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  1. #1

    Default people who are passionate about fragrance

    Hi there,

    I am writing a piece for a national newspaper (working title: 'The Rise Of The Perfumista').
    As you might have guessed it is about people who are passionate and very well informed about perfume, as well as the blog sites that have fuelled the phenomenon.

    I hope this isn't a breach of forum rules but I would really like to ask forum members, what it is that they think makes people so passionate about perfume, driving them to collect fragrances in the way that others collect shoes?

    There is also a theory (mine!) that people who love fragrance, also tend to love food, wine and the finer, more sensual things in life.

    I was also wondering if there is anyone out there (ideally female) who would be prepared to talk to me about their perfume collection and love of fragrance?

    Any comments/feedback appreciated

    mille merci


    mimi pompom

  2. #2

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Just a quick note to add that mimi asked permission to post this. Feel free to post responses to this thread or send a Private Message to mimi.

    Alternatively, email me at grant.osborne@basenotes.net with the subject 'Perfumista Piece' and I can forward them on

    Cheers

  3. #3

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Quote Originally Posted by mimi pompom View Post
    There is also a theory (mine!) that people who love fragrance, also tend to love food, wine and the finer, more sensual things in life.
    Although I don't know what exactly constitutes "the finer, more sensual things in life" this theory holds as far as I'm concerned. I've been a lover of all things concerning the senses (i.e. sensual in a literal fashion). Started out with food, then progressed to clothing and fragrance. I'm a fan of music as well.

    With the exception of music and painting (for which my tastes are more conventional) I tend to always go for the extremes. Funky fragrances, strange foods, peaty/raw Islay whiskies, eccentric ways of dressing, etc.
    Looking to swap/buy/receive for free () the following samples/decants:
    Indult Tihota & Rêve en Cuir
    Chant d'Aromes extrait
    Vetiver pour Elle (5ml decant)


    Selling/swapping:
    Versace The Dreamer 50ml (1.7oz) BNIB
    ---

    "The Sunshine bores the daylights outta me!"
    http://polderposh.blogspot.com/

  4. #4

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    This theory works for me as well. I love eating in good restaurants (sometimes unfortunately, both for my wallet and my figure!) and I've developed a passion for wine with the years. I also tend to extremes in eating (alterned with periods of healthy austerity) but in fragrance I'm becoming more and more tired (and sometimes sick) of heady, strong fragrances. Many of my top scents are, in fact, unisex. I love woods and spices and tolerate florals rather badly.

  5. #5

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    I love fragrance because you can explore with your personality in ways that don´t draw too much attention straight away. I think people do judge you on what you wear and if you suddenly decide to dress in old style clothes that evoke the emotion of days gone by, well you will be judged on it and treated very differently.

    With perfume it takes a while for people to notice it and you aren´t immediatly judged and dismissed. I like how perfume can add to a mood or temper it, wear leather and rubber smells when you feel you need a bit more strength for a tough meeting. Wear something mild and relaxing for when you feel on edge. Wear something stunning and sexual when you have a bad hair day.

    For me it also allows me to explore my feminity in a way that isn´t too cute and typically girlie, I love the science behind perfume and the wonder how ´how on earth did they capture this smell so well!´.

  6. #6

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    PM sent mimi

  7. #7

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Good points there Lian.

    Hi Mimi! Before Basenotes I had an interest in fragrance, but this has increased exponentially since joining. I think my taste is still a bit immature for fine wine and food, so I can't comment on your theory yet. However, I do find myself to be quite materialistic sometimes.

    Good luck with the article! If you have any questions, feel free to PM me. I do hope we will be able to read this article after it has been published!
    Last edited by jillsy; 29th August 2008 at 11:02 AM.

  8. #8
    Lifelong Sniffaholic
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    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    I'm not sure I would fit the description of people who appreciate the finer things in life. I do love well-made food (are there really people who don't?) but I don't drink wine and I don't spend much time in art museums --I prefer natural history museums, especially if they have a fine minerals display. I love pearls and colored gemstones.

    However, our furniture is largely second hand, from when we were first married; we never bothered to upgrade it. My clothing is nothing special and I couldn't care less about bags and shoes. I don't even use makeup.

    Fragrance is a huge mood elevator for me. It just makes me happy! I feel more engaged with the world when I smell good fragrances-- be it one of the 30 roses in my garden, or something I spritz on. If my sense of smell is impaired by a cold, I feel somewhat depressed and disconnected from the world.

    Perfume is not a luxury for me-- it is a necessity. I will cut back on other expenditures to be able to buy a perfume I love.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Hi Mimi! Glad you are visiting, and hope that you stay a while, too!

    For me, fragrance is a form of beauty that I refuse to deny simply because of social conventions. I agree with your thesis completely. As a scientist (a fair number of us are), I love the beauty of nature, mathematics, and scientific theories. I love the beauty of food, wine, women, writing, music, and damn near everything else, including ballet, motorcycles, and firearms. Molecules are beautiful, and those who create art with them - whether on an atomic level or an olfactory level - are speaking to me.

    I'm rather lucky, in that almost all scents are interesting to me. It's just a question of how interesting. That's where the aspects of technical appreciation, knowledge of the history of perfumery, and emotional connection come in.

    As you talk to more of us, you will discover that - for many of us - life memories are a very important factor in our feelings toward fragrances. Memory is one of the things which fuel our love.

    You will also discover that the people who love fragrances are not just sensual - they are sensitive. It's one of the reasons why perfume boards like Basenotes are such wonderful places.

    Feel free to ask around about things. We're a friendly bunch!

    -Red

  10. #10

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Are we sensuous? Of course, darling. You will find no group with finer senses. Note the true definition of the word, "producing or characterized by gratification of the senses, having strong sensory appeal, or highly susceptible to influence through the senses." We pay attention to the often neglected sense of smell, reveling in the artistic excellence of a finely crafted perfume perfume and in the aroma of the world, in general.
    We may, in fact, be super-sensors. This group will notice and appreciate all olfactory input including the smell of the environment: a moist, warm, summer evening; mown hay along a roadside trail; the first fallen leaves of autumn, smoke in our cats' fur when they return from the outdoors; the particular aroma of the skin of each person whom we kiss.
    Personally, I admit freely to delighting in the nuances of taste in food, the sound of music, and visual input from art, interior design, and architecture. Even the feel of textiles on my skin and the motion of dance is important to me. It's all good. It's all essential--and sensual.

  11. #11

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Purplebird7, my dear, you are so very eloquent and so very right. I simply like to smell things. I enjoy many scents, that of old books (which I lift to my nose when browsing in a used book store, that of leather (can't get enough), lettuce, wool, among others. But perfumes are works of art, aesthetic visions of masters. Unlike the works of great artists, which I can never afford, or the works of great composers or choreographers, which I cannot possess, I can buy and wear and indulge in works of fragrance art.

  12. #12

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    And Mimi, if she agrees, I strongly suggest that you contact Chayaruchama. Hers is an impressive, passionate tale.

  13. #13

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    I'm relatively new to a passion for fragrances--I was turned off them based on the sillage monsters of the 1980s. There are a number of commonalities between wine and fragrance, and so it is a surprise to me, a wine lover and sort-of collector (about 100 bottles) that it has taken this long for me to get into fragrance. Now that I'm in, however, I'm hooked. BTW, I'm also a lover of good food, always searching for innovative restaurants, so at least my experience bears out minipompom's theory.

    This got me thinking about the similarities and differences re wine and fragrance. Both obviously engage the sense of smell, which to me is one of the most powerful and evocative senses, especially when one considers how much smell contributes to taste. With both fragrances, it is often enjoyable to analyze the notes and balance, although sometimes I just want to sniff or drink. Both wine and fragrance change over time, both in the bottle and during the drinking/wearing. Both can turn into all-consuming hobbies and bankrupt you if you're not careful. And, if someone is serious about maintaining quality, storage is similar: dark, temperature- and humidity-controlled places.

    The main differences are: 1) perfumers have a larger palate to play with, even though wines, with the large number of varietals and blends, have a wider range of notes than some would think; 2) with wine, you get the bonus of drinking it and engaging the sense of taste; with fragrance, you get the bonus of the experience lasting longer (and you don't have to worry about whether you can drive ; and 3) there is more subjectivity in fragrance reviews, given that wine has certain rating systems which are relatively objective (for instance, the UC Davis rating scale).

    Finally, what drives my fragrance passion? Obviously, I love to engage my senses. I also love the thrill of finding something new that speaks to me. And I agree with other posters that it is a way of expresing one's self. Finally, I do have a bit of acquisitiveness about me, especially when I spot a deal.
    For sale: JL Scherrer parfum (reduced price) and more!

    "One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other." ~ Jane Austen

    “Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume” ~ Jean de Boufflers

  14. #14
    AromiErotici
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    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    It's basically Aromatherapy for me. It literally alters my mood and mindset just enough to make a difference. My collecting frags is more than likely compulsory since I have a history of compulsive behavior in anything I undertake. Thank God I'm not an effective multi-tasker.

  15. #15

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    In many ways, collecting scents is as much an intellectual pursuit as it is a sensual one. When I began exploring fragrances I discovered that I had to learn a new language and build a vocabulary associated with smells. Part of what keeps me interested and contributes to my embarrassingly large fragrance wardrobe is the desire to experience more fragrance combinations, learn what makes them smell the way they do, and keep them as reference smells. (My collection includes samples and minis, but I also enjoy the aesthetic of bottle design, and so have many full sized bottles as well.)

    We have a tremendous capacity to smell. When you compare the nerves in the brain devoted to smell, they're larger than anything but the optic nerve. And yet the sense of smell is marginalized and under-appreciated. For me, exploring fragrance is also partly self-actualization, i.e. developing my natural ability to recognize and categorize smells.

  16. #16

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Quote Originally Posted by mimi pompom View Post
    I hope this isn't a breach of forum rules but I would really like to ask forum members, what it is that they think makes people so passionate about perfume, driving them to collect fragrances in the way that others collect shoes?

    There is also a theory (mine!) that people who love fragrance, also tend to love food, wine and the finer, more sensual things in life.
    Me:
    I love perfumes, but I'm picky. I have had bad reactions to some perfumes, and finding Basenotes was wonderful because it helped me identify the smells that make me feel ill. I collect perfumes because certain smells either make me happy, or transport me to another time/place, much as Proust's madeleines.

    Food? I love food. I love good food. I don't drink much at all, as I'm a grumpy drunk. I use wine only for cooking. As for the finer, more sensual things in life, I prefer to save my money by grocery shopping at Wal-Mart, in order to support my hobbies, only *one* of which is perfume collecting.

    I don't collect shoes, purses, knick-knacks or anything else really. I have two sailboats. Theoretically, if I had more money, I'd probably collect more of them. Perfumes are cheaper though.

    Husband:
    Hates perfumes.
    Loves food. Loves wine. Loves the finer and more sensual things in life and love.
    But he shops at Wal-Mart too.

    Good luck with your project! I think it'd be hard to generalize the kind of people who love fragrances. I think they come from all walks of life, and from many different countries (as Basenotes has shown me).
    "Embrace those things which give you pleasure, after all, there is so much mediocrity to endure elsewhere." -- Inselaffe

  17. #17

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    For me it is the love of fine beautiful things, especially finely crafted things - paintings, music, opera, film, Spanish sherry, great books, pottery. Fragrance is a high art form that seeks to capture the most wonderful things in the natural world and put them in a bottle. Where I live I can't grow gardenias or night blooming jasmine, but to open a bottle and find them there, now that is art!

  18. #18

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    I think I also assume that fragrance aficionados will also be sensualists in other ways as well, but I could be projecting, because that's the way *I* am. I dunno. Maybe in our own way we (we, everyone, not we, Basenoters/perfumistas) all appreciate the finer things, we just differ on what they are. Perfume, handbags, sculpture, music, cars, guns, BBQ etc. etc. Could be anything, really!

    For me, a huge part of the obsession with perfume comes from the way it seems to straddle the line between an intellectual pursuit and a sensual one. There's an intangibility - what it inspires in my memory and my feelings and perceptions, versus simply how it smells. My sense of smell seems more deeply embedded in my subconscious than my sense of taste or my sense of sound. Quarter Pounders with Cheese are yummy (I just ruled myself out of being asked anything didn't I?) but that's all - yummy. Scent is different, almost transportive.

    Last thought - without the internet, there would be far fewer perfumistas. I doubt the thought to really 'get into' fragrance would have crossed my mind had I not stumbled across various perfume blogs and reviews over the past few years. So...yay for the internet.
    "It's now very common to hear people say "I'm rather offended by that." As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well so fucking what." - Stephen Fry

  19. #19

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Well of course there are as many answers as there are people who wear perfume, but that's not very helpful. To me perfume is a way of traveling, historically and geographically and experientially, of knowing the world, knowing my own senses, responses and associations. And of imagining the aesthetic and sensory experience of other people. It's not just about liking, to me the pleasure of perfume is often more about knowing or experiencing. Are people interested just in the "finer things"? That makes it sound like perfume is just an extension of some desire for luxury. And I like fine and beautiful things like most people. But I don't think that Basenotes gathers people who are interested primarily in luxury but more in experience. Or more specifically in learning to notice our experience.
    I know there are a lot of threads that have to do with impressing, or not horrifying, other people. But that stuff isn't so interesting to me. And neither is the collecting part, really. Or luxury. Meh.
    I think to get this right, mimi pompom, you've got to say something about the sense in which perfume is art. And about how art isn't some cultural artifact to be commodified or "understood". It's more about finding ways to more clearly and fully experience desires and associations, and about making up for the deficit of only getting to be one person. More or less.
    Last edited by Strollyourlobster; 1st September 2008 at 04:13 AM.

  20. #20

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Thank you for your interest in “us.” I can only speak for me, so here are my thoughts for now.

    Why do I collect perfumes?
    There is the art including the history of perfumery and the science, but first, and most primitively, the highly personal emotional impact a fragrance carries. It is that primitive experience which feels like something innate, in my opinion, that drives my passion for fragrance. It is not something I feel I’ve chosen; rather, it chose me. I think some people are more susceptible to the power of fragrance and the emotional charge it brings, than others who may not be inspired and affected by fragrance in the same way. There are people content with one or two fragrances, who will wear it as a “signature” scent, or choose a scent out of current fashion. I could never be that way to my own dismay. In fact, I felt there was something wrong with me because of it until finding Basenotes, and reading all the reviews about fragrances on Makeupalley.com. Tania Sanchez talks about the impact the internet has had upon the world of perfume, and the new capacity for interested parties to convene with others of like-minds in the book Perfumes, The Guide, that she co-wrote with Luca Turin. So the internet allowed me to learn more about perfumes, find perfumes, and connect with others who also love perfumes. It has both inspired me and contributed to my obsession with collecting and smelling more scents.

    Collecting came out of a compulsion to smell different things, to own the marginally obtainable, to smell history. But first, to feel the perfume, to own and possess it, in a way that no other collector can possess their collected object, because one absorbs the object. We breathe it in, and in a way it becomes us. I don’t own the bottle; I possess the scent. It is one of the most intimate experiences I know.

    Here is an example of what compels me to collect: L’Heure Bleue brings me to tears. It makes my heart ache and pine. How can that be? It does that to me, and I know I am not alone. Now, I know that I am not alone. It does not elicit that response in anyone else in my actual peripheral world. It does this to me, brings this response out of me, and this fact explains who I am. Why? I can only think because I am wired that way. I have actually tried to demystify its’ powerful impact and close my eyes and just smell it like an air freshener, like a gust of warm air, like cut grass, like a cool and impartial fact of experience, but unlike cut grass it still brings me to tears. It seems to me that the best and worst in the world can be brought about through scent. Scent can be beautiful and awe-inspiring, and horrible and gut-wrenching.

    I have not read enough, learned enough, nor can I speak of the art or the science behind what I own even, unlike many of the fine Noses here on Basenotes. But I love it first, and then I begin to learn and appreciate what these scents are, how they are made, and where they fall in history. My compulsion begins with a drive to smell more and more, which is a curiosity for the unknown, and then expands because I then love new scents.

    Regarding your theory about things sensual and artistic:
    Yes, perfume collecting is sensual, in the most simple way it involves a basic human sense. But I would rather smell wonderful perfumes than eat fine food. I love creating and experiencing fine art (I am a fine artist, actually), and I gain nearly the same pleasure in drawing as smelling something wonderful. I love finely crafted things, like intricately etched and sculpted jewelry. I love artisan work. And I suppose I would be considered highly sensitive and sensitized towards that which is sensitive in nature. I guess I am drawn to the beautiful and the ugly. So, I see your theory as true in this way.

    Finally, there is also the love of ownership of a collection, for me, of possession, and the hunt for the next conquest. Collecting perfume is only then like a purse or shoe collection. Neither of those collections interest me, but I see the comparison in this specific way: that it feels good to own what one loves.

    I still sometimes wish I could be content with a defining, signature scent, and that is partly how I know this is an obsession.

    I hope this helps you in some way. It’s nice to sometimes put in words what one just knows inside.

  21. #21

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    I also feel that if you do something it should be done with passion. I enjoy perfume with a passion but I can also hate some smells with a passion (dried fish, bacon).

    And people say I´m all around a decadent person, the first time I was called decadent was when I had detention in school when I was 14 and I spent it reading Sophie´s World and eating chocolate.

  22. #22

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Wow! Thank you so much to everyone who has taken the time to reply - and in such an eloquent way. (I always knew perfume lovers were an erudite bunch!)
    Please forgive me for not replying individually but I will be in touch with a couple of you privately if that is ok.

    Thanks again


    Mimi

  23. #23

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    No problem

  24. #24

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Quote Originally Posted by LedByMyNose View Post
    I think I also assume that fragrance aficionados will also be sensualists in other ways as well, but I could be projecting, because that's the way *I* am. I dunno. Maybe in our own way we (we, everyone, not we, Basenoters/perfumistas) all appreciate the finer things, we just differ on what they are. Perfume, handbags, sculpture, music, cars, guns, BBQ etc. etc. Could be anything, really!
    What an interesting thread! I agree, that people can differ widely in their priorities, outside of perfume.

    The definition of a sensualist is probably where I am confused. Cuz truly, if enjoying sensing a "finer" thing, then I cannot imagine any finer thing than the feel of a 15 knot winds whipping hair against my face, and the feel of a heaving boat under me. I also enjoy speed. Anything that makes me go faster than I can run.

    If it's a 1982 GMC Jimmy with a rusted carriage, but it makes me go 75 mph, I'm happy.
    If it's a Lexus that can only go 20 mph because it's in a school zone, no thanks.

    Indeed, perhaps I do collect the finer things in life. But only as vehicles for experiences. What a revelation!
    "Embrace those things which give you pleasure, after all, there is so much mediocrity to endure elsewhere." -- Inselaffe

  25. #25

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Something Perfume_Addict says (and damn I should learn to use the quote function, so much good stuff in this thread) makes me want to add another thought. Fairly recently I noticed that I wasn't very good at smelling. Partly it was that we got a dog and when we took walks she was constantly, of course, stopping to sniff with this great intensity and interest. And I was thinking how the only things that make me stop and as it were risk getting choked by the leash so that I can linger in a sensory moment, the only things that make me want to stay in a moment like that are visual: a great building, a beautiful woman (okay, nearly any woman), a flower, a tree, a cloud, a shadow, another woman. So started to wonder what sort of dust was gathering in the part of my brain designed for smell. And I started smelling things more carefully. Went home and took all the lids off the spices, walked around in the garden crushing leaves and inhaling. And then Burr'sThe Emperor of Scent came out and I was introduced to the idea that perfume is like music. There are simultaneous images: accords. And there is a sort of narrative from topnotes to drydown. And then as so often happens, because I was beginning to smell these works of art with great focus and intensity, I also started to enjoy the natural world much more clearly and intensely. In the same way that learning to watch movies helped me to enjoy my eyes.
    Oops, the temporal lobe epilepsy is running away with me. But for me perfume has been a great mid-life growing up thing. Part of the general call to slow down and enjoy, notice the wonderful things that have been there all along as I charged aggressively past. Not that I've stopped charging, but I stop to smell.
    Thanks to everyone for a great thread, and to Mimi for the question.
    Last edited by Strollyourlobster; 1st September 2008 at 02:30 PM.

  26. #26

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    The definition of a sensualist is probably where I am confused. Cuz truly, if enjoying sensing a "finer" thing, then I cannot imagine any finer thing than the feel of a 15 knot winds whipping hair against my face, and the feel of a heaving boat under me.
    Someone started a thread in another area recently re: are Basenoters "hedonists" and there was some confusion based on the definition of 'hedonist' - I think it's fairly safe to assume that all these words - hedonist, sensualist, lover-of-decadence etc. mean on some basic level a person who enjoys the physical senses a lot. Well, I take it that way here, anyway.

    Btw, about 20 years ago my then-6-yo sister coined the term "the California feel" for having the wind in your hair when traveling at speed. We lived on the Canadian prairie and I think she had gleaned some idea from movies/TV that people in California spent their lives in convertibles with their hair whipping around their faces and the sun shining. We still use the term, especially when out on my Dad's boat on a sunny day.
    "It's now very common to hear people say "I'm rather offended by that." As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well so fucking what." - Stephen Fry

  27. #27

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    The excellent posts above have got me thinking more about this.

    Going with several people's comments, I enjoy that fragrance has both an intellectual/analytical side as well as a sensuous/creativity/enjoyment side. I guess you could say it engages both the left and right sides of the brain.

    Re the left side, I enjoy doing research, both into the history of fragrances for context and interest and into individual fragrances to find some holy grails. Re the right side, I enjoy experiencing others' art and creativity, even if I'm not good at creating art myself.

    I'm another person who probably would never have gotten passionate about fragrances without the internet. I started off by buying a Jo Malone for my birthday this year when wandering by a boutique, then going onto the internet to see what notes it had and what others thought of it. I found the blog Now Smell This, then I found other reviews, then the NSS article about 100 frags every perfumista should try, then etails with samples, then Basenotes, then I was hooked!
    For sale: JL Scherrer parfum (reduced price) and more!

    "One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other." ~ Jane Austen

    “Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume” ~ Jean de Boufflers

  28. #28

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Originally, I enjoyed fragrance as a form of escapism, from what a teenage mind perceived as the gray half-life of industry, the Protestant work ethic, and a refutation of Puritan values still held dearly in the hearts of the granite towns of the Northeast, chiseled into an Ethan Frome-like denial of pleasure. This has been an important theme for me; we are a dour lot who considered abandonment unpatriotic and therefore "wrong." To do one's duty to one's family, to trudge through all manner of ill winds and weathers in the service of a faceless corporation, to get one's feet wet all throughout the month of February in grimly hued offices...there was much to avoid. Perhaps more importantly, there was a battle with this birthright: Was I the only person so dissatisfied with these strictures, with the baked beans and brown bread of a Saturday dinner?

    This sort of escapism contained fatalism: The truth was that there was as ever, despite the birthright of the American Dream, truly no separation unless for the very gifted or the very lucky (more often than not, both attributes co-dependent). It wasn't fantasy, because the type of relief provided by the rich perfume imagery (equal in importance to the scent and sometimes more so; who has not picked up a bottle of Mitsouko and demanded of it the answer to any romantic question and been sorely disappointed while still finding remedy in its representation?) seemed achievable, insofar as it addressed such givens as location, situation, and personality (we are all, in our minds, beautiful and capable of inciting the sweat of passion). All that was missing was money, a minor impediment. The rest can be painted with ease and fluidity, dependent only upon the creativity of the individual.

    Note that this type of relationship to perfume is different from the idea of perfume as extension of self manifested via one's wardrobe, which of course would contain those "finer things" mentioned in the question. Perfume is not subject, in my estimation, to matters of taste and social arbitration relative to grooming or presentation (sillage excepted). Perfume is an extension of ideal self, which will fluctuate randomly and most especially with age; I can now wear Mitsouko and not imagine myself in furs and bourbon and Paris, backlit in tones of green and gold. It has now become an intellectual, rather than an artistic, exercise: I wear it now as a scent of survival, of soldiering by on wit and consideration alone.

    I have no interest in food whatsoever, or wine, or silks and velvets or personal suites on Emirates A380 airliners; I appreciate (and write about) art, but never consider true art to be a commercial commodity but rather something more democratic and available for the purpose of intellectual expansion and gratification. Luxury is useless to me, unless as an amusing reminder of ill-considered teenage whims conceived with a complete lack of proper tools for its execution.

    As an adult, I wear perfume simply for the smell of it and for its chemistry (not as enhancement of my own but as scientific exercise); I have no allegorical relationship to it at all (as popular criticism often holds), nor would I color it in emotive terms that have no bearing on my present self as I currently live. I am not so accepting of fragrance as I once was and I think this is important: As a young girl I would wear whatever was at hand, often difficult chypres and never once do I recall displeasure; now, intellect/knowledge guides my choices as do various prejudices. Or else perfume has changed, which is probably closer to the truth. The cheapening aspects of time, our greatly glorified and overly robust commercialism, and bottom-line mentality has resulted in far too many bastard children seven times removed from their well-bred ancestors.

    Perfume may serve as a marker of time or remembrance, as we have seen time and time again in various threads about perfume and memory, but this is the memory of smell as a sense, not just of the smell of perfume. I take as much enjoyment from a perfume as I would from other aromas that please me and are largely prosaic and often ungainly: cows, fresh halibut, the sweat of a draft horse, turpentine.

    So I have traveled from perfume as a tool of the imagination to perfume as a tool of the intellect, while at the same time turning up my nose at foie gras, Manolo Blahniks, and Birkin bags. The answer to the question is that perfume is appreciated by those who feel deep emotion and are stirred by experiences not just of themselves but of others, who look outside, are pained or pleasured, and who feel things in their gut. This is the true "finer thing."

  29. #29

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    I am passionate about art and the need for humans to make it and share a bit of themselves through it. Perfume is wearable art, to me. I love to spend a few moments with any that crosses my path, but am selective about those that come home with me.

    I appreciate the quality of things, and would prefer a few fine items as opposed to a closetful of cheapness. I will spend the extra bit on fine and organic foods more often than not, and wine (when I can-I do drink the cheap stuff as well!).

    I believe in enjoying everyday luxuries! It helps me feel that I am truly caring for myself, which allows me to care better for the ones I love. My favorite fragrances are those that are enjoyed by both myself and those I am close to. It is an intimate relationship, yes, like food, like clothing.
    ~Grenouille knew for certain that unless he possesed this scent, his life would have no meaning.~
    Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

  30. #30

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Hi all,

    thanks again for the responses. I am still looking for a UK-based perfume addict (must be female) to talk to me about their passion for perfume for the newspaper article I am writing.

    If anyone knows a female UK based perfume-lover who might fit the bill I'd be very grateful and can offer a bottle of the latest reworked Chanel No5 as a reward/bribe for talking to me! (Again, I hope this doesn't break the rules of the forum!)

    (Also, can change names if people don't want to be identified in print)

    mille merci

    Mimi ;-0

  31. #31

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    When I did my counselling training we did a lot of testing of ourselves and each other. One of the discoveries I had was that my major modality is kinesthetic. This means that smell, touch, fine fabrics and *experiencing* living through the senses was very important to me. So I think this theory definitely holds up. I am very picky about food - not so much fine wines etc, but that's just because I'm not particularly enthralled by alcohol, and I love soft and/or interesting fabrics. Smell is one of the most important senses to me, and the evocation of memory by smell is absolutely magical. What a fascinating topic to write about - good luck with your article.
    "I don't know the key to success,
    but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
    Bill Cosby

  32. #32

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    That's interesting about modalities, Clemmie. My predominate modality is auditory, and I find that I particularly enjoy reading and hearing descriptions of fragrances. Language, for me, is the first hook. It's what makes me want to sample and sniff.

    Books like Perfumes: The Guide by Turin & Sanchez, and web forums like this one are a great draw for me, and I SO appreciate the finesse that so many perfume lovers seem to have with the written word. These people frequently leave me in awe, and because of them I've discovered many scented treasures.

    I look forward to seeing the article, Mimi!

  33. #33

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Perfume is such a big part of my private life. It is something I only share with all of you nice people, and I guess the people that have to smell my perfumes everyday. I don't talk to my co-workers about it and my husband really does not understand but lets me be.

    I have loved perfume since I was little, although my mom was a one-perfume lady (Femme). I have even taken some of my dad's fragrances. He loved Egoiste and Declaration Essence and now I wear them too.

    Perfume is my refuge from everything in the outside world, my little private playground and gives me a lot of joy!

  34. #34

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    I agree with Haunani about language being the primary trigger for my interest in perfume. As a market researcher by profession, the urge to classify and look for patterns and similarities between things is a source of great satisfaction. So too is the ability to capture a scent in words, even if this means resorting to the florid and silly metaphors to which I am prone, such as "Blair Witchy" or "mouldy crypt"-like, or "leaf peeping coyly through a freshly creosoted fence" or "rose petal-strewn molten creamy white leather in the back of an old Bentley". My nose is nowhere near acute enough to pick out all the notes accurately, but if I can communicate the feel of a perfume evocatively, I find that very cathartic!

    Basically, I started out one afternoon in January idly googling three perfumes a friend used to wear a lot - and which I didn't much care for - to see whether they shared any common notes (uncannily so, as it turned out!). By the end of a week I had filled three Lever Arch files with print outs from Osmoz and blog sites, filed by fragrance family.

    The next step was to acquire samples to check out the things which had caught my interest during this intensive research phase. This began on a small scale, but the floodgates quickly opened and my collection now runs into the several hundreds, some 7 months later. As the intellectual pastime gained a physical dimension, it was as though a whole new world of sensory pleasure was opening up, with apparently limitless variation. Yes, the therapeutic and escapist value of fragrance is immense, and something I had never recognised or experienced in my previous 30 years of random and indifferent usage of the stuff!

    It would not be stretching a point to say that this interest in perfume came upon me so suddenly and forcibly that it was akin to a religious conversion, not least because I now feel compelled to spread the word amongst my friends and invite them along for testing sessions (got to get through my 8+ years' stock for one thing!). When someone who is perhaps stuck in a rut finds a new scent they really like thanks to my nudging them in the right direction, that is very gratifying.

    So the benefits are in fact threefold, now I think about it - intellectual, physical, and "philanthropic"!

    Oh, to answer your question about the correlation between a love of perfume and the finer things in life, from my experience I think that would broadly hold, although I was a very late developer when it came to perfume! I love designer curtain fabrics and wallpapers, good wine and cheese, indeed I used to work in a deli in Camden (now sadly gone) as a student. I also love jewellery and opulent objects in general, even if I only get to see them in the pages of a glossy home interiors magazine or at a National Trust property. Conversely, the friends I have who are immune to the allure of perfume - including my other half, whose signature scent I have despairingly classified as "Palmolive/industrial" - tend to be a bit functional and utilitarian in their approach to clothes, food, cars etc. There is an interesting thread on this very topic on Nowsmellthis in which the notion of perfumistas as "sensualist geeks" is discussed. The cap certainly fits for me! It is called "People who like Perfume and People who Love it" from June 26th of this year, and if the hyperlink below doesn't fetch it up, there is a link in the archive list of favourite topics (bottom left of the home page):

    http://nowsmellthis.blogharbor.com/b...6/3763927.html
    Last edited by VM I hate civet; 6th September 2008 at 07:17 PM.

  35. #35

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Quote Originally Posted by Haunani View Post
    That's interesting about modalities, Clemmie. My predominate modality is auditory, and I find that I particularly enjoy reading and hearing descriptions of fragrances. Language, for me, is the first hook. It's what makes me want to sample and sniff.

    Books like Perfumes: The Guide by Turin & Sanchez, and web forums like this one are a great draw for me, and I SO appreciate the finesse that so many perfume lovers seem to have with the written word. These people frequently leave me in awe, and because of them I've discovered many scented treasures.

    I look forward to seeing the article, Mimi!
    Wow!

    One of my other main modalities was auditory digital (which means I hear voices in my head - no seriously!). When I type, I hear my own voice speaking the words. When I'm thinking, I hear my voice. When I'm thinking about other people, I hear *their* voice - even dead people. It's fascinating, the world of modalities, and how much we do without realising that it is our modalities driving us all the time. Fragrances are hugely important to me, and I can even get offended if someone doesn't like my perfume - I posted a thread about the 'philistines' I work with some time ago (!). It's not their fault, but I find it so odd that they don't appreciate lovely fragrances like I do. This is because that modality is such a strong one for me - it almost makes me something of a snob about it. So I have to try to tone that down when I'm in the workplace. I wear fragrances now that sit closer to my skin, because I realised I am wearing them for ME, not to impress others (and clearly, it doesn't anyway!), so I'm enjoying my perfumes a lot more now.

    Since getting involved with this site, I've discovered the 'elitist' side of my perfume addiction. Whilst I'm still perfectly happy to spray on a cheap cologne if the mood takes me, when I'm shopping for fragrances 'for the future', I invariably head towards the niche areas. I like to wear perfumes others don't recognise, because I like to be asked 'what's that perfume you're wearing?' I don't know what that's about, maybe it's an ego thing, I really haven't analysed it to death, but I love having something that not everyone else has (other than the people here, who of course I'm happy to share with, because we all have the same passion!). The lovely thing about this place is the sample swapping and sharing that occurs so readily. I've learned so much from the people here, and have happily shared fragrances of my own that others have difficulty finding (sadly, sometimes, the postal service lets that down, which is hugely annoying). It's such a fun hobby to have - if a little expensive...

    I've just got Chandler Burr's book, and I'm very much looking forward to delving into that.
    Last edited by Clemmie; 7th September 2008 at 09:34 AM.
    "I don't know the key to success,
    but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
    Bill Cosby

  36. #36

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    That's very interesting about your auditory faculty, Clemmie - it must be quite a comfort to hear the voices of relatives who have died, for example.

    I have also given some thought to the elitist potential of this interest in perfume. I don't think it is mass market perfumes I feel snobby about per se, but rather very loud and/or very sweet ones - thinking of the girly fruity florals that have flooded the market of late, especially the trashier celebrity ones - what some critics collectively refer to as "lolly water". Yes, I think I am quite specific in what I look down on, and would happily wear a very mainstream scent if I thought it well done.

    The issue of whether we wear perfumes for ourselves or to catch the attention of others is another interesting point. I can truthfully say that no one has ever asked me what perfume I am wearing - not that I have consistently been wearing the stuff for long! I look forward to that day with keen anticipation... Perhaps I don't actually put much on and no one will ever comment! Most of the time (in the spirit of scientific inquiry) I am wearing up to six perfumes at once - though I try to limit them when going out! Most are applied with the small dipper you get in those 1ml sample vials, so perhaps that is why they are staying so close to my skin. But though I am evangelical about wanting others to make discoveries beyond their current - and invariably limited - repertoire, it would be true to say that my own perfume-wearing is a private pleasure. Maybe I should give myself a jolly good spritz of something one day and see if anyone remarks on it.

    Going back to Mimi Pompom's article, perhaps she should talk to several of us, as we may well illustrate different facets of this hobby/obsession. There may even be regional differences between us! (There speaks the market researcher in me!). I was meaning, for example, differences to do with our access to fine fragrance retailers and how this has affected the development of our sampling habit.

    Another great thing to come out of this which you touch on is the friendships you make with like-minded people. I can totally relate to that, though my connections so far have been over on the Nowsmellthis site. What I think is good about Basenotes - having finally discovered its Community section! - is the fact that you can start your own topic if you want to. As I mentioned over on the other thread, the database of reviews is a great resource I have already been using.

  37. #37

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Quote Originally Posted by Clemmie View Post
    I like to wear perfumes others don't recognise, because I like to be asked 'what's that perfume you're wearing?' I don't know what that's about, maybe it's an ego thing, I really haven't analysed it to death, but I love having something that not everyone else has (other than the people here, who of course I'm happy to share with, because we all have the same passion!).
    I also feel drawn to the niche sector. I don't think of it as elitist though. People come and go in my workplace, and I am aware of what they are wearing. For example, a woman came in last week and I recognized she was wearing Bulgaria Omnia. I was relieved that I hadn't chosen that to wear that day. I don't know when I started thinking that it was rude to wear the same clothes outfit as someone else, but I feel the same way about fragrance. I feel it steals the limelight away from the person who is wearing it. They lose their individuality. And I'm all about individuality. Maybe it was Catholic school uniforms that did it to me, I dunno!

    Quote Originally Posted by Clemmie View Post
    The lovely thing about this place is the sample swapping and sharing that occurs so readily. I've learned so much from the people here, and have happily shared fragrances of my own that others have difficulty finding (sadly, sometimes, the postal service lets that down, which is hugely annoying).
    I agree. So many members have been greatly helpful to me. I've learned a lot about little things, and that's helped me learn a lot more about notes and fragrances in general.

  38. #38

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    I was hoping to connect with some individuals as well who are passionate about fragrances. I decided to become a perfumer several years ago and found my way in Grasse where I am now a perfumery student. I had the lucky chance to work in an international perfumery company this summer, and what an experience that was.

    For the longest time, I'm looking for someone like me... someone who is consumed by the olfactory world and want to actively participate in it whether it be through creation, writing, consulting, marketing, and what not. Smelling fragrances or being close to raw materials make him or her happy. Led by passion for this art, he or she is willing to take risks and sacrifices to learn and feed the hunger within. The end goal is to be involved in producing something that will please the noses of the people around us.

    If you are him or her and willing to discuss a different level of perfumery, please send me a private message. Thanks.

    - Alex

  39. #39

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Thanks Mimi and everyone in this thread. Many of you just confirm that how lucky I am to be born human and have well function senses.
    To me, I have scents to connect to most event in my life and that is priceless.

  40. #40

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Quote Originally Posted by Aiona View Post
    And I'm all about individuality. Maybe it was Catholic school uniforms that did it to me, I dunno.
    I had to laugh at the part about Catholic school uniforms and individuality - you and me both on that one! :-)
    "I don't know the key to success,
    but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
    Bill Cosby

  41. #41

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Going back to the bit about liking the finer things in life, a number of people have mentioned the fact that their interest in perfumes is intellectually satisfying whilst also appealing to the senses. Tonight I was flicking through a wine guide supplement from the weekend Guardian or Observer, and there was an interview with good old Jancis Robinson saying she got into wine because it had both this "intellectual" and "sensualist" dimension. I'll drink to that!

  42. #42

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Quote Originally Posted by Clemmie View Post
    Wow!

    One of my other main modalities was auditory digital (which means I hear voices in my head - no seriously!). When I type, I hear my own voice speaking the words. When I'm thinking, I hear my voice. When I'm thinking about other people, I hear *their* voice - even dead people.
    Clemmie I am totally surprised that this is not common to everyone. My thoughts have always been 'processed' like this. I can still hear in my mind if I want to the voice of a girl who was in my class at secondary school and who died tragically at the age of sixteen. I can hear the voices of my grandmothers who have both passed on and have always been able to visually recall them and their particular mannerisms with great clarity.

    Someone posted earlier in this thread that there are those who are super-sensory and I agree wholeheartedly with this. I guess I have always perceived things differently to other people, no surprise then that I went to art school where individuality, and its expression, was encouraged. The textures of clothing fabrics, accessories and home furnishings are important to me also. I love soft leather bags but can't stand the feel of hard patent leather, for example, so where quality may be comparable it is purely the sensory experience of touch which is key in determining my preference. With regard to the first post in this thread , for myself I'd have to remove the word 'sensual' and replace it with 'sensory'.
    When it comes to fragrance my knowledge is limited in comparison with others' on Basenotes because I rely mostly on my instinctive response to fragrance and don't pay as much attention as I could perhaps to scent families and discerning notes. There was a time in my life when I tended to intellectualise/analyse the whys and the wherefores of everything but now I see everything I do, and love, as purely an expression of my soul. My love of perfumes is part of that expression and it is very personal, although it's always great to discuss frags with a fellow 'perfumista' ( I don't know enough to call myself a perfumista but I'll use it anyway!)
    I am not sure about people who are passionate about fragrance being more appreciative of 'the finer things in life'. The phrase 'finer things in life' can be taken so many different ways. Mimi pompom could mean aspirational things, or she could mean the simple, pure, experiential things in life. Perhaps both, I'm not sure. I have very simple tastes in food, I don't drink wine, I do love art of course, and have always loved music (from birth I guess!). I love to be caught up in a sense of wonder and awe whether from looking at a painting, or a sunset, a tiny little flower, listening to music, reading a book, experiencing a fragrance or just realising sometimes how amazing my family/friends are. I think if anyone is looking for a thread that connects Basenoters it may well be that we all have a sense of wonder. Now I really have rambled on for far too long...........apologies.
    Last edited by chaelaran1008; 9th September 2008 at 10:53 PM.

  43. #43

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Well this is a fantastic thread... and wouldn't it be great to assemble all these people. What a party! Especially the wine-drinking cohort!
    Aside from the expense (!) this is a great hobby-pursuit. It combines my proclivities: enjoying the senses, reflecting and analyzing. The historian in me loves the history behind scents (especially vintage scents) and the collector-acquisitor in me has a field day. I also like that it helps me understand myself, as an individual and in relation to others. Why do I like certain scents, and not others? How can I like a scent on someone else and not on myself? Why does a scent that I liked in my teen years now seem over-the-top? How can people like a scent I detest? How can I adore a scent that others hate? Our identity shifts... scent helps us track those shifts. What is constant, what changes?
    I collected and analyzed wine for decades. I turned those analytical skills to scents. The process is really almost the same.
    Best wishes, with this article.
    Last edited by odysseusm; 25th September 2008 at 03:40 AM.
    odysseusm

    "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower // drives my green age..." Dylan Thomas

  44. #44

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Quote Originally Posted by chaelaran1008 View Post
    ....I think if anyone is looking for a thread that connects Basenoters it may well be that we all have a sense of wonder.
    Quote Originally Posted by odysseusm View Post
    ....It combines my proclivities: enjoying the senses, reflecting and analyzing. The historian in me loves the history behind scents (especially vintage scents) and the collector-acquisitor in me has a field day. I also like that it helps me understand myself, as an individual and in relation to others. Why do I like certain scents, and not others? How can I like a scent on someone else and not on myself? Why does a scent that I liked in my teen years now seem over-the-top? How can people like a scent I detest? How can I adore a scent that others hate? Our identity shifts... scent helps us track those shifts. What is constant, what changes? I collected and analyzed wine for decades. I turned those analytical skills to scents. The process is really almost the same.
    These two comments really nail it for me. Here's to more exploring, sensing, collecting, sharing and analyzing together. Over many good bottles of wine, of course. Cheers to all!

  45. #45

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Yes, having a "sense of wonder" is a notion which captures beautifully the whole spectrum of sensory delight, whether it be in "high end" artefacts or expensive food and drink, or joy at simple sensory pleasures like feeling warm sand between your toes, or the scent of May blossom, or that satisfying crunch when you walk on a muddy tyre rut that has frozen over!

    Having a sense of wonder probably goes hand in hand with good powers of observation and a curiosity about the world. Flaubert was noted for turning everyday trivia into "gold" in his novels - it comes down to an appreciation of those little quirky things that may cross your path, even in familiar surroundings. This verse from Louis MacNeice's poem "Snow" sums it up quite nicely!

    World is crazier and more of it than we think,
    Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
    A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
    The drunkenness of things being various.
    Last edited by VM I hate civet; 10th September 2008 at 12:12 PM.

  46. #46

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Sense of wonder, absolutely. The world is waiting to be discovered. Lovely Celtic Christmas carol, "I wonder as I wander...". Could be my motto.

    Here's a great poem by Pablo Neruda.

    Lost in the forest

    Lost in the forest, I broke off a dark twig
    and lifted its whisper to my thirsty lips:
    maybe it was the voice of the rain crying,
    a cracked bell, or a torn heart.

    Something from far off it seemed
    deep and secret to me, hidden by the earth,
    a shout muffled by huge autumns,
    by the moist half-open darkness of the leaves.

    Wakening from the dreaming forest there, the hazel-sprig
    sang under my tongue, its drifting fragrance
    climbed up through my conscious mind

    as if suddenly the roots I had left behind
    cried out to me, the land I had lost with my childhood---
    and I stopped, wounded by the wandering scent.
    odysseusm

    "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower // drives my green age..." Dylan Thomas

  47. #47

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    That's a beautifully evocative poem - and what a fitting last line! The poet may have been thinking of a wood in his native Chile, but I can't help thinking of the fine species of tree where you are. Mentioning forests has just reminded me of the beautiful paintings by The Group of Seven.

    Regarding my own perfume collection, even after 8 months it could most definitely be described as "incorrigibly plural" - and becoming more so with every visit of the postman!

    Oh, and since joining Basenotes, I have been honing my flag recognition skills no end!

  48. #48

    Default Re: people who are passionate about fragrance

    Thank you for posting that poem odysseusm. It is one to savour while reciting aloud , I enjoyed it very much.

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