His bio reads like a great book. Born in 1949 into a wealthy Italian family, fashion designer Romeo Gigli lost his parents at 18 and set out on his own, traveling the world, before landing in New York in 1977. As the disco age raged, Gigli met Bianca Jagger and others at the famed Studio 54, where he was admired for his style.

A lover of history and art, Gigli eventually turned to design and started his first fashion label in 1981. His style was celebrated for its understated romanticism, even eschewing the big shoulder pad craze.

His signature fragrance, Romeo di Romeo Gigli, was launched in 1989. I was 14. Yes, I had other perfumes before Romeo, what I consider to be my signature scent. (I’m far from alone, this having been among the most popular fragrances on the market, at least back then.) There were stolen spritzes of my mom’s Charlie. And there was a momentary crush on the heady drug store favorite: Taboo. I still like a little Tocca Florence now and then. But Romeo has stuck, and I’ve been wearing it ever since.

What does a fragrance say about its wearer? What do you think yours says about you? Can my taste in perfume predict my taste in clothes, or makeup–or even books? Over at Twitter, I asked just that.

Heidi Czerwiec is an author, poet, and perfumista, who practices #perfumebookpairings. For one, she paired Randon Billings Noble’s collection of essays, Be With Me Always, which I talked about over here, with Maii by Bogue Profumo.

So, I asked her if she’d ever made a book recommendation based on someone’s signature scent, a reverse perfume book-pairing. And she did for me! I was thrilled:

“Based on your signature scent, Romeo di Romeo Gigli, which is a sweet, innocent floral with edgy marigold & asafoetida notes, over a resinous base, which fans have described as being in a fairy garden…I would recommend My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: 40 New Fairy Tales edited by Kate Bernheimer,” with stories and poems by some of my favorite authors and poets, “work that riffs on the old tales in unexpected ways.”

Brilliant, right?

So, spritz away if you’ve got it, even in quarantine. Anything to make you feel more human, more romantic, or even more like you’re sitting in a fairy garden (instead of your ratty old bathrobe–is that just me?) Read more about Heidi Czerwiec and her work. And tell me what are you wearing and reading today?

I’m chronicling our isolation with the help of WordPress Discover Prompts. This post was in response to Discover’s daily prompts: Book and Scent. Care to join in? Read others’ responses here. My other prompts responses:

Like what you read? Check out my categories above, with author and photographer interviews, essays, stories, book reviews, writing advice, and more.

21 thoughts on “O Romeo: Discover Prompts Day 14 and 15

  1. Hi Rebecca! My favorite scent is Pamplelune by Guerlain and I just finished reading “my grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry” by Fredrick Backman. I don’t k ow if these two go along somehow but it would be very curious to find out! It’s incredible how many connections can be found between things, and how complicated but acknowledgeable can be the human mind!

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  2. What a treat to be paired like that! I loved your match. I haven’t read the book of reimagined fairytales, but they do seem like a perfect match. I’m reading Persuasion again. But I don’t think it quite goes with my favourite scent!

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    1. In fact, when I received that pairing I was deep into some Finnish fairy tales, so it was perfect. I need to get back to that–and the novel for which I was researching. Having such fun blogging lately, tho! Oh, I might have the perfect book pairing for your perfume: a novel of connected short stories about love and death, set in Japan, called The Love We Share Without Knowing, by Chris Barzak. Lots of cherry blossoms, so I could almost smell them from the pages–almost!

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  3. oh dear, why did you ask that. I was a MAMIL today; children scuttled onto the far pavement and sensitive seniors clutched handy defibrillators to their chests… as for perfuming fiction, I really think the expression ‘out of my depth’ barely gets close

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    1. Thanks, Deb! I think the whole “pairing” thing–whether book with perfume, book with drink, or book with book (like a tandem read) is so fun. Allergic–that’s too bad! I do try to be very sensitive and judicious about my perfume-wearing because I know many people are sensitive or allergic. My old landlord couldn’t even smell real lavender without getting a terrible headache. And there are places now, like whole conferences (and maybe even the whole city of Berkeley) that ban fragrance for that reason. I wonder if you can wear the natural stuff? When it first came out, I felt like it all smelled like patchouli, but now there’s such variety. When this pandemic is over, I’m going shopping! Hope you have a nice weekend, and stay safe.

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  4. I’m from Romeo’s generation, born in 1954. It used to be there was a commercial on TV most days, sometimes more than once, that would advertise a fragrance, either for women or men. These commercials got less frequent sometime during the last decade of the 20th century to the point where I’m only seeing a couple of advertisements during December each year. I wonder if wearing a fragrance will ever be popular again. For me, it’s been a luxury I let myself enjoy even when I am spending the day alone.

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  5. We don’t even have “regular TV” at our house, watching Netflix mostly–so I hadn’t thought about that change in advertising, but you’re right. I’m gifted a fashion magazine subscription each year, and there still are many of the smelly perfume panels inside, which one of my kids enjoys opening. But it does seem traditional (chemical) fragrance has become much less popular, with more people opting for none at all or fragrance from all natural sources. A “signature scene” does still feel luxurious–I agree–and certainly has lifted my spirits here and there during this isolation. I hope you have a nice weekend–and thank you for reading and commenting!

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