kottke.org posts about perfume
A "scent solutions" company called Air Aroma made a Macbook Pro unboxing smell for an art exhibition in Melbourne last year.
To replicate the smell a brand new unopened Apple was sent to our fragrance lab in France. From there, professional perfume makers used the scents they observed unboxing the new Apple computer to source fragrance samples. On completion the laptop was sent back to Australia, travelling nearly 50,000kms and returned to our clients together with scent of an Apple Macbook Pro.
Your font: Helvetica. Your smell: Helvetica The Perfume.
Helvetica has gone on to become arguably the most ubiquitous and widely used typeface in history.
It is in this spirit that we have created the ultimate Modernist perfume -- a scent distilled down to only the purest and most essential elements to allow you, the content, to convey your message with the utmost clarity.
Air. Water. You.
2 oz. of distilled water. Precious bodily fluids, Mandrake.
I don't wear cologne (or colon) or really care for the smell of perfume, but I love reading about perfume and scent. Roja Dove is an independent perfumer who creates bespoke scents for well-heeled clientele.
His custom-made leather Dunhill case holds small eyedropper bottles with the 238 tinctures, resinoids, absolutes and essential oils that comprise the "building blocks of every single fragrance that you can think of." It also folds neatly into a piece of hand luggage should a client require him to pay a flying visit.
"Most of my formulas are quite short, normally between 20 and 50 ingredients," he says. "It's like painting; if you use too many colors, all you get is a dirty gray."
A short video about the ingredients that go into every can of Play-Doh:
Sadly, the composition of the amazing fragrance is not revealed, but Wired asked a perfumer about it a couple of years ago:
Hasbro's patent admits to vanilla, but that's just to throw us off the scent. The real formula for this iconic odor is guarded like the crown jewels. After talking with New York perfumer Christopher Brosius, who offers a Play-Doh fragrance, we suspect that it draws from the aromatic flowers of the heliotrope, aka the cherry pie plant.
And if you'd like Play-Doh as your signature scent, Demeter makes a Play-Doh cologne. (Off topic, but the word "cologne" always makes me think of this hilarious Twitter search.)
From Sarah Marshall, a list of celebrity fragrances that didn't quite make it to market.
Goldbloom by Jeff Goldblum: This fragrance, meant to be drizzled down the wearer's forearm (preferably while in a moving car) is redolent of warm eyeglasses, tanning oil, and Velociraptor musk. Perfect for work or leisure.
Wintour Harvest by Anna Wintour: Peppery, balsamic, indecisive, and fresh. Notes of warm blood and Galliano Sequin enliven this fragrance designed for the gal on the go.
Paper Passion is a perfume that smells like a book.
This is an opportunity to celebrate all the gloriosensuality of books, at a time when many in the industry are turning against them. The idea is that is should relax you, like when you read a book, to a level of meditation and concentration. Paper Passion has evolved into something quite beautiful and unique. To wear the smell of a book is something very chic. Books are players in the intellectual world, but also in the world of luxury.
Gloriosensuality! (via @jjg)
While listing his ten favorite fragrances, NY Times perfume critic Chandler Burr recalls Luca Turin's definition of chic.
Luca once called something chic, and I asked him why, or rather what "chic" was exactly. He sighed and said despairingly, "Chic is the most impossible thing to define." He thought about it. "Luxury is a humorless thing, largely. Chic is all about humor. Which means chic is about intelligence. And there has to be oddness -- most luxury is conformist, and chic cannot be. Chic must be polite, but within that it can be as weird as it wants."
(via gold digger)
Perfumer Christopher Brosius has a little shop in Brooklyn, out of which he offers several surprising and offbeat perfumes.
When my parents visited New York, I gave them a tour of my favourite scents in the shop. This took some time: the accords include clever riffs on the smell of rubber, from the intoxicating Inner Tube to a just-short-of-noxious Rubber Cement. Equally impressive is Wet Pavement, which strikes me as wearable, even pretty. Burning Leaves is startlingly alluring, and Ink smells so authentic that I held up the bottle to show my mother that the fluid was clear and not an indelible blue. Roast Beef is predictably revolting, but still a must-smell. My mother lingered over In the Library, a blend that Christopher describes as "First Edition, Russian and Moroccan Leather, Binding Cloth and a hint of Wood Polish".
Unsurprisingly, Brosius also created the Demeter line of fragrances, featuring scents like Creme Brulee, Wet Garden, Funeral Home, Dirt, and Sugar Cookie.
In remembrance of her grandmother, Chicagoan Jessica Dunne created her own perfume called Ellie.
She sought out Michel Roudnitska, a perfumer who lives in France, to be her collaborator. Her family in her hometown of Villanova, Pa., served as her focus group. A friend volunteered to tie by hand the grosgrain ribbon bow that decorates each package. Then Ms. Dunne cold-called Claudia Lucas, the perfume buyer at Henri Bendel in Manhattan, and asked whether she could send a sample of the perfume.
More information about Ellie, as well as a more contemporary scent called Ellie Nuit, is available on Dunne's site.
This is the second rave review I've read of Perfumes: The Guide.
Now there's a book called Perfumes: The Guide, by the husband and wife team of Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, which is not just enlightening, but beautifully written, brilliant, often very funny, and occasionally profound. In fact, it's as vivid as any criticism I've come across in the last few years, and what's more a revelation: part history, part swoon, part plaint. All of the other reading I was supposed to do was put aside while I went through it, and it took me some time to finish, in part because I was savoring it and in part because I kept stopping to copy out passages to e-mail off to friends. In the library of books both useful and delightful, it deserves a place on the shelves somewhere between Pauline Kael's 5001 Nights at the Movies and Brillat-Savarin's incomparable Physiology of Taste.
The first review was this New Yorker article:
The joy of Turin and Sanchez's book, however, is their ability to write about smell in a way that manages to combine the science of the subject with the vocabulary of scent in witty, vivid descriptions of what these smells are like. Their work is, quite simply, ravishingly entertaining, and it passes the high test that their praise is even more compelling than their criticism.
Perfume is one of those things that I don't particularly like in real life but that I really enjoy reading about.
How do you describe a smell or a taste? John Lanchester discusses that and a recent book of perfume reviews in this recent New Yorker article.
The language of taste has, therefore, reached something of an impasse. On the one hand, we have the Romantic route, in which you are free to compare a taste to the last unicorn or the sensation you had when you were told that you failed your driving test-and others are free to have no idea what you are talking about. On the other, we have the scientific route, which comes down to numbers, and risks missing the fundamental truth of all smells and tastes, which is that they are, by definition, experiences.
My friends Zach and Youngna are in the NY Times this morning in an article about how difficult it is for "senior beauty analysts" and "vice presidents for global marketing" to produce and market products to twentysomethings who wouldn't even trust a "senior beauty analyst" to watch their bag while they went for a pee. The Times also had to draw a distinction between Mr. Klein, Calvin and Mr. Klein, Zach: "no relation".
Among the featured designs at the National Design Triennial was the Demeter Fragrance Library. The company, run by Christophers Brosius and Gable, puts out perfumes, lotions, soaps, candles, and body gels with scents like Creme Brulee, Wet Garden, Funeral Home, Dirt, and Sugar Cookie. According to this article in Happi, the New Zealand fragrance was developed for the Lord of the Rings movie and Demeter's odd scents might have other uses:
Tomato, for example, was found to be an odor absorber. Some of the edible fragrances are said to help curb cravings. And though the company has yet to perform psychological tests, researchers said the Dirt fragrance made Alzheimer patients more lucid.
Perhaps I should tag along with Meg the next time she goes to Sephora. (Never thought I'd find myself saying that...)