Monday, 5 March 2012

Scents and sensibility-What is your scent story?


Le psyche et le parfum, un histoire nostalgique

Perfumes invoke the romance and the nostalgia associated with the senses for me. My first entanglement with perfume involves taking myself  back to the 1980’s, back to my mothers dressing room, watching her dress up, watch her wrap around 6 foot long  material around her body ( a saree) so dreamily and the final step to the ensemble is a spritz of heady of Dior Poison ( the bewitching purple bottle). I could swear being able to see the scent trail behind her as she swooped past me, down the stairs and driving off to work. What a memory to have and this is not the end of it.  Of course mum did go through variations of perfumes over the years, but the gesture of finishing her routine with a spritz of perfume, not only is it encrypted in my memory, but the mere thought of it stimulates my olfactory to recall the moment, the precision of the memory is improved by ten fold if I could just sniff Dior Poison once more.

Doesn't the bottle look deliciously Vampish?  would
you bite a purple apple?



Is it not a  wonder, how the scent can shape memories and perhaps go beyond  the pleasantry of smelling just nice, it is an evocation, a conversation with the subconscious, to speak with your private nostalgia and that which takes you to a time where you were once part of the imagery, an imagery of scents.


The Icon Joan Collins as 'Alexis'- Face of Dior Poison


My father himself was a man of scents. With him, I recall what I know now as Polo Sport Classic ( the green bottle). To me, this was the scent of men, it is almost tragic that this scent will come back to haunt me in my 20’s, it led me down a relationship which costed me more than I was willing to bargain for. Again, the costly side of a scent, it can evoke the feeling of safety despite the absence of the safety net. There is some truth to the Electra Complex. Nevertheless, it taught me that my nose could be my friend and also my enemy. I have a wonderful relationship with both of my parents, just as an aside.


So macho so pour homme 


Scents have a way of working its way through your nose and into your brain triggering a cascade of electrical activity which can influence your emotions, thinking, behaving, speaking and  physiological reactions. A play on scents can form a loving parental embrace to a lovers kiss if you so choose.

The olfactory is a mysterious part of the human function which we still are yet to discover its full potential. Our ability to discriminate scents may not be as acute as dogs, however , we are still able to pick out family members, potential partners and perhaps evoke memories with our noses. We are after all a constitution of chemicals, it stands to reason that the sense of smell is as powerful as the tides of time.

I grew up with a variation of scents, our garden was teaming with ylang ylang ( cananga odorata), jasmine bushes, holy basil, orchids ( mum knew how to train her orchids and she often spoke to them like they were her off spring) to name a few. Mango trees that released a cornucopia of scents to signal fruiting or blossoming for pollination. My world was fragranced with sandalwood incense sticks symbolizing heady spirituality. It has definitely influenced my choice of perfumes over the years and what I come to call my signature scent.

My own scent story  is a tale for another day, there is so much to this to squeeze in this article that I have to  exercise restraint from spilling my deepest darkest.

My parting comment is this though for today, for the treatment of dementia, aromatherapy using Lavender or Melissa ( Lemon balm) is thought to help evoke memories and help dementia patients to recall their past and a bit of their personality. How's that for geek chic :)

Scent yourself well, and you'll leave a trace of you in another souls memory...

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