Perfume

Why do you wear perfume? And I ask that because I know many perfume lovers are reading this. Of course, there are other readers who may or may not even wear any fragrance at all. And actually, their answer would be intriguing too…

I wear perfume to smell lovely as we all do, but I mainly wear it for myself. For whatever reason I’ve only ever had people comment on or take much notice of a few perfumes and obviously I’ve worn hundreds of others. Can you believe that? Only a few. So it often becomes more a matter of what I want to smell myself.

The ones people love are: Chanel Coromandel, Chanel No. 22, and Houbigant Orangers En Fleurs. It’s always a compliment with Coromandel. Everyone loves No. 22 too but it’s complimented after hugs or handshakes and never by random strangers as it is with Coromandel.

I actually like the way Shalimar and Paloma Picasso smell on me but I’ve had snide comments made by older ladies about Shalimar and men have outright asked, “What stinks?!” in regard to Paloma Picasso. *laughing* Humorously, one of the wives of the men commenting on Paloma Picasso corrected him by saying, “It’s actually really good! I like it.” I’ve had people ask at public events if someone broke a bottle of expensive perfume when I wore Chamade. I’ve also had people be blown away by Narcisse Noir on my skin. A child kept saying, “I can smell candy! It’s Pez, daddy. Why does it smell like Pez?!” Also, a lady at an opera performance in Seattle once covered her nose with a scarf, glared at me and then moved seats when I wore Narcisse Noir.

BUT (as I’ve said before) everyone adores, adores, adores when I wear Orangers En Fleurs. And it’s not about how much they love the actual perfume it seems as much as how it seems to make them feel when I wear it with my chemistry. It smells lovely any day but if I feel sad or tired and want to make sure to be either left alone or treated politely by strangers I wear Orangers En Fleurs.

What about you? Why do you wear perfume? What makes you feel happy to wear? How does it affect you or your day when you wear it?

My parents both wore and wear fragrance, but only my paternal grandmother wore perfume to any noticeable degree, that I know of. My great grandparents I’m not so sure about… Before immigrating to the US and taking up farming at the turn of 20th Century my great grandfather worked at a bank in Norway (his father was a math tutor) so perhaps he wore something then? Maybe some sort of aftershave? However, at any rate, I have a feeling if they wore fragrance (and they might have) it was kept private. For many people in my family it is still a less desirable topic of conversation. Perfume is seen as decidedly too unintellectual, déclassé or simply frivolous. I do have at least a few aunts who enjoy talking about fragrance to some degree though.

But again, why? Why do you love perfume? Is it a status symbol to you? Maybe you take it seriously on an aesthetic level but your primary reason for wearing it is to give off an aura of affluence or prestige? Do you wear it to feel beautiful? To announce your presence in a room? Do you wear it to attract sexual attention?

For better or worse I’ve never attracted more attention in that way by wearing perfume. Ever. *laugh* …I’ve also only rarely had men I’ve dated (and obviously that includes my husband) compliment or take note of my fragrance at all. And just for reference while I’m not bi (or a lesbian) and never have been I’ve not had women or any other gender notice my perfume in that way either. I swear that aspect is not much of “a thing” for me. I don’t necessarily like that, but it is what it is. What about you?

I respect Luca Turin for his scientific, aesthetic and cultural understanding (and those like him) but the way he seemingly ignores body chemistry is problematic to me (on a scientific level and otherwise) and there’s little he could say to convince me it doesn’t affect the way perfume is worn. Sorry. *shrug*

Body chemistry is scary because it has a lot of connotations that are uncomfortable to discuss openly for most people. Issues of race, gender, sexuality and class are silently present if you acknowledge body chemistry, I think. Identity. It’s more pleasant for most to pretend that those differences don’t exist, are all subjective or to just live in blissful ignorance.

There was a dark skinned gentleman of Middle-Eastern ancestry who once told me that certain notes were probably more lively on his skin than mine. He projected them more. They blossomed wildly on his skin so he had to be careful when he wore them not to wear too much. I could tell he felt a fascinating mixture of both embarrassment and pride in regard to the matter. The “body chemistry” conversation can be kept intellectual and enjoyable in the company of those who aren’t that insecure about one of the topics it reaches but nowadays fewer and fewer people (in many groups of people) can handle such topics publicly without tension arising openly or sub-textually. And it’s damn difficult to avoid body chemistry when you discuss perfume for too long…

Actually though, when I started discussing perfume publicly I worried people would think I was showing off. But I figured there were so many perfume collectors and connoisseurs out there that I’d likely just blend in. And at first I did blend in and it was wonderful. But eventually I discovered that the potential problems went beyond what I’d initially feared. Perfume touches the core of all of our souls and in a world more hostile and less equal by the moment perfume is a potentially dangerous topic. “Perfume? Isn’t perfume just an expensive cosmetic?” you ask?

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