The sense of smell is strongly tied to memory. Certain scents can encapsulate an era, a life stage, or even a specific incident. In this series of posts, I’m going through some significant scents throughout my life, starting from childhood.
Did everyone’s mom have a bottle of Jean Naté after-bath splash in the 1970s? Mine kept one under our bathroom sink, but rarely used it. I have a distinct memory of it there, growing dusty next to extra rolls of toilet paper and a disused box of facial powder. Like the white gloves and fancy pink nightgowns in the recesses of my mother’s dresser, it served as a symbol of the glamorous adult life I thought she must have had before I was born.
The fragrance was nothing all that complex or exotic–rather a zippy citrus scent, as its bright yellow packaging would suggest–but there was something about it. When I got a little older, I still preferred it to the cloying fumes of Love’s Baby Soft, a favorite of preteens in the early 80s. I remember carefully trying to splash it on my body like they showed in the ads and thinking how sophisticated and different it made me from my peers.
The fragrance and brand dates back to 1935, which probably accounts for the art deco-y design. It holds up well: for a mass-market brand carried in drugstores, it still looks pretty chic.
I still hear the refrain from the commercial in my head sometimes –“Jean Naté! Jean Naté!”