View RSS Feed

The Ol' Factory - One Guy's Scent Journey

Of Fragrance, Personal History, and The Burgeoning Amateur Critic

Rate this Entry
How scent and fragrance affects us, how a scent can transport us back in time, and the critiquing of fragrance all seem to share some commonality. I feel it explains in some part our possessive, protective, and personal approach to fragrance.

For nearly 15 years I did not buy or use perfume/cologne and, in fact, had very little experience with it other than the stuff that other people wore. Or, occasionally, whiffs of some horrible chemical concoction pasted between the pages of some magazine.

But in the past few months, Iíve made up for lost time: bottles and samples with descriptions that sound appealing. And, for the most part, they are. Some blind buys, some sampled, some on recommendations and reviews.

But a whiff from a good many of them immediately transport me to sometime in the 70s or 80s, to some vague memory and location where I smelled the frag before. In other words, in 15 years of perfume/cologne development, thereís not lot that's really new under the sun. There have been a number of times, when sampling a scent that's new to me, that I think something along the lines of, ďWow, that smells just like some frag that I recall smelling on someone at Cinderella Center in Denver in the early 80s. But what was it?Ē The name of the original scent always escapes me but itís undoubtedly something like Halston, Giorgio, Pierre Cardin, Paco Rabanne, Jordache, Carrington, or some other pop favorite of that time.

Time travel with frags isnít all general ďreminds me of Perfume XĒ. Sometimes itís a more visceral experience, rooted in real life. The geranium note in Terre díHermes immediately, forcefully brought my Aunt Paulineís face to my eyes. A woman I have not seen in over 20 years and a woman I knew but wasnít particularly close to. I could see her face, hair, blouse, and seated on the white sofa in the apartment in which she lived for a short time in the 70s. Fou díAbsinthe immediately takes me to my grandmotherís basement on wash day.

How, you might be asking, does any of this tie into my criticism or critiquing of fragrances?

Well, often, scent is very personal for people and we all have different life experiences. Itís also fairly common that people want to be accepted and to be validated. The events that make up a personís life, plus a need (however small) to be validated are both very strong and unique to each of us.

When someone criticizes a scent we love or besmirches itís good name, itís natural to feel somewhat personally criticized. Not that the critic was being at all personal, but that feeling and response happens.

For example, reading a criticism of Fou díAbsinthe, I can immediately feel (even if irrational) something that kind of translates as: ďHow dare you criticize my grandmother! She was a saint. She helped make me the man I am today!Ē Or ďMy grandmother deserves five or ten or a hundred stars!Ē But itís not me, my taste, nor my grandmother thatís being criticized. The critic is simply setting forth her or his reaction to the scent.

The critic is approaching scent very similarly: partially shaped by life, experience, and individual body chemistry that affects both how a scent develops and how it's perceived. Even after years of professional training and experience, itís not possible to completely filter out these variables. As both a new fragronista and a burgeoning critic, they play a larger role now than they will later. Hopefully!

All of which is to say that whatever I, you, or anyone else likes is absolutely fine. We donít all have to like the same thing, we wonít all perceive a scent the same way, and a criticism is, at heart, just another opinion.

Updated 5th July 2008 at 03:21 AM by Hoos

Categories
The Journey

Comments

Trackbacks

Total Trackbacks 0
Trackback URL:



Loving perfume on the Internet since 2000