Welcome to 2016, everyone! Instead of delving straight into reviews, I thought it might be a useful exercise to start the year by thinking about specific notes, taking stock of how we feel about the raw materials in perfumery and, more importantly, the extent to which our tastes may have developed or changed. Last year, in Questions #9, I asked you to think in detail about note categories, with love, hate, and grey zones. Whether you’re new to niche perfumery or a veteran, I think such analysis helps you to look at perfumery with a more critical eye, to really think about what you’re smelling, and to pinpoint your tastes with greater precision.
Happy Independence Day to all my American readers. Regardless of your location, though, I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend and that those of you in Europe are finally getting some relief from the heat wave.
I’m sorry I haven’t posted any perfume reviews lately, but I’ve been overwhelmed by all that I have to do for my upcoming trip. It’s finally set and everything worked out, much to my disbelief because I really hadn’t been sure I would manage to get away. I’ll be in Italy for a little under 3 weeks, departing on July 20th and returning in early August after visiting Florence, Rome, and a seaside resort town.
Simply finalising my locations took a lot of time because, at one point, the goal had been 10 days on Croatia’s stunning Dalmatian coast. What beauty… truly stunning. (You should see some of the YouTube videos of their amazing islands and national parks!) Unfortunately, Croatia doesn’t have the easy train connectivity of other European countries, so one can’t simply hop on a train to go from one place to the next. Plus, Croatia seems to be a place best suited to someone outdoorsy, beachy, and/or seriously sportive (the last of which is not me) who is happy to stay in one or two seaside towns/islands, or who can rent a car to go around in-land. That’s not me either. I’m not going through the hassle of getting an International Driver’s License. (Plus, with my luck and terrible sense of direction, I’d end up driving myself off a cliff somewhere in Albania.) So, Croatia will have to wait for another time.
Hello everyone, I hope you’re all having a good weekend. It’s time for this month’s Grab Bag, with a look at random things from news articles on popular fragrance genres, top Arabian perfume brands, synaesthesia, and the science of smell, to the more personal things occupying my attention this month.
Scientific Articles on Smell & Scent:
- The Guardian had something really interesting to me: “Smell, evolution and the sex brain: why we’re monogamous and use perfume.” The piece argues that “Today we have a global fragrance market equal to the GDP of a medium-sized country, because of a gene mutation that made smells less sexy to us.” Basically, we used to have a gene — nicknamed “Adam” by its discoverers — that transmitted sexual scent messages (largely about ovulation) to our brains, but we lost it about 16m years ago because of evolutionary pressure to maintain monogamy and the family bond. However, the neural pathways that responded to such messages will still respond to “sensual perfumes made from – among other things – the sexual signals of musk deer, beavers and civets.”
- From Science News: “Sense of smell is strictly personal, study suggests.” The article’s focuses primarily on genetics, neuroscience, and how we have “olfactory fingerprints,” thanks to a “new test [that] can distinguish individuals based upon their perception of odors, possibly reflecting a person’s genetic makeup[.]” However, there are obviously indirect implications that support what most perfume bloggers always say, that smell is subjective and subject to wholly personal variables.
- From Aeon Magazine, a really fascinating piece asks “Are we all born with Synaesthesia?” It covers synaesthesia in literature (Nabokov’s Lolita, Mary Shelley, and the Enlightenment philosopher, Rousseau) before looking at the neuroscience, child psychology studies, and different forms of synaesthesia (musical notes, numbers, letters, or one poor woman who reacted viscerally to mere fabric textures). It’s a really interesting, in-depth piece that covers some unexpected issues.
I hope you’re all having a good weekend, whether you’re simply relaxing, plan to enjoy the Eurovision finals, or are doing something fun over the long three-day holiday in American and the U.K. It seemed like a good time for this month’s Grab Bag, with a look at random things from perfume articles on Roja Dove, CB I Hate Perfume, and Frederic Malle, to blurb reviews of two white floral perfumes that missed the mark for me, and the more personal things occupying my attention this month like music, films, a great cookbook, and The Hairy German.