One of the threads that made me the happiest and of which I am extremely proud is my examination at vintage fragrance ads over the course of eighty years, from the Victorian era to the mid-20th century. The changes are a revealing insight into the history, society, culture, values, art, and hits of each era.
Early on, in the Victorian era, the ads were focused on chemist-based products. (I’m obsessed with one that says “Orange blossom cures all female diseases” and want it on a t-shirt). Later, they give way both artistically and scent wise in the Belle Epoque and Art Deco eras, continuing to change further with the decades that followed.
Vintage ad for Coty’s L’Origan, arguably the template for L’Heure Bleue
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.
A look at random things from perfume news to some of the things occupying my attention this month.
Training Your Nose: This should be in the perfume news section below, but I wanted to devote more focus on an article in The Telegraph called “How a ‘nose workout’ can unlock the power of smell.” The significant part is this: “The average person is capable of recognising around 10,000 scents and women generally detect more than men. So how can you improve on that? “Smell and write at the same time,” says Fairley. “That’s what you do in perfume school. Words fix the smell in your brain. Make associations.[“…][¶] Fairley quotes Prof George Dodd, who set up the Olfaction Research Group at the University of Warwick, and who affirms that with this practice “you actually strengthen the neural pathways in the brain itself and in turn that helps you to become better at smelling things”.”
This is essentially what I do when I test a perfume, and I think it makes a significant difference. I don’t jot down cursory descriptions, key words, or summations; I take pages of detailed notes in full sentences on a large, yellow legal-pad. For a recent review, there was 8 pages of analysis. Now, I am NOT saying that you should do anything as intense, OCD, or extreme. However, I don’t think the sort of analysis that consists of something like a simple Excel spread-sheets with keywords (something I know a lot of people do) is sufficient if you want to really hone your nose for the finer nuances and to lock the details in your memory. In my opinion, to expand your mental and olfactory Rolodex, the best way to “strengthen the neural pathways” is to take detailed notes on the finer points so that your mind locks in the connection between an ingredient and a particular smell. Not simplistic keyword summations, but full sentences just as you would do in school when analysing a book or science project. It’s just a thought for the most obsessive amongst you if you’re truly keen on developing your sense of smell.