In the movie ‘Perfume’ the main character 'Jean-Baptiste Grenouille' possesses an amazing talent for distinguishing scent. His ability is both a blessing and a curse as he becomes obsessed with creating the best perfume the world has ever known. His overwhelming desire drives him to the point of murder as he attempts to distill the very essence of beauty. Needless to say things didn’t end well for him or the poor women he preys upon.
Clearly Jean-Baptiste has issues but this movie definitely gave me an appreciation for the craft behind perfumery. Being the inquisitive soul that I am, I decided to purchase my own fragrance kit complete with essential oils, test tubes, droppers and even little vials with cork stoppers. This was immense fun but I didn’t quite manage to recreate Tom Ford’s Noir as intended.
Instead I decided to start a fragrance collection and created my own little perfume counter. To date I’ve purchased over 100 fragrances and culled my collection down to 67 with another 24 on my wish list. I haven’t yet calculated the cost because it’ll be a little hard to justify given that most of them are unused.
The interesting thing is that the more I purchase, the more niche my taste becomes. I research fragrances online and read reviews in my quest for obscure scents by brands I’ve never heard of. Browsing perfume counters for hours, testing scent after scent long after the shop assistant has given up on the sale. I’m clearly searching for something but I never know until I find it. Even then it’s difficult to figure out if my attraction for a fragrance is fleeting or if it possesses the character I’m looking for.
I’m fascinated by the science behind how scent develops once released from its bottle. Each cord has a distinct personality that evolves over time, as do we. They have an impact on our mental state both consciously and subconsciously. They can lift spirits with joyous memories or cause distress as foul odours assault our senses.
A fragrance can embody a time, place or person forever intrinsically linked in our psyche. As memories of the tangible fade our mind starts to fill in the gaps in order to compensate. Desperately trying to hold on to the fleeting, we aggrandise when we should take more time to appreciate the present.
Maybe this is an analogy for embracing life before it disappears, or maybe I’m just rambling about my passion for the beautiful art of perfumery.
Related post: Embracing The Intangible