bryant’s Scented Life

About Jane

Jane, my mother, or ‘Ma’ as I like to call her, lives in the small market town of Newport Pagnell, not too far from me. She lives with her cat Millie but would like to stress that she isn’t a crazy cat lady, although I would say that she is a tad eccentric!

The five perfumes that Jane has chosen are:

Pure Patchouli Oil

I wore this between the ages of 16 & 18. I was at college when I first came across it on a trip to The Kings Road in London with friends. I was going through a phase of wearing only black. It reminded me of Mary Quant ‘Vamp Rouge’ lipstick & Biba and above all the heady scent of pot being smoked at parties on the mid seventies.

I think I felt it fitted my image of the time. About a year ago I saw some for sale and bought it. It brought back happy memories of my teenage years.

The Candy Perfume Boy: It seems that you spent your teenage years being some sort of goth-hippie hybrid. Peace and love maaan!

Safari by Ralph Lauren
I first wore this perfume in my mid 20’s. Everyone seemed to be wearing heavy perfumes such as Youth Dew and Poison which to me summed up the whole excess of the 1980’s.  I found this perfume to be lighter and more subtle.
I had 3 children under five and both money and time to myself were in short supply. When I did have the opportunity to go out I loved to take time to dress up and make the most of it. I would buy this perfume for myself with birthday or Christmas money. Whenever I smell this scent I am reminded of getting ready to go out with friends and putting my babies to bed before leaving home. I was bought some Safari last year and I still love it.
The Candy Perfume Boy: I have such a strong memory of you and this fragrance. I remember watching you getting ready to go out, glamming yourself up and floating around the house in a cloud of Safari. At that age I thought you were the classiest and prettiest woman on Earth (not that I don’t now of course).
Beautiful by Estée Lauder
This is arguably the perfume I think my four children will associate most with me. I wore this throughout my 30’s. I am not really a fan of Estée Lauder perfumes but this was bought for me as a present and was an instant exception. It felt decadent to wear.
I never realised that people were defined by their perfume until one friend told me that her husband told her that he knew I had been in their house that day because he could still smell my perfume. Another friend’s husband told her it confused him when she wore Beautiful  because he associated it with me.
I also owned this perfume in solid form in a little jewelled elephant case which I kept long after it was used up.
The Candy Perfume Boy: It is fascinating how we associate certain perfumes with people and how a person can be defined by their scent. Beautiful is definitely the perfume that I associate with you! I own a bottle and I wear it a lot, I feel a strong sense of comfort when I do. It’s scents like this that helped form my tastes in perfumery, you seem to love a lot of florals and loud ‘blowsy’ perfumes, just like me! Like mother, like son, as they say!
Allure by Chanel
Probably my favourite perfume of all time. I wore this throughout my forties, a time for once when money was no object, although this was perhaps not the happiest time of my life I do associate it with some happy memories.
I was bought the Parum Extrait as a present and managed to resist the urge to wear it all the time. I had a Versace LBD that I adored and this perfume was the final touch when all dressed up to go out.
This scent made me feel sophisticated which is something I have always aspired to yet have very rarely achieved. It reminds me of the new millennium, and winning my one and only trophy for cox of the year 2000 at my rowing club. Finances haven’t been so abundant in recent years so I haven’t possessed a bottle of Allure for a few years although I would love to wear it again in the future.
The Candy Perfume Boy: I would argue that you have always been sophisticated Ma! My memories of you and Allure aren’t as strong as Beautiful and Safari, which you wore with abundance, perhaps that’s because Allure is a lot more subtle. I do think of you when I smell Allure, but I was always surprised that you picked it over N° 5 or N° 22, both of which always seemed right up your street! We’ll have to sort you out with a new bottle of Allure…
MyQueen by Alexander McQueen
This is my current perfume. It was a present from you and I absolutely love it. It is subtle enough to wear every day yet many people notice it and ask which perfume I’m wearing. I associate it with new beginnings and happier times ahead.
If Beautiful is the perfume my children associated with me when they were small My Queen is arguably the one they associate with me now they are grown up.
The Candy Perfume Boy: Ahh MyQueen, it’s such a ‘you’ perfume and the great thing about it is that it’s not a very common fragrance, I’ve never smelled it on anyone else, so in my mind it’s almost a bespoke scent for you. Lovely stuff!
Is scent important to you?
Scent is extremely important, I think our sense of smell is amazing, especially the way that a particular scent can conjure up crystal clear memories of people, events and places.
What are your favourite smells?
Freshly brewed espresso
Freshly baked bread
Cherry blossom shoe polish
The skin of a freshly bathed baby
The Candy Perfume Boy: Is anyone surprised to see tuberose on this list?!
What was your first experience of perfume?
I was about 4 years old when I became aware of perfume, my mother wore Blue Grass and that is my first ‘scented memory’.
Is there a perfume that reminds you of another person?
My father died when I was 25 (he was 58) and for a while afterwards I kept one of his sweaters because it smelled of him. Sadly the scent disappeared after a while. However sometimes I am taken unawares by the scent Kouros (Yves Saint Laurent) which brings back happy memories of my father.
If you could choose only one perfume, a ‘desert island’ perfume if you will, what would it be?
I would choose Chanel Allure.
The Candy Perfume Boy: Ma, thank you so much for taking part in the series, you have painted a wonderfully scented picture of your life and it was both fascinating and fun to discover your choices!
Join the Discussion!
Are you familiar with any of Jane’s choices?
Do you have a signature scent or a scent that defines you?
Which perfumes do you think will remind people of you?
Please leave your responses in the comments box below!
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Image 2 my own