Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Americans Complaining of Perfume Overload: Cultural Divide or Other?

It seems like I get almost every single one of the mails complaining of perfume overload from people living on US soil. The matter had been discussed in a previous post, Americans vs French, the Culture Wars, but here are some more thoughts stemming from past discourse with interested parties.


1. The frivolity of perfume seems ingrained in a sort of WASP mentality, the glorification of soap & water of religious significance through the "cleanliness next to godliness" axiom. Interestingly, although the phrase is similarly coined in other languages to extol the value of cleaning up, the connection is not made with the divine but rather with other values, such as social status (In Greek it's "cleanliness is half nobility" ). To further the syllogism one might say that eschewing the god-preferred clean smell of soap & water, covering it up with perfume "reeks" of suspicious motives, of emulating women of low reputation who used perfume in order to either hide the smell of other men on them or to seduce men through perfume. In a certain milieu, the use of perfume might be considered thus immoral.

2. The cubicle farm culture is most prevalent in the US rather than in other countries (although I'm not going by any solid statistic, just what I see on first "reading") which might explain why there are so many people who have complaints. It's not entirely their fault (or their co-workers'), you know, the environment induces discomfort, conflict and ennui! Someone has to be blamed and perfume is so easy. Especially so since smells invade our space and trigger emotional responses.

3. The following might not be relevant nowadays in all cases, but I distinctly recall a perfumer mentioning that American perfumes are made with a higher concentration within the established eau de toilette, eau de parfum concentrations so as to satisfy the taste to have your perfume announcing you, a form of "olfactory shoulder pads". It's also a historical fact that some of the most potent, powerful fragrances first met with success in the US, such as Narcisse Noir by Caron, due to this preference for stronger fragrances. (And we all recall Calvin Klein's Obsession and Giorgio Beverly Hills, don't we). So it' wasn't always like that. Additionally several of the modern "clean" scents of American name are so harsh that they do pierce sinuses.

 So in view of the above is it any wonder that lots of Americans are complaining? I don't think it's entirely their fault.
What's YOUR take?


  1. i think it has partly to do with the fact that many americans wear lower quality perfumes that, at least to my own nose, do not smell very good but do smell very strongly, at least when first applied. prime "offenders" tend to be younger men wearing the popular, but mostly rather vile, "axe" brand of fragranced grooming products, and girls to middle-aged women wearing many of the victoria's secret and "bath and body works" line of women's perfumes.

    other than quality issues, which are of course somewhat subjective, there is the fact that many americans do work in the above-mentioned cubicle farm environment or similar close quarters. some over-apply, and more than a few think it's ok to reapply perfume at their work stations, rather than in the restrooms; this has given rise to complaints resulting in requests or office policy statements to reduce or eliminate personal scented products at work.

    in some circles, as you mentioned, there is a lingering---or should i say, resurgent---distrust of anything too sensual, too hedonistic. the rise of neo-fundamentalist religious sects has brought back restrictions in their communities on women's attire and hairstyle/ make-up choices which might include perfume. but i'd think they were less numerous than they are vocal, although they do seem to have increased over the last decade.

    one other thing that could be driving the wave of complaint about scents is the two-fold fact that every damn thing in america is scented, usually in a foul, very chemical way, so our ambient environments are overwhelmed with scents of the most allergy-provoking kinds. also, our cities, houses, and public buildings are polluted by the vast amount of petrochemical products used to construct, paint, and furnish them, which causes all sorts of respiratory issues and allergies and worse. given the (definitely not unrelated) rise in children and adults with asthma and serious allergies, more and more people are at risk of discomfort or serious illness when exposed to scented products. as often happens, the response is to "throw out the baby with the bath water", and sweeping restrictions can result. personally, although i have both allergies and mild asthma, i find that a reasonable application of decent quality perfume rarely poses a problem. i do find certain perfumes bother me; occasionally even a good quality one that happens to contain something i'm sensitized to. (i recognize them easily because they trigger a headache as well as slight breathing problems.) but it's very rare that personal scent bothers me in the way that the pervasive laundry products, house-cleaning agents, "air fresheners", lavatory scents, etc so often do. by keeping my home and car free of such things, and by minimizing my use of scented personal care products, i am free to enjoy my perfumes. i often think that if our ambient environments were less polluted, we would be healthier overall...and have to worry less about regulating perfume ingredients, which are really like the proverbial straw breaking an already over-burdened camel's back than the main offender.

    1. It's interesting that you bring on the matter of quality, A, because the more I see it, the more I think that global market fragrances are the same all around. Axe or Lynx are the same and overused in Europe just as much as they're on US soil.
      But I do agree very much about the ubiquity of having everything scented. Probably why functional products companies are slowly divulging what they use, since so many people suffer from sensory overload. It does add up when done to death!

      And of course the new fundamentalist religious sects is an interesting, if rather scary, phenomenon. I wonder where there is a specific instruction on perfume use, since several are Islam-focused and this is one culture with a prime interest in scent. Would be interesting to find out.

  2. I don't miss living & working in the US.
    There are so many reasons the US is a 'deodorized' culture-
    1) American tastes are rather bland & conformist despite Americans' claiming to prize their 'rugged individualism'. From fashion to food to architecture & home decor, you name it, in the US bland, mollifying & somewhat frumpy is preferred. We don't want anybody smelling too unique or interesting either.
    2) I do wonder if in addition to puritanical influences the deodorization Americans prefer is part of the assimilation required of the vast waves of immigrants the US has undergone. Speak English, look & smell 'American!'
    3) Then there's the plague of the 20th century - 'environmental illness.' Where it is theorized that the more you are exposed to certain chemicals , the more likely you are to get ill. And if it 'smells' it's a chemical & therefore makes you sick. Allergens & the treatment & identification thereof is almost a medical subculture in the US. I think the 1st perfume to be linked to 'environmental illness' was Charlie in the mid 70's. Charlie was banned in many US workplaces for it's headache inducing qualities. Perfumes are poison in America!
    4) America's HUGE consumer culture where to sell products we are constantly told & advertised to that we REEK & need deodorant protection for our bodies- hair, mouths, armpits, genitalia, etc- even our homes need deodorants! SELL! SELL! SELL! BUY! BUY! BUY!
    Gosh, I could go on.
    Having been a pharmacist I do have some unfortunate associations with some perfumes. For example, Tabu & Opium will always be associated in my mind with elderly ladies suffering urinary incontinence problems. For some reason those poor ladies thought that over applying such perfumes (which are rather heavy even when modestly applied) would mask the odor of stale urine.

    1. Anonymous20:32

      Those poor elderly ladies! I'm sure they were mortified by the aging process and the certain ways it wrecks havoc on us all! Thankfully, we have kind and compassionate people such yourself to understand!

    2. Thanks for bringing all these points here.
      Are American tastes so homogenized? I always thought Americans were much more for individuality. I blame our own culture for being a bit monolithic in some subjects... Perhaps it's all part of being part of "the American Dream"? It very well might.

      There's certainly truth to being fed insecurities so as to sell! It's borderline insulting. I wonder though why American people who are so vocal on so many fronts don't oppose these messages more vehemently. Any theory?

      Unfortunate if these ladies did use perfume to cover stale urine, but surely who could smell urine under Tabu or Opium??

    3. Anon,

      I don't think Bibi mentioned in a back handed way meant to insult. Maybe her professional experience provided the necessary info on this being the case, rather than the common (often faulty!) hypothesis that older people use perfumes to cover nasty smells. (There's absolutely no reason younger people wouldn't do the same, after all)

    4. leathermountain13:35

      I'm familiar with the European pastime of bashing the United States for being unsophisticated, immature, just not that bright. Does that ever get boring? Wouldn't it be more productive to examine the real failings of the US, such as our income inequality, or would that strike too close to home, i.e. to the European imperialism that is of course the origin of the United States in the first place? That said, I think the cultural conformity enforced in Europe far exceeds what we find in the US. Some European countries have completely centralized educational systems with well-funded state-sanctioned organizations dedicated to the purity of their language, just for example. If that's not institutionalized cultural conformity, I don't know what is.

  3. I see it as an obstinate desire to complaint and assert some "civic right" that perfumes somehow endanger. I have lived here for ten years so someone may want to disagree and claim I have "no right" to speak about America (United States, in any case). It is true that there are some concentrated places where any smell, good and bad, can potentially be hazardous but we are bound to encounter smells everywhere we go (who ever has walked the streets of NYC in mid August knows that all too well). But I see it, primarily, as an ideological apparatus that is incredibly powerful and naturalized in the States,, a whole ideological mind set where what matters is certain cleanliness of the bodily versus the European (French?) perfume/body odor ratio but also an ideology of who you should be and how you should look and how you should smell or not, of what it implies to wear certain things and smell of real patchouli or real civet versus Victoria's Secrets' hailed concoctions.
    In any case, I don't wear perfumes when I'm on an airplane so as not to offend any sensibility but when I'm on the streets I don't care: if I have to deal with Bath and Body Works Vanilla on a daily basis on the subway, you can deal with my smokey, resinous, ambered woods.

    1. There's something to what you say.
      Americans loved heavy, potent scents. Just look at all the classic Estee Lauder ones! What happened?
      Did they get fed up by the strong fumes or was it an ideological apparatus, as you succinctly say, which put them off their perfume? Maybe a little bit of both?
      I mostly detest when I encounter a pseudo-scientific explanation of why perfume "is bad for you". I have treated this in detail already, however, so I won't post a diatribe here again.

  4. Anonymous18:23

    I agree with Bibi when it comes to mainstream American culture. However, my experience as a woman who's lived in New York for more than 25 years, you can't find diners anymore in Manhattan, it's all upscale New American restaurants, grocery shopping options have never been as good with stores such as Wholefoods, Citarella, Trader Joe and Fairway.
    The NY fashion industry today competes with Paris and Milan and Americans'wine consumption has grown continously for the last past 25 years.
    I just tested the new Lutens highly exclusive line at Barneys, at 600 to $800 a bottle, they're selling!
    I wouldn't surprised if average 25 year old Europeans wear Daisy So Fresh.
    On freedom, diversity and individualism, there's a positive trend right now in the media and society on the emancipation of trans women, from Laverne Cox to Caitlyn Jenner, and quite honestly, I don't really see that in Europe.


    1. Thanks Emma!

      Oh, it's certainly, most assuredly, true that Europeans wears things like Daisy Eau so Fresh! Well, not exactly Marc Jacobs, because MJ is not big in Europe, but in the same spirit. Just see all the fuss with Light Blue for instance. Likeable in a way thanks to its extended citrus freshness, but totally bland at the same time. And yet a European best-seller for almost 2 decades now. There's a reason of course, but let't not derail the discussion.

      It's surprising that the super costly fragrances sell at all. But like I always say, these are aimed at really wealthy people first and foremost, not perfume enthusiasts. Just look at Malle and the latest launches. L'incediaire is good, that's true, but is it $800 good? I wonder.

      And YES, Europe is much more conservative on rights overall; you're right on target. Old money farmers, bourgeois citizens and fallen aristocrats. You can't get any more conservative than that. Eager to clutch at straws in order to preserve their old way of life.

    2. Anonymous23:28

      And for having followed the European Greek crisis, what a shame! Immigration, debt... I wish Europeans showed solidarity and stopped bashing Greece!

      Renard Constrictor and Sidi Bel-Abbès are available at Barneys for now. The first one is a modern take on Weil Zibeline, somptuous fur musk, the latter is reminiscent of Fumerie Turque. I can't wait to test Cracheuse de flammes described on the PremiereAvenue site as the world's most expensive perfume composed with Otto rose, 600 euros. This will be nothing for the new residents of 225 West 57th St, the top floors were sold out right away, each at more than 100 million dollars. This is the tallest building in the western hemisphere.

      Have you seen the pictures of the brand new Serge Lutens boutique in Moscow?

  5. I think some of this stuff in America has come from when more was more in the '80's. You wore and layered Obsession, Opium, and the like in mass quantities and then something changed and suddenly it was too much. Then we went to not wearing perfume or wearing the your skin but better or the Bath and Body Works stuff. But you do have the elderly that don't have much of a sense of smell anymore and naturally wear a lot of perfume. But the perfume hating of the 90's has led to the American companies to forget how to make a good perfume. But smoking here in the US is way down, so when many people don't smoke or quit, the ability to smell is more acute. Probably in Europe, people are taught to appreciate perfume and search for one that suits them. I have to deal with that horrid Axe crap that men and teen boys wear and that either fruity crap or floral/patchouli nonscense that women wear.

    1. Oh that happens across the pond too: both the Axe and the fruitychoulis. (La Vie Est Belle is a huge best-seller in Greece and for the life of me I can't understand why. Si is also big, but that's rather more interesting. At the same time the truly gorgeous La Panthere, due to Cartier's lack of marketing in the local market, is unsung, although Greek ladies are big on chypres!).

  6. Anonymous20:49

    It's very on trend to be anti-Ameican these days. But, truth be told, every culture/country has a skeleton or two in its proverbial closet.

    I always get concerned when individuals make broad sweeping generalizations about any population. It's so easy to judge, poke, and deride others who live different lives and make different choices, whether that be a perfume pick, birth control, religious affiliation, ad infinitum. Some easily confuse opinion with fact. I find it much more engaging and rewarding to focus on those things that bring us together, things we have in common with other populations, and keeping the mind open to new ways of seeing and experiencing the world through another's eye. The things we can learn are life changing :)

    1. Deva,

      absolutely true. if you have been following these pages, I have often protested in favor of Americans being side-swept in perfume "debates" as not knowing enough, not appreciating enough. The French wear just as much mass market perfumes, if not more (The indie artisanal scene is almost non existent in Europe).

      I do need to point out however that the above thoughts came through direct experiences by American readers of mine who have written to me on multiple occasions. It gave me pause for thought.
      Not a trendy topic per se, but maybe a topic that has a foot on an increased interest in how opinions and trends are shaped?

  7. Anonymous21:47

    I live in Canada, but the same sentiments apply here as in the USA. I love wearing fragrances, but there are more than a few people who are sensitive to them (my wife being one of them). They will give her headaches, and allergy like symptoms. So I think it's only fair that we who wear fragrances respect that these people have sensitivities and allergies and refrain from wearing fragrances at the workplace, or at the very least wear fragrances with very little sillage so only those right up close to you would even know (this is what I do).

    When it comes to other public places, it's fair game as far as I'm concerned. The only exception being a fine dining restaurant or wine bar, where ones perfume can interfere with the sensory experience of the food/wine experience. I had a near awful experience dining at Alinea restaurant ($1000+ per person), when a woman who was at least 15 feet away from our table, had such strong perfume on that it was the only thing I could smell. Thankfully the when I mentioned it to the service staff, they found us another table.

    There's a time and place to wear fragrances. The workplace is not one of them, nor are restaurants. Unless you wear something that no one will notice without entering your personal area.

    1. Wise words and words to live by!

      I suppose Canada although heavily influenced by the French culture is also a "new" country and therefore eager to map out its own identity and break with anything "old". Maybe that's why they're attuned to what the US is leading in this "war of the perfumes" rather than going with the staid.
      Here in Greece people shift ever so much more slowly, being a really ooooooooooold country. Sometimes it feels like one can't change a thing!

  8. I think you're hitting many interesting points, as do many of the previous posts. Some of the complainers could be people who are into natural things, no chemicals etc; others people who just don't like big smells. Not that these things don't exist in Europe, but perhaps people here in the US are more assertive in complaining.

    But certainly your point about cleanliness is true.The ideal is three-times a day shower, and something that broadcasts immaculate hygiene throughout the day. this doesn't mean no perfume of course, but simply that the perfume must give such impression. And possibly from the first shower at 8am to 8 pm. Which if at all results in more powerful perfumes which could double as hospital floor cleaners.

    Another reason for 3), I speculate, could simply be getting a back for the buck. This is the (old) Estee Lauder style. Perfume was a luxury. To convince people to buy such luxuries, she needed to make sure that the perfume performed - ie that it lasted forever and that it was smelled by all. Hence the superpower Youth Dew (which, in its first incarnation, was a bath oil - btw).

    1. Good point about complaining level and range of being vocal: Are the perfume-haters more lobbied than simple users or do they use much more of the media (eager to unearth conspiracies in order to sell pages) in order to further the fear-mongering? Worth wondering.

      It might sound funny. We're a rather clean people, taking into account that taking a bath is embedded even in Homeric tradition (multiple times references and descriptions of baths in the epics). And living in a warm (hot in the summer) climate would necessitate constant bathing, wouldn't it?
      And yet people do not take three times a day showers! And I was only just recently reading a thread on a local forum, frequented by young people (who are vastly influenced by American ideals of lifestyle and style in general) in which someone asked how often do you shower and wash your hair and the answers were very interesting indeed! Surprising even!! Average ranged from showering once a day in the summer (more without soap for cooling down for some) but only once every other day in the wintertime and washing one's hair every 4 days instead of the daily lather most Americans do. Fascinating huh? Perfume use is also rampant.

    2. Forgot to say: You're absolutely right on the "bang for the buck". This is a very American perception.
      French and European tradition favors lighter fragrances. With less sterilized personal washing one would fear what a mingle of budding body odor and a couple of spritzes of Youth Dew would produce!!

  9. Kelly21:30

    This is very interesting post. As a lifelong Chicago-an, I would agree with almost every sentiment expressed in this post. American culture does often tend to be the bland and conformist -- the great irony here being what Bibi said about America's "rugged individualism," which is really some garbage Ronald Reagan-ized ideology that tries to be Emersonian, but really just comes across as selfish whiny toddlerhood. Anyhow, let me not get too political on this thread, because I could go on about American faux-patriotism ad infinitum.

    I have a few thoughts: Americans and their obsession with "individualism" vs. Europe's sense of community and communalism. Americans have a thing about their personal space being invaded, and this includes perfume and smells. I'm not saying that Americans make up their allergies, but I do feel it's possible that because Americans try to ward off any sort of distinctive scents, they have become predisposed to scent intolerances. Americans want to be individualistic, but not if it imposes upon their own individualism -- the inherent dilemma of this here is duly noted.

    Conversely, European culture is much more accepting of other scents, including scents considered dirty and unclean by typical American standards. As an exchange student in Turkey about 20 years ago, I remember my host family and fellow Turks telling me that take a shower everyday is unnecessary and using so much hot water is wasteful. Similarly, there were so many more scents there full of life -- yes, often lots of human BO to my foreign nose, but also the smell of fresh simit in the morning, unregulated diesel emissions (I still miss it, maybe why I like Tubereuse Crimenelle so much, ha!), tea of course, mint, strange herbs.

    Smells that are not fruity and floral and "clean" and crisp and/or citrus smell like "old lady" to most American women. But I am preaching to the choir -- it's too bad Americans neglect one of the most important and integral senses, but also this wonderful art form. Shocking, it is not however.

    1. Kelly, I think you're explaining this individualism streak much, much better than I ever could.
      And it's a fascinating thought what you say: "because American try to ward off any sort of distinctive scents, they have become predisposed to scent intolerances. Americans want to be individualistic, but not if it imposes upon their own individualism"

      Turkey is a tapestry of scents. Many of them are so rich and nuanced that one would kill the art work if they were to surgically remove some of them. Good for you for appreciating them!

      Glad you enjoyed the post and hope to often see you on these pages. :-)

    2. Felicia S.13:43

      So interesting. In France, it's considered basic politeness to give people their space, when out in public. The French are always deferential and apologetic about getting in someone else' space. Americans & Canadians really do fight each other for space, walking down a North American sidewalk is basically a game of chicken. Having lived in both France and Canada, I can say the American way is exhausting. It's not so much that Americans "have a thing" about their space being invaded, it's that it happens far more routinely.

    3. Anonymous15:04

      As a born and raised New Yorker, the first thing that jumped into my head was personal space as well. Though I've been living overseas for close to a decade, I've never been able to adjust to being in "close quarters." In the places Felicia references I'm fine, sidewalks are inherently busy places where people need to move around, but in standing around and conversations. I become very uncomfortable and panicky when someone gets too close (especially to the face). I think this is often a common sentiment. For scents, I am not so bothered and love when someone has a signature scent that announces their arrival before you see them. However, I can imagine others find smell an invasion of personal space in the same way as the physical.

      I also find the comments about Americans and "their cheap tastes and right wing ways" hysterical. Applying the same value system to over 300 million people without hedging is quite a narrow way of understanding the world.

  10. Anonymous23:57

    Americans are more hysterical about their health, and thus perfume is seen as an encroachment upon the purity of their health -- the calls to ban perfumes seem really related to the whole hippie/green mindset where all-natural is the only good, and diversity of scent is repellant because it "offends my allergies" or is deemed harmful, like secondhand smoke. It is truly a toxic environment in the US where one cannot wear even a mild cologne to work without fearing offending people. I would much rather live in a European country that favored, celebrated, and enjoyed the diversity and splendor of fragrance.

    1. Kinda ironic taking the debacle on Obama-care and health-care in US in general. But you have a perfect point!
      I have propounded on the whole allergies issue before (and the very nuances and misconceptions because there are valid and non valid claims and all the seem to get conflated to pursue an agenda sometimes; it does seems so to me...). It's a never ending issue, it seems. Like the president of L'Oreal (local branch) once confided to me "People are into green these days, so we offer green". I mean...eh.... ;-)
      Come this way and I promise I will scent you over with all the nuanced scents of the Med!

  11. So, American discomfort with smellable perfume. Most of the commenters have hit on some good reasons. My slant is that there's:

    --The American thing with personal space.
    --The scolding, nannying tone of the mainstream media here has a strong effect on how people think about things.
    --The self-centered belief that the world must change its ways to ensure the complaining party never suffers discomfort. It's that "right to not be offended" thing.
    --Where I currently live, in the suburbs, people's tastes indeed are intensely conformist. Obviously department stores and Sephora would like to sell product so everything on offer smells the same. Most women around here don't even know that you can get perfume someplace other than the mall.
    --Where I used to live, in a pricey liberal elite whitopia, if the subject of perfume is brought up the response almost always is "I don't wear perfume. I only like organic natural oils!" which they never actually wear. And then they disparage the tacky suburban unsophisticates who wear detectable perfume. So it's yet another status pose wherein middle class whites try to claw their way into the upper middle. If you doubt me, go live someplace like Portland or Austin for 20 years and display a heterodox preference for beauty.
    --And then there's that phenonenon where feminist women try to make other women look stupid and shallow for liking pretty things and being overtly feminine. Status posturing again.
    --I've known a great number of men who express dislike of strong perfume (and heavy makeup), claiming to prefer women be "natural" which is hilarious since we would all smell like barnyard animals if we reverted to some cosmetic-free Edenic natural state. I'm as American as anyone in my aversion to easily avoided and, yes, offensive BO.

    Now that I think about it, I believe the Right To Not Be Offended is the ascendent influence here, followed by nostalgic longing for a lost state of Organic, All-Natural Grace.

    The allergy angle doesn't get much sympathy from me. I'm allergic to dust, so all day every day I'm experiencing symptoms. I do try to be mindful of others with my perfume application which is a sacrifice because I like to bathe in the stuff. So that's mostly a day off thing.

  12. I love to think about the differences in acceptable or typical behavior between cultural groups and individuals. I have found in the US there is much variability from one sub-culture to another and through time. I worked decades ago in an office filled with cubicles where smoking was allowed (almost de riguer among the senior managers because the CEO smoked cigars). So perfume was a non-issue. I could wear whatever I wanted. Nobody could smell anything but smoke most of the time. Then I worked for a heath-oriented company where office smoking was not allowed long before the smoking ban became a law. There was a similar style of cubicle culture, yet there was almost no perfume to be found, certainly nothing that went beyond one's personal space, since many cubicles were for two employees. Today I work in a public setting where some co-workers claim terrible sensitivity to fragrance while others deploy round-the-clock plug-in air fresheners to combat the smells of the workday.

    I agree that there is an American bias for functional, clean scents, but I also find this can vary greatly from one person to the next. And I have to wonder if in a few years (or decades) the fashion for powerful perfume will return and people will again fill airplanes, offices, elevators, and restaurants with popular new incarnations of Opium and Giorgio.

  13. Miss Heliotrope03:43

    (late,due to illness, but means I can read everyone else's comments)

    My first response to this was more along the lines of but there are often still more Americans online (english speaking sites) discussing things & also that to speak out about such topics is more usual in US culture than for many of the rest of us who recoil in horror at discussing things publicly.

    Having lived in upstate NY for 6 years, I didnt recognize much of the America mentioned - there are many Americas & Americans. All countries are conservative in their way - when visiting my FIL in Italy from the US, we always noticed that everyone dressed the same: what was fashionable was worn, by all - we found ourselves standing out as outrageously differently dressed, which is not a usual thing.

    My main scent problem during my time in the US was mostly a result of the weather, as for half the year we needed to keep our apartment sealed against the cold. No matter how we cleaned (with any of the vast array of products available to us, from scented to unscented to olive oil soap & vinegar), we could not make the stuffiness of a closed up home vanish (the weekend our downstairs neighbour bought 6 chickens & roasted them one after the other with the smell going through the heating system put us off chicken for months). As Australians, even in winter we are used to being able to hang our clothes & linen out to air & sun dry, and never to be able to do this was awful - I knew our things were clean, but I could never convince myself that they smelled or felt so. There were times when strongly scenting everything with "sunshine" felt like a viable option, however vile it really was. My attempts to open a window at least once a day drew criticism from our landlord & neighbours, yet was the only way either of us could feel our home was clean though all the fug...

  14. Oh, there are lots of complainers on both sides of the pond! Don't let that get you down.

    Fact of the matter is that there's also a robust community of fragrance lovers who are shifting the paradigm here in the US. Witness the numerous artisan, indie and niche brands that are exploding onto the scene, bloggers writing about the work, Facebook groups giving love and shops carrying hard to find fragrances. It indicates a growing awareness of the importance of scent in our lives. Artists are also waking up to this underutilized medium and exploring the olfactory terrain. I predict this will lead to a culture of appreciation that will rival that of the wine industry . . . and we all know how that turned out. Many still continue to classify Americans as vulgar, common, unsophisticated and bland, but these are signs of fear and insecurity. My hope is that we can all set aside our cultural fears and begin to look at the unfolding details with open eyes, recognizing that there are passions we all have in common.


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