My First Little Black Dress
It’s a memory that no girl can forget… that moment when she transforms into a woman. And most women hold on to the little black dress as a memory of that moment. And just the thought of the little back dress can bring back the girl. If that moment were to be made into a fragrance, would it be la petite robe noire?
It was Spring and I loved this season. It was all about the beginning of the blossoming. Somehow I always considered spring to be more like a new year than the calendar new year. The calendar new year, to me, was a stressful one with all the obligations while Spring was one that nobody really had to wish or gift. It was just as if nature was in the mood of being reborn… again.
I felt a soft chilly wind blow my scarf caressing the skin on my face. It felt like a soft and tender kiss. It was just this season that made me feel like this.
My watch showed almost 5 and it was time to head home. I tidied up my dress and got off the park bench and started walking home.
Should I grab a chocolate eclair from the boulangerie or not? It wasn’t a very difficult decision and I smiled and headed to Pierre’s boulangerie.
‘Un éclair au chocolat, s’il te plait?’
And moments later walked out with a big wide smile on my face. Yes, life is beautiful at 18 but with a chocolate eclair, c’est magnifique.
As I reached home, it seemed there was nobody at home. Mom would normally be in the basement-cum-perfume lab where she spent most of her day creating perfumes. Mother was not in her laboratory, which was normal. It was her time for her 5pm walk. And it was the time I allowed myself, without her knowledge, feel like I was her - a perfumer creating magic.
I always felt beautiful in her lab. She was such an amazing woman and I had always wanted to be like her. I always felt so childish in front of her. Of course, I would always be a baby to her but there was this quality about my mother I always wanted to have. It was her gait or her smile or just how she entered a room. It was always followed by a pleasant silence and people in the room just had to look in her direction with a pleasant smile that said ‘now, that’s a beautiful woman’.
Anyways, in her lab, I always pretended to be like her and walked around thinking and imagining the creation of a perfume. She always seemed so magical when she worked but today there seemed to be something missing in the room. Or maybe something more. It wasn’t the same. I couldn’t place it. It felt strange. But it looked intended and then I realised what it was. Written on the wall was a message for me ‘Bon anniversaire ma cherie’. Oh! So she knew that I used to enter her lab just like I knew she was pretending to forget my birthday since this morning! Mothers and daughters have this strange connection I guess and never need to lie or pretend to each other. We always know.
I was so excited as this message meant that there’s a gift somewhere and then I saw it. Just under the writing were 2 packages. I couldn’t resist myself and lunged towards my gifts and unwrapped the first one. And voila, it was perfect. Simple and elegant. It was a little black dress… une petite robe noire. I was so excited that I just couldn’t resist trying it on. I ran out of the room and up the stairs to my room.
After a quick shower, slipping into my lingerie, I looked at the dress that I had carefully laid on the bed. It seemed to want to be on me and I wouldn’t let it wait. I slid myself into the dress and it felt like my second skin. It was more than perfect. Only a mother can know her daughter this well, I thought to myself.
I tied my hair and looked into the mirror. No, this dress doesn’t need my hair to be tied. It was about freedom. I needed to let my hair loose. Letting my hair fall on my shoulders, I tidied it up a bit. I felt beautiful. Almost as pretty as my mom.
While still with these thoughts I realised I had forgotten about my other gift. I ran down the stairs, into the lab and found the gift and something else with it. A note.
Bon anniversaire ma chérie
On t’attends chez Oncle Michel.
J'espère que tu aimeras la parfum que j’ai créée spécialement pour toi. On se voit a 19h.
Happy birthday darling
We are waiting for you at Uncle Michel.
I hope you like my creation that I made just for you. See you at 7.
A perfume creation? Just for me? Wow! I had to try this. I ripped open the box for the gift and found a little bottle with some perfume in it. I was nervous. I carried it with me to my room and placed it in front of the mirror. I needed to be completely dressed before I tried it on. So I looked around for my favourite shoes and I found them just where I always kept them. Next to the clothes drawer.
Sliding into them, I stood in front of the mirror and thought to myself, “I wish mom could see me now.” But then I knew I’d see her soon. At 7? I looked at my watch and realised it was 6.30. Time to put on the perfume and rush.
Making sure I did it like how my mom always sprayed perfume, I sprayed a little perfume on my wrists and let it settle and gently rubbed the insides of both my wrists. And then rubbed them again on the sides of my neck. Then I sprayed a little of the perfume in front of me and walked into the spray letting the perfume settle softly on my hair and skin and my little black dress.
The first whiff of sweet sour syrupy cherries, licorice, almonds, smoked black tea, bright bergamot followed by earthy patchouli, rose and Indian mint. I was in a different world. The perfume was magical.
I had no idea what I was feeling while I rushed out. My uncle lived just a 100 metres away from us and the walk was magical. Was it the magic of spring or was it just me? I felt different. I could see the people smile at me and I felt noticed but in a good way. I couldn’t help smiling to myself as I walked faster and I soon reached uncle Michel’s home.
Through the trees, surrounding the garden, I could see my mother with family and some friends gathered on the open balcony, overlooking the garden, lit by the warmth of the spring evening light. It was a beautiful setting and I was sure my mom chose the balcony as the place to gather family and friends for the event. She must have known it was my favourite place, from where I felt above the ground and closer to the sky - grounded but elevated. She knew me so well.
I was a bit nervous but felt in a very different way, confident. Was it la petite robe noire or was it the fragrance? Maybe it was both.
With these thoughts in my head I silently tiptoed through the garden, past the living room, climbed the stairs to the balcony and paused at the door.
I gently pushed the door open and entered the room. The next moment was magical. I saw my mom, standing next to a group of friends, looking at me with pride.
My entrance was followed by a pleasant silence and people in the room just looked in my direction with a pleasant smile that seemed to say ‘now, that’s a beautiful woman’.
I was her. Merci la petite robe noire.
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