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  1. #1

    Default Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    I was at a museum's wine and cheese reception to thank donors and volunteers last week. Lots of people with blue hair (and I don't mean puck rockers) and very expensive clothing. Lots of business man husbands dragged along.

    It was a joy to walk past all the cliques of conversations--the smell auras around almost all the people were very interesting. Many very well-dieted 50-year-old women in fashionable clothes had scents that advertised them. The most powerful I smelled was a tuberose. It was great. Every corner of the room and the line for the bars had different smells.

    I thought about how obvious the smells were, but how no one was going to talk about them there. People will say "I like your jacket," in those settings, but they won't compliment fragrance choices the same way. They'll more likely pretend not to notice anything, and often I suspect that they really don't notice anything.

    I wished the rest of the world could be like Basenotes members. People who can think of scent as tool of presentation, sometimes an expression of art, and sometimes an expression of effective communication. It made me wonder why I was probably the only one at the function who could walk around it, smell many different things, and be able to "hear" what the smells said, if you'll allow me to use words from the sense of sound for the sense of smell.
    --Chris
    That girl, that bottle, that mattress and me.

  2. #2

    CologneJunkie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    If several people made conscious decisions to wear such nice fragrances...it makes me wonder how many people really WERE noticing other people's scents of choice but didn't know how to approach the topic. Such a shame .

    What were YOU wearing that night?
    "Wait...is David Bowie really God?" - Penelope Garcia

  3. #3

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    A very nice and insightful post, Chris.
    I know this moment when you reflect on what's happening in merry high-class gatherings.
    I was once attending the launching event of a perfume from a famed brand. Every person was drenched in scent and no-one was discussing anything that has to do with scent, even the one being launched.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    I think the reason is not that the world doesn't get it, but that odours and scents are by evolution linked to sexuality. Therefore many people find it vulgar to comment on another person's odour. Especially in chic gatherings. Scents are simply not comparable to clothes, it's much more intimate - it's like passing remarks on someone's body. Scientific research shows that we often perceive and react upon other people's odours on an unconscious and instinctive level - but that doesn't mean that we don't get it! Some things are better left unsaid - and just sensed. No?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    Quote Originally Posted by CologneJunkie View Post
    If several people made conscious decisions to wear such nice fragrances...it makes me wonder how many people really WERE noticing other people's scents of choice but didn't know how to approach the topic. Such a shame .

    What were YOU wearing that night?
    CJ, with so many people wearing fragrances, I wonder too how many of them noticed and thought of each other's fragrances. I suspect may noticed them and none talked about it. I can't help imagining that people think about fragrances they smell on others, think about the choices others make, but seldom talk about the subjects, even later when their driving home or at home. Back in their kitchens, I really doubt people say "did you catch a whiff of Gloria tonight, George? She was the one in that brown slinky button-up-the-front dress." When the smells are great too, I expect people don't mention them either. More than anything my post was just to point out what a mystery it is that people don't relate to an event as a chance to observe a lot of smell choices people make. Seems like an odd thing, and an opportunity lost on the non-Basenotes world.

    Blast, I can't even remember what I was wearing. Probably it was one of the days of my new bottles, so it was probably Givenchy Vetiver, Carven Vetyver, or Guerlain Vetiver Extreme. Either way, I changed into nice clothes for the event, and it was the end of the day, so what I was wearing was sadly probably pretty light. I should have juiced up the scent race and put the blue-hairs to shame though.
    That girl, that bottle, that mattress and me.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    This is a very nice thread. I feel that one of the main reasons is the thought that fragrance is a luxury and not that important. Some see the money spent as a waste...
    Scent and memory go hand and hand, and this is what the vast public does not understand. I went to this concert years ago and my scent was Polo (Green). When I smell this fragrance, my mind goes back to that concert. It is truly amazing how this works.
    We get it....and just maybe we can spread the news so that others get it......Gary

  7. #7

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    I agree with M. Guerlin. I'm not sure I would feel comfortable if I were to walk up to a stranger and comment on the way that person smelled, especially in a setting such as the one described. One simply doesn't do such a thing in polite circles!
    Last edited by Snafoo; 26th September 2007 at 03:16 AM.
    Everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts. Daniel Moynihan

  8. #8

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Killer_Vavoom View Post
    A very nice and insightful post, Chris.
    I know this moment when you reflect on what's happening in merry high-class gatherings.
    I was once attending the launching event of a perfume from a famed brand. Every person was drenched in scent and no-one was discussing anything that has to do with scent, even the one being launched.
    Thanks KV! From you I know the high value of your compliment. Thanks sincerely.

    How interesting that people don't talke fragrances at a fragrance-related event even. I've often wondered about fragrance release parties. Think of how strange it is that people weren't talking fragrances there--like going to a bookstore and not thinking about books, or a library and not thinking about books.

    I often think people are afraid to talk about their fragrances because doing so would mark them as vain, pretentious, or fluffy. I'm in the United States, and, with many exceptions to be sure, I think generally Americans are particularly afraid of being seen as vain, pretentious, fluffy, or caring about appearances. My experiences with Europeans is that they wear fragrances without the self-deprecating shame that Americans seem to have when talking about them (for example, I've found Europeans would say "yeah, I'm wearing this because it smells great" and Americans will say "I'm wearing this because the wife gave it to me"). I know there are many many exceptions, and I count myself and basenotes members among the exceptions regularly. However, my point is I've always thought the discomfort talking about, or even allowing oneself to observe how other people chose to make themselves smell, comes from a fear of looking like you're wrapped up in ephemera like the wafts of dissipating air around a person. What you tell me, KV, is that there was even lack of engagement about smells amidst people there to somehow revell in a scent.

    Thanks again for the kind words.
    --Chris
    --------------------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by G.303 View Post
    This is a very nice thread. I feel that one of the main reasons is the thought that fragrance is a luxury and not that important. Some see the money spent as a waste...
    Yes! Gary, you express what I meant to so much more cleanly than I have. No one wants to be seen as spending money or caring about such a luxury, when it comes to talking about it, but obviously, and I must repeat--obviously, they want to smell like luxury and thus broadcast their taste and luxury.

    Maybe the thought I'd really like to get across is one that everyone here already gets--that it is a blast to have developed the sense of smell so that I could walk around that reception and a whole different dimension was present to me that wasn't apparently present for all the people there who were never the less very ware of it, at least back in their bedrooms when they put their scents on.
    --Chris
    --------------------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Guerlain View Post
    I think the reason is not that the world doesn't get it, but that odours and scents are by evolution linked to sexuality. Therefore many people find it vulgar to comment on another person's odour. Especially in chic gatherings. Scents are simply not comparable to clothes, it's much more intimate - it's like passing remarks on someone's body. Scientific research shows that we often perceive and react upon other people's odours on an unconscious and instinctive level - but that doesn't mean that we don't get it! Some things are better left unsaid - and just sensed. No?
    Quote Originally Posted by Snafoo View Post
    I agree with M. Guerlin. I'm not sure I would feel comfortable if I were to walk up to a stranger and comment on the way that person smelled, especially in a setting such as the one described. One simply doesn't do such a thing in polite circles!
    On one level I completely agree with you guys--and by the way I didn't go up to anyone and start quizzing about their fragrance. So I get your point, but I also thoroughly disagree with it. Before I get the the disagreement part, let me first say how I agree.

    I wear different fragrances every day. As a result I'm wearing a different fragrance every time I go get my hair cut. My hair cutter is really good, really funny, and really a charmer, so she's talked me into getting more regular hair cuts than I would normally. So she's smelled me in different fragrances many times. Never has she commented on any of them, or even observed that I'm wearing a fragrance. Recently we were talking about writing projects I was working on, and I mentioned one was a men's fragrances article and that I'd done a few before. We talked about how she smells people's scent choices when she cuts their hair. She said she never ever mentions it, because doing so could be confused with being too intimate and she doesn't want to look like she's crossing anyone's boundaries or conceivably hitting on someone. So she never mentions it. I even asked her what she'd thought of my fragrances, even the one I was wearing in her chair that very day, and she wouldn't comment on them. Not for fear of offending me, no, for fear of crossing into total nuclear bomb ultimate faux pas social breakdown interpersonal collapse land, yes, just by asking about how I had chosen to make myself smell that morning.

    So you're right, people are so afraid of this intimacy. People act to avoid crossing this boundary, you're right. But I don't think it is scientific, and I don't think it is inherently involved in sexuality or in sexual invitation. With my haircutter I talk about getting pussy from any number of girlfriends, by the way, even though it was a previous girlfriend who sent me to this haircutter. I think people are just afraid to step into the realm of smells in public, even though they make their own contribution. I think people are chicken, and I think they're missing out.

    Here at the site we talk about scents no end. Mr. Guerlain and Snafoo, my good friends they are, among us. But you guys suggest there's no way you could talk about scents in the face-to-face world. Well I disagree. It happens I'm sort of kicking myself for being chicken about asking people about their fragrances at the reception. I don't think it would have been hard at all to start that conversation even. In fact I've done it with strangers in my town many times. I say to the stranger beside me on the escalator down to the subway, for example, "Excuse me, I'm sorry, but I notice that you're wearing a fragrance, and I really like it [maybe I'll add something about it to elaborate], and I can't help wondering if you'll tell me what it is. It really smells fantastic." Hell, social disaster faux pas averted. Every time I've done this, in different settings, people have been really charged. I'm in control of my body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice enough to be able to say that and be clear I'm not hitting on the person or considering them a sexual object. In fact, people twice my age have asked pretty much exactly that same question of me when they've liked my fragrance and wanted to find out what it was.

    So I don't think there's any evolution, sexuality, metaphysical quality to the intimacy, or anything to the lack of discussion of fragrances people pick. I think people are just afraid to ask, and I also think they're just afraid to open their noses. I think that's too bad for them, but damn, I like how much fun it gives me to ride the subway with the morning commuters, on whom perfumes are fresh, or go to church, where everyone wears Sunday best and wears the scent someone else gave them, or live in the busy nightclub section of the city where walking past groups of people on the sidewalk after 10pm every night brings a different whiff.

    But only on Basenotes, with the remove of discussing things through electronic methods, do we talk about these supposedly "intimate" choices. Too bad it is only we, my friends! I wish the rest of the world would get it.
    --Chris
    Last edited by DustB; 26th September 2007 at 03:49 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
    That girl, that bottle, that mattress and me.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    Quote Originally Posted by DustB View Post
    I often think people are afraid to talk about their fragrances because doing so would mark them as vain, pretentious, or fluffy. I'm in the United States, and, with many exceptions to be sure, I think generally Americans are particularly afraid of being seen as vain, pretentious, fluffy, or caring about appearances. My experiences with Europeans is that they wear fragrances without the self-deprecating shame that Americans seem to have when talking about them (for example, I've found Europeans would say "yeah, I'm wearing this because it smells great" and Americans will say "I'm wearing this because the wife gave it to me").
    Definitely. The only person I can really talk about scents with is a Palestinian friend I have, and he gets really excited about it. He does not hold back on the topic at all, even though he realizes how little he knows about it. Getting scents as gifts is common in his culture...and we're not talking soapy, conservative scents. They get Guerlains and authentic perfume oils and such.

    On the other hand, my roommate (who is white and fancies himself to be very macho) has only commented on my fragrances twice, and heaven knows he's smelled them more times than that!. Once was to say that I smelled like bug spray (Azzaro Visit) and the other was to say that his eyes were watering because I smelled so strong (two sprays of Terre d'Hermes). Even my girlfriend doesn't seem too interested in talking about the subject, although she'll listen to me and sometimes make a few comments.

    It's a shame, because I really wish I didn't have to type every single thought I have about fragrance out on Basenotes. As much as I like it here, it's definitely limiting, and it takes quite a bit of time. And talking is just more thorough and fulfilling.
    "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."

  10. #10

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    One thing I like about Basenotes (and there are many things I like!) is to hear all y'all straight guys talk about frags w/o shame or fear. Around here (and really in many parts of the country, truth be told, and not just Okiebozo Shitty), most straight guys I know ONLY wear what their wives/girlfriends buy them and nothing else -- not EVER. First time I ever heard a straight guy tell me something like this, I just about fell through the floor. Seriously -- I didn't believe him. (I'm so out of touch with hetero, suburban America that it's sometimes comical.)

    It's cool to hear guys who are very comfortable with their sexuality talking about frags w/o fear that they'll be labelled as gay as I am. (Not that that is a bad thing, mind you!) But seriously, I think that heterosexism/machismo is often a factor in the big U.S. inhibition about frag discussion. Couple that with a strong tradition of women here being the only frag purchasers for their boyfriends/husbands and you have a potentially awkward subject for many guys to discuss in U.S. culture. I see it as worse in the South and the lower Midwest, especially. My brother (straight as a string) almost blushes whenever I mention my love of frags. His wife (one of my best friends) even giggles a bit. Now THAT'S just silly.

    Peggy: "Right now, we have to get to the mental institution. Something terrible has happened."
    Latrelle: "What?"
    Peggy: "Brother Boy has tried to kill himself. He jumped out of his bedroom window."
    Latrelle: "Isn't he only on the second floor?"
    Peggy: "Yes, but he hit his head on a lawn gnome."
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    I think that the response we get from fragrances is in the way people react to them. People are more friendly, or flirtatious, or what have you. But I have had women react to the cologne that I'm wearing every now and then. But men never ask me what I'm wearing or compliment me on the cologne. That's probably because they think that if they did that, I would think they were hitting on me. I wouldn't think that, and I've often asked men and women what they're wearing, or complimented them on their fragrance without asking for the name of it.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    Quote Originally Posted by DustB View Post
    I was at a museum's wine and cheese reception to thank donors and volunteers last week. Lots of people with blue hair (and I don't mean puck rockers) and very expensive clothing. Lots of business man husbands dragged along.

    It was a joy to walk past all the cliques of conversations--the smell auras around almost all the people were very interesting. Many very well-dieted 50-year-old women in fashionable clothes had scents that advertised them. The most powerful I smelled was a tuberose. It was great. Every corner of the room and the line for the bars had different smells.

    I thought about how obvious the smells were, but how no one was going to talk about them there. People will say "I like your jacket," in those settings, but they won't compliment fragrance choices the same way. They'll more likely pretend not to notice anything, and often I suspect that they really don't notice anything.

    I wished the rest of the world could be like Basenotes members. People who can think of scent as tool of presentation, sometimes an expression of art, and sometimes an expression of effective communication. It made me wonder why I was probably the only one at the function who could walk around it, smell many different things, and be able to "hear" what the smells said, if you'll allow me to use words from the sense of sound for the sense of smell.
    --Chris
    Hi Chris — I certainly agree with you that it would be a wonderful thing if the world were a bit more like Basenotes (maybe without the recurrent obsession with what is an old man scent! )

    But in the circumstance that you're mentioning I think it is right to say that it would just not be done to comment on scent, or on anything else that seemed to be appreciative of another's taste. I remember a line from a Nancy Mitford novel (I think it was) when a guest was just thrown off the country estate: "Blighter commented on my stuff!" It just isn't done. (There are many society women who haunt this place who could tell us of the etiquette in such a circumstance far better than I.)

    Great post — scent is art! The world needs to get that through it's thick head!
    There are people to whom the truth of language does not matter — they are known as liars.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Guerlain View Post
    I think the reason is not that the world doesn't get it, but that odours and scents are by evolution linked to sexuality.
    I once had a student whose perfume was wonderful. I think in retrospect it was some kind of Guerlain. Anyway, I always wanted to ask her what it was, but never did. It would have felt like making an unwanted advance.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    Very, very interesting thread.

    Just to ring in and echo what many other posters have said - I think as a straight-ish man, it's OK to compliment a woman on a fragrance; something like "you smell wonderful..." This of course comes after a hug.

    However, it's quite a different thing to start talking about the notes and sillage, etc. Even though I'm thinking all these things in my head, dissecting the fragrance, if you will, I don't think I'd mention it in casual conversation, unless I knew the woman in question was really receptive to it.

    As far as other men - I tend to notice scent on them more than on women, probably because if I smell it, they've applied enough to sink a ship, but I wouldn't comment on it, unless I did it in a joking way. Sadly, I think tvlampboy is absolutely correct about the gay/straight dynamic he talks about in his post.


  15. #15

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    maybe it's Anosmia?

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    Perhaps it has to do with the linking of personal scent (either endogenous or exogenous or both) to what can be a very powerful physical attraction. Smell is a primitive initiator of sexual stimulation to many and as such an overt acknowledgment of it working it's magic, in what society or personal morals deem inappropriate, might just put the kibosh on for some in admitting it is a turn on (or off).
    'Those who grow too big for their pants will be exposed in the end'--anon

  17. #17

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    Quote Originally Posted by tvlampboy View Post
    [b]One thing I like about Basenotes (and there are many things I like!) is to hear all y'all straight guys talk about frags w/o shame or fear. Around here (and really in many parts of the country, truth be told, and not just Okiebozo Shitty), most straight guys I know ONLY wear what their wives/girlfriends buy them and nothing else -- not EVER.
    UNLESS they're younger dudes and buy the trendy cologne that their older brother tells them gets all the girlies wet. When I was in high school every knucklehead with a good allowance drove a Mustang and wore Drakkar Noir. It wasn't about making a personal statement, it was about attaining a certified and universally recognized standard of attainment. "Do I smell Drakkar Noir? You have truly arrived!"

    It was Acqua di Gio in college. My roommate used to bathe himself in it. I had a lonely bottle of Canoe my mom had given me that I wore only when the occasion absolutely demanded it. In retrospect I wish I'd rocked that lavendar water for all it was worth.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    Quote Originally Posted by tvlampboy View Post
    One thing I like about Basenotes (and there are many things I like!) is to hear all y'all straight guys talk about frags w/o shame or fear. Around here (and really in many parts of the country, truth be told, and not just Okiebozo Shitty), most straight guys I know ONLY wear what their wives/girlfriends buy them and nothing else -- not EVER. First time I ever heard a straight guy tell me something like this, I just about fell through the floor. Seriously -- I didn't believe him. (I'm so out of touch with hetero, suburban America that it's sometimes comical.)

    It's cool to hear guys who are very comfortable with their sexuality talking about frags w/o fear that they'll be labelled as gay as I am. (Not that that is a bad thing, mind you!) But seriously, I think that heterosexism/machismo is often a factor in the big U.S. inhibition about frag discussion. Couple that with a strong tradition of women here being the only frag purchasers for their boyfriends/husbands and you have a potentially awkward subject for many guys to discuss in U.S. culture. I see it as worse in the South and the lower Midwest, especially. My brother (straight as a string) almost blushes whenever I mention my love of frags. His wife (one of my best friends) even giggles a bit. Now THAT'S just silly.
    I'm a straight guy and I like fragrance, clothing, and fine wine. Wine has been conquered - I actually got drawn into it by other guys and we can all have a wine party and no one feels like a dandy. Clothes is underway - I have 2-3 friends (straight guys) who will have a conversation about clothing stores and styles and will get in the car for a 1.5 hour drive to the good outlet mall. Fragrance - still a relative black hole. I have tried to talk about it with people, but usually the convo starts with surprise that I own more than one bottle and that I even wear fragrance every day. I have hope though - that one day a friend of mine will say "Hey - I have been meaning pick up a new cologne. Have any suggestions?"

  19. #19

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    Quote Originally Posted by FatTony View Post
    Have any suggestions?"
    Go out and test them yourself. It's not hard.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    Interesting read. Great responses in this topic.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    We are very odd social creatures aren't we? All that is said here about the lack of openness with scent is true , . . but there is more to it also. Consciousness of the variety of scents and notes and their effects are a learned pursuit. It takes time and effort to be aware of fragrance like most basenoters have become.

    Most people are really unconcscious of other peoples scent. They know what they like but that's about it. The art of scent is a relatively subconscious or even unconscious occurance to the normal population. They may know they are attracted to it, or put on alert by, or turned on/off by a scent - but rarely would they know why or what it was that caused it. It's an absence of training. They haven't trained their senses to pick up various fragrances and they don't have intellectual structures available to categorize the scents and think about them like a basenoter has. The average person just has not intellectualized the whole area of scent and the fragrance world is still part of the great unknown for them.

    I have a friend who when asked what kind of wine he would like, says, "I like both kinds, white and red." He has just not ventured his awareness into all the complexities of pinot noir versus shiraz and he never will. It is an area of unconsciousness. He knows when he likes a wine - but never knows why or more details about it. The same is true for art appreciation. Many people when confronted with a work of contemporary art say I know what I like, but I don't really know anything about art. They have not trained their eye to understand the use of color, harmony, rhythem, and design and the affects that these areas have in the making of an artwork. They also don't understand at all the power that the visual arrangement of these things has on their life - in a subconscious way. These same things apply to scent.

    The sense of smell is a great blind spot on the screen of consciousness for 90% of mankind. Most don't know what they are smelling, and often can't really smell things in the same way as a trained nose can. So, people just don't talk about it. The only thing they might be able to say is, "I don't know much about fragrances, but I know what I like." Truth be told even that statement is not true. Mostly they don't have a clue about what they like. They just have not opened those doors yet.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    For what it's worth, if a fragrance intrigues you enough, I believe you should ask about it! Two of the fragrances that I have loved the most but will never ever know for sure what they were were ones worn by people I've been sitting or standing near and have not asked about. My Great White Whale is something I smelled in a bar and I'm sure it was something by Armani or Boss or something popular like that (not niche), but it smelled amazing, and now I'll never know what it is and it haunts me, well, a little bit

    Not everyone thinks of fragrance like we do. They think about it, that they will wear it, and then that's it... a woman may put on make-up but wouldn't think to talk about the brand, the texture, the application etc. We here at Basenotes are a bit special and we have to realize that... BUT, fragrance IS an interesting topic and I think people would never mind revealing their fragrance choice. And if they think you're crazy, sobeit! As long as "Wow, you smell great!" doesn't sound too much like a pick-up line (unless you want it to) I say ASK!
    Last edited by nthny; 26th September 2007 at 03:44 PM.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    This has turned out to be such a fine thread with many great views & opinions! A lot has been said already, so I can only agree that it's sad how the majority of the world either regards the fragrances people wear as irrelevant, or just doesn't know how to appreciate it. I guess we really are a bunch of quite special people, but don't it feel good!
    "Perfume is the dream that carries me."

    There is always the sky to look at

  24. #24

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    Yep. I am really blown away, time and again, at the effort and quality of the posts not only on this thread but generally all over this forum. Special people in a special place.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    Quote Originally Posted by castorpollux View Post
    Go out and test them yourself. It's not hard.
    But that seems like exactly the kind of conversation-killing response FatTony wants to get past...
    Spray it, don’t say it…
    WARDROBE

  26. #26

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Buzzlepuff View Post
    We are very odd social creatures aren't we? All that is said here about the lack of openness with scent is true , . . but there is more to it also. Consciousness of the variety of scents and notes and their effects are a learned pursuit. It takes time and effort to be aware of fragrance like most basenoters have become.

    Most people are really unconcscious of other peoples scent. They know what they like but that's about it. The art of scent is a relatively subconscious or even unconscious occurance to the normal population. They may know they are attracted to it, or put on alert by, or turned on/off by a scent - but rarely would they know why or what it was that caused it. It's an absence of training. They haven't trained their senses to pick up various fragrances and they don't have intellectual structures available to categorize the scents and think about them like a basenoter has. The average person just has not intellectualized the whole area of scent and the fragrance world is still part of the great unknown for them.

    I have a friend who when asked what kind of wine he would like, says, "I like both kinds, white and red." He has just not ventured his awareness into all the complexities of pinot noir versus shiraz and he never will. It is an area of unconsciousness. He knows when he likes a wine - but never knows why or more details about it. The same is true for art appreciation. Many people when confronted with a work of contemporary art say I know what I like, but I don't really know anything about art. They have not trained their eye to understand the use of color, harmony, rhythem, and design and the affects that these areas have in the making of an artwork. They also don't understand at all the power that the visual arrangement of these things has on their life - in a subconscious way. These same things apply to scent.

    The sense of smell is a great blind spot on the screen of consciousness for 90% of mankind. Most don't know what they are smelling, and often can't really smell things in the same way as a trained nose can. So, people just don't talk about it. The only thing they might be able to say is, "I don't know much about fragrances, but I know what I like." Truth be told even that statement is not true. Mostly they don't have a clue about what they like. They just have not opened those doors yet.
    Great post. I think what you say is true, but it doesn't quite explain why people are reluctant to even compliment people on their scent, if they are. There is more at work there than just a failure to articulate the components of a scent — there is a failure to appreciate that the compostion is a work of artistic creation, and it's interaction with someone's skin ought to make it something people should find interesting.

    When you like someone's fragrance you are not just saying that they have great taste — you are saying that their body chemistry plus that fragrance is a superb mix. I wouldn't hesitate to say it — but many people would apparently. It is a shame.
    There are people to whom the truth of language does not matter — they are known as liars.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    An unusual question that has inspired quite a few posts so far, surprising ones too! Too bad I cannot contribute in detail right now, just two thoughts :

    1. While I cannot speak 'for Europe', of course I can speak as one European who has consciously observed social attitudes towards perfumery for more than a decade. I do not believe that talking about ones favorites, or commenting on other people's perfume, is common practice. Other than advertisers could make us believe - perfume belongs to the subtleties in life that are definitely there, almost a must in certain situations, but better not discussed. The old rule still exists: never ask a lady what perfume she wears - it's meant to remain her secret! I guess, some of that may have extended to men also. Men usually don't talk about it, and they usually don't have a 'wardrobe' which seems to be an invention of US marketers. We shouldn't forget that there hasn't been much of a market for men's colognes fifty years ago!

    2. I have never read anything confirming the following thoughts of mine, but I think it may be worth your while to think about it: perfume may be one of the stronger manifestations of our very own narcissism. I judge perfumes primarily on how they please my nose and mind. I most enjoy buying perfumes I can also wear in public. But I usually do not enjoy smelling 'my' stuff on other guys. When I notice other men's perfumes from a distance I am often rather critical. Not so in the case of women provided their perfume vaguely matches their personality. Although I always want decent sillage and longevity from my own 'wardrobe', but I miss nothing when other persons don't seem to be perfumed at all (significant others excepted, of course). I think the love for perfume has something to do with self centeredness also.
    Last edited by narcus; 29th September 2007 at 11:14 PM.
    'Il mondo dei profumi č un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

  28. #28

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    Good smells rarely get compliments, but bad smells immediately elicit responses and emergency remedies. Strange world.
    -

  29. #29

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    I would like to add that discussing fragrance with the average person requires a specific vocabulary that is usually lacking.

  30. #30

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    Scent is very often linked to physical attraction, as a few people have mentioned. Think about the times when you've swooned over the fragrance of someone you're attracted to. Almost everyone has experienced this, and I think it's one reason why most people are hesitant about commenting on another's fragrance choice. If you do want to comment, it's crucial to comment in a light hearted and detached way.

    Also, most people DO wear fragrance to get noticed, but not everyone wants everyone to know what they're wearing. As someone said earlier, it's considered faux pas in some circles to ask what fragrance someone is wearing, because it's "supposed" to be a secret (especially for women).

    Our sense of smell is the most primal sense, and the most seriously under-utilized. It takes a special kind of person to open themselves to the sensuality of scent, because it's a very liberating experience that requires people to go beyond basic learned behaviours and opinions about what smells "good" and "good, and what's "appropriate".

    Oddly enough, enjoyment of scent is often considered decadent in Western culture, and even stranger, some/many people actually equate fragrance with promiscuity. Scent and how it relates to culture is an incredibly complex and mostly sub-conscious subject.

    For a person to open themselves to visual beauty, as in a painting, is politically correct. Scent is a very different story. It often takes a heavy marketing campaign to convince the average person to buy a fragrance. The main problem for Westerners is that we have been trying to subjugate "odor" (through sanitation, technology and hygiene) for so long that I believe we may have, as a culture, lost something along the way.

    Scent is "dirty", so to speak. It evokes emotions, it stimulates, it inspires, often without our implicit consent. An independent appreciator of scent is a free thinker, a more sensually responsive person. Our response to visual stimuli can be altered and adapted... our reaction to scent is not as easily under our control, and I think we like it that way.

    The key here is understanding the difference between "dirty, but good (it's natural!)" and "dirty bad (it's dangerous!)", the latter of which we have done a good job of eliminating in modern times.

    Holy cow, I sure went everywhere with this post, haha.
    Last edited by Maxwell; 27th September 2007 at 10:01 PM.

  31. #31

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    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    I sometimes compliment guys for how they smell(I usually never compliment people)... But to answer your question... I find scents more intimate than clothing. For instance nobody will crave somebody else because they wear a jacket, but a scent might turn someone else on. For instance, I have a crush on L'Eau D'Issey pour Homme by Issey Miyake and it makes me feel desire in a way, when I smell it. Most people are self-conscious about their sexuality and won't admit what they desire, even if they have loose morals(like most people in the society today, sadly).

  32. #32

    Default Re: Why doesn't the rest of the world get it?

    Very interesting post. If I smell a scent I like, I would almost always say something. I've also had friends comment on mine. But this is usually always between friends and not complete strangers.

    - Tomer
    Currently hooked on: Gucci Envy, Armani Code and L'eau ST Dupont

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