I don’t think I ever paid any attention at all to scent until my mid-twenties or later. I had a bunch of allergies, to pollens and dust, and my nose was always a bit congested. I never considered wearing a cologne though, yes, I did wear a deodorant from an appropriate age. It wasn’t until I was 27 or 28 when two things collided. I went to visit my friends Ian and Brian who were living for a while in the Bahamas, and on the way, I read Patrick Susskind’s amazing novel, Perfume. A beautifully written book that describes smells so powerful that they drive people to the most dramatic deeds: well, I would have to start inhaling sometime.
Then I arrived in sunny Bahamas, and found out that aside from getting a magnificent tan, eating edible conch, and hanging with my friends, there was little to do except wander in an out of duty-free stores that sold, maybe you’ve guessed already, cologne (and alcohol).
I tried a number of them, and perhaps embarrassingly settled on one of the most common and obvious, Calvin Klein’s Obsession, which I’ve heard they’ve since changed the formula for. I still remember that rich sweet almond flavour. I rather liked it at the time.
But this post is about Heaven. Sometime after arriving in Sydney, a group of friends from the gay and lesbian choir were talking about cologne, and a woman said, ‘I know one which would be great for you. Some women use it too as a unisex fragrance, but I think it’s really beautiful and unusual.’ Being somewhat prone to wanting to be unusual, I found it, liked the scent, and bought myself a bottle of Heaven by Chopard.
It’s strange that I can’t quite describe what I liked about it, or why I liked it so much. Once, I remember down at Darling Harbour, a woman stopped me and asked, ‘Is that Heaven?’ I was momentarily embarrassed, thinking I’d applied too much, but she said, ‘No, I absolutely love this scent.’ It was flattering.
On the very amusing website, basenotes, there are only a few reviews, 3 positive, 1 neutral and 2 negative. Both a positive and negative review say that there’s nothing else like it, and both a positive and negative review say that it’s dull. More specifically, it is described as ‘a bright, lively scent with excellent longevity and sillage’ and ‘a typical early-90s … cross between Eternity CK and Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme’. It apparently has top notes of bergamot, lemon, rosewood and lavendar, middle notes of jasmine and cyclamen and base notes of musk, amber, cedarwood and tonka. But as I told you, I don’t have a strong sense of smell. Another website has much more positive reviews.
After my first bottle of it, I was shocked to find that it had been discontinued, and it was harder and harder to find. This bottle above was my third and last, and I bought it online for a rather inflated price, but the thing is: it didn’t smell like the previous two bottles so I don’t know if it was counterfeit or had gone ‘off’ somehow. Out of obstinate bloodymindedness, I used the whole bottle up, over the last years, even though I didn’t love the scent anymore. Throwing away the bottle feels like saying goodbye to various stages of youth as well as the need to be different, all through that blue glass haze of a bottle with indentations of angels’ wings.