Last week, when I read the title of L’Esperessence’s post (How important is the story of a perfume to you?), I had a feeling of déjà vu: I could have sworn that not only I previously read something on that topic on the same blog, but even planned a post prompted by thoughts on the topic. After I failed to locate that post on my own, I asked the author, and she was very kind to point me into the right direction: it wasn’t a topic of that post 10 months ago but in conclusion of the review of a “story-less” perfume she did pose that same question.
So this time I decided not to wait another year and write my thoughts on different types of stories that accompany perfumes. Since I do not want to draw attention to perfumes, descriptions for which I use to illustrate the idea, and would like to make reading these blobs of text more entertaining, I’ll use pictures of Rusty that might or might not convey same ideas.
This type includes more or less poetic description of the actual smell that perfume is trying to recreate.
[…] the smell of fresh bread from the bakery takes us back. The feel of warm bread against the cheek even more so, evoking a familiar sensation from my childhood.
I like these descriptions: they give me enough warning of what to expect (or to avoid).
Lilac always smells of lilac
These stories describe not as much the actual scent but rather circumstances, places or events that perfume intends to remind of, images it conjures.
You don’t need to be Proust to let an aroma surround you with memories – sometimes, it can be a simple as the fresh, aromatic cologne of a departed lover, filling a room with bergamot, herbs, and a uniquely compelling whiff of rosemary. Even more than on his skin, the scent lingers and lingers, compelling us to eagerly wonder if and when he might return…
I do not mind these but I know that I’m easily suggestible, so I would rather read something like that after I tried that perfume: my nose isn’t that great as is, so I prefer to give it a chance to have a “blind sniff impression” first.
Actual picture, no post-processing
These usually tell you what kind of a person wears such perfume or what one would feel while wearing it.
The new XXXX man […] is a modern dandy. Blessed with an instinctive sense of style and elegance, he effortlessly blends sophistication and casualness. Unbound and free, he remains true to himself in every circumstance and never needs to pretend. Confident without arrogance, naturally seductive, he radiates a form of charisma that leaves a deep imprint in the hearts and minds of the people around him. For him, life is like music and he is perfectly in tune with its inner rhythm and melody.
XXXX – the best ingredients for flirting and seduction, skilfully mixed into one unique scent. It’s the fragrance that remains at your side while you’re making your move, boosting your self-confidence in that all-important moment.
I’m still not sure if these are better or worse than the one for Amouage Blossom Love that I quoted in the recent Second Sunday Sample post, but I dislike this type of stories. Luckily, these usually accompany mainstream releases, which I avoid anyway.
Whimsical, romantic or philosophical, these stories, abstracts and quotes from non-existent literary works are created to illustrate and enrich perfumes they are attached to.
She would do anything to climb the social ladder still further.
Her latest scheme is to poison her husband, Lord George, inheriting his wealth and burying his secrets for ever!
Her fragrance reflects her very essence: a green floral narcotic.
This type of stories usually amuses me more than anything else and neither add to nor subtract from the perfume’s appeal.
In my defense: it was Halloween; normally I do not dress up Rusty
It belonged to a queen in the Trianon rose gardens, far from the splendors of the Court, before the turmoil of history was unleashed. Entrusted to a noblewoman and very dear friend, it has come down to us through the ages to be reborn today.
Usually I’m skeptical about any historical references, be that Marie Antoinette secret recipe or scented theater curtains, which makes me immune to this type of stories. But once I believed the story…
When I read that Edmond Roudnitska created what is now known as Le Parfum de Theresa for his wife, and it was publicly released only after his death, I was enchanted. Not only it was a truly romantic story, but it had some parallels to my own love story (I used Roudnitska’s Diorella to scent a secret note to my first love). From everything I read, it was an amazing perfume!
I tried it and was greatly disappointed: it wasn’t unpleasant or bad but I wasn’t in love with it. If to think about it, it wasn’t unexpected: nothing can live up to an image in one’s head…
When I came back to it several years later, I liked it much more. Not sure I want to wear it but I appreciate it and think I could have loved it, had I been exposed to it from my childhood. Or had I tried it without expecting the most romantic perfume ever based on the Story.
Eight out of ten lines on the screen were typed by Rusty. True story.
Have I missed any other types of perfume stories? Do you usually read official stories before trying perfumes? Do they influence you?
Images: my own