Today I threw caution to the wind and, for the first time in almost three months, went for a walk. I know some of you must be getting tired of me harping on my heel injury at this point, but I had no idea how much I would miss walking. I am a walker. I would rather take the stairs than the elevator. I would rather take the treadmill than the fitness class. I have a certain amount of nervous energy, and walking – fast or slow, day or dusk, alone or with a friend or kid(s) – soothes me. I walk to think, and the posts herein are often written at the end of a meander, where I ponder various ideas and rearrange the order of my perfumed thoughts in my head. Not being able to walk is not just driving me crazy, it is interfering with my writing.
Today while I was walking, I was pondering why the hell I had Annayake Pour Elle again on my left arm, and D’Orsay´s Femme de Dandy again on my right. I want to decide about them, and in (typical?) Gemini fashion I am unable to do so.
Annayake Pour Elle, with its notes of bergamot, fig, elemi, water lily, tea, cypress, and white musk, is … standoffish. It has a tendency toward dry bitterness. It draws attention to itself but does not invite. It feels like the Japanese version of Niki de St. Phalle, in terms of its arty, aloof vibe. It is interested in itself, less in the wearer. It is also peculiarly malleable, as if it cannot decide what it wants to be. At the opening, it is summer-fruity – but also incensey and very faintly urine-tinged – and I wonder if that is the elemi, which I have read described as sharp, piney and lemon-like. Then it wants to be woods but won´t drop the lily-tea, and is that anise creeping in? Also, peppered ink. In the drydown it makes me think (although does not remind me of) Comme des Garcons 2.
And then I turn back to Femme de Dandy, which as far as I am concerned I should be smitten with, and yet I am not. Why, why, why not? It´s supposed to include anise, cardamom, carrot flower, cinnamon, cloves, tobacco, rum, labdanum, benzoin, musk and tonka bean, and does that not sound scrumptious? It´s a soothing gourmand at its base, as opposed to the inexplicable first half hour, which is like being pelted with overripe fruits, and which makes me feel I must be missing some of the top notes in my list. Gah, is it this sweet on everyone? Admittedly, this is not the ideal weather, but still. Driving me slightly crazy is also the tenuous connection I feel between the two – Femme de Dandy in the far drydown reminds me slightly of my favorite bits of Annayake Tsukimi and Miyako, that wonderful benzoin-woody-incense base.
Finally, the issue causing my distress comes into focus: one of these fragrances (Pour Elle) is the sort of thing that would make you remark: your perfume smells good (or it doesn´t.) Femme de Dandy at the drydown is the sort of quasi-gourmand thing that invites a slightly different comment: you smell good. You, that is, as opposed to your perfume. Presumably, this is because Pour Elle is calling more attention to itself – but then again, that´s not quite true, is it? Certainly Femme de Dandy isn´t subtle. Must a you-smell-good scent reflect something you might eat, or something you´d naturally have in contact with your skin (laundry detergent), or even something that is associated with human smells (sweat, musk)? Where do you draw the line between the scent and the wearer?
According to something I read in the last couple of days, the smell of pizza and roasting meat are the quickest way to give men an erection. So, dab on some Domino´s (or some vintage Kolnisch Juchten). Or, instead, we can kick this around some more, since clearly I cannot resist. What is the difference between a fragrance that makes people say YOU smell good and one that elicits the comment, I like your perfume? It makes sense to me that men (taken as a stereotypical group) might like foody, comfort scents like chocolate and vanilla on their lovers, as opposed to … I don´t know, creosote, or formaldehyde. But if you wore CdG 2, or … pick some other strange thing, or some strong aldehydic fragrance, and that´s all you ever wore, would your lover(s) eventually associate that smell with you? With desire and arousal and sex? Probably, yes?
How much of our smell attraction is innate, and how much is learned? I wonder. I mean, I find Chanel No. 5 (while lovely) one of the least sexy scents in the world, but I bet five people read those words today and thought, she´s an idiot. They (and I) could turn around and argue, why on earth should something that smells like a cupcake be arousing? And hey, while I´m rambling, I wonder if there´s a cultural reference here? Do men in, say,
Do I smell good? Do you? Speaking for myself, if I took an on-the-street survey like the ones in Cosmo or Elle, I´d guess that more often than not the answer would be a resounding NO. Maybe nobody but me is digging my Memory of Kindness, redolent of tomato leaf. Maybe lapsed Catholics everywhere wonder at the strange whiffs of incense they get wafting off fragrance freaks on some random Tuesday in August on the subway. I have been the secret source of more than one person in the bank queue stealing a peek at his shoe, wondering if he stepped in something. I don´t spend much time smelling like Betty Crocker, and a little too much time smelling like a leather glove at a bonfire, and I guess that´s just the way it is.
Putting the question out to the five of you who aren’t at the beach this week: what is the difference between a fragrance that makes you smell good, and one that would garner comments along the lines of your perfume smells great! Is there a difference?
50s card: gizmoandwidget.com