Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Eau Flirt: Can a Perfume make you appear more attractive?

"Another Harvey Prince perfume, to be released this fall in Canada, claims to be able to make women more attractive to men. Called Eau Flirt, its formula is based on widely published studies conducted by neurologist Alan Hirsch at Chicago's Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. He measured penile blood flow in men in response to particular smells, and found the most effective combined the scents of lavender and pumpkin pie.
The press material for Eau Flirt describes its scent as a blend including "sweet and fruity top notes, floral and spicy middle notes, woods and musk bottom notes, combined with vanilla and pumpkin essences"--sort of the perfume version of pumpkin pie and lavender.
A third scent to launch in 2010 is called NYC 10021, the New York postal code of the rich and successful, a la Beverly Hills 90210. Ramani calls it "the sweet smell of success."
You can read the rest of the interesting article by Marta Gold on Canada.com here.

Might I remind you that Harvey Prince & Co. is the company which brought us Ageless Fantasy, the fragrance which purpotedly makes you be perceived as roughly 7 years younger; and wondoursly enough has people on the payroll checking blogs whenever it's mentioned and reply as "casual" commenters to its defense...(It's been done).

But the real question is: Is perfume merely an aspirational thing that like the proper shade of blond or the right size implants should make us conform to a "predigested" ideal of how we should be perceived? (Young, attractive, successful, whatever...). If it is truly a work of art, shouldn't it hold only aesthetic values and not be dumped down to pragmatic goals?
This is a major discussion and I am inviting you to share your views in the comments.


  1. Anonymous11:14

    I think the existence of celebrity scents, and even the use of celebrities to advertise scents (here's looking at you, Insolence)is proof positive that, whether true or not, the advertising geniuses strongly believe that perfume is aspirational. Since they do extensive market research they are probably right. The question is, does one buy a perfume because one wants to be a little bit like the favoured celebrity, because one wants a small "piece" of the favoured celebrity (a bit creepy, that), or because the perfume smells fantastic? Probably a bit of all three. The lastest spate of limited edition, very expensive perfume lines might also be construed as confirmation of perfume as aspiration. "If I wear this $300 perfume, I will feel like I can afford the $300 perfume." I think the really interesting point to all this is, do we wear perfume so that WE feel a certain way, or so that others perceive us a certain way? I think the first is quite legitimite; a perfume can certainly make you feel like a character you wish you were; the second has less merit. Perfume, and taste, is so personal that what one might experience as smelling rich, another might just experience as smelling "flowery" or "vile" or something else. The only way I can see that a third person might perceive a person as rich upon smelling their perfume is recognizing a perfume as high quality (i.e. a nice sillage that never the less does not clear a room, or whatever), inferring that it must be expensive and arriving at the conclusion that the individual therefore has a good disposable income.

    Regarding a perfume making one more attractive, I think there is much more to attraction than penile blood flow, so here again I think it is "different strokes (giggle) for different folks".

    Personally, I have never chosen a perfume based on what I think people will think of me when I wear it. In fact, I make an effort to stick by the advice "perfume is for you and the person next to you" so I make every effort not to clear a room with my scent. A celebrity associated with a perfume tends to turn me right off (I have never even tried Insolence because of I- forget-her name in the marketing). If I fall in love with a perfume, it is usually because of the story behind it and definitely because it smells good to me and on me. My darling SO should consider himself lucky if I ask his opinion, but of course I would not wear anything he considered offensive. Lucky for me, he has both great taste and an easy-going approach. He thinks I smell great no matter what as long as he can get in and smell me up close:)

    Good perfume is a work of art.

    Thank you for instigating this fascinating discussion.


  2. Bradamante12:45

    Well, well, well, penile bloodflow. There are all kinds of magic going on. Harvey Prince developed one for the sad and forlorn. To confirm the hopelessness of their dreams. Petty magic, I think.

    But then again, if somebody really, positively and joyfully believes in the resurrection of male penises by way of pumpkins, then why not? But at least it should deliver joy, not fear.

  3. Maria13:48

    I see another question behind yours: should a work of art serve any practical purpose or only delight our perceptions? Perfumery aside, can you close a hole in a wall decoration with a Chardin painting or would it be sacrilege? or a Warhol would do better? or only a casual poster?
    Me, I don't find anything SO wrong with it. I find my own examples funny, but not impermissible.
    Back to Harvey Prince & Co, what they do just sound ridiculous for me, I mean the idea to alter one's perception of my age with a scent (should I wear 'Ageless' 24/7 to support the illusion?). But I think something like that happens if I wear perfume anyway: never has my man said "your perfume is good" but "you smell so good"... I strongly doubt his blood flow was affected by that :-), but his idea of me as a woman who "smells so good" definitely is rooted in my choice of fragrances. And this thought did make him more attentive first to my perfumes and then to my tastes in flowers, foods etc, which in turn supports his inclination to please me because when he buys lilies-of-the-valley he is absolutely sure I'll love them. And he does bring me flowers.

    Another side of the story - when you apply a perfume do you do so to please yourself and define a side of your personality or to please and attract people around you? Followers of the first path would not buy HP&Co, I guess, unless they like the smell itself, but there are followers of the second, too. Many women say something like "I think men will like it on me". Nothing SO wrong with it, too, isn't it?

    My mess of words was supposed to mean that perfumes (as many works of art) have always served some practical purpose even if a fragrance consumer doesn't intend them to. HP&Co just say it out loud, which is nothing unusual if you consider ideas behind names and ads for fragrances (e.g. Sensuous, Irresistible), and they clearly define these purposes. The annoying part, for me, is not even their claim to reduce age "in the nose of a smeller" but the underlying notion that lots of women and men believe that age is crucial for female beauty and attractiveness; not the proposed 'help' with male blood flows but the implied simplification of everything connected with romance of hearts and bodies.

  4. Lavender and pumpkin pie? You mean (gasp in horror) grandma's house?

    Well well. The ol' bloodflow rears it's ugly, uh, head again. A photo of Pam Anderson might do the same thing, but who would want to look like Pam Anderson? Um, never mind.

    To me there is something really cynical and off-putting about this. As though Larry Flynt had gone into the fragrance business and decided to cut out all the beauty and the romantic b.s. and head straight for the crassest possible interpretation. I think "crass" is the word I would use for this particular interpretation of fragrance.

    However, most of the media world -- reality shows, screaming right-wing radio, etc -- has gone all Donald Trump, so I'm not surprised.

    But the perfume advertising I see is so...over-the-top, too, and speaks pretty directly to this same idea, just illustrated with prettier clothing and people.

    So...the question is: who is doing the aspiring? Is it a gum-chewing 14 year old girl raised on hip-hop and reality shows buying J.Lo at Walgreen's? Or is it a career woman who graduated from Stanford buying Amouge at a shop near her Madison Avenue office? They're both aspirational purchases. Both women want to smell attractive and, possibly, successful, although their definitions of "success" may be very different. Both sets of manufacturers want their customers to believe that fragrance will do that for them. They simply are targeting different groups with different levels of disposable income and different notions of success.

    In my view, marketing perfume as something to "increase blood flow" is dumbing-down, a bow the the modern gods of crass commerce. It's a bludgeoning instead of a whisper and the concept saddens me. But I have to admit that, outside the small perfumista world, where people see perfume as wearable art and ascribe the highest aesthetic value to it, most people see perfume as an accessory that has the power to increase their personal desirability. In that sense, it is aspirational, but not aesthetic. Should that be different? Of course! But I'm not holding my breath. Business is business.

  5. a coda (almost forgot) There was a perfume called "Pheronome" marketed in the 80's as a way to make oneself irrestible due to the presence of human pheronomes in the juice. Is that stuff still around?

  6. Harvey Prince have seen a market opportunity and taken advantage of it. That's fine and there will be a segment of the population that will buy their products, believing in the gimmicks - there's certainly nothing wrong with this.

    Unfortunately, the mainstream perfumery world has also done their research and found a larger portion who are desiring perfume which also has the somewhat utilitarian purpose of helping toward an aspirational goal of being wealthy and famous, not necessarily smelling that good. I guess it was inevitable when the last few generations have grown up with celebrity and so perfume has just joined in with the branding of clothing, bags, caps and so on, helping the socially isolated and insecure feel better about themselves, to provide them with some sense of community.

    All of this has taken us away from perfume as an art form, of course, perfume created instead to enhance individuality and awaken in oneself an awareness that there is so much more to explore than the approval of the majority. But to appreciate art forms in this manner takes a measure of self confidence that I feel is lacking in many of us today.

    One day the pendulum must swing back to a more confident consumer and we have seen indications of this starting with a recognition of the niche, the voice given by outlets such as this blog and other online communities and even such groups as the Slow Food Movement.

    One day - I can feel it in my bones.

  7. Anonymous16:57

    "Art is a lie that tells the truth" - Picasso

    I ask my Dance Appreciation classes all the time why art should even exist.......that except for the few "artful" renderings associated with a particular logo or brand-name, how does art relate to and within their lives. Most of them (if not all) stare ahead, dumb-founded and somewhat embarrassed that they can't come up with a single answer - as an artist, it is a moment in teaching that I find deeply sad and yet strangely exciting.....knowing that I will have an opportunity to change their ideas and open their minds to art (and in particular, dance).

    Unfortunately, IMHO, real, "true" art (art for art's sake) doesn't have a solid foundation in a culture dictated by capitalism and consumerism.......(not including the wonderful graphic design work that sometimes comes with or is associated with a mass-marketed product). When making and spending money is top priority for generations of shop-a-holics, the lines of aesthetics are blurred by by ideas of what we "need" to feel complete, as opposed to what truly makes us feel good.

    I would be a hypocrite if I didn't admit to being an avid participant in the whole cycle (my 150+ perfume collection is an indication of that.....), but I can honestly say that my perfume aesthetics have seldom been tainted by the ideas of consumerism - I don't occasionally wear Estee Lauder Sensuous because I want to emulate Gwyneth Paltrow or Elizabeth Hurley - I wear what I like, when I like with absolutely no regard as to how I may be perceived (because of the way I smell), or for any other reason then to please myself.

    It's a strange and compelling conundrum......art (and perfume) needs P.R. in order to "make it" in our society, yet it is always so interesting (and often times alarming) how far marketers will go to sell their product.

    Thanks.......a wonderful topic to start my day - I'll bring this up in my classes today.....


  8. I think perfume can make you more attractive but not necessarily because there is a 'right' smell. Sure the mean average of people might like a foody vanilla or pumpkin lavender or whatever but if you're one true love likes Bvlgari black and you're wearing that I don't think they will pass you by- it takes more than a scent, the right hair do, the right accent to find a soulmate- or if it doesn't you haven't found them.

    You might attract someone because you smell odd and they like that!

    I firmly believe perfume is an art but like pictorial art it is a huge area. Andy Warhol made us see that a campbell's soup tin had artistic value but do we think a scented bleach does? not yet for the most part- Although there is a great deal of skill in scenting chemicals.

    The perfumes we all discuss are the paintings or fine couture of perfume if you like- those don't escape being hung in people's homes to make them seem like they have good taste- or hung on terminably dull people's bodies to make them look fashionable. Perfumes don't escape being adopted by people who want to seem like they have taste (say No 5) or come from a good background (something Estee Lauder say) or are a bit cool (Frederic Malle).

    I do think perfume is art but how people relate to art varies enormously.

  9. Fernando18:33

    I see no problem with art that is meant to be used rather than simply to be admired. After all, many of the pieces now hanging in museums were originally meant to liven up the living room of some rich merchant, and many of the pieces of music we listen to were meant for church services or other everyday uses. So it is with perfume: both art and useful.

    The problem with this attempt to create "useful" perfume is that (a) the use being proposed is itself rather tawdry and (b) there is no evidence whatsoever that it will be effective. In fact, in my experience men don't consciously pay attention to others' perfume. Of course, it is possible that there is a subconscious effect, though finding evidence for that would take a lot more than checking penile blood flow.

    The truth is that most of the time, if a man is close enough to a woman to smell her perfume, he's already close enough for much else as well.

    But who chooses a mate (or even a date) because she smells good? That's just not how it works.

    The other aspirational uses of perfume are, to my mind, equally bogus. The most important effect is on oneself: if smelling your perfume makes you happy, then it has already achieved its main purpose.

  10. This is certainly a post that brings out our humorous side, I'll give it that much. It's really a shame when insecurity about attractiveness rears its head, though. Then again, psychotherapy can end up costing as much as the right size implants, I suppose, so to each his or her own. Okay, I'm done.

    The only other thing I will say is that if you just go directly to the Fragrance category of ebay, there are tons of listings that you see first with labels like "SEDUCE WOMEN! SEDUCE MEN! REAL SEX PHEROMONES!" The snake oil of our age.

  11. Natalia,

    thank you!
    There is certainly a degree of ritualistic grafting of celebrities' identities on ourselves (well, not us, necessarily, but you know what I mean). This part of our voyeristic society, which is why it fascinated me while compiling my celebrities' perfume choices list. Why are we so transfixed by their choices, as a society? What difference does it make? Perhaps it means there is a seal of approval of those who can -supposedly- afford the very best.

    There is definitely truth in what you say about the perception of smell: so often that's cultural and what is "rich" smellin to one can be "bourgeois" or "too much" to another.

    Personally I find the penile blood flow base of the concept rather insulting, not to mention not conclusive. Besides the fact that those tests conducted by Hirsch are based on American subjects (therefore an Indian or Chinese might have no association with pumkin pie whatsoever making a product based on that smell completely alien to them culturally), men are complex beings just like women and to lump them all together, via the response of their organs to stimuli, sounds both inconclusive and derogatory. Don't you think?

    It's always pleasing when our partner is interested enough to actually access all of our aspects and our scent (and our choice of fragrance therefore) is one part of us.

  12. B,

    it does sound a little desperate which is not the best possible kickstart...Then again perfumes based on "magic" concepts have sold for centuries, so I am sure their marketing research suggests that it will sell as well.
    I just wish that the focus would be on the individual wearing it ("this will make you feel fabulous!") rather than the entourage ("this will make you seem fabulous!")

  13. M,

    excellent train of thought! Very stimulating!

    If you ask me what I personally think I believe assigning a "better grade" to certain artifacts because they have an accumulated approval/appreciation is tantamount to kitsch (like we had discussed before). So if I have a hole in the wall and I'm too blasee to actually call a repair-man to fix it, I might as well hide it under a Chardin (assuming I had one) rather than a poster!!
    My objection is not to the collateral practical use of art (after all several things in art began as practical things: paleolithic cups are decorated but they're still cups! to drink! even if they're now in the museum)but to the concept of making something that looks like it's artistic but hides behind it a lowly goal: it's like faux jewelry with paste that tries to look like diamonds. I mean, nothing wrong with choosing faux that is not ashamed to be faux! Know what I mean? ;-)

    Art shouldn't be a museum piece and it shouldn't be only chi-chi things.

    Probably Harvey Prince & Co saw a market segment which they were quick to exploit and all the more power to them for being quick to the pulse. Having said that however I cannot help feeling that this is a sign of a dumpening down on our society, when the perception, nay the illusion of something becomes more important to the essence (no pun intended) of something. I see fake boobs, I see fake bras to fake fake boobs, I see magical creams that will hide the appearence of wrinkles (but not do anything to the wrinkles themselves) etc etc and I wonder: have we completely lost it? Where is the sanity, like in actually doing something that is good for US?? I can understand eating well, drinking water, working out, having a good haircut or a neat manicure etc. but too much artifice for the purpose of fooling others bothers me.
    It's indeed true what you say however that all major brands capitalise on the "attraction card" of perfume. Perhaps it's time to go above and beyond that, especially when the niche sector is trying to do that with certain creations (I am thinking Lutens, Malle, unisex offerings...)Then again Google pheromones and you see that people are actually very interested in that concept, so perhaps there is a real demand. I don't know...

    You said a very poignant line: "his idea of me as a woman who 'smells so good' definitely is rooted in my choice of fragrances". How very true, I feel that we are reflected in a loved one's eyes and we seem to gain in attraction just because we have already atrracted and have created desire in someone. And somehow we choose to preserve that ideal, a Platonic ideal often, that someone else has of us. What do you think?

  14. P,

    as always you bring a full plate to the discussion, thanks!

    I think you nailed it: any sensory stimulus might do the trick and plunging one's "assets" out would be even more effective in the penile blood flow enhancement than any perfume! LOL! Or a pic of Pam (I assume in her better days).

    It's a little tragic that our society has come to view men as simple machines who "leap" at the designated "signal" like Pavlov's experiment. It's especially irritating to hear very young men discussing emulating those ideals of manhood (ie. stimulus equals instant hard-on or else you're less of a man) because it detructs of their humaneness so much...but I guess they're so very young and most of them have not really met lots of women, so hopefully they will learn ;-)
    And yes, I have heard/read of Realm. Only I have never tried it (and I don't mean whether it has any effect, but on how it smells)

    Re: aspirational buying, there is certainly from both sides of the story and your example illustrates it excellently! Where do we draw the line and how are we certain we ourselves prefer an Amouage perfume because it's vastly superior _say_ to a Dior and not because we know it costs so much and is harder to get (and we had to go through hoops to get it)? This is why I always advocate blind testing. In blind tests (of department store frags, to be fair) one fragrance has triuphed in getting results as "the most expensive, the most lovely, the most desirable" and that scent was....Old Spice. Interesting eh?
    But blind testing is not always easy and we are bombarded with messages.

    There is also a surgence of perfumistas in budding who think that by going one "rarer" or one "costlier" they're automatically "cooler" than their neighbour who went for the Lauder because that's all she knew of. But it's often the Lauder that they end up complimenting on someone else! I find this both funny and sad at the same time. It's how the industry manipulates us on both ends I guess...

    There is certainly a Larry Flynt/Donald Trump tendency with current ethos. It's a little alarming if it persists for long, isn't it?

  15. M,

    you're undoubtedly right that there is intensive research behind the marketing trends of these things and my scope is de facto limited in that regard.
    What I am pausing because it's genius you brought it into this is "the sense of community": the sense of belonging. In perfume terms this means that we try to emulate and intergrate with the core group who is cool, but it also means we need to put on olfactory shoulderpads to repel those who we deem as lesser than our cool self. In many ways, it's both an accessory to be with the "in crowd" and to alienate intruders. Isn't it fascinating how this works?

    I sincerely hope that it will be as you say and indeed if I judge based on what I hear from my readers here and on emails I see a new consumer who is willing to take matters more sceptically. Scent can make our lives fuller and richer and more rewarding if only we allow it to without assigning it credentials it doesn't need, really.
    Food has indeed a parallel with this and I for one am very interested in what this slow food movement will accomplish: hopefully better human beings. Let's cross our fingers for perfume as well. :-)

  16. M,

    by all means thank you for bringing this with your dance students and I would be very interested to hear their output to the discussion instigated concerning art!!

    It's an interesting conundrum indeed and all the more so because art (especially artforms which are considered not immediately accesible without the proper education, like abstract painting) is considered something to be appraised by "experts". But surely there is an inherent aesthetic pleasure of drinking coffee out of cup of bone china with delicate garlands of fauns below the rim than a gas station "gift" of promotional cup! One doesn't need an expert to feel that, it comes from within! Yet, very often I see so much seriousness in people when approaching art that it makes me seriously sad. Who said one has to be anal and super-analysing about art to be taken seriously. Picasso had it down pat, in that regard. :-)

    I think most of us perfume-people have tested so many fragrances that we have come to mentally divest them of their images (at least the visual ones) and concentrate on the smell mostly (bit not only, as described above!), which is of course how it should be anyway.

  17. K,

    it's certain that not all people like the same things! And what a dull world would that be if so.

    I like that you bring Warhol in this because he commercialised art. I think his Campell's Soup Cans series is also an ironic comment of his own, given that he was really eating those things and in fact was offering some to his guests too! It's perhaps a comment on consumerism and the "instant" society that was emmerging and he captured that, so I am seeing this from the reverse of most critics I believe. (OK flame me if you must)
    Now, scented bleach is another amazing point you bring, because I was actually at the supermarket the other day and I saw :"aromatherapy" written large on a big vat of laundry detergent. I mean, aromatherapy for whom, the washing machine drum? ~assuming the product washes down the drain; and if it doesn't I am not sure I want it on my clothes....(Am I weird?)

    Definitely perfume has a non quantitative measurement of value which makes its art be difficult to assess. And perhaps as with all art people relate differently to it according to who they are in the first place!

  18. F,

    excellent point! The use of art is what makes it living and not a "museum piece". (personally I find it much more rewarding that listening to an oratorio I know it was written to celebrate something or that Bach was writing those masterpieces as teaching material to his students, because it makes it real and non stuffy)
    Nevertheless is it solely the pragmatic use that monopolised those works of art? Or did the creator had an imprint of an idea that they wanted to communicate while creating?

    My personal experience tells me that men are less culturally attuned to noticing perfumes (and analysing them) apart from the perfumisto-field, so your comment makes perfect sense to me. And indeed in order to notice someone's perfume one needs to be close, and to be close in the first place one would need to be attracted by something else, be it sensory or not.
    And as a bright commenter, Maria, said above: Will I have to use it 24/7 to maintain the illusion?? :P

    Finally I can't but agree with the wisdom of your final comment: making us feel better is indeed a successful product's success.

  19. Maria22:22

    you've been reading my thoughts! :-) For some years now I entertain myself with developing a scholarly discipline that studies "seemingnesses". It all started with the same worry you mentioned - fake bode from hair to toe, but then suddenly the list went on endlessly through fake diamonds, nutrition etc, and I tried to find common basis under it - it's too overwhelming, there must be smth in common. No success so far, but I keep trying. Maybe postmodernists have the answers, but I still can't find time for them :-). There's also a 1883 poem of Maurice Rollinat "Le monstre" about it, and - nicely - it was actually a part of his book entitled "Les Nevroses" ;-).

    Do HP&Co promote their work as art? Looks like they are very matter-of-fact about their 'love potion'. If not, they should be ashamed to sell a cut glass as a diamond! :-)

    As to Platonic ideals, I think I get your idea, I just hope the situation is not as grave as in Plato's parabole of the cave, because false reflection can be tormenting and harmful as a misunderstanding, misperception, misconception, and everything that follows. You are so right, we do choose to support the image anyway and strive to do so, but often our loved ones choose to stick to their idea of us even if we don't behave up to it, and that strikes me more. I think there's a bit of fear on both sides (and definitely in me) to break the reflection and to force light on some sides of personality that are muted in it. But then, the image may be loveful, forgiving, and, yes, flattering, and I truly believe this attitude should be appreciated, not taken for granted. Sometimes the gap in perceptions stings, but love behind it eases the pain, doesn't it?
    Of course, things are different when the reflection is humiliating or just so far from reality that the distance can ruin everyting...

  20. Anonymous05:16

    On the art topic there are some excellent books out there that I'd like to recommend, such as several by Ellen Dissanayake (like Art and Intimacy) and also Denis Dutton's recent The Art Instinct. They both look at the origins of art in both ancient cultures and in our human psychological needs and social structures (e.g., Dissanayake says art originated in mother's singing to their babies, which is common across all cultures, rather than in the typically male-based stories about big hunters making cave drawings of animals they were about to go out and kill). Larry Shiner's book The Invention of Art is another great one that talks about how the whole idea of art being "pure" (with only aesthetic values, or art-for-art's sake), developed only in the late 18th century.

    About scent and sexual attraction, despite what one commentator wrote above, there are a lot of studies that indicate smell really IS a big part of sexual attraction, especially for women. It's much more important than visual cues, actually and surprisingly (given our emphasis on visual appearance these days and given all the ridiculous studies of how men evaluate potential mates on their waist-to-hips ratios). But many of the relevant smells are just basic body smells (sweat! semen!) and don't have much to do with stuff layered on top of bodies.

    I personally think that it would be quite pleasant to smell like a pumpkin pie, except I would then go around feeling hungry all day.


  21. Anonymous05:45

    This is a good article on these topics and has more information that somewhat debunks the Chicago research study and the inferences being drawn from it.


  22. Wow, lots to say here on this topic!

    All I'm gonna say is,

    lavender and pumpkin pie sounds nasty. And if I think I smell nasty, I don't care how much penile blood flow is going on, I'm not going to wear the darn perfume much less get laid wearing it.


  23. (pissed rant)
    I hate with the power of thousand angry suns the general notion that women don't have anything else on their mind than getting laid, being eye-candies - and nose-candies in this case - to anyone who might want to increase their penile blood flow. This is more sexist and more damaging than saying bluntly All women are stupid.
    I've had enough shit in my life caused by the societal pressure requiring that girls be pretty, sit quietly in the corner because it's unfeminine to have an opinion, lest one different from the others, and express it, that girls be thin and cute because that one is feminine, but oh-my-god not sporty or muscular, muscles and any other sign of physical strength is unfeminine again, climbing the trees is allowed only before secondary sex characteristics start to develop... now, to hell with that. I don't exist to increase anyone's penile blood flow and buying a fragrance I quite likely wouldn't like? No damn freaking way. (/pissed rant)

    At a certain point, I got several men's fragrances in a row. For various reasons - to try something people are talking about or because I tried it in the department store. I really really love several of them and oddly enough, most so those that are described as suitable for big muscular guys that eat rare steaks etc. Such as Yatagan. If I had to choose one fragrance for the rest of my lifetime, it would be Basala - it's made almost perfectly for my innermost self, that one you won't see because, well, it's my innermost self. It raises emotions of a sort people don't expect in me. And, Basala is also generally described as a scent for tough guys, although more intelligent ones than those that go for Yatagan. The advertising missed me, I got to know it via a pretty red tester bottle in a department store and I was high on it for two days. The PR people can bite their penises with increased blood flow, if they wish, but I don't care a damn, I care about my nose.

  24. Joe,

    it's certainly very true "the snake oil of our age"...and to think that it hasn't even been proven that humans can detect pheromones yet.

  25. M,

    it sounds like a worthy cause to me, because hey, there IS something common behind this! I hope you shape it into something concrete.
    The whole brainwash aspect of it reminds me of the "They Live" film with its hidden messages. Le Monstre seems like a pre-empting of the freak-show of fakeness of today.

    Re: the marketing behind this, no, I don't think they market it as art, but if we take the opinion that perfumery is an art, then some artistic merit should appply in the creation process anyway. (having never smelled it I cannot profess an opinion on the result)

    Re: the Platonic ideal, in love it is even more poignant than in anything else...This (Greek) song expresses it well. The lyrics being:

    "It's been days now that I haven't told you 'love you', just two words.
    My love, how will you stand me, I am a strange child and dark.
    It's been days now that I haven't seen you and you don't know if I've missed you.
    'Close to me you'll always suffer',
    I had told you a rainy morning.

    I'll turn off the lights
    And all that I haven't given to you
    I'll give you in a caress
    And then I'll betray you again in my mind's black seabed
    You'll cry again for being left alone
    And I, even more alone than myself
    In closed bedchambers
    I'll dream of your face
    Because I only live in the dream.

    And when you grow completely bored of me, search elsewhere to find me, the way you want me.
    And I, having loved only the idea of you
    And some verse that resembles you
    I'll turn off the lights
    And all that I haven't given to you
    I'll give you in a caress
    And then I'll betray you again in my mind's black seabed.
    You'll cry again for being left alone
    And I, even more alone than myself
    In closed bedchambers
    I'll dream of your face
    Because I only live in the dream"

    How many times has this happened to any of us?? :-)

  26. Calypso,

    thanks for the recs! Indeed art for art's sake is a recent-comer in the grander scheme of things.
    I wonder however how the modern world sees art for art's sake, because so often everything is taking a very hard currency shade in our western culture.

    Certainly smell is a big part of attraction, but what I think people meant is that it plays a part as a secondary in sequence segment, after being induced by some other stimulus into approaching the other person to be able to smell them. And sadly, no matter how gorgeous how someone might smell, their appearence or their eluquence and personality takes usually a primary part in the game of mating. At least this has been my experience (men tending to like whatever on you as long as they like you).
    It's 100% certain nevertheless that there is something very definite about liking the primal scents of a mate's person and it has been proven scientifically. I think Rachel Herz has quoted the study in her book as well.

    And thanks for the pheromone link! (To my knowledge as per above it hasn't even been conclusively proven that humans respond to pheromones)

  27. T,

    thanks for being to the bull's eye. If we detest something, then no matter how effective it might be it has already lost points.

  28. Liisa,

    those preceptions dating no doubt from Victorian days when corseted ladies lost their breath and fainted at the merest thing are becoming increasingly obscolete. The fakeness however is sustained. And your points and rant resonates with many I bet.

    Thanks for the passionate endorsement of Basala; it's always fascinating to hear of people passionate of a scent and it's wonderfully stimulating to see it through your eyes.


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