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.