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
The very notion of finding a commercially available scent that somehow expresses one’s unique style, flair and presence, is paradoxical, if not downright contradictory. And the goal of selecting a mass market olfactory symbol that both captures my uniqueness, but also guarantees I will be lost in the crowd, reflects much of what is mythical […]Read More Signature scents and the myth of unique individualism
When political prisoner Ingrid Betancourt was released after six years of captivity, she was asked how the experience had changed her. Her complicated response included a commitment to “always have flowers in my room and wear perfume.” The experience of being brutally treated, and, she emphasizes, isolated from most of the human cultural forms she […]Read More Perfume as luxury, art, and consumer compulsion
Created in 2015 by Francois Demachy, and fronted by the emotionally absent (or pissed off) face of Johnny Depp, Dior Sauvage has become an institutionalized expression of contemporary Western masculinity. The product invites scrutiny, then, not just from the perfume community, but from anyone interested in the politics and aesthetics of 21st century masculinity. Even […]Read More Synthetic masculinity: Coming to terms with Dior Sauvage
We may claim to be uninfluenced by a beautiful face or elaborate packaging, but, as far as I know, that’s a big lie. Whether we like it or not, our judgments are, more or less, necessarily influenced by “external factors” such as color, shape, apparent age, and on and on. This, it seems, is simply […]Read More Do you judge a perfume by its bottle? Are you sure about that?