“What do you think of this?” I ask hopefully, as I place my perfume-scented wrist near my friend’s face. When her nose wrinkles and she pulls away, I hear a scale descending into a minor chord. I am disappointed. “What IS that?” she asks, and, as all hope that she will share my pleasure is […]Read More Respecting the tastes and opinions of others: Is tolerance really the best we can do?
You know someone, don’t you, who can be counted on to go “blech!” when they try to eat anything new to them. Whether it’s kohlrabi or Brazil nuts or hummus, the “ick!” is out of their mouth almost before the food has gone in. It’s the sort of reaction we might expect from children, but […]Read More When perfume becomes a doorway into mindfulness
To those who are disgusted by so-called “dirty,” “skanky,” or “animalic” perfumes — and many mainstream folks may never actually have smelled one — it can be utterly baffling that anyone would find them appealing. And this may be more than a trivial difference about individuals’ attraction to particular notes, of the “I like lavender […]Read More Skanky perfumes in the Age of Febreze
The world of perfume exhibits some of the most regressive and progressive tendencies when it comes to gender. On the one hand, mainstream designer offerings are typically rigidly segregated by gender with “women’s releases” constituting a vomitus of pink fruity florals in shapely bottles and men’s offerings focused on synthetic woods, ambers and leathers in […]Read More Beyond “sugar and spice”: The queer side of niche perfume
When I finally got around to reading the first book in the historical mystery series featuring amateur Egyptologist Amelia Peabody, I was struck by its overtly imperialist aesthetic. Set in the late 19th century, it parodies and celebrates English archeologists. It also patronizes the local people at every turn. For the White Western reader, it […]Read More Vicarious living through Comme des Garçons: Exoticism and cultural appropriation
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