Conversations about fragrances these last few days (eg. similarities between Coach’s Poppy and Gap’s Dream More) reminded me that I collect smells, though happily, unlike the protagonist of Patrick Süskind’s Perfume, mostly in my head.
Love how different places and countries have their unique smells – a concoction of the climate, vegetation, fuel-dependent vehicle exhaust, street food, animals etc.; how people are identifiable by how their personal scent – a mixture of their natural body odour, the food they eat, the laundry detergent they use, how much soap they wash off their bodies, the cologne/perfume they layer on etc. Wish there was some way to capturing all these experiences, the olfactory equivalent of photographs. Even training by the Grasse Institute of Perfumery wouldn’t help much there.
(Am adverse to wearing scent on the skin myself or burning scented candles or putting essential oils in aromatherapy burners or installing air-fresheners at home because the smell of these things is just too overpowering and therefore nauseating. In the same way, i tend not to get air-sick from turbulence but from the compressed stench of farts and vomit prevalent in some old airplanes.)
Even manufactured scent is so ephemeral that fragrance sample strips from magazines and elsewhere cannot be stored in a way that prevents them from degrading too quickly or mixing with other fragrances. Bottles are still the best bet. So sometimes, i purchase interesting colognes or perfumes for “the library”, the most recent acquisition being Penhaligons’ Blenheim Bouquet from their new-ish store in ION Orchard, Singapore. My first purchase from Penhaligon’s, many years ago in London, was the Elisabethan Rose, chosen for its intoxicating authentic heart notes of, err, crushed rose petals. Then i encountered Blenheim Bouquet in my bathroom at Sharq Village & Spa hotel in Doha, Qatar, and it intrigued me. The official descriptions reads:
Head Notes: Lemon, Lime and Lavender
Heart Notes: Blenheim Bouquet has no heart notes
Base Notes: Pine, Musk and Black Pepper
It is a historic masculine created in 1902 for the Duke of Marlborough and was allegedly (haven’t encountered any documentary evidence) a favourite of Winston Churchill’s. As a eau de toilette, it starts off, to me, very fresh and in-your-face, freshly-squeezed lemon and pine. After a few minutes, it transitions almost immediately to chypre-ish bergamot citrusness, musk and a hint of jasmine, and other smells that make you think of a soft creamy lavender colour.
Was also given a sample of the company’s newest fragrance, Juniper Sling. Wore this onto the MRT train for a lark and an older woman stared at me suspiciously until she got off at her station, probably still thinking i was quiffy on the gin. The top notes of gin and tonic lingered for quite a while before the middle notes set in. Penhaligon’s notes read:
Head Notes: Cinnamon, Orange Brandy, Angelica, Juniper Berry
Heart Notes: Cardamom, Leather, Black Pepper, Orris Wood
Base Notes: Brown Sugar, Black Cherry, Vetiver, Ambrox
Wish these screens were scratch and sniff, or alternatively, these devices smellovision-enabled.