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Thread: Why fragrance?

  1. #1

    Lightbulb Why fragrance?

    I enjoy this website but I don't pretend I know anything about this subject. I just know that I want to learn and I have the appreciation for it. On a gloomy day, nothing cheers me more than a walk outside after a cold rain and the smell of rich earth and healthy soil mingle with tired dew drops at their final resting place. I breathe deep and somehow my body doesn't feel as solid and heavy. This smell from heaven penetrates my mind, body and soul. My thoughts are clearer, my body is cleansed, and my spirit is lifted.

    Scent. It's enriching and satisfying.

    Tell me - what is it that drives your love/interest/passion/hobby for fragrances?

  2. #2
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    mikeperez23's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    I have many other passions (music, novels, obscure films).

    However, I have a very strong sense of smell.

    I have also (since I was a child) associated good and bad memories with smells (I do the same thing with music...) Perhaps this is why, for me.

    This reminds me that I am still on the search for the smell I used to smell in my kindergarten class, in my elementary school...I loved it and I have never smelled it again.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    Ooohhh... This is a very interesting post.

    Why fragrance? Interestingly enough, it is the latest and longest lived in a serious of luxurious habits, among them shoes, designer jeans, lingerie, and wild nailpolishes and eyeshadows... Well, anyway, I used to consider it just one of my luxurious habits, but fragrance is actually part of my earliest memories. As a kid, I used to sniff the bottles on ladies' dressers when I could do it without getting caught, a bit like those who browse medicine cabinets.

    I remember the day I poured out a bottle of my mom's Chanel No. 5 parfum in order to use the bottle to mix fragrance out of wildflowers and water. (Ouch! How could I forget?)

    As a teenager, I used to douse myself in scented lotions with the best of them, but I always had a more unique and mature taste in scent.

    In college, I dabbled in mixing my own scents, using basics like lavender, musk, and vanilla.

    I have always had a bottle of something on my dresser-- up to three or four somethings-- until two years ago, when I was working at Marshall Field's and getting free samples from friends at the fragrance counter. I started looking up what was in the things I liked. My collection grew. I started meandering around Perfume Emporium's fragrance postings... I started reading Now Smell This. I started having shopping trips to distant stores specifically to shop for scent. My fragrance knowledge began to completely overwhelm my friends, as well as the sales ladies. That's when I found Basenotes... where fragrance psychos like me- who know the ladies behind the counters by name, and know what's in a scent before it hits the shelves- can find a home.
    And he whose soul is flat -- the sky
    Will cave in on him by and by.

    —from "Renascence" by Edna St. Vincent Millay

  4. #4

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    Quote Originally Posted by rjfloyd View Post
    I enjoy this website but I don't pretend I know anything about this subject. I just know that I want to learn and I have the appreciation for it. On a gloomy day, nothing cheers me more than a walk outside after a cold rain and the smell of rich earth and healthy soil mingle with tired dew drops at their final resting place. I breathe deep and somehow my body doesn't feel as solid and heavy. This smell from heaven penetrates my mind, body and soul. My thoughts are clearer, my body is cleansed, and my spirit is lifted.

    Scent. It's enriching and satisfying.

    Tell me - what is it that drives your love/interest/passion/hobby for fragrances?
    Hello,
    And welcome! A very nice early post! I've been collecting scents for awhile now, but the more you know, the more you realize there is to know!

    I'd add a comment, but your poetic description sums it up very nicely!

    Cheers, Dave

  5. #5

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    Science. No really.

    I do like to smell good, and am quite picky about what I put on my skin. However, it goes beyond that. Reading Luca Turin's writings about the way the various molecules and ingredients are extracted and then interact together to create various different accords is what piqued my interest. The whole natural vs. synthetic argument has also contributed to increasing my knowledge in the area. Relaying that information and sense of smell into words and thoughts for others to read and discuss is also a very rewarding exercise.

    Yes, strange as it may sounds, its all a bit educational as well.
    -

  6. #6

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    Quote Originally Posted by rjfloyd View Post
    Tell me - what is it that drives your love/interest/passion/hobby for fragrances?
    That's a very good question.

    I've thought about this for a while now (after reading your post), and after some deep contemplation, and hoping for some type of revelation, I'm a little disappointed that my answer is so simple: I like wearing, and being able to smell on myself, a pleasing scent. It is more interesting than no scent.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    Quote Originally Posted by zztopp View Post
    Science. No really.

    I do like to smell good, and am quite picky about what I put on my skin. However, it goes beyond that. Reading Luca Turin's writings about the way the various molecules and ingredients are extracted and then interact together to create various different accords is what piqued my interest. The whole natural vs. synthetic argument has also contributed to increasing my knowledge in the area. Relaying that information and sense of smell into words and thoughts for others to read and discuss is also a very rewarding exercise.

    Yes, strange as it may sounds, its all a bit educational as well.

    I agree that perfume is more than smelling good but it 's also more than being a mere subject for scientific discussions. I 'll post next week an article link by Annick le Guerret, who has extensely interviewed Serge Lutens and sums up his concept on perfume. He talks about Islam (only religion that connects perfume with pleasure and life), arabic culture, perfume meditation, elevation of the spirit and physical senses versus how french parfumerie with perfumers like Roudnitska (which he hates the steriled fragrances that have a more deodorizing refreshing purpose than being true perfume) that started this trend forcing people to go for commercial "smell-goods" you spray on after the shower and before work or the restaurant.
    Last edited by pierre obsidienne; 20th April 2007 at 11:39 PM.
    .
    'luxury is an esthetic wrath' Serge Lutens

  8. #8

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    Quote Originally Posted by pierre obsidienne View Post
    I agree that perfume is more than smelling good but it 's also more than being a mere subject for scientific discussions. I 'll post next week an article link by Annick le Guerret, who has extensely interviewed Serge Lutens and sums up his concept on perfume. He talks about Islam (only religion that connects perfume with pleasure and life), arabic culture, perfume meditation, elevation of the spirit and physical senses versus how french parfumerie with perfumers like Roudnitska (which he hates the steriled fragrances that have a more deodorizing refreshing purpose than being true perfume) that started this trend forcing people to go for commercial "smell-goods" you spray on after the shower and before work or the restaurant.
    boisetmusc that might be true, but I was giving my point of view; of what the concept of fragrances are like for me not serge lutens.
    -

  9. #9

    Shycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    A lovely fragrance on my wrist is a harmless pleasure on demand.
    Please, spritz responsibly.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    Quote Originally Posted by zztopp View Post
    boisetmusc that might be true, but I was giving my point of view; of what the concept of fragrances are like for me not serge lutens.
    I was just giving my point of view based on what you said, which I agreed partly so we can have a discussion and a debate. what you started was interesting and reminded of the the part of Annick le Guerret 's book I 'm reading, sorry you took it personal or the wrong way.
    I read Luca Turin The secret of scent too, I couldn 't finish it though, it s very informative and might work for scientific driven people but there was too little on the cultural aspect except in the beggining.
    .
    'luxury is an esthetic wrath' Serge Lutens

  11. #11

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    This is a great thread.

    I also have a very strong sense of smell. I think that I am a highly sensitive person in general, and certain fragrances just kill me. As a child, I had asthma but my mom wore what I perceived to be large amounts of perfume (she had a lot of Estee Lauder, such as White Linen and Beautiful). This really turned me off to perfume. I equated it with trouble breathing and choking florals, and I decided to opt-out.

    As a teenager, I was forcibly exposed to a lot of mainstream perfumes as the marine/aquatic move got strong with designer fragrances in school. I couldn't stand most of them (see my post about my hated dry/metallic note in perfumes, http://community.basenotes.net/showthread.php?t=189885). I got some essential oils and Attar Bazaar oils and started wearing those.

    My twin sister discovered Thierry Mugler's Angel and she fell in love with it. Later, so did I. I think I was doing an internet search for fragrance notes, trying to figure out what it was that was so offensive in most modern perfumes when I found basenotes. Several of the kind Basenoters here helped me figure out the notes that I hated. Then I started reading more about perfume and became enthralled.

    The more I read, the more I realized that I could get rich perfumes without ozone/"freshness"/Calone/marine/aquatic. The first parfumeur that I really felt drawn to was Serge Lutens, and his house is still my favorite (so far...). Reading about the technical aspects, such as Luca Turin's insights, are fascinating. The connoisseur aspect of perfumery really appeals to me. It has helped me grow with my fledgling wine appreciation. I also came to wear my first floral perfume, A La Nuit, by Serge Lutens and loooooved it. I tried my second floral, Songes by Annick Goutal, and fell in love with it. So a girl who used to loathe florals is now a devotee of two, and hopefully will discover more in the future.

    Since I live in rural Alaska, decants and samples are how I've explored perfumery. It's been an amazing journey, and I've met some extremely kind, talented, and wonderful folks here on Basenotes. I love it!



  12. #12

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    My love and fascination for fragrance is relatively recent, perhaps the last year or two. Like most other people I have some olfactory memories, but mostly they are irrelevant or unwelcome. I have no interest in using perfume to stimulate or replicate memories of the past, either of people, places, or time.

    I am not very observant of nature. I am an urbanite to the core. This does not mean that I do not appreciate some aspects of the natural world, rather that my knowledge of it is superficial. My nose is untrained and possibly damaged through years of smoking, though I smoke no longer.

    I respond to man-made perfumes and natural scents in the same way I respond to certain ingredients and combinations in food. I am looking not to the past, nor to conjour up an association with anything esle, but to awaken my senses to the present and the immediate future in a more intense way.

    I am interested in fragrance in the abstract. I cannot abide stories being attached to a fragrance. I feel the same about music with the exception of some opera and ballet for which the story is an integral part, but even then it does not always influence my reaction to the music. For an example from the commercial fragrance world, I like Annick Goutal's range but the stories associated with the perfumes make me cringe and want to abandon them almost instantly. I do not want to hear of AG's walk on the rain forrest at midnight or through a spice market in old Tangier. This nonsense has nothing to do with me, and when I wear a perfume its story is mine and no one else's. I seethe when sales reps trot out their learned corporate speeches about being surrounded by wilting roses at dawn. I want to tell them to stop interfering with their drivel, but civility and empathy demand that I don't.

    Like painting or other forms of art, the creator's intention for the work has little bearing on my emotional response to it or my intellectual judgement upon it. There may be other personal factors about it which move me, for example knowing that Mozart was on his deathbed when he wrote sublime music moves me even more deeply when I hear it. But his intention for it is not strictly relevant to me, and neither is Serge Luten's intention that Arabie smell like the spice markets of his travels. Advertisments are anathema to me, and endorsements by celebrities make me sick. I want those cheap and intrusive associations gone from my mind.

    I want my senses to be awakened to, and aroused by, the present moment and the promise of the moment after that, and the endless possibilities for discovery. None of us lives in a vacuum, and individual and collective memories are inevitable, but I do not use fragrances deliberately in that manner. There has only been one exception to that rule - I wondered for years what fragrance an old love used to wear long after I had forgotten the name of it. I found it eventually. Having discovered what it was, the need for it vanished in the ether like a dead thing - a salutary lesson.
    Last edited by Sestra; 21st April 2007 at 04:31 AM. Reason: spelling

  13. #13

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    This is a great thread and I was actually thinking about something along these lines earlier today: "How is it that all of us are so excited about fragrances?" I really do not know, but I think that the answer to this is likewise the answer to the question that you asked.

    Much like Mikeperez, I too have a very strong sense of smell and often associate certain events, places, emotions, and people with fragrances. When and how did it start, I don't really know, but I know that I have always enjoyed breating in deep the scent of flowers, grass (the legal kind), sweat, asphalt before a storm, etc. There is something about the sense of smell that rivals the sense of hearing--hence the connection with music, like mike--in that both are being perceived but are invisible to the eye. Both then can appear omnipresent and enveloping.

    Like a song, there is something intoxicating and otherworldly about certain fragrances. Each tend to strike something in the heart, stirring the soul.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    Whoever it was in history that penned the phrase "take more time to stop and smell the roses" was spot-on.

    My love and appreciation of fragrance derives, in part, from my desire to slow down and to look for the 'grace' in the modern day. Something many are oblivious to, ignorant of, or uninterested in doing.

    As a child I was a dreamer - I would walk home wih my head down, my eyes scanning the gutter for colourful leaves and pretty stones, all the while singing under my breath, or talking with myself about things that excited me. I would lie for hours on my trampoline late at night, staring at the stars and trying to see behind the black of the sky above.
    As an adult, I am that same person; but because of social demands I have to make a conscious effort every day to remind myself to take things slowly and never lose that sense of wonder, and that inner child.

    Perfume conjures a kaleidoscope of thoughts, dreams and ambitions for me. Each olfactory journey not only ressurects warm and familiar memories, ponderings and ideas; but also fuels new fascinations and ideas that will keep that 'inner child' searching for glittering treasure amongst the leaf-litter, cigarette butts and bottle tops at the side of the road.

    My love affair with perfume is a purely selfish one. I wear it first and foremost for my own enjoyment, and my own sense of 'self'.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post

    This reminds me that I am still on the search for the smell I used to smell in my kindergarten class, in my elementary school...I loved it and I have never smelled it again.
    Hehe, when I was in kindergarten, we had a play kitchen in the back of the room. There were various empty spice bottles. I used to LOOOOOVE to smell the season salt bottle. All the other kids would play kitchen...and I would just sit there stiffing this bottle. Ha! I miss kindergarten

    Don't think I'd want that in a cologne though...
    "It's not what you look like when you're doing what you're doing; it's what you're doing when you're doing what you look like you're doing."

  16. #16

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    Why music? Ear candy...

    Why beauty, art, and artifacts? Eye candy...

    Why debate? Brain candy...

    Why sweets? Tongue candy...

    Why fragrance? Nose candy...

    Fragrance stimulates the senses; it's another type of candy for me.

    ...and I like to smell nice-smelling stuff.


    Have a nice weekend all,
    Mike

  17. #17

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    Why fragance...?

    I have always loved fragances, since I was a child, and always been wearing perfumes since the age of fifteen. For the latest one and a half year I have really tried to get to know what there is available among perfumes. What started this "mania" is that I found a totally fantastic perfume, Cristobal by Balenciaga, and understod there where other fantastic perfumes I didn´t know. I don´t consider myself a perfumecollector, my dream is to find some really, really good perfumes, this dream has been my driving force this one and a half year. For the latest months I have been trying to increes my perfumecollection, taking away the not absolutley fantastic perfumes. Me getting so many frags, I really hope is a once-in-a-lifetime-doing. But after this period, I will have a really nice little perfume-collection.
    Faves right now: Chanel No 19, Stella Rose Absolute, L´Heure Bleu, Elixir de Merveilles, Samsara.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    The part about scents that I like is the complexity and beauty that creates their individual identity on every person. I like that I can have the same scent as someone next to me but not recognize it because of a difference in skin chemistry, or parts of the body it was applied to.

    I really think scents are an overlooked(smelled) phenomenon that is either appreciated or simply ignored. I choose to recognize its beauty in all things (not just fragrances). This site is one of the most important things that keep me interested and always willing to explore my olfactory even deeper.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    Your point about the complexity of perfumes is relevant to my own relationship with them. Though my fascination for it is relatively recent, I was an average consumer of mainstream fragrances for many years, off and on, before that. I didn't even know then that levels of notes existed, or that accords were present (or not) in anything I wore. I carried perfume to mask the smell of cigarette smoke; a heinous mistake, but I was ignorant and careless.

    Finally I was awakened to the complexity in a great perfume that can take you on a journey, and you travel with it and learn more about it as time goes by. In some cases you might learn something about yourself also. This happens through a love for anything; in this case it is through fragrance.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    For me it's purely instinctive. I've always had a strong sense of smell, and smell can make me physically ill (dirty bodies, BO of the pungent kind, faecal smells, rotting food etc) or it can make me feel obscenely happy, and invokes memories so real it's like time-travelling. I'm no expert with regard to the make-up of fragrances, but I can usually pick out the main ingredients and some of the minor ones also, and sometimes I am more accurate than perfume sales staff with my ability to pick out notes. I sold perfumes about 20 years ago - copy-cats of the famous names - and my ability to recognise the perfumes back then was extremely useful. I could tell how accurate the copy-cats were, and I was able to sell them because they were so good. I wouldn't do that now...not now I know about the quality of the ingredients and why that is so important. I'm sure the perfumes I was selling were mostly synthetic and of inferior quality in terms of longevity, even though they were scarily accurate in their formulation.

    So now, I'm just rekindling an old interest, and finding a whole new world of joy and delight (and discovering how expensive this obsession can be!). I aspire to being half as adept at picking out notes as some of the Basenotes members. I had the opportunity to work in a perfume house this week - but the pay was too low. I am beginning to wonder if I should just do it anyway. That would be a dream come true for me...
    "I don't know the key to success,
    but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
    Bill Cosby

  21. #21

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    Interesting how many people mention a strong sense of smell. I also always found that I could discern things by smell which others couldn't. I am not sure if this is to do with sensitivity of olfaction or simply to do with attention. I wonder what this strong sense of smell to which we all refer really is?

    As an urban dweller I am shocked by how disconnected we have all become from our sense of smell. Smell has so many essential functions for humans from sexual attraction and reproduction to checking the safety of food and finding our way. Yet we hardly seem conscious of it. In fact we often seem to need to close it down to shut out the olfactory "noise" of the city.

    Fragrance is partly my way of combating this shut down, awakening an underused sense, and just giving myself the pleasure of an ancient artform.
    Last edited by hirch_duckfinder; 23rd April 2007 at 09:51 PM.
    "Don’t try to be original. Be simple. Be good technically, and if there is something in you, it will come out. ” - Henri Matisse.

    "Wear R de Capucci" - Hirch Duckfinder

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  22. #22

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    One of the driving forces of my interest in fragrance is the quality of the online fragrance community - the quality of writing on the fragrance boards and blogs (nowsmellthis being a prime example), the civility, the consciousness of shared passion, and the high likelihood of running into a fascinating sideways thought or unexpected aesthetic connection. Ordinary people writing about fragrance seem to do a better job of it than ordinary people writing about, say, flashlights. Or board games. Or even food. Perfume geeks are the best!

  23. #23

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    The fragrance journey started for me many years before, as I was trying to find the perfect perfume to wear. In the beginning nothing was satisfying, so I kept looking. Sometimes I happened to buy a very nice perfume but after a while I was certain it was not IT ! It was not ME! This search became a true passion, and now I appreciate many different fragrances, but ...still... I have not found the ONE! But the journey is what counts, isn't so?

  24. #24

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    I have a very strong sense of smell. I think stink, good and bad, hits you in the guts. My reaction to stink reminds me I am an animal.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    I sometimes think a strong sense of smell is both a blessing and a curse. London underground in the heat of the summer being a case in point...

    ...and then the divine fragrances we all enjoy - for those of us with this nasal 'gift' for want of a better word, a fabulous fragrance is a total experience that others without this knack will never enjoy.

    Oh, but B.O, and dirty bodies...what a gut-wrencher that is.

    It was actually difficult for me to read the Suskind book, Perfume (much as I loved the writing), because the descriptions of the filthy smells of Paris in the 18th century became so real for me. Imaginary smells can be just as strong as real ones.
    --------------------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by Sister Y View Post
    One of the driving forces of my interest in fragrance is the quality of the online fragrance community - the quality of writing on the fragrance boards and blogs (nowsmellthis being a prime example), the civility, the consciousness of shared passion, and the high likelihood of running into a fascinating sideways thought or unexpected aesthetic connection. Ordinary people writing about fragrance seem to do a better job of it than ordinary people writing about, say, flashlights. Or board games. Or even food. Perfume geeks are the best!
    I have to second this. So refreshing to be a part of a forum where civility is the norm. Unbelievably refreshing and comforting to be a part of a community where the enjoyment of fine fragrances is the common bond, and where generosity is a fundamental element. I'm proud to be a part of this place, newbie though I am.
    Last edited by Clemmie; 24th April 2007 at 10:02 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
    "I don't know the key to success,
    but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
    Bill Cosby

  26. #26

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    We are sensuous beings and olfaction's magical characteristics are available to everyone with a functioning nose. Scent makes life richer.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    A dear friend of mine in college won a poetry award for a poem about me! went something like "with pollen stained face from sniffing too much" !! how true of me.
    the other thing I totally love about perfume is its connection to the wide wide world. The jasmines handpicked in the mid east, the Bulgarian, Taif, Damascus roses, the mimosa from France, Cassie from Africa, Vetiver from India, and on and on...Madagascar, Reunion Island, Morocco, China, we have smells collected and at our fingertips and elbows from around this amazing earth!
    I absolutely love knowing where everything I smell comes from.

  28. #28

    Default Re: Why fragrance?

    Why fragrance? Balance.

    Balance with all the other senses, since my sense of smell has been neglected for so long, it's time to reallocate some of my total attention bandwidth to a sense that can take me back to the memories that made me shout out in joy, cry without shame, and reflect, melancholy, on why I'm here. So that I may mark all future moments of like intensity with all my senses in equal clarity.

    But, I wax poetic...

    I wonder if I'm really in it just for the ladies...
    Last edited by wiley1st; 1st May 2007 at 03:08 AM.

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