Pictured is a lily of the valley -- a scent both peculiar and poisonous. When I was a kid, if there were lilies-of-the-valley around, we were only allowed to sniff them once per day. When you limit something it draws people in more, and so the scent of this little flower became something I forever find fascinating.
I make reference to scent often, but I'm kind of an untraditional fan. I don't believe in applying more than can be detected by someone very close to you. I love the idea of someone extraordinarily chic overtaking a room in a billow of Chanel No. 5 or Caron Tabac Blond or some other iconic perfume, but in reality I can't stand it. It overwhelms, clings, chokes. I think the era of the three-foot radius of perfume went out the window with the near-universal smoking ban, at the very latest. The office no longer stinks like a humidor, so we shouldn't practice the opposing kind of smell hegemony. Compared to neutral air, it just gives people a headache.
Nevertheless, I am a perfume nerd. I think often people use scent to disguise their own smells, but the best perfume amplifies something about you and that is why it works. I vividly recall people by their particular smells (my first boyfriend will always be antibacterial soap; my mother, the peculiar, classy, un-sweet oriental floral of Oscar). I even fell in love with someone's shampoo. Really, there is no universal to scent, high or low class, perfume or everyday product -- not even the aforementioned iconics. You can put on the classiest most expensive perfume and if it doesn't agree with you you will smell skanky. That stated, I think there is a lot to be said for subtle application and I think too few people practice it. Your scent should be you with perfume, not just PERFUME FOREVER AUGH.
My first perfume purchase was a big bottle of ckone which I loved because older sibling of a friend my sister and I played with often had a bottle of it, and I thought she was hopelessly cool and I always used her products when she wasn't looking. So a couple years later I had my own bottle, a boxless, capless sampler bought at a discount from the swap meet. I wore it and loved it, the green tea note, the dark, masculine (but not too masculine) feel it developed by the end. I can no longer stand it because you kinda have to keep spraying it, and I don't like to reapply OR be overwhelmed. But ckone taught me to love unisex scents. Since then, barring one lengthy love affair with the weird, flannely Burberry Brit (vanilla, what???), I'm drawn to the masculine - specifically bone-dry, oriental, vetiver-based or metallic scents. They are more nuanced and less fussy than florals and less repellent to me than straight-up gourmands (I love food but I do not under any circumstances want to smell like food).
Once I had a conversation with a former roommate, a fine craftsman himself, about the "craft" of perfuming. He was not convinced of its craft status, for which I argued vehemently. Notes have to be blended to evoke the right impression and this takes a nose far subtler and more trained than the layman's. Further, they have to develop in the right order. This fascinates me and reminds me of Stephen Dobyns's book Best Words Best Order. The elements have to be right, but they also have to be correctly ordered for the product to make any sense as a whole. Assembly is a vital part of craft, right?
My very favorite is by Swiss perfumer Andy Tauer. It is called L'Air du Desert Marocain, which I am wearing today, and which is perfect for the foul weather because it's dry and balances out the watery outside. That's really why I was writing this -- because I smell it so it's on my mind. It's not only a smell but also evokes a feel, and I can't quite put my finger on what I find so perfect about this feel. It just is something correct to my nose. Also, however, I have not spent a lot of time with someone very close to me lately, so I don't know if this scent is something that is agreeable to me only. Ultimately, I am interested in this: is your own smell like your own voice, which, when you hear it recorded, surprises you? Does it smell different to you than to other people? If you have any thoughts on this tell me them. If you have any favorite smells please tell me them too.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
This Marie Claire post, "How to Use Poetry to Seduce a Man," is a little bit funny. Poems for love occasions in a women's mag - but at the same time I'm glad people are posting and commenting. But what this makes me want to do is to collect a better list of poems for a more complex range of emotions.
Also it follows on the heels of this retort to the "25-Reasons-To-Date-A-Writer" meme that's been popping up on Tumblrs far and wide and near and nearer. Is the answer "don't date us, we're bad at dating"? Or is it "We take this shit seriously so stop asking for it, it's not like I'm asking for casual love demonstrations of your job"? Why is a list like this necessary, or is it?
Finally, dangerlove: Ben Fama wrote some great stalker letters for Gaga Stigmata, the Lady Gaga journal run by Kate Durbin.
Also, guys, I'm reading tomorrow at CROWD in Bushwick.