Olfactoria in Wonderland – How I Came To Be A Perfumista

For most of my adult life I was perfectly content with owning and wearing one or two perfumes at the most. I ‘d buy a bottle of something that struck my fancy. I went to department store to try something after I was initially attracted by the look of the flacon, the style of an advertisement or because I saw it on a friend´s vanity. All of this without much thought beyond the fact that it should smell good (whatever that is) to me and to my nearest and dearest (the olfactory capacities of my beloved husband are blissfully limited).

This modus operandi changed dramatically and unequivocally forever, when I encountered my first niche perfume. And that was no small fish in the pond… it was a Serge Lutens. Okay, it was Clair de Musc, probably one of the most accessible and easily wearable creations of The Great Serge in existence, but still…a far cry from the run of the mill mainstream fashion fragrances being promoted by magazines and the retail world. And thank God for that, who knows what would have happended were I to encounter Tubereuse Criminelle or Muscs Khublai Khan… As it turned out, Serge was my gateway drug. That first sample was quickly followed by more, 5 o’Clock de Gingembre, Chergui, Un Bois Vanille and Rousse all turned out to be incredible perfumes that opened a whole new spectrum and a depth of perception for me, that I was unaware of before. I even threw myself into getting to know two of the most debated ones, the infamous MKK (don´t see the problem, smells great to me!) and Miel de Bois (we know how that turned out!).

Along with the discovery of my “new” sense of smell, came the discovery of the intriguing world of niche perfumery. There was so much more to perfumes than one´s L´Oréal-dependent department store knowledge can ever dream of, to crudely paraphrase Shakespeare.

I loved getting to know small, independent houses, where you actually know who makes the stuff (and also how they do it, check out Andy Tauers blog, a must read!) and don´t get served smooth press releases of the great inspiration that struck some celebrity or other to produce fruit juice in a bling bottle.

I loved experiencing perfume in an almost scientific way, where you try to discern notes, discover structures, admire blends, I felt almost like coming home (hankies at the ready, people!). But I know when you read this, you know what I mean! Perfumery takes you in and keeps you hooked.

I moved on from Serge to discover other lines, although I enjoy coming back to him periodically and marvel at how much my appreciation and understanding of his creations has changed with the broadening of my olfactory horizon. (Still no friend of Tubereuse Criminelle though, Mothballs ahoy!)

To help and to guide me in my efforts there was an online community of people who knew their stuff, who where as interested as I was, but had years of experience: the perfume bloggers. My blogroll is only a small selection of what is out there in the far corners of the web, but these are the ones most dear to my heart, who did a lot of work so I and others could learn. Thank you all!

A whole new world had opened up, the world of a sense I had hitherto almost totally ignored and left shamefully untrained. How well I was able to smell all of a sudden, the everyday smells that had always been there (Attention! That is NOT always a good thing!) were on the forefront of my perception. Subtleties in scents, how not two roses ever smelled alike, how what I smelled had a profound influence on my mood. 

I learned to appreciate perfumery as art (Le huitième Art, thank you Octavian!). I learned about perfumers and Maisons de la Parfum. About tradition, history, culture and science of perfumery. My life has been incredibly enriched by these new experiences and deeper knowledge. A passion has been sparked inside me, that makes me happy and fuels my own creativity. And for that I am grateful.

To Serge and all the others…

Picture sources: disneydreaming.com, josh-wyxl-itmblog.com some rights reserved, thank you!

About Olfactoria

I'm on a journey through the world of fragrance - come with me!
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