Sunday, August 20, 2006

Old-fashioned scents of style

I've wanted to write a post about perfume for a long time. I have a little perfume fetish, you see, and especially enjoy perfumes of only a few notes that transport me somewhere...Chanel in 1920s Paris, the sandalwood nehru trips of the 60s, the simple roses and lavenders of the 50s. I usually blend my own until I get just the scent I'm looking for, and something that's uniquely my own.

I recently saw an ad for Guerlain's new fragrance, Insolence, in a fashion magazine. My first reaction: dumb name. Targetted at 13 year-olds? But I dug a little deeper (i.e. went to visit Guerlain's Web site) because it's interesting to see how perfumers choose their perfume names.

I couldn't find any info on Insolence, but I did discover that they have a great little site that features a history of the 170-year old French perfumer, which began when its founder created a scent for the Empress Eugenie, whose biography I recently read (but that's *another* post). If you have a few minutes to explore, check out this section about their bottles--beautiful works of art, each one-- throughout the years. If only they would re-issue these fragrances in their original bottles so people who love history could expand their, ahem, *scents* of the past.

The description of Guerlain's perfume-making process is fascinating too. They use an instrument called a perfume organ that allows the perfumer to explore individual notes until he or she finds just the right scent to add to the key note, or resinoid--in essence, creating 'harmonies.'

Through every era of history, a woman's scent has been intrinsic to her personal style. It's her own private, individual signature--sacred ground, really, that blends with her personal chemistry to conjure her image in the mind of anyone who catches her scent or its component notes. Guerlain says it's like an invisible garment--I love that. I have a few friends and relatives who have chosen a signature scent this way, and I find it very cool that I think of them when I pick up "their" scent at the perfume counter. In spite of my perfume fetish, I studiously and respectfully avoid buying the same scent, no matter how much I love it...don't want to step on anyone's "nose".

2 Comments:

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