March 21 is National Fragrance Day. A day concocted by perfumiers to make us spend you say. As if I needed an excuse to shop. Everyday is National Shoe Day, National Cake Day and National Handbag Day in my book.
It did get me thinking though. Doesn’t every country and every city have its own scent? Step off the plane in Delhi and you dive into a invisible hot cloud of curry. This is compliment, not a criticism by the way. I adore curry.
And what about the subtler scents that you feel, rather than smell? The scents that make up your environment but can’t easily be defined. Snow, rain, icy breezes, sultry nights.
Wouldn’t it be great to bottle all the scents in the world? London – a heady mix of sweaty bitter (‘bitter’ is a beer for all you foreign lager drinkers out there), smog, rain and electricity. Paris – an erotic blend of kirr royale, lipstick and baguette. Barcelona – pig flesh, sand, salt and more pig flesh. Perhaps Estee Lauder would work in more conventionally attractive flavours but you get the idea.
Scents are personal, evocative, powerful. For me, Shanghai’s ‘stinky tofu’ a misnomer. I run after it like a rat to the Pied Piper. However, eating it in my husband’s company nearly cost me a deportation back to the UK. Apparently whale vomit, faeces and urine are top perfume ingredients. Equally, pheromone perfumes have been around since the 1990s and a London gym now offers a ‘Pheromone Improvement Training’ class, ‘guaranteed to get you lucky in love’.
For those looking for a signature scent but scared by the department store perfumery cowboys shooting from the hip, one international flower delivery company, FTD (Interflora to the Brits out there) has devised a clever tool for pairing your favourite flowers with high street perfumes.
Photo by pop_corngirl
Smells can bring back memories good and bad. Recently I was recommended to use Bio-Oil on my body to tone, moisturise and reduce the appearance of cellulite. One whiff and I started retching. Suffering from morning sickness throughout my pregnancy, I now associate the oil with nausea and I’d rather the fat dimples than a green face.
On a more positive note, scented candles, home baked goodies and fresh lilies are my favourite cures for homesickness (whichever past expat home that may be).
So this March 21 I won’t just be topping up my Chanel perfume collection. I’ll be baking German bread, cracking open the French Champagne or cooking up a ‘so thick you can stick your spoon in it’ Swiss hot chocolate. Deep breath in and … Ahhhh.