There is still something thrillingly brazen about a woman appropriating a men’s cologne for herself, despite the fact that this has been going on since the invention of personal scent. It makes her feel like she is the kind of woman who could have a secret gun collection or a pair of brass balls mounted on the wall above her bed. She doesn’t, of course–but in a men’s cologne, a woman radiates a certain quality that says, “But you don’t know that.”
Egoiste EdT by Chanel is one of my newest full-bottle acquisitions, and I’m still figuring out how, exactly, I feel about it. While the drydown is all cinnamon toast presented on a polished sandalwood platter next to a vase of long-stemmed roses, the opening has a medicinal-smelling lavender/coriander accord that tends to announce “Silly girl, Egoiste is for men” a bit too loudly for my comfort. Sometimes when I catch a whiff of it on myself, I think, “where’s the dude?” and experience a briefly unsettling mind/body dysphoria. I’m pretty sure that no one has ever thought that there is even a slight possibility that I have a secret gun collection or a pair of brass balls mounted over my bed, and Egoiste makes me acutely aware of this.
With Egoiste, I fell in love with a concept rather than a smell. I wanted, even if just for a day, to be the kind of woman who stalks coolly through her life in a men’s shirt and a pair of cufflinks, garnering the kind of sexual attention that has its roots in respect and fear. I wanted slow whistles that I never had a chance to hear because I had already left the room, wafting a mysterious and disarming trail of expensive shaving kit in my wake. I wanted to go to a bar by myself, order a scotch, pay for it with my own money, actually enjoy the taste without being reminded of old sneakers, and be so intimidatingly aloof that not one man in the place would have the balls to approach me.
This intangible quality of haughty power that I sought in Egoiste is not one I actually possess. I smile too much. If I go to a bar by myself, I usually drink a beer, and within seconds, the most obviously alcoholic and down-and-out man in the bar will not only plop right down next to me like he has a shot, but I will go on to have a twenty minute conversation with him. I am the worst kind of Egoiste fraud.
This doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying. The rich, dangerous exotic-spice trader quality coupled with the soothing vanillic sweetness present in this scent will keep me coming back. Almost by mistake, I’ve discovered that the stuff actually smells good even when it doesn’t match up to my (ever so) slightly hysterical expectations of it. And if someday, I succeed in living up to my (ever so) slightly overblown expectations of myself, I’m going to need my bottle of Egoiste handy. Not to produce an effect, but to celebrate one.
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