Allow me to wax lyrical about perfumes for a moment on this cold and soggy sao morning in Sydney. I feel like if it gets any wetter right now my lungs will start getting moss on them. It is cold in the Studio this morning and I don't want to put the heater on because I am following this Wim Hoff chap and looking for any opportunity to have cold therapy, be it in the ocean at 6am or at the Studio with cold hands typing out a blog post.
Perfume, that's what I want to talk about. The magic of it. I spoke yesterday with the agent for Creed perfumes in Australia. For years now I have been writing and praising their scents and using them in every bubble mailer or carry bag that left the building. I first fell in love with Virgin Island Water. I will say this, I was the first to find it, though many of my friends try to tell me the opposite.
As part of my birthday gift I was given a voucher to one of those menswear stores that sell so much bullshit 'art as fashion' clothing that when I went in I cared not for the menswear and went straight to their fragrance section. Of course, it is the one thing that never goes on sale, at least not to my knowledge, and so I used up the entire thing on what will mostly benefit our customers.
Why do I do this? Why fragrance in every bag? Because for me a fragrance can send me on a mini holiday in my mind. It can remind me of suntan lotion on a beach with bare brown legs. It can take me back to a working holiday in Hong Kong. I can become seventeen again and trying to persuade a bouncer to let me into a nightclub with fake identification. It can remind me of a woman's bedroom and I can look around to see her Sonos stereo under the chair, her linen sheets or the skin on her neck. It can place me in a bathroom I have been familiar with since my childhood and I can look up and see that same plastic vanity that housed my perfumes for much of my teenage years and the first time I tied a bow tie in black satin silk from Charvet and the Chanel Egoiste that resided in the top right shelf. And my hope is, that if it does that for me, it might do the same for you. Maybe you will stop dead in your tracks and say 'oh my God, I remember when I opened up that bubble mailer, it was the first bow tie I ever bought from them and whack, I just had to have that scent, so I wrote to the guy and he said .... " . And from that moment on, you and me, we have a personal relationship bonded by a scent.
That being said, I finally learned a few things about Creed. Firstly, it was founded a long time ago, in 1760 to be precise, by a chap called James Henry Creed. It became so successful that Queen Victoria made it the official fragrance supplier to the Court Of England and of course, it then spread throughout the courts of Europe. Then Napoleon III got a hold of Original Santal, which to my mind is a little too heavy for my liking, and championed it as well. And now it is essentially considered the most revered fragrance house amongst many menswear enthusiasts, myself included, a brand that has founding principles of quality, refinement and originality. And yes, they live up to all three.
Of all of them my three favourite scents must be Original Vetiver, Virgin Island Water and Aventus. And today I wish to give you my opinion of each and to contrast it with the offical lingo.
1. Virgin Island Water - what originally got me into Creed. One whiff and I was gone. I felt transported to somewhere that the Beach Boys described in Kokomo. Rum, coconuts, coconut suntan oil, bronzed skin, the shapely calf of a beautiful woman, a long dinner, sex, looking out of a window over an expanse of water, the moon rising, the curtains lightly billowing in the sea breeze.
Officially this is what they say: A cirtus style of fragrance with bergamot, green lemon, lime, mandarin, jasmine, ylang-ylang (I've no idea what this is), herbs, musk, tonka beans, coconut. A fragrance launched in 2007.
2. Original Vetiver - a fresh weekend in the country with green grass and tall trees. Wet lawn. A place where you feel active and full of life. You do yoga in the morning, you swim and walk through a beach heath to return to the house. In the evening there is a fire, you go to bed early after some pinot noir at dinner and some lemon and ginger tea just after dessert.
Offically this is a bergamot, mandarin, bitter orange, herbs leaves (green), coriander, pink berries, cedarwood, amber, musk (tonkin) sandalwood and pepper. Wow, I think I actually came close with my own experience.
3. Aventus - The nape of a neck, the sound of a certain voice on the telephone.
Offically this is a 2010 fragrance which is based on bergamot, apple, blackcurrent, berries, pineapple, jasmine, rose, berries, patchouli, oak moss, amber gris, musk and vanilla.
So there you have it, three fragrances, three experiences. So the next time you open your bubble mailer, remember that a scent is very personal, that we associate it with so much content that we go through in life and that it can act like a marker, of a moment in time and space, distilled in a bottle that we can go back to time and time again. God love perfumes and God bless the human nose.