Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Nosy Interview: Elisa Gabbert

Elisa pictured in the Cocoon Nebula, © Jean-Charles Cuillandre & Giovanni Anselmi  

I just met Elisa in real life (though I've been enjoying her writing for some time), and she's already taught me loads about perfume. You can learn about fragrance from her, too; she writes the "On the Scent" column for Open Letters Monthly.

What do you smell like?  
I must have some innate smell I’m not privy to – what John calls “that good Elisa smell” (which raises the question, does he like how I smell because he loves me, or does he love me because he likes how I smell?). But I generally cover that up – or enhance it, if you prefer – with perfume. I have many, and I subscribe to the marketing adage “Always be testing,” so there are always samples in the rotation. On any given day I might smell like lilies and amber (Donna Karan Gold), caramel leather (Cuir de Lancome), glossy geranium-rose (Rossy de  Palma), clove cigarettes (Tabac Aurea), peachy tuberose-jasmine (Carolina Herrera), rubber and vanilla (Bulgari Black), spicy sandalwood (Chanel Egoiste), lavender, heliotrope and patchouli (Belle en Rykiel), lily of the valley, hyacinth and lime popsicle (Gucci Envy), orange blossom and musk (Narciso Rodriguez for Her), laundry soap and baby powder (Flower by Kenzo) … you get the idea.

What do you like to smell?
San Diego. The smell of approaching rain in El Paso. My clothes, after I’ve worn them (lingering perfume traces create a kind of out-of-body, third-person experience). Barbecuing meat. Pizza. Fresh herbs (especially basil, mint, and cilantro). Limes. Grapefruit. Figs. Coffee beans. Roasted nuts. Roasting chiles. Anything baking. Rum. Tobacco shops. Patchouli. Roses. (If none are available, Perfumer’s Workshop Tea Rose will do.) Tuberoses. Apricots. Violet leaf. Labdanum. Leather. Woodsmoke. Blown out candles.


Preets said...

Blown out candles, ahhh, that *is* a lovely smell. Makes one think of long cosy dinners at kitchen tables and conversations late into the night and going to bed full of love and wine. But I don't know what tuberoses or violet leaf or labdanum smell like! I must investigate.

nosy girl said...

Preets, to further encourage your tuberose interest, here's a quote from Chandler Burr (former scent critic for the NY Times):

"[Fracas] uses a raw material that is extremely difficult to work with — tuberose. Tuberose has a quality of being one of the least floral florals in the entire world. There’s a huge menthol component to it, and menthol is very, very violent. What Germaine did was she took this violent thing and she created a structure around it."

I don't know whether you'll agree that menthol is "violent," but I know that menthol will get your interest. Fracas is definitely worth a smell next time you're in Limoges.

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