I’ve written recently about fragrance, and of the memories associated with it, but I’ve been reading ‘The Essence of Perfume’ by the incomparable Roja Dove and so my thoughts are still on the subject.
I had the great fortune to meet Roja last year and listen to him give a talk on fragrance, during which he tested us with a series of different scents on white paper strips. He also had with him the original series of bottles in a case from which Mme Coco Chanel chose number 5, giving rise to the perfume of the same name. As you might imagine, it was a great thrill to see them first hand. He is an incredible speaker, and has a great ability to hold an audience completely captivated. I could have listened to him all night.
The sense of smell is developed when we are young, so memories associated with certain smells are imprinted onto our minds. When we smell the same thing as adults, the memories return. This explains why I have a great fondness for the smell of crayons, sweaty horses, old books, mouldy Barbour jackets, cut hay and new trainers!
I have quite a number of books on perfume, one of which is ‘Perfumes The A- Z Guide, by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez. It is, simply, one of the best, funniest and most entertaining books I have ever read. I highly recommend it.
Here is an extract of what they say about my beloved Chanel perfumes:
Bois des Iles: ‘ It is basically perfect and, though eighty years old, seems as ageless as everything Chanel did in those inventive years. If you think of all the best Chanel fragrances as little black dresses – sleek, dependable, perfectly proportioned – Boise des Iles is the one in cashmere’
Cuir de Russie: ‘ There have been many other fragrances called Cuir de Russie, every one either too sweet or too smoky. This one is the real deal, an undamaged monument of classical perfumery and the purest emanation of luxury ever captured in a bottle.’
So far, so perfect. (and, yes, for those of you who read my previous post, this is the Cuir de Russie post accident!)
What I’m interested in now, and what will form the next few posts on fragrance, is where my thoughts on other perfumes differ from the thoughts of others simply because of my memories of them.
So I am planning a series of posts about this, but I am really interested to know what are your favourite smells, fragrances, perfumes – and why?
‘Sit with someone and breathe in their scent and they give you one of the most beautiful of all gifts – the gift of memory. You may not have seen someone for years, but with one breath of their scent, the memories come flooding back, dreams are revived, love is rekindled.’ Roja Dove.