and the only scent was mine
Filed under Flowers
What were you wearing? Did anyone notice?
I hope not. It was the old no 19 and it was WRONG.
Hard to imagine 19 being wrong in a wedding – it’s so elegant and subtle- but i can imagine in a scent-free zone it would insinuate itself queerly with its powdery spice. Which would have been the right one for this occasion (barring none)?
A light nothing!
You were the single flower in the zen garden.
Why was it wrong?
Because I chose it against my own instincts, based on what its qualities (elegance, a suave sexiness) are, rather than what I actually felt like wearing – SPICE.
and what did you wear, sir?
I went to a memorial luncheon today at a wonderful Italian restaurant for a dear departed Chilean friend. For some reason I wore Tom Ford Patchouli. It was a small group of only about 10 and I did not detect any fragrances on the other nine peope…but maybe that was because I could only smell the Patchouli although I used it very sparingly. I am thinking that a lot of people are not wearing perfume any more. I get complaints about my wearing perfume at work and have tried to dab on a drop or two so that no one can detect it unless they are in my face. I believe that these scentless people are not sensual or passionate about many other things besides perfume. To me wearing a great perfume is as important (or more important) than wearing a great outfit. And if you are wearing a great outfit I would think one would want to complement it with a great fragrances as well. At least no one complained about it.
I think you are right about no one wearing perfume. We spend all this time writing about it but actually you never smell it!
Well we real perfume wearers do smell it-even if it’s only on ourselves! Although I have smelled some popular department store fragrances on others test in actuality are stronger than the niche ones I wear. The bottom line is that people follow the “herd”.
Except some of us..
My colleague is intolerant of perfume and always says she has ‘a nose like a canary’ and can whiff perfume on people constantly. It’s true – she gets in a really bad mood if I wear so much as a dab of anything. I’ve been exploring ways of camouflaging it – lemony ones that blend into the smell of the lemon floor cleaner in the room we work in, earl grey tea ones that can sneak in under my regular cup, but she still wrinkles it out. It’s true though, many people do smell less strongly of it, but I wonder if that’s because there are actually so many assaults on the sense – visual, aural – that distract? Also, with so many perfumes around, I wonder if we begin to smell them subconsciously rather than consciously.
That’s very interesting, actually. But it shouldn’t be like that: it should be that slightly knee-weakening thing, or even that slightly repulsive/attractive thing, where the scent just gets to you in some way and changes how you view the person. I have noticed with my high school students, recently, actually. Sometimes they wear deodorants or body sprays. Rarely, but it is amazing how much it changes their aura and renders them more 3D and solid; disturbingly so, actually. One girl wears a men’s dour, powdery scent and she smells divine. I love it.
I agree! It should be an overt and definite thing!
I find my colleague’s ‘no perfume’ thing quite difficult to manage to be honest. I feel quite exposed not wearing perfume and dislike having to keep the scent under the radar like some guilty trespass on her nasal space. I like constructing my identity through perfume, also managing my emotional moods with it. I feel too raw and without boundaries without it. My colleague’s very direct about her dislike of anyone wearing it – will just say directly ‘she stinks!’ or ‘yep, you pong today!’! It’s her way of managing her own boundary on it, but the words hit quite hard, and it is a bit of a negotiation before we even start! She’s a lovely person, but it’s a bit of a barrier between us at times! I’ve told her she should go and live in Japan! It sounded like nose nirvana to her when I told her about the cultural dislike of perfume.
What does she smell like? Sheep fat?
I can respect the stance, kind of, as long as the person in question smells utterly, respectably odourless. Otherwise they can go fuck themselves. Especially when they smell of dirty hair, which evokes a VERY violent (but always subdued) response in me. I always think: HOW DARE YOU and want to spray the room with Hypnotic Poison, right, deep down into their very sebum
Start wearing essential oil blends and tell her your doctor “prescribed it for stress and anxiety” OR wear whatever fragrance you like and tell her it is the “lotion for your extremely dry skin”, your “deodorant”, your “shampoo”, your “hairspray” etc. I went through the same thing several years ago with a co-worker (although she had issues beyond my perfume wearing). The only thing she didn’t baulk about were my essential oils, oddly enough, for some can be quite potent! and in all honesty, I NEED my scents (usually in the forms of e.o.s) for my own sanity and psychological well being on a daily basis!
She does smell exceptionally clean actually – totally odourless – and this is because she has an ultra strict cleaning regime involving no fragrant lotions, soaps, creams etc. It does suit her. It just wouldn’t suit me. I do spend hours in the shower but this is usually connected to layering soaps and smells on and creating endless foam and fragrant haze, not the other way round. Re: your advice Nocturnes – yes this is a good way I’ve found! I do tend to use more essential oils (and yes, blag it even when I’m not!).
I find the clash fascinating.
I quite like the smell of unwashed hair on some people – not all. I’m a bit obsessive about washing mine daily, but used to love the smell of some of my ex-boyfriends hippy barnets! My first boyfriend gave me this felt hat he made and it smelled of his long curly usually unwashed flaming red hair. I used to take it to school in my bag and surreptitiously smell it during lessons thinking of him. Had a succession of curly-haired grungers after and always found a way to wangle one of their hats, jumpers or boxer shorts to wear and keep that lasted way beyond the relationships! very few of my exes were into fragrance of any sort if i think about it – bit of patchoulie oil was probably the perfume extent of most of them. But anyway! I’m all for you spraying Hypnotic Poison around for any reason!
The hair thing is understandable, and many consider it a fetish: some people’s scalps can manage a ‘lovable’ aspect if they are lucky, but ultimately for me it is something like a phobia. When someone walks by me and I get a huge cloud of sebum I just feel infuriated.
The clash is quite fascinating actually.
With the hair thing – I can imagine how it could provoke a phobic-type reaction. There’s something very full-on about it. And there’s something about the presence of someone’s head that can feel overbearing and hard at times. Something about the chaos of hair. In truth, I’m realising that I actually keep quite a lot of physical distance from people when I talk to them and walk around – close friends, partner and kids are obviously the exception – but I often find myself taking lots of room from people and making sure I don’t move into their orbit too much, so perhaps I subconsciously react a bit to other peoples’ smells in a similar way. If people get too physically close I feel claustraphobic. I guess smell must come into that. I feel more relaxed with a lot of personal space around me, despite being very tactile with loved ones. Smell is endlessly fascinating!!!
One of the nightmares of the Japanese classroom is that I have NO space at the front where I am teaching. I feel hemmed in. We are TOTALLY in each other’s space in some of my lessons and I can’t handle it.
One of the good things about perfume is you can use it to repel as well as attract. I have this pure oud made in Saudi Arabia and it is the most pungent animally sour but dense treacle of a scent. You literally need to dab one tiny drop on and it reeks all day. It repels and perplexes most people instantly, and I love wearing it on days when I want space to be left to my own devices because I know everyone will avoid it like the plague. Despite this it grows into something very solid as you wear it and does draw people to it eventually – albeit with the trepidation with which one would approach a wild bear. It’s quite a warm, definite, cocoon to be inside on days when that’s needed and it makes me laugh and feel quite self-satisfied to see people scurry away from it in horror.
Real oudh is like that: quite cow pat like I think. When we were in Kuala Lumpur we spent all day in an Arab perfume shop (years before the oudh craze swept the fragrancesphere) and they had all the varieties, some of which REPELLED me but fascinated me in equal measure. Deeply animalic and pungent, and the Arab customers would just come along and drench themselves in them under their robes and then skillfully just spray something else on top to soften the initial impression than waft out smelling unbelievable.
I do not know where the word “test” came from on my previous email. In actuality what I was trying to say is that some popular department store fragrance can sometimes be much more offensive and stronger than some of the “niche” fragrances that we perfumistas wear and/or are familiar with.
I am visiting Abu Dhabi right now and dropping off grandchildren at their schools is an olfactive journey. The men waft the most wonderful scents. Perhaps because they have just applied in the morning, the halls are particularly fragrance filled. The other day at the grocery store, a woman walked by with an Arabic type scent that trailed her for the length of the aisle. I have never had similar experiences in the US.
should have worn nocturnes!
I overdid her in August. Right now she is there, by my bedside, but she is not quite right somehow. I am transfixed by her though.
I respect a person’s decision to not use anything fragranced themselves, but if they try to tell me I can’t wear perfume just because THEY don’t like it, they can, as you say above, go fuck themselves. I feel I’m not fully dressed without it, and I take a great deal of pleasure in choosing which to wear for an occasion. I don’t think their aversion trumps my choice to wear a beautiful perfume.
I try to keep it low-key for the office, but not because of complaints. It’s just a low-key place – wearing a big scent would feel as wrong as if I turned up for work dressed for a party. And I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on the job if my perfume was making me daydream…..
I’m so glad London is not scentless like Japan. I love that I can catch whiffs of all kinds of scents with every tube journey. Last Friday, someone was wearing Absolue pour le Soir at 6pm on the District Line. It was fabulous, and nobody turned a hair. I couldn’t even tell who it was, but I enjoyed it.
I think I read on one of your posts that you only spray on your cuffs or on your jacket when you go to work. That’s what I tend to do. I don’t mind. For me, perfume is mainly what I explore at home…which perfume will I wear while I watch old film noir movies? which perfume for listening to Billie Holiday records? Which one for reading George Elliot? Or for travels when I become someone new. And of course when I go out at night. Definitely then.
Our policies sound pretty similar, actually! Going out; good lord yes.
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