What's in a smell? A cocktail of molecules which get inhaled up our nostrils, absorbed into mucous membranes, analysed by our bio-receptor thingies and interpreted in our brains. Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Well not as sweet as the latest celebrity perfume which comes in a rhinestone studded pink bottle. What fragrance drives men absolutely wild with desire? It's a toss-up between frying bacon and wood smoke.
We're surrounded by smells everyday and yet our vocabulary for odour is woefully, pathetic. Describe an orange: the texture, the colour, the shape, the taste, the oily residue left on your fingers after wrestling with the pith and peel…. now describe the smell. Citrusy, sour…well like an orange?
Try to describe smells and the words get stuck in our throat. What's your favourite fragrance? What does it smell like, why do you like it? If you're describing one of the hyper real scent recreations by Demeter then yes, it's straightforward. The "Baby Powder" scent smells like baby powder. Let's get a bit stinkier…. What does "Miel de Bois" an infamous perfume by Serge Lutens smell like? Honey? Wood? Piss? Concentrated piss on the sidewalk on the hottest day of the year making you want to Usain Bolt-it far far away? (That'll be the phenyl acetic acid in both honey and urine…)
Talking about fragrance always brings up more questions than firm answers. Yes smelling Kenzo Amour is nice. The particularly thoughtful amongst us might say comforting but it's a mood rather than a description of the smell. Delve deeper and we find that there's basmati rice steam note in the mix and it all makes sense. The smell of cooking carbohydrates triggers a universal "Aaaah" in all of us.
The couture houses of Paris are built on the sales of smelly liquid in glass bottles advertised by peachy skinned celebrities. An estimated 900 new fragrances were launched in 2010.Whilst we have the fashion editrices to pick apart the gowns and accessories released in the fashion world, there's very little proper discussion of perfume, the sales of which prop up the glamour on the catwalks. Once sprayed on our skin, a perfume can hang around for hours, top, heart and base notes tenaciously hanging on and wafting up to the nostrils when you least expect it. It's potent stuff which deserves respect and consideration.
Here at Because we are going to talk about the smells. We are going to pull out those words stuck in our throats and discuss the elements that make up this bottled liquid gold. If I'm not here, you'll find me curled up in a corner huffing the fumes from my bottle of vintage Opium parfum. Go and inhale.