Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Diorissimo was used to conjure up images of the suffocated American housewife"

"It's a rainy Tuesday night, and I'm in a basement club in London wafting a perfume-impregnated cardboard stick under my nose. It smells good. I can detect a delicate floral note. But then I pick up the distinct aroma of cigarettes. The perfume is Jasmin et Cigarettes, a tobacco-infused scent made by Etat Libre d'Orange". Thus begins the article on The Guardian by Leonie Cooper concerning a decidecated group of fumeheads who assemble to watch movies enhanced by the experience of scent, much like Polyester by John Waters had ventured to do decades before. "This is Scratch and Sniff, a series of events aimed at enhancing our understanding of the arts through smell. Each month, a group of around 40 people gather to sniff perfume while watching film clips, or listen to talks about geography and history. This event is called Scent of the Movies and involves sampling unusual scents like Jasmin et Cigarettes, and then matching them to film clips – the idea being to make us think of what a film might smell like." Retrospectives are also indulged, last February comprising a history of the 20th century in scent and film making, combing two passions into one and including classic and unusual fragrances that would help perception. Much like Far from Heaven reprises the Douglas Sirk melodramas of the 50s, this is a reverse exercise meant as both homage and inquisitive gaze into an unknown parameter of the aesthetic pleasure. "I did enjoy the scent for Brokeback Mountain, though. It was called Lonestar Memories – and it smelt of campfires" concludes the writer. Mr.Tauer, I think you have created a classic reference!

And on to you:
What is your favourite film and scent coupling? Or which scents would you like to experience/wear while watching movies?

Top photo still from film Far from Heaven starring Julianne Moore


  1. Anonymous11:47

    Vintage Femme and Casablanca. Definitely.

  2. The heavy, intoxicating aroma of flowers blooming the night while watching a film at an open cinema in the summer beside the sea shore. It's my best olfactory memory related to movies. Other than this, i caught myself often while watching an old black and white film, guessing what perfume the female character could wear, something powdery, heavy, lingering all day long. What would it be? Emeraude, some old Guerlain, other perfumes unknown to me but popular at that time whom perfume i'm trying to immagine.

  3. Love the idea. So many movies are associated with a certain perfume for me only because i wore it to the cinema or while watching the DVD only! My favourite example: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" while wearing L'heure bleue. What a match!
    Greetings <3

  4. Frances12:35

    For me, if I see the character wearing a particular perfume, I'll of course associate him or her with it, like Severine and Mitsouko. But generally, I look at the scenery and location of the movie and imagine. Bollywood movies smell a bit like jasmine and vanilla and spicy roses, Switzerland smells like Fille en Aiguilles, New York like Narciso Rodriguez, Paris like Mitsouko (again), the Middle East like Tolu etc

  5. This is a great question. And suddenly many classic and silent movies come to my mind. I would love to watch Flesh and the Devil's scene where Greta Garbo and John Gilbert exchange cigarettes and kisses with Tabac Blond. or Habanita.

    I associate the fact of watching movies with more woody scents than flowers. It is more introspective, it is dark, it is emotion, to me it is wood scent or resines but not too oriental. Deep Red by Hugo Boss is also a good choice for watching movies, I have experienced this.

  6. I don't want to say it's a favorite, because the combination of fragrance and film isn't something I've ever given much thought to. Last year however I happened to be out sampling and decided to put on some Tom Ford Extreme before venturing out to see his film "A Single Man" later that day. It was entirely unplanned on my part, but it was interesting to be able to see AND smell Tom Ford's aesthetic together. Now whenever I smell Extreme I think of "A Single Man".

  7. Anonymous21:50

    Dearest E,

    Have been lurking lately but could not resist this question. It would have to be Michelle Pfeiffer as Ellen Olenska in Scorsese's The Age of Innocence wearing, I am positive, Guerlain's Voilette de Madame. THis is such an obvious association for me; even when reading the book (one of my absolute favourites) I thought Olenska would wear a feminine, powdery but sophisticated scent with a complexity of composition that only old Guerlains have. The image also fits: even when not wearing the "voilette" popular in that age, Olenska seems to always be veiled and unattainable. When I smell Voilette de Madame I see that kind of cool, assured femininity.


  8. This is such a fun post! I'm going to link Russ Meyer's 1970 film Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls with a recent favorite perfume of mine, La Fete Nouvelle from DSH Perfumes. La Fete Nouvelle starts out sweet, cheerful and innocent, but it doesn't take long for a wee bit of skank to emerge, thanks to the hay element. That could be considered the identical trajectory for the film's female characters as well. :)

  9. I could imagine Guerlain's Après l'Ondée being worn by the doomed Alexandra in 'Nicholas and Alexandra'.....

    ~ Susan

  10. What a great idea for a post. :-)

    I'll forever associate the divine "Room with a View" with "Tuscany per Uomo" -- discovered both about the same time as a teenager around '87 or so. And then to actually go to Tuscany a short time later, wearing that scent. Brilliant!

  11. One of my favourite films of all time is The English Patient, and although the desert in which much of its story takes place is in Egypt, I think Tauer's L'Air Du Desert Marocain is a perfect companion to Minghella's heart-breaking images.

    (Must stop writing such long sentences!)

  12. Rappleyea01:05

    From actual experience, I'll pair SSS Cameo with Pride and Prejudice. From imagination, Je Reviens with An Affair to Remember.

    Great question!

  13. Can I just say I would kill one of those women for their coats? Look, grown women with style! I don't care if it's dated or cliche, it's gorgeous.

  14. Right there with you March, count me as an accomplice!
    Because of my job, quite often I watch movies while sampling perfumes. But one of my favorite matches came by pure coincidence. Gladiator for me will always smell like Happy for man/Clinique because of a pair of Greek students, sitting in the back row. They discussed a lot, which I enjoy, unlike most moviegoers, and their perfume somehow paradoxically merged with the blood and sand on the arena. So I remain forever with Happy Gladiator!

  15. Excellent ideas, all of you!
    (I'm checking briefly in between stuffing myself with great cuisine and patisserie ~trousers will start getting tight, LOL)

    Efi, I know exactly what you mean!! Jasmine and honeysuckle are the sweet remembrance of many a summertime cinema viewing under the starry skies...

    March & Idomeneus, aren't they a feast to the eyes? They look so pulled together. So perfect. And yet, they're wearing nothing extravagant. Good tailoring, sense of fitting, chromatic styling to match both their colouring and the surroundings and you've got a great image.

    Idomeneus, ah! I must smell Happy for Men again. I don't remember it at all. (Greek people are very talkative, aren't they? They can't help themselves, I should know)

  16. I was there! it was very interesting- you know it is very hard indeed to recognise scents you've smelled quite a lot when you don't have the bottle...

    As for scent and film honestly The English Patient and Pour Troubler by Guerlain which I've only ever smelled from a sample I won right here on perfume shrine- were it not that it would be Vol De Nuit or L'heure Bleu- anyway the English Patient is Guerlain- actually Katherine is Guerlain- Hana might be something else, something newer fresher, she'll wear L'Air De Temps when it comes out and it will suit her perfectly

  17. Watching the movie "Perfume, the story of a murderer" I had the balcony door open, cool evening air streaming in, and I wore Cologne Pour Le Soir. It was very, very enjoyable.


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