The Avon bottle looked like a stagecoach and sat precarious and dusty on the spindly metal shelving in the single bathroom shared by my family in the 70s. The beer-bottle brown angular container wasn’t easily identifiable as a stagecoach. It was so abstracted or, perhaps, so poorly designed, so that I couldn’t easily associate it […]Read More Queer eye on Father’s Day: Masculinity and subversive gay style
Many outspoken male fragrance enthusiasts share childhood memories of being captivated by their mothers’ perfume. It’s such an iconic moment among non-gender conforming male perfume connoisseurs that it deserves its own film sequence: the mother sweeping up her little boy in a cloud of No. 19, Diorella, Chloe, or Halston. And then his secret missions […]Read More Gender-bending fragrance choices: The courage to be queerly perfumed
It is popular in North America to insist that we make choices about how we present ourselves for our own comfort, self-expression and pleasure and not to impress others. In fact, many of us in the U.S. would be almost embarrassed to acknowledge that others’ values and tastes shape our style. “I wear it for […]Read More Beast-mode perfumes and unspoken rules: How much is too much?
As discount store shelves sag with unwanted boxes of Brittney Spears Fantasy Rainbow Unicorn or Nautica Voyage Blue Macho Intense, the price of perfumes from the likes of Memo Paris, Tom Ford and Clive Cristian creeps ever northward. With the bottom of the cheapie range dropping ever lower, there has been a sort of olfactory […]Read More Limited edition: The romantic quest for perfume exclusivity
One of the most remarkable features of bodily experienced arts such as perfumery, fashion or cuisine, is that there is often very little distance between our emotional selves and the experience of curiosity, pleasure, or disturbance they may bring. Because some creations are actually meant to be put on, or even in, our bodies, the […]Read More The embodied intimacy of artistic perfumery
My strongest, earliest, and best memories of childhood are infused with scent. Though the combination of hair spray, menthol cigarettes, and Breck shampoo may not sound inviting to most, to me it is the earliest, and most abiding, aroma of love. For my mother, who both gave birth and died too young, there was great […]Read More Cigarettes, Aqua Net, and drugstore perfumes: My mother’s scented legacy
While giving advice in a recent essay at Bois de Jasmin, perfume expert, Victoria Frolova, encouraged readers to eschew the opinions of others as much as possible and, instead, focus on scents that, for them, “spark joy.” It hadn’t occurred to me to extend this term to style and scent, despite the fact that I’m […]Read More Does your perfume spark joy? It may be a radically feminist question