Currently, I’m sitting in a hell of my own making. At least 300 of my new apartment’s whopping 600 square feet are crammed with cardboard boxes. The other half is covered in plastic wrap, discarded tape, and miscellaneous garbage. The movers forgot my dresser, so I’ve just got two massive suitcases laying wide on my floor with socks, shirts, and sweatpants spilling out every which way. My WiFi router is not cooperating, probably because I’ve jammed all the cables in the wrong jacks, so I’m squatting in a corner, absent of any natural light, siphoning off one bar of my neighbor’s wifi. (It’s temporary, 4D, I’m sorry!) My walls are bare and a bright white, creating an overall ambiance akin to a 1950s asylum. Outside, a car alarm has been blaring for ten straight minutes.
Yet if I close my eyes and cover my ears, amid all the chaos, my mind escapes to another place entirely: the French Riviera. Why? Because I smell like it.
First thing this morning, I spritzed Eden Roc, a new perfume by Dior, between my wrists. As the name suggests, the scent is an olfactory ode to Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, the legendary resort in Antibes. It’s where Marlene began her affair with Joseph Kennedy, where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton honeymooned, where American socialites Sara and Gerald Murphy invited a glamorous gaggle of their Lost Generation friends on vacation. One, F. Scott Fitzgerald, was so taken by the rose-colored-villa that it inspired him to write Tender is the Night. Simply put: the Hotel du Cap is so renowned that it counts itself among the small group of elegant escapes that are considered iconic—alongside perhaps the Ritz Paris, Claridge’s, Raffles Singapore, or the Beverly Hills Hotel. This year, it’s celebrating its 150 anniversary with multiple chic commemorations: first, a book, Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc: A Timeless Legend on the French Riviera. And, now, this fragrance in partnership with the storied French design house.
Eden Roc has a tangy, salty top note, reminiscent of an afternoon breeze rolling across the Mediterranean. It’s followed by soft hints of jasmine and coconut—a nod to the sweet-smelling tanning oils used by its stylish, sunning clientele. Finally, a woody pine. “I tried to interpret in a scent the feeling you have when you are there: arrival by the sea with the salty note, crossing the warm bodies from tanning in the sun on the terrace with a feeling of summer warmth on the white rocks, arriving in the garden of the hotel with the greener notes,” Francois Demachy, Dior Perfumer-Creator tells Vogue.
“I dreamt the fragrance by thinking about the place,” he says. “I’ve been going to the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc for many years.”
Smell, more so than any other sense, triggers our memories. Most of us also smell in color. (When you read the perfume’s description, you likely envisioned “blue” for the sea and “green” for the trees, didn’t you?) So a perfume—as insignificant as it may seem—has more of a transporting power than we may think. A whiff of Chanel No.5 doesn’t just smell like woody florals, it feels like Paris. Louis Vuitton’s California Dream feels like Malibu. And Eden Roc conveys all the recollections, or daydreams, one may have of the Côte d’Azur.
It’s been a long year and a half of being housebound in sweatpants. With vaccination rates rising and travel restrictions easing, we can finally, finally, let ourselves fantasize about fantastical, fashionable adventures again. Right now I might be in a cramped disaster of an apartment. But someday soon, perhaps I’ll be poolside in the French Riviera—and until that day comes, I’ll seek solace in a scent.