Wednesday, 30 March 2016

The personality of scent, essence or armour?

Have you ever considered how your choice of fragrance reflects your personality?

Marketing folk certainly do. There’s a reason why the sultry young Jerry Hall was once chosen to front YSL’s most exotic and decadent scent – Opium. Hall was the epitome of edgy glamour, spandex clad lover of Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry - uber-groupie. She led the life that we could picture only in the most vivid corners of our imagination, far away from the reality of trudging down a grimy high street to our local branch of Boots to pick up a relatively cheap bottle of (albeit wonderful) mass market scent.

From Bryan Ferry to Murdoch, oh Jerry!

This raises a question. Do we choose our scents to complement who we are or who we aspire to be?

I recently revisited one of my favourite scents, Antonia by Pure Distance. Reviewed back in 2015, my first experience of Antonia moved me. It felt like as if it had been created just for me. I described it thus:

Antonia is a floral of cool intentions. She is an ivy draped ethereal character who conjures a rain sodden landscape of picturesque melancholy. Sap fuelled green florals are my favourite genre, capable of summoning the outdoors in, they evoke in me an otherworldly serenity that belongs far away from my urban life. Opening with the vivid green bite of galbanum, Antonia is uplifting and spiritual depicting spring’s abundant fertility in full force.”

Cool atmospheres and outdoorsy notes dominate many of my favourite scents. I feel both serenity and invigoration in earth goddess whiffs. The forest ritual lure of Ormonde Jayne’s Woman, the mountain stream chill of Clinique’s Wrappings and the mossy earthiness of Guerlain’s notorious Mitsouko, they all echo the experience of existing deep in the countryside.
Holman Hunt captures the rural Idyll 

Nowadays I’m a city dweller, living on the edge of Manchester’s central district, I neither see nor smell trees. The view from my flat features fashionable living in converted Victorian mills, immaculately dressed young urbanites heading off to long hours in offices and a brashly plastic looking tram stop. However, my childhood was one of wellies, cowpats and nature books. I led the country life and I can probably identify most things you’d find in a hedgerow. It’s likely that my passion for outdoorsy scents is filling a gap. Essentially, Antonia and her similarly green friends are taking me home. I’m aspiring to be me. 

Joseph models the view from my window

However, sometimes I need ‘not to be me’. And in those instances, I dress myself up in an alter ego. I am not, not will ever manage to be, a cool and calculating type. I am the polar opposite of a Hitchcock Blonde. There are times in your life when you could benefit from having a personality different to your own.  And right now, I need to be someone else.

I’m currently in the middle of a house purchase. The complexities of this transaction have been stressful. I’m far too passionate and direct to handle the process with the sort of cool and detached businesslike approach required to out-swim the shark-infested system.

One particularly bitey shark is the estate agent. A few weeks ago I had to visit her office to provide mortgage documents. After some testing encounters on the phone, I’d envisioned her as heavily made up with cartoon eyebrows and an air of someone who could throw a good punch in a pub. In reality, I’d got the image spot on. In preparation for our meeting I selected tailored black clothes, properly blow dried hair and ‘business bitch’ perfume. I was masquerading as someone else, someone capable of making a huge financial investment with success. Not, my techni-colour print clad, wonky haired and kindly self. My scent of choice was the Lanvin classic – Arpege. Nothing implies control more than a stern floral aldehyde.

It didn’t work. I’m still haggling my way through the complications of buying a very old house. But at least I felt protected by my formidable scented armour for one day.  If I ever get there, I will be returning to the wilds of the Yorkshire Moors. Perhaps I shall rename myself Antonia?