Monday, April 11, 2011

waiting by the phone


Katie Puckrik's review of Kate Walsh's new fragrance, Boyfriend, prompted me to test-drive my own sample vial this weekend. Though I feel like the feminine-masculine distinction in fragrances is pretty arbitrary, I was interested in the idea that the perfume was designed to smell like a man's cologne on a woman's skin. With this in mind, putting it on my own skin felt kind of meta, a "smell lingering on skin" lingering on skin. I was also intrigued by the fact that Walsh was inspired to design the fragrance when she was badly missing an ex-boyfriend, the venture capitalist who ended up giving her not only the heartache, but also the business-advice that fueled the scent. I found this story, regardless of how much of it was designed to set an ad campaign spinning, compelling: to be missing someone so much that you go searching for ways to re-create his scent on your skin, in your bed--and, when the smells you find in the world don't measure up, you essentially start your own business to satisfy your longing.


In the comments on Puckrik's post, a conversation emerged around a blue cheese/"pissy pineapple"/gardenia note. I didn't get any of these notes until the third time I tried the fragrance, and then I got more pineapple than pineapple-pee, and I of course wondered how much my nose was influenced by wanting to smell this (Why does one want to smell pee-pineapple? This is a fine question, and one this website was started in part to answer for myself. Why do foodies feel the need to eat kumquat-glazed Cornish game hen? That's for them to sort out on their own blogs.). All weekend, wearing the scent mostly outdoors, I got big plummy blasts of vanilla-y amber, a little bit of cedar, and some other mixed warm woody bits, but no peenapple (how could I resist?). Now, wearing the scent for the third time, indoors, it's still warm, but it smells more like tinned pineapple and pencil shavings, though soon these heat up into woodier, richer swells of musk and amber and something glowy enough to get me shoving my wrists up against my nose again and again--big benzoin tears (so named for the way the benzoin resin weeps from trees--and here I'd always thought it was just romantic fragrance-speak!) and some sweet pouty fruit. My own boyfriend, who likes Boyfriend, smelled the pee-pineapple note earlier on, and in general is able to more readily detect musky, animalic notes in perfume than I am. When I think something smells a little furry, he gets the whole beast smell straight off. It makes me wonder what notes he smells in me that I'll never know, and what he utters out into the air that I fail to register.

24 comments:

Britta said...

OH! There's so much I love about this one, E. Pencil shavings! (Nothing smells quite like 'em.) Big benzoin tears! Pouty fruit. A little furry. And that last sentence breaks my heart.

And what a concept: to recreate the scent of someone you miss. I'm experiencing the same desire, having just washed the sheets (he's gone for the month). I think I'll sit in his office for awhile today, sharpen pencils, inhale.

Preets said...

Benzoin resin! It's burned in Hindu rituals and prayers, so it's a very familiar smell for me. That and sandalwood bring back certain parts of my childhood something powerful: my grandmother, evening prayers, itchy legs from mosquito bites (because benzoin resin is frequently burned at dusk, when the mosquitoes are out, and it's said to repel them). Just thinking of that smell makes me a little melancholy.

And yes, I also loved "sweet pouty fruit" and "a little furry." So wonderful, A!

Preets said...

P.S. The Tamil word for benzoin resin is "sambraani." And weirdly, the word verification Google came up with for this comment was "intha," which in Tamil means, "here, take this."

Preets said...

Um, I meant, "so wonderful, *E,*" not "A". I do know that your name is not Alizabeth.

nosy girl said...

Ooh, I think the Tamil captcha is pretty wonderful (also the sound of 'sambraani'--these are just the sorts of things I'd hoped to learn with this site). I also think you guys are the best.

B, if you're ever in a department store with a Tom Ford fragrance counter, ask for a sample of Tuscan Leather--it is so pencil-shavy and deluxe.

The perfumer in the benzoin video at the link talks about benzoin being sweet, but not sugary; rich but not repellent; and warm, even before it dries. I love that quality of warmth that is not sweet, and that's the aspect of benzoin that always makes me want to shove the tears right up my nostrils. It's also the most persistent, lingering note for me in "Boyfriend," and the reason I'll end up buying a full-sized bottle of the stuff.

Britta said...

I can't wait to smell this... Preferably on you.

Elisa said...

For "big, plummy blasts" of amber/woods, I recommend Sensuous Noir, one of my favorite cheap thrills of the year.

nosy girl said...

Elisa, you have practically sold me on Sensuous Noir scent-unsmelled. If it's big and plummy and also amber-y, I want to smell it. Right now! Maybe it will do for me what Boyfriend's drydown does without the peenapple phase (though gardenia doesn't trouble me as it does you). I must be wary of department stores, though, as I do think I'm at-risk for some questionable decisions in the form spring-fever spending.

Elisa said...

There's definitely no "peenapple" (ha!) in SN. Some people find it heavy, but if you don't find Boyfriend heavy, I don't think you'll have that issue. It even comes in a little 30 ml bottle (practically free!). I'm considering getting a backup. You never know long long these flankers will hang around.

marissa said...

Yes! When my boyfriend visits I make him wear the same shirt every night so when he leaves I have something to smell him by. He does not ask me to do the same thing. Probably because I smell. Not as nicely.

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