I’ve had a zillion jobs in my career.
US Army rec specialist in Europe, AM/FM radio commercial artist, traveling cosmetic saleslady for a French company, club dancer, soap opera player, writer for kids’ TV…
And perfume model.
So, what does a perfume model do?
The gig started when I got a call from the modeling agency I worked for asking me if I was available to introduce a new perfume. Since I was freelancing for a travel magazine company in Beverly Hills back then, I jumped every time the agency called me with a perfume job.
The pay was good. The hours ranged from four to six hours a day. The location was always a posh department store (remember Bullocks, I Magnin’s?), and occasionally, I’d get to wear wardrobe from the couture department to complement the color scheme and theme of the perfume.
I felt like a film star.
After a session with the perfume rep explaining their marketing campaign, off I went. Sashaying around the store like I was walking on the red carpet. I’d engage customers in small talk and introduce them to the perfume.
I’d spray it on their wrist – or mine if they preferred – and then gave them a sample. It wasn’t easy. I was snubbed by snooty women, hit on by male customers, and constantly asked, ‘Where is the ladies room?’
By the end of my shift – toes squashed in three-inch heels – my feet were killing me.
But I loved it. The customers were enchanted by the quick whiff of a new fragrance and loved being whisked away for a moment of glamour. I’d regale them with my stories about Paris and the Belle Époque department stores I visited along with the history of perfume.
And the different notes of the perfume. Top, heart, base.
I soon discovered you didn’t sell the steak… perfume, that is… but the sizzle. The mystique, the mood. I had to evoke an emotional response in the customer and I did it by storytelling and learning as much as I could about perfume. How it’s manufactured, the ingredients, what that perfume can do for that customer to make her happy, feel sexy. Powerful. Loved. I became an amateur ‘nose’, learning about the different scents and essences and how they configure in varying ratios to make up a lovely new fragrance.
I used that perfume experience to create parfumier Angéline de Cadieux when I wrote ‘The Lost Girl in Paris’.
How a girl from a controversial upbringing becomes a famous perfumer during the war when she comes to Paris in 1940 to escape the Gestapo. Then how she uses perfume to do her part to win the war…
THE LOST GIRL IN PARIS is up for pre-order – and my just-revealed cover is on Amazon!
Release date: November 30, 2021
Jina Bacarr: Laura Burke Photography
Background: ID 137251284
Nearly 500 ratings on Amazon UK!
The Resistance Girl
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I discovered early on that I inherited the gift of the gab from my large Irish family when I penned a story about a princess who ran away to Paris with her pet turtle Lulu. I was twelve.
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