Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Perfume: Transcending the Gender Barrier.

I wear women's perfume. Sometimes, the 'masculines' on the market simply don't come close.
The first female purchase I made was Black Orchid. Who could fault Ford's exceptional scent that brimmed with exotic oils both rich and rare... the perfume itself is a beguiling blend and the bottle and packaging; exquisite. With hands trembling and a brow slicked with sweat, I approached the cash desk with my Tom Ford coffret in hand, feeling completely as though all eyes in the store were ON ME. I was aware of the sound of blood rushing in my ears, and my heart was racing like an out-of-control tea-trolley rambling down an office corridoor.
"A lovely choice, sir", the S.A said as I placed the perfume on the counter. "Who's the lucky lady?", she asked with a casual smile. My blood froze. "Errrr, I am", I replied without thinking - rather wishing I hadn't. The S.A looked at me carefully and shot a sidewards glance at her colleague, who turned on her heel swiftly and busied herself in a drawer. "Indeed", the assistant answered, before processing the sale with clinical movements and utter silence. She handed me the bag without making eye contact. "Enjoy it", she said. As I walked from the store I heard the two women talking in whispers. I felt their eyes looking me up and down, painting me with their judgements, using broad paint strokes.

The point is, I adore this fragrance. Not only did I want to smell it on my wife, I wanted to smell of it... to enjoy this rapturous cloud of aromatic molecules that followed me around all day. 'Just a one-off', I reasoned, because I liked it so much. I spritzed for many weeks, and compared and contrasted how different it smelled on my body versus my partner's. In social circles, when we wore the same scent, I seemed to be collecting more compliments than she. It made us both laugh... we joked about it; and then it became the norm. Black Orchid worked well with me. I was fascinated. I began to stroll into the women's scent department with increased regularity... sniffing from caps and scooping freshly-sprayed molecules from the air with a sweeping hand. Unswayed by the curious stares of fellow customers, I embarked upon a challenging and rewarding expedition into women's perfume, and emerged - many months later - with not only an increased appreciation of the art; but also a stronger sense of self. With broad training and experience in the fragrance field, I was always an advocate of promoting perfume as a non gender-specific commodity. I understood that the division between the sexes in perfumery was a relatively modern ideal, and basically existed as a means to sell more perfume to more people by playing to their insecurities. But I had rarely ever taken the time to truly stop and smell the roses and gather my own insights into wearing fragrances for the love of the scent, and not the gender it was marketed towards.

In the past, my wife and I have reserved our two top dresser drawers for storing perfume; mine in the left drawer and hers in the right. We'd squabble over the classic colognes and "unisex" scents which would ultimately shift between the two, as their ownership was far from 'cut and dry'. "Where's my Eau de Campagne?", I would demand, or "Have you pinched my Eau d'Orange Verte again?", she would say.
Nowadays, however, we've both ventured beyond the limitations of our gender (and our own drawer!) and poured our enthusiasm and passion into the nature of the scent itself. On any given day you might find the Mrs. sporting my S.T Dupont Noir, and I, her Paul & Joe Blanc. I think its high time we combined our collections and shifted our scents to the more spacious second drawer down, and returned our underwear to the top. And gentlemen, if you're reading this... don't be ashamed to step outside yourself and truly explore fragrance from both sides of the fence. No-one is asking you to wear a tarty bra and panties and a crooked lipstick smile. 
After all, only a real man could confidently carry off the wonderful Lauder release: Bronze Goddess. You know that could be you.


Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon your blog through a link on Basenotes. I have enjoyed reading your views on The Guide ( agreed ) and Black Orchid ( we part company there) and your advice regarding SAs has been noted.I look forward to reading more blog entries.

Blog Author said...

Thank you nubelia... I am delighted with your visit. I look forward to your further comments and contributions. :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! It makes you wonder why women seem to grab for masculines much easier than we do?
Why do we have such a trouble with anything where it says "rose", even if in small letters?

Anonymous said...

Funny that, Middle eastern men simply do not have this issue with rose and yet I cannot get my hubby to agree to do what Mr and Mrs Redolent did with thier collection. He emigrates to this side of things and buys into our gender classification of scent much to my chagrin but mention rose attar and he is just dandy with it.

Pity , I would love to spritz from his stash.

I did however get him to try some Arpege thanks to the suggestion from that book , however , all I can say is FAIL.

Anonymous said...

Thought provoking Dimitri. I enjoy the smell of some "masculine" frags on my wife, burberry brit, D & G pour homme. She on the other hand can't deal with me wearing florals, even FdM. Go figure:-)
Nice for you and your wife to have swept aside all these gender based preconceptions.

Angela Cox said...

How narrow minded but not unexpected. I wish more men would wear perfumes considered to be for females. I think Tom Ford's packaging says "unisex" as does "Les Editions" . Take no notice the World won't think a new way if men don't buy what they want. I wear quite a lot of so called men's fragrances.

Anonymous said...

SoS, what a nice read. I got here through a link you just posted in Basenotes' thread.

Beautiful thought and diction style. Gotta check this place out often. I'm new to blogs.

Killer Vavoom

Blog Author said...

Thank you Killer_Vavoom!
I value your comments and readership. Please do come by when you can, and stay in touch. :)

Anonymous said...

tomorrow I'll start wearing my 2 fav scents, Kouros and Jacomo...thanks Dmitri! ;-)Dana