photography by Katie Szalay
As a tomboy who grew up fighting the idea of dresses and all things girly, I have always secretly loved perfume. Both of my parents have large collections of those magic bottles and would rotate through different scents in my childhood. Upon reaching my preteens, I was often gifted small little sets during the holidays, super floral numbers that never quite matched me, but that I wore anyways to feel grown up. In high school I had a small stash of Christian Dior Dune, which is a pretty heady aroma and soo not right for me, but I was 14 years old and fell for the the packaging and lure of Paris.
Scent has always played a very important role in my life, not just because I was surrounded by perfume lovers, but because I have an extremely sensitive nose and taste palette. I take this as the single upside to allergies, and it's something I am incredibly grateful for today. That said, I have never quite found the right personal scent for myself. At least twice a year I used to take a pilgrimage to the fragrance counters of department stores, searching for something that would speak to me, a fruitless mission that ended in disappointment.
Flash forward to early 2012, when I was introduced to Alyssa Harad, a writer, foodie, and now friend who has turned my scent world upside down. My husband gifted me a "scent consultation" with Alyssa, who had recently finished writing her book, Coming to My Senses. This is one of the best gifts I have ever received in my life. What started off as a 45 minute session evolved into a 3 hour chat about childhood, food, ideas of femininity, personal growth, and lots of funny faces as Alyssa had me smell countless bottles. I left with a new friend and an advance copy of her book, which I had to ration out over the next week so I wouldn't read the whole thing in one sitting--it's that good.
Alyssa's book is now available here and she'll be in Austin for a BookPeople event this Thursday, July 12th at 7pm, along with Delysia Chocolatier and champagne cocktails, to discuss the wide world of perfumes. If you're in town, be sure to stop by, join the discussion, and say hello. You can find me over by the chocolate.