I once had a dressing table full of perfume bottles. I wore pefume everyday and would stop wearing a particular bottle if it started to run out (because I didn’t want to dwindle the collection). The bottles were ornate and colourful, sometimes they came in tins or cardboard boxes which I would preserve, like new. Wearing and displaying the perfume - I thought - was a very grown up thing to do. I was not a teenager; I was a woman!
At some point I stopped being interested in perfume. Over time I have become intolerant to strong scents. For example, I can’t bear the smell of perfume on other people’s clothing such as scarfs. I also find it revolting when I can smell someone’s perfume in their wake as they walk down the street. The only time I still think scent is sexy when there is the faintest whiff of it when you’re up close to someone you find attractive.
Sometimes if a person sweats, it reacts badly with perfume and it can smells like cat urine. Cat urine smells worse than sweat.
I would like to think I don’t smell of sweat or breath or milk or fish or fecal matter. But I can’t smell myself. I can’t know for sure. Sense of smell is culturally relative and where and how you were brought up will influence the kind of scents you like. In Victorian times, civit extract, which smells of fecal matter, was a key note in men’s perfumes.
As you can imagine, bearing in mind I no longer like strong scents I find the Christmas perfume marketing bonanza a ridiculous affair. The adverts are hilarious and replete with absolute nonsense. I think now, no wonder I loved perfume so much. Teenage minds just absorb all this stuff - the glamour, the beautiful people, the edgy names. If you buy this perfume your life will be fabulous.
My ‘favourite’ perfume advert is Blue de Chanel, which has a swinging sixties Rolling Stones backing track, and is directed by Martin Scorsese. I laugh every time. You’ve got to check out this guy pulling a magnum (remember Ben Zoolander?):
‘I’m not going to be the person you expect me to be anymore’ - a profound message indeed. And one that’s keenly targeted to appeal to teenage angst and bulging Christmas stockings.
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