It took a long time. I fell down the perfume rabbit hole circa 2008. But I was naive. Young. No respect. I was a fruity floral/white musk girl who had only determination on her side. I bumped into Songes at Bloomies. A particularly friendly and generous sales woman threw every Annick Goutal sample she had my way (Petite Cherie, Le Jasmin, Eau d’Hadrien, Mandragore). I dabbed Songes onto a strip, recoiled at the fresh jasmine top and put it far to the back of my sample collection. I did know, thankfully, I was smelling quality. I just wasn’t ready to embrace the white flowers. I tried it again a couple years later. Now Smell This had written a series of posts about building a perfume wardrobe (something I was doing haphazardly. Metaphorically speaking, I had a lot of tops but no pants. Not even a dress, really. It was the sartorial equivalent of quirky t-shirts and a couple pairs of nice heels.) They suggested having a “Killer White Floral” and mentioned that Songes was one of their regulars. I opened my mind and tried it again. It was better, and I actually put it on my skin. I still felt like I was playing dress up. I didn’t love the jasmine, but I didn’t hate it either. Then I put it away again and declared I GUESS I’M JUST NOT A WHITE FLORAL GIRL to no one in particular and went on my way.
But here’s the thing. It’s just not that simple. White florals are lurking lots of places, in perfumes I knew I loved. They weren’t the main feature but they added richness, elegance and heft. Still, I was particularly unnerved by jasmine in a starring role and even more so by tuberose. Oh tuberose. We STILL aren’t friends (see Fracas by Robert Piguet), but I’ve started to realize how smart she is (See Tubereuse Criminelle by Serge Lutens…they’ll get me yet).
Anyway, later I bumped into an EdT of Joy by Patou at TJ Maxx and bought it for educational purposes, status (gross motivation, I know, but whatever), and the thought that Marilyn loved it which is usually enough for me.
Upon removing the cellophane, Joy reached out of the bottle, slapped me across the face and said, “And you thought Songes was a white floral, you silly bitch.” So I slapped a steak on my Joy-induced black eye, apologizing profusely for being such a rube and started to reexamine my indolic reluctance.
What was my damn problem? People are trotting about in Fracas and Poison and I can’t handle a little fresh green jasmine? People are raving about Carnal Flower and Creed Spring Flower and Chanel Gardenia and shit, even, Juicy Couture EdP and I’m running for the hills? I told myself I may never love white flowers, but I’m never going to be a true student of perfume if I can’t at least go to their parties.
Then I had to chill out because we’re talking about a bottle of perfume, not the United Nations.
Then, flash forward many years to today when I decide I’m a little bored by my bottles and need a break from my current incense obsession and my old samples need some attention. I grabbed a literal handful and sorted through until Songes peeked her pretty little head out and suggested that she might be appropriate for an important meeting day at work which today happens to be.
Reader, we fell in love.
This is one of the most beautiful perfumes I’ve ever had the pleasure of wearing. Patient, too. She knew I’d come around. I got older. Songes has stayed the same age. Alright alright alright.
Let not my Matthew McConaughey reference lead you astray. This is a gorgeous, sophisticated and yet comforting scent. Maybe not downright cozy as it deserves a better outfit than pj’s, BUT there is a certain casual elegance to it. And yet you could wear it almost anywhere. Dinner, church, work, the theatah. It’s opera-worthy. Ballgown appropriate. I wouldn’t call it bridal because I’d rather catch of a whiff of it on the eldest bridesmaid (I am OFTEN the eldest bridesmaid) or even better, someone’s mysterious stunningly beautiful date. “Who was THAT?! And what perfume was she wearing?!” All perfume heads dream of the day their intoxicating scent will convey their inner depths as they breeze by. But hey, if any perfume was going to do it, maybe this is the one! I’m getting images of Grace Kelly on vacay.
You don’t need a special event, however, to experience Songes. Wear it when you need to be reminded there is beauty in this world.
Hyperbole? Maybe, but then here’s the ad copy for Songes: A tender light, a sensual mystery… A midsummer night’s dream in lights. On the eve of an exotic night on the island of Mauritius, as darkness falls, walking in an exotic garden, Camille Goutal is taken by surprise by the spellbinding scent of frangipani at dusk when nature takes over the night. She could not overcome her desire to create a fragrance to immortalize this precious memory. Just as in a dream, the sensual petals of the Tiaré flower, Jasmine sambac and Ylang Ylang absolute, blend against a dark background of balms and Bourbon Vanilla.
Unlike most perfume copy, damned if this one ain’t true.
Songes means “Dreams” in French. Maybe my dislike of white flowers was just one long and bad one. I’d come around before this, sure. But today is the first time I consider it true love.
(My sample is the EdT. I’ve heard the EdP is heavier on the vanilla.)