With the need to take the focus away – for now – from my personal accounts of smelling, here is the first of my interview series.
David, a teacher, and friend for nearly twenty years, is someone I talk to about perfume. We have developed our sense of smell since meeting at L’Occitane En Provence, but David renders perfume into words that are palpable and real, sensual and intelligent, and, to my poetic reserve, always beautiful. I encourage him to write reviews online, but he prefers his anonymity, so I am grateful to David for sharing his thoughts, as well as allowing me to film him briefly for the video accompaniment to this interview, where he shows us one of his favourite perfumes, Guerlain’s ‘Mitsouko’ (click here to watch).
1. So much is said about the connection between memory and scent … what are your thoughts on this?
Memory is at the crux of scent – I think it’s memories and recalling past moments and experiences that endow fragrances their transportative nature. For me, when I smell something, I immediately link up the experience with something in my past, it just happens automatically.
2. As far as you can remember, what scents come to life for you?
Come to life … that’s interesting. I suppose you mean, once I wear them? So it’s me, in a sense, that brings them to life? It would depend on what mood I’m in. I would say Serge Lutens ‘Ambre Sultan’ warms and wakes me up.
“So it’s me, in a sense, that brings them to life? It would depend on what mood I’m in.”
3. Last year you discovered a vintage Dior perfume … what was it? What were your thoughts?
It was a ‘Dior Dior’ edt, discontinued in the 1970s I think. Of the same ilk as Edmond Roudnitska’s green ‘Diorella’ but less sharp, softer. I don’t wear it, but when I saw it I thought to myself, “I must own this.” One for the collection.
4. What is, perhaps, one of the most memorable perfumes you own, and why?
Memorable – well, ‘Vetiver’ by Guerlain. Although I rarely wear it, it’ll always be a part of my wardrobe. All my Lutens, particularly ‘Tubereuse Criminelle,’ as it’s so loud. I get lots of comments on that one. And of course, ‘Homme’ by Costume National, perhaps the most ‘me’ of the lot.
5. Take me through a few of your collection …
I’ve been going wild with the Lutens over the past year – I’ve eight now. I’d say my collection’s eclectic. I’ve recently purchased ‘L’Eau Trois‘ by Diptyque, and it’s a new kind of scent for me: a very dry frankinscense, with a mouldy kind of background to it. I’m enjoying it. I’d also say that I’ve really become more open to fragrances I would’ve, years ago, considered sweet: Lutens’ ‘Cedre,’ ‘Myrrhe Ardente’ by Annick Goutal. I’m really looking forward to winter so I can enjoy my heavier scents (not that I don’t wear them at other times of the year). Byredo’s ‘Accord Oud‘ and ‘Rien Intense Incense’ by Etat Libre d’Orange are so beautiful, heady, woody, smokey. A scarf and a coat and I’m happy.