Victoria (whose blotters from the original photo were burned up by the sun) in Blue Sun Bursting, © Alan Friedman (Averted Imagination)
Victoria has taught me so much about fragrance that I should probably pay her some kind of tuition. Instead I asked her for still more of her insights in the form of a nosy interview, and, lucky for all of us, she obliged. Bois de Jasmin, Victoria's wonderful blog about "perfume and other fragrant pleasures," is an absolutely essential resource for anyone interested in perfume. I have so much faith in her taste and expertise that I should probably also warn you about her blog, as regular reading may lead to a serious uptick in your perfume cravings.
What do you smell like?
Cacophony! Since I work with perfume and research raw materials, by the end of the day I smell like a mixture of things, often strange ones. If the project involves gourmands, I come home smelling like a cotton candy factory. If I’m working with aldehydes, I smell of snuffed out candles and dirty hair. I suppose, if you still love perfume after this kind of experience, you’re either very passionate or crazy. Or both!
Off-duty, I smell of whatever perfume I’m infatuated with at the moment. I also like to spend at least one day smelling of nothing to give my nose a rest. Plus, in the spring, there are so many great scents in the air that you don’t even need to perfume your skin. On the weekend if the weather is nice (and this is not a given in Belgium), I’m usually outdoors soaking up the sunshine and the fragrance of magnolias.
What do you like to smell?
Anything at all! My husband is used to it, but whenever I go for walks with my friends, they’re often surprised that I pick up various leaves and pieces of bark and smell them. And although they find it an eccentric habit, they always join in, because smelling is so enjoyable and we don’t do it consciously often enough.
If I’m to name my favorite things I love to smell, I risk boring you, since my list would be too long! But bread and jasmine are among my absolute favorites. Whenever I walk past a bakery and notice the smell of freshly baked bread, I instantly feel happy. It’s such a comforting, cozy scent. At home we never baked bread, but my grandmother made a brioche-like Easter cake, and when she prepared it, the whole house smelled of yeast, nutmeg, vanilla, and rum soaked raisins.
Jasmine is another scent that makes me happy (hence, the blog name). It’s such a strange smell if you think of it—apricot jam, horse sweat, white petals, but it’s incredibly sultry. On another level, it reminds me of my childhood summers. Since my family is scattered all over the world, I miss them very much. Thinking about the time we spent together and recreating some of it through scents and tastes is how I approach my nostalgia.
I also love catching a whiff of perfume on people around me. It doesn’t matter what fragrance they are wearing, even if it’s something I don’t like on myself, it’s always a pleasure to notice what others are sporting and what they pick for different occasions.