I'm fairly certain that YSL's Baby Doll was at least vaguely instrumental in migrating my sexual experiences from imaginary to real-world. At 15, it was my second ever 'real' fragrance (Impulse deodorants, despite their phallic lustre, had by this stage been relegated to the uncouth pile). It succeeded Davidoff's Cool Water, also a hero of its approximate time.
Physically, Baby Doll's manifold candy-floss bottle was a very apt accessory to the pink plastic bands that stretched across each of my braced teeth. Hi to all the really funny orthodontists out there! Scent-ually, Baby Doll is caloric and confronting—more like a punch in the guts than a tickle in the breeze. I'm unsure about top notes of this or base notes of that, but let's just say it smells like flinging a door open to expect a broom cupboard but finding a really fun party instead. Psychologically, it was (and potentially still is) the stuff of sorcery. Truly. Let me just say that bold accessories needn't be visible, tangible things. Baby Doll was a certifiable never-leave-home-without heart rate accelerator for teenage boys. At least, it was the best and timeliest invisible confidence I'd ever known.
If I were intellectualising it, now might be a good time for words like 'empowering' and 'agency.' Rather, let's call it the sniffable version of Britney's identity-straddling smash hit 'I'm Not Girl, Not Yet a Woman' and leave the buzzwords alone.
Pardon me—that was just YSL on the phone. They've tasked me with penning a fresh tag line for Baby Doll, and so I raised "Unhand me, frigidity!" and also "YSL Baby Doll: engineered to unravel your promiscuity," should a more scientific approach be sought. They're mulling these over.
A soft, untidy physique (the result of loving burgers without proper cognisance of the relationship between burgers and a ballooning body), eyes that did not like to hold other eyes, a small speaking voice: such things defined me at this time. Baby Doll—aided by pre-mixed vodka, certainly, and irrepressible hormones, probably—was a means to diluting those qualities. A couple of haphazard spritzes and boys, hello! Let's flirt! I am ready to try now! Kindly ignore my blushing throughout because, look, it's better than scurrying off as if there are pressing 15-year-old matters to tend to. I have interpersonal skills, I will sustain eye contact. I am aware that my shimmery pink lip gloss draws parallels with some nipples you saw in a porno. I will accept your invitation to "go for a walk," though this house party is desolately located and potentially fringed by much more real danger than the subtext of this "walk."
Let's say I went on this walk (because, as the reader might have assumed, having lived through this cool teenage thing herself, I did go on it). Now let's unpack the particulars, together! Where? A bushy track that wound clumsily southward, ending at an expanse. What? Some kind of indistinct fornication. Who? A baby never tells. How? With restraint, weirdly. The fast, predictably clumsy teenage boy hands maintained coy cosmetic distance—though, to my privilege, the centre front seam of my jeans was pulled serendipitously taut (we were seated), lending something of an assistive touch to these eager speed-dialling hands. Does this sound boring? Lacklustre? Please understand that it wasn't. However oblique, this was my first downtown petting spree. It was... good. And such was my debut into adult things.
This experience, and others like it, was proudly brought to me by Baby Doll. With various permutations of curiosity bubbling at the juncture between girlishness and womanhood, the saccharine potion is credited with helping to break the surface that was, ahem, experimentation.
This is a love letter to YSL's Baby Doll.