19 Mar

Recently I have thought a lot about fragrance and done a bit of research into finding a signature scent for myself. The immediacy of perfume is something that appeals to me. It’s preverbal, it works on the emotions. Describing scent is impossible, in a way. Language chases after the affect scent has on the emotions, without ever really catching up. Which gives me a problem because the first thing we experience when shopping for scent is visual: the label and the bottle. It’s a challenge to get past the marketing of them and the presuppositions that underline it, especially since I want to find something that doesn’t go along with the boring, saccharine “sport” fragrances sold to men nowadays, or the fruity perfumes sold to women.

Speaking of boring, i’d stuck to citrus fragrances or “green” scents so far so I thought it was high time I put a bit more effort in. Ones that appealed so far are Blenheim Bouquet, Extract of Limes, Royal Water and vetiver but they are all fairly anonymous.

Terre d’Hermes got me thinking there was a bit more to this fragrance business. Then I found White Patchouli, which is marketed to women but whatever. It doesn’t smell of patchouli at all to me, by the way.

Having since snooped around on the site all these links lead to, ignoring names and all other cues except that I wanted something that was both pretty AND dirty at the same time. I bought a few samples and came up with some that I like. Some were just too feminine, some too dirty, some too powdery, another would make a wonderful room fragrance, but on me not so good a cologne (and with the candle retailing at £80, I won’t be taking that option either.)

Which left three. The first has the most gorgeous, gorgeous dry-down on my clothing, and is dignity in a bottle, but would definitely suit a middle-aged lady better than me. (Any Mrs Robinsons out there? There’s a bottle of perfume in it for you.*)

But the joint winners give a tale of two complimentary opposites. The first is a rose and musk smelling thing. I am convinced that this is useful as a sacerdotal ointment, best worn for enthronements, healing the blind and wiping away sins. £200 for a 100ml bottle though. Bit steep.

Which leaves the other joint winner, called Charogne. It smells like lilies do, but lilies just as the flowers are starting to fade. It also smells of chewed bubblegum. There are the white florals that I like, jasmine for instance. And animalic leather and pepper, all mixed up together. It’s a big character. I had to look up what the name means. It translates as, variously, carcass, blackguard or slut.

I was all set to buy myself a bottle with some Christmas money, but I ended up spending it at a timber merchant instead so that I had something to edge the new garden borders with. See? This post is about gardening after all.

*sorry for soliciting


One Response to “Scent”

  1. Becca March 21, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

    A men’s fragrance I wear from time to time is Gucci pour homme. I don’t think it could be described as pretty, however…

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