This Mother’s Day, Harlem’s Opera Soloist Marsha Thompson Savors Her “Irresistible” Lifestyle

May 11, 2024

by Executive Editor, Eartha Watts Hicks

A woman’s fragrance ritual is personal, even intimate. Harlem World Magazine’s Eartha Watts Hicks interviewed the enchanting, internationally-acclaimed, award-winning soloist, and opera soprano, Marsha Thompson for more insight.

Eartha asked Ms. Thompson during a gift unwrapping of Irresistible, the parfum gifted to Harlem World Magazine by Givenchy, and any part of her fragrance ritual she’d feel comfortable sharing.

HWM: When did your passion for finer fragrances begin?

MT: Years ago. A friend asked me, “Do you have a job?” And I said no. And she said, “We’re ramping up for the holiday season. Why don’t you come to work with me at Saks 5th Avenue?” So, I worked in the hat and glove area. At Saks, all the fragrances are on the main floor. My friend worked at Bobby Brown and would also cover some of the fragrance counters. She introduced me to Prestige fragrances. Before that, all I wore was J’Adore by Christian Dior in the wintertime, summertime, all the time. My friend also explained that we are supposed to wear different fragrances at different times of the year because our body chemistry is different in the summer than it is in the winter. So, we were always trying something different, even the super-expensive brands. A lot of those brands are still around. I think the most I’ve ever paid for a bottle was for a Tom Ford fragrance called Jasmine Musk, and he doesn’t make the fragrance anymore. I’ve been trying to find it, hoping they would reissue it. But that’s how I learned about Prestige fragrances. 

HWM: Do you layer your fragrances with a skin cream, scented lotion, body spray, body splash, or another oil, or do you wear them as a standalone? 

MT: Sometimes, I’ll buy the accompanying lotion. But if I layer a body fragrance and moisturize, I try to use an unscented body oil, like Jojoba, Argan oil, or a mixture with very little fragrance. Another reason why body oil is great is because of what body oil does. To me, it seems to help the fragrance last longer on the body. I don’t know if professionals in the industry would suggest that, but it works for me. So, a fragrance like an eau de toilette is not a parfum because it contains a lower concentration of perfume. Layer it with a fragrance cream if you want it to last longer. Perfumes are more highly concentrated than eau de toilettes. Apply a nice layer of fragrance-free body oil, then spray that perfume all over. And the fragrance will last longer. But even with your perfume, if you want that to last longer, you can do the same. So, back to your question about layering. I try not to layer different fragrances. People do that, but I don’t.

HWM: Do you use an atomizer or transfer your perfume to another bottle? How and where do you apply it? Do you apply it behind your ear or on your wrists? 

MT: I don’t transfer bottles. I typically apply it behind my ears, on my wrist, and between my bosom. And yes, I use a little on the tummy and behind my knees. I never apply a fragrance directly on my clothes. 

HWM: In your own words, describe Irresistible by Givenchy. 

MT: Oh, it’s flirty! Definitely flirty! It is youthful. It is floral. And there is also something very calming about the fragrance. Some floral fragrances have a high energy, and they’ll catch everybody’s nose as you walk by. But Irresistible is so subtle. People will sit next to me; they know they smell something, and it seems to take a minute to register. That’s when they lean over and say, “Oh my gosh, you smell so good!” And that’s the reaction I’ve had from men and women while wearing Irresistible.

HWM: Wow. 

MT: Yeah, people have such a great reaction. It reminds me of another Prestige fragrance, which is the brand that Princess Diana used to wear, a fragrance called Penhaligon

HWM: Now, how long do you like your scent to last? 

MT: For me, 12 hours is excellent. When you have a quality fragrance, it will last you a good 12 hours. Let’s say you work all day, and in the evening, when you first get to dinner, your fragrance will no longer be as potent. But if you’re at dinner and somebody says, “Ooh, you smell good, that’s a sign that you have a really good fragrance. Let’s say I’m putting it on in the morning and didn’t bring it along with me to freshen up because I don’t have enough room in my purse. Or maybe I don’t want to carry a fragrance around all day. If I get to dinner a little later that evening and still smell amazing, that’s great fragrance! A sign of a really good fragrance is when you don’t have to reapply. 

HWM: How does the parfum Irresistible by Givenchy fit into your life and style? 

MT: Oh, yes. Irresistible is great because I love florals and flirty scents. I like that it was subtle and very feminine. That’s the other thing I like about fragrances: Irresistible is very feminine. So, all of that—subtle, feminine, floral, flirty—it’s all those things. And those words apply to me, except I can’t say I was ever subtle.

HWM: Do you consider this a scent that could be worn daily, for special occasions, or both? 

MT: Oh, definitely both. The great thing about Irresistible is that it won’t overpower your colleagues at work. They’re not going to think: Oh my gosh! Here she comes again with her strong, ostentatious fragrance! It’s just enough, especially if you don’t spray too much. But if you wear it to a nice occasion, say, you’re at a play or dinner event. It won’t be offensive to the other people dining around you. They’ll still be able to enjoy their meal without thinking: Oh, my god, this person’s fragrance is overpowering. Irresistible is a pleasant fragrance, and it’s not overpowering. 

HWM: Okay, we are also entering the gifting season. We all know someone who adores a luxury fragrance. Who do you know in your life? Is it a friend? Is it a sibling? Is it your mother? Is it an aunt? 

MT: I swear to you. I went online as soon as I wore this a couple of times. I was thinking to myself. Okay, who can I give this to? My mom? My sister? I have some friends who are incredible women who love Prestige Fragrances. I’m going to treat them for Christmas. So, I’m buying the fragrance for at least five or six people for birthdays and Christmas. Mother’s Day is coming up. So, yeah, that too.

HWM: When you apply your perfume, do you have someone special in mind, someone you might be attracted to? Are you thinking of that person when you apply your perfume? 

MT: In general, I enjoy wearing a beautiful fragrance because it makes me feel good. Instead of centering others, we women deserve to consider our own pleasure first. It pleasures me to walk out of my house smelling beautiful, and then, other people experience the beauty of the fragrance by proxy. Whether on a date or out with a friend, I wear a beautiful fragrance because it makes me happy.

HWM: Now, one final question: Perfumes have existed since Cleopatra ruled the world. Can you share your thoughts on their importance throughout history? 

MT: You mentioned Cleopatra, right? Cleopatra had servants carrying her fragrances around, probably designated for keeping her fragrances in order. So, in modern times, I think fragrances are about creating a world of beauty around our lives, our personal mantra, and romance in our lives. That’s what fragrances do. It doesn’t matter if you buy a $20 fragrance or a $200 or $400 fragrance as long as you create an atmosphere that enhances your happiness and well-being. It’s self-care, and that is important for women.

HWM: Thank you so much, Marsha! We look forward to seeing more of your performances in Harlem, throughout New York City, and around the world. If our readers want to connect with you on social media, are you on Instagram? Would you like to share your Instagram? 

MT: Yes. My Instagram is @MarshaThompsonOfficial.

Eartha Watts Hicks

Eartha Watts Hicks is a Harlem World Magazine’s Executive Editor, a member of the acclaimed Harlem Writers Guild, the award-winning author/publisher of Love Changes and A Planner Is a Girls Best Friend, and NYCHA/NAACP ambassador for literacy. For more information, follow her on social media @Earthatone.

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