One Thousand Scents

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


If you can look at this picture and not feel the almost desperate urge to smell everything in it, you're stronger than I am.

If you can identify at least two thirds of the bottles, then you're a hard-core fragrance slut, and welcome to the club. (I knew 12 of them by sight--I've owned three of them--and figured out most of the rest with some eyeballing and research. Still don't know about that bottle of dark liquid behind the Perlinette; it really looks like one of the old Patou bottles, but I can't be sure.)

The image is from a charming article, which, obviously, you should read, called (not very originally, I'm afraid) Scents and Sensibility, about the Osmothèque in France.


Yesterday I gave a co-worker, almost as big a scent-hound as I am, vials of three Comme des Garçons Red scents: Rose, Carnation, and Harissa. She immediately put on a little Harissa and loved it (as I knew she would); I took a sniff of her wrist and recoiled immediately, remembering just how much I'd hated it. I can't believe I'd forgotten, but it had been two and a half years since I'd last worn it. I swear, I could taste it this time. It still smells like something that should be in a restaurant and not on a person. Not a very good restaurant, either.

A couple of hours later, she dabbed on a little Rose (on a different swatch of skin), and then she put some on me, too. And it's the damnedest thing: it really doesn't quite smell like the same scent on the two of it. It does at first: tart raspberry, rose, a bit of leaf and calyx. And then it sort of lunges off in an entirely different direction on her, becoming unexpectedly sweet (something it does not do on me). She is not a fan of sweet scents: vanilla scents actually make her sick. But she didn't give up on Rose, because it's interesting, very much off the beaten path for a rose scent, and she's going to try it again.

She did not like Carnation. In fact, she gave me back the vial at the end of the day. Fine: more for me.


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