Thursday 7 July 2011

What it's easy to forget about perfume

As you may well know bbc4 are currently showing a short series about perfume.

You can watch the first two episodes on the i-player here if you haven't already.

It is perhaps not surprising that I stayed in to watch this programme, in fact several friends apologised for messaging me during the transmission (which I assured them was silly, because of course I was recording it). It was really wonderful, partly because some of it really wasn't, if that makes any sense. The behind the scenes look at the creation of a new mass market scent will not I think have won that perfume any fans but I rather loved that.

Anyway this post is not about the programme, though if you like either perfume or eccentric people then I do recommend it. It is about remembering as a scent lover that not everyone has the perfume education we have all given ourselves.

After Tuesday evening's programme a good friend who wears several lovely and not especially generic scents messaged me to ask if I knew of Shalimar by Guerlain which had featured quite heavily in the first episode. Initially I sent a message back saying of course I have, I could hardly call myself someone who liked fragrance if I had not- and said she should catch up as soon as possible. She asked what it was like and I said wonderful but that it was not my most favourite Guerlain but that I thought it was perhaps the most accessible of the older ones and so on and so forth, as any scent lover might.

She knows I love perfumes but she said wow you know so much about it (and I really hadn't said much). I have despatched her to suitable perfume counters in London to try one of the Queens of perfume but this has reminded me that we all assume everyone must know L'heure Bleu for example, or Rive Gauche or Diorella. We are so consumed by scent that we sometimes forget the classics are to be so revered and to always be talked about. I am so often looking for what is new or what is old but hard to find that I forget to point people towards and to talk about what is there year on year.

So if for some reason you have never tried Shalimar please, please do. Then try Mitsouko and if you don't like it try it again and again, look for the peach and the moss and fall in love with it. Then on a more bad tempered day try L'heure Bleu and let is take you over a little. On a better day try Apres L'Ondee and embrace your inner pre war suffragette. When you have tried all these try the mens scents, many women wear Vetiver so spritz that by try them all. Then go to the Dior counter and try all the ones they don't talk about very much in the bottles that look the same, they are far better than any of the scents they will want to talk to you about. Then over to Chanel to try Chanel 19 and Cristalle because they don't give them enough love and they are scents for women not girls (or men).

Perhaps even those of us who think we know everything there is to know about perfumes in standard perfume halls would do well to re- try some of the scents that have been there for a long time- or to remember to love them.

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