Christa D'Souza has a long term love for what she considers to be the ultimate party fragrance - but why is it so hard to find?

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If you have ever seen that woman who is always rattling round the perfume room at Liberty of London; she with a slightly driven look on her face as she heads towards where the Antonia’s Flowers scents are displayed; she whose poor little face caves in disappointment as the salesperson tells her, no they still have not received the latest shipment of Tiempe Passate, only the body cream is currently available. Take pity. She is me.

So potty am I about this particular fragrance (ugh, please stop me from using the word fragrance ever again), I will literally do anything, anything to get a bottle. If you have one and are reading this let me tell you I am prepared to pay almost anything for it, even if it’s only a quarter, even an eighth, full. It is my ultimate but ultimate party scent, the most important thing, almost, I put on of an evening.

How to describe? Difficult. But think of the wardrobe in the Narnia books, and being suffused with the smell of grown ups’ mink coats. Think of a scent that has been on the skin for such a long time it is almost as if it has been absorbed into one’s bloodstream. Think of a naughty summer night in a cedar wood with a judicious dash of freshly ground pepper, a splash of amber, a splash of bergamot.

Okay, okay, that’s enough now Christa, but I honestly think when you find a scent that is so perfectly right, which it is, for me, it becomes your olfactory Madeleine. Indeed, the idea of not having it for the party season is so disturbing  I have actually packed my other half off to New York to see if he can find me some there (not quite, he had to be there anyway, but still).

Not everyone agrees with me. When my friend Andrew bought a bottle for his wife Chanti, having smelt it on me, she literally recoiled in horror upon opening the stopper. If you’re looking for a nice girly day scent, it may not be your man. Also, as well as being very “nuit” it tends to work better on olive skin. An Anglo Indian friend tells of how she had a man chasing her down the street while wearing it. Another, who is half south American (on whom, I have to say, it smells totally different to the way it does on me) says her other half carries a hanky suffused with it in his brief-case to remind him of her at work.

So anyway, Dear Antonia (yup, she exists, she’s an ex-florist from East Hampton, NY): if you are reading this, pray tell. What gives? Just as I was about to publish this it had been in stock for one whole, glorious day - and then it was gone again before anyone had the chance to 'add to basket'. The last sales-person I bugged said there was some problem with this season’s harvest? But that it’s not gone forever? In the interim I’ll do Caleche or Beige by Chanel with a dot of Rive Gauche, but it’s not the same thing. Yours, in hope.