Olfactory Journeys

Photography by Tim Walker
Photography by Tim Walker

Beauty writing is really an exercise in synonyms. Read three consecutive issues of any women’s magazine, and you’ll see what I mean – you can almost picture a beauty writer straining beneath a pile of potions and salves, trying to squeeze out a new word to describe season after season of hydrating moisturisers, red lipsticks and blushers – in various hues of pink and orgasms (think: NARS’s famous Orgasm Blusher – http://www.narscosmetics.com/iconic-nars/cult-classics/~/orgasm-blush?d=true).

Sadly for me, 50 shades of seduction later, I still can’t tell the essential difference between chilli red and temptress red. And I’m not sure the equally bewildered man in my life can distinguish between a post-exercise and a post-coital blush either – God save his undiscerning soul.

Well, despite all this beauty blasphemy, I do, however, have an enduring love affair with perfumes – not the bubblegum juice of prepubescent celebrities or the saccharine launches of bargain brands, but those with real Florentine iris, sundrenched bergamot, Grasse jasmine and exotic woods.

Here’s why I strongly believe everyone should choose their juice with as much care as they choose their books…

Photography by Tim Walker
Photography by Tim Walker

It’s like choosing a theme song for the day

I love mornings when I have enough time to run through my fragrance wardrobe the same way I’d scroll through my iPod playlist. It always prompts me to do a mental forecast of my day ahead, set my intentions, and then visualise the perfect notes for it.

Like good music, the right perfume sets the tone for the day right.

Just as I firmly believe nothing great will ever happen when Justin Bieber is playing on the radio, nothing inspired can ever occur when you are wearing Justin Bieber’s Girlfriend – yes, that’s what he calls one of his perfumes…

It’s an inner journey

As skin-deep as makeup is, perfume is profound. Unlike makeup, it will not announce to every other passerby, “I am an indie-chick” or “Nicki Minaj is my latest not-so-secret guilty indulgence”. On the contrary, it is a more subtle language that you have to first discover for yourself, and then divulge to those select few that step into your aura. The goal is not to transform (like makeup) but transfigure – I always find that the best fragrances lend a certain vitality and depth to a woman’s intrinsic beauty.

Every bottle of perfume contains a world

A nose once told me that a perfume has to be worn by a woman, otherwise, it’s just like a dress hanging on an empty rack.

A good fragrance evolves with the woman who wears it – every book she reads, every city she visits, every time she fall in love or gets her heart broken, it gains new depth.

It conjures up subconscious images and forgotten memories, and teleports its wearer to undiscovered worlds only as rich as one’s memory and imagination – cotton fields, beach shacks, a perfect sunlit childhood vacation?

As I grew older, I began to lean towards such timeless scents that were complex and simple enough to age well with me – not those that represented a superficial marketing vision of sensually, as depicted by purring models in their ad campaigns.

…And, every once in a while, I would wear a ‘jasmine garden’ to bed and pray for a magnificent dream.

Photography by Tim Walker
Photography by Tim Walker

More beauty features at: Bucket List Spas and Beauty Beauty Advice From Mum

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