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This is what it smelled like when the ship went down?

Bottle of Titanic perfumeSitting here snorting my cleavage, I check the notes from the advertising copy from Legacy 1912 Titanic, the perfume.

I know they’re true because they’re reported at

“Legacy 1912 eau de parfum surrounds you with the fragrance of delicate lemon and nerolis, alongside blushing rose and warm, sheer amber.”

Huh. I’m smelling a lot of light blushy fruit – melon, for sure, and I am a sucker for melon, with perhaps the lightest lemon top note. Forget the rose, and this thing never even met an amber, I swear to you. Basically, it’s the same sort of laundry-musk fruity floral you can smell anywhere.

Why am I wearing it? Why am I even trying to wear it? Because I’m a sucker for a story, that’s why. Are you?

I love the way perfume connects me to the femininity of the past. The history of women fascinates me, and everything to do with what constitutes “feminine” at any given place and time is interesting to me. I love perfume, but I also love the idea that in a certain way, perfume lets us directly perceive the past. I can’t see the face of a 1920s flapper but I can smell her Shalimar. No, it won’t be exactly “right” – it’ll be vintage Shalimar that will probably be at least a little off, or it will be reformulated, a shadow of itself – but it isn’t a photograph, a copy of something seen; it is the real scent, direct experience of the sense experienced in the past.

Like wearing a 19th century corset or a set of 18th century panniers, direct physical experience of women’s lives of the past causes me to think more about the life I’m living – is a bra really that uncomfortable in comparison?

(Personally, I’d say yes; I find corsets surprisingly comfortable. Never know until you try, eh?)

As a perfume, Titanic is a dud. The romance of the story carried me away, that’s all. I do wonder what it smelled like, to be a woman on the deck of that doomed ship, in the biting cold air, probably wearing a fur coat and smelling of tea or gin and never suspecting what was about to happen. If there were really a perfume that smelled of that, I would buy that too.

Instead, we have this “commemorative” version, a perfume basically made and sold as a tourist item, like the Pope Soap on a Rope I saw for sale at the Vatican, a perfume intended to remind us that there was real perfume on the Titanic; it did go down with the ship and the sample case of the fellow who sold perfume was in fact recovered. Nothing about those scents can be experienced here, and that’s the real shame, because those of us sucked in by the romance of the story do want something at least the teensiest bit authentic to gnaw on whenever we can get it.

Legacy 1912 Titanic: for a historical tourist, the perfume equivalent of Pope Soap on a Rope. I smelled it so you don’t have to.

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