The ideal scent keeps the wearer interested, evolves with him or her; you can't "solve" it in one go like the plot of a bad detective novel. You need a perfect structure, like Chanel No 5, to keep you safe; and then from time to time you need to subvert expectations, with something that cuts against your style and even your gender. Scent is a demanding art. It privileges what is subjective, skin-close. So seek out what no one else is wearing. Keep a notebook. Scrub off your mistakes. New year is a time for experiment, re-definition, and perfume is a fine place to start.
— Novelist Hilary Mantel writes about fragrance in At first sniff ... at The Guardian. Many thanks to Vanessa for the link!
This is so true! that's the reason why most of the scents bore me, and I keep searching for new ones. I only have a handful of scents that NEVER bore me, keep me inteterested and make me sniff my wrists any time I apply them: Creed Love in white, Hermes Hiris, L'Artisan's several fragrances, Serge Lutens ALL fragrances and CdG especially number 2, and the last one being Kenzo Jungle both L'Elephant and Le Tigre.
My safe (Chanel no. 5) scent is: Iris Nobile by Acqua di Parma. It is interesting but also smooth, buttery and so dreamy.
The review of Velvet Hour made me lol. I've occasionally wished to discard my freshly-scented skin. Casmir, I'm talking to you.
A fine article – but no more carefully written than many of your thoughtful posts, R!
I have way more than a handful that never bore me, but then, it's rare that I wear the same thing more than once a month so that's no surprise!
Yes, “such a sad little tale” is perfect, although I've never smelled the stuff.
I don't know about that
Oops…and didn't mean that to be a wink — I meant it — she's a very good writer and I liked the article. Not sure she really applies any more precision to the topic, but still.
Well exactly (re: precision). There is a kind of snobbery about blogging based on the accessibility of it (anyone can slap up a page) that I don't totally understand. I suppose the argument is that there are more gatekeepers in order to get into print, and that's true, but they don't exactly keep out the cr*p, do they? (Thinking about how many print articles on perfume we've seen over the past year with blatant errors (sp mistakes!)) And many bloggers care a great deal about quality and precision.
Of course one would actually have to read the blogs to be able to discern which ones. *grumble grumble*
OK — letting the bee out of my bonnet now.
Mantel is one of my favorite regulars in the London Review of Books. Alternately funny and brutal in her writing, I cannot help but guffaw when Beckham was summarily dismissed as: illiterate. However, I believe she should stick to writing literary essays because despite this solid essay on perfume, it ultimately feels forced. She implies it herself: people who love perfume write about it best. People who contemplate perfume from a cold distance are better of somewhere else…
Really? She sounds like a perfumista to me, for sure — all those rapturous sentences over Prada Cuir Ambre… But I've never read her other pieces.
No, the gatekeepers don't always keep out the crap, but then, if you find gatekeepers you trust — well, let's just say I'm getting very depressed about the state of print media. What will happen if the NYT actually folds, as seems quite possible? And if the New Yorker goes….it doesn't bear thinking about.
Sorry, that was a tangent, but it's been the bee in my bonnet this week!
Really? She didn't seem forced to me — I assumed she *did* love perfume.
Don't worry, we all knew you were merely trying to be modest. The article *is* fine, but no more precise (as you write) or stylishly written than the best blogs.
The thing about the best blogs is they manage to turn out a stylishly written article every day, without an editor. And I don't include myself in that category since I long ago gave up writing daily reviews!
Blogging is relatively new, and it is interesting to see where it takes us. Then again, the internet is new, also. That said, yes, there are a few scents I keep going back to, and I think you really pinpointed it when you mentioned the “B” word-Boredom! A few scents never get boring! Somehow, they keep evolving- just as-hopefully- we do!
Happy New Year to all!
My thoughts on it exactly – I thought she came down too hard on blogs in general. I was also surprised to learn about HM's perfumista side, as I associate her with her works of literary fiction, of which I have read quite a few – where her humour is razor sharp.
But it's a tangent that gets straight to the point, I think. I too, am very depressed about what's happening to print media right now, but at the same time I think that snobbery has played a big part in their inability to get on board with changes that have been going on for a long time, now. It's a cultural problem. Surely all those smart people would have figured out a way to make money on the internet versions of themselves by now if they didn't consider it de facto inferior. After all, I follow webcomics and other artists who use the internet as a jumping off place for print distribution of their products. Why not a learn a lesson from folks like those?
That said: My parents gave us a Kindle this year (digital bookreading thingie) and I was surprised by my visceral reaction to it. I mean, theoretically I'm in favor of anything that gets more people reading, but in practice I was, like — “Get that thing out of my house!” (Luckily DH is much more gadget oriented than I am.) I didn't know my love for books was really a love for BOOKS.
(Bzzzzzzzz bzzzzzzz bzzzzzz!)
Oh, I don't know — it was just one little comment. I've certainly seen worse!
I have to admit I've never read her. I've had The Giant O'Brien sitting in a “to read” pile for ages, and must get around to it.
It's really true — the focus has not been on adapting to new forms. The New Yorker seems to be catching up as late, although I don't know that they've really found a way to make their website pay. And it seems pretty clear at this point that not many people will pay for newspaper content online so long as they can find the content elsewhere — the newspapers that tried online subscription models have mostly given them up.
On the Kindle — I'm with you. I like holding my books & magazines. That said, I know that I read fiction far less than I used too, as more and more of my time is spent online or listening to my iPod (and my son & I do listen to lots of books that way in the car). I have to remind myself now to pick up a book or a magazine.