Monday, 24 January 2011

Perfume thought for the day

I was in the shower this morning, thinking about perfume for a change, when a thought crossed my mind. I've been reading a lot of books recently, ranging from Lee Child to Philip Roth. Then I thought about this range and wondered if our experience with any art form is similar. For example, if I had never heard of Philip Roth, or he hadn't been recommended to me, would I have read him, and if I had, would I have appreciated his work as much if I hadn't known that he was a Pulitzer Prize winner for example? In a similar vein, would I care about say the Mona Lisa, if I didn't know it was world famous? I mean, if I happened to wander into the Louvre and just see a tiny picture hanging in the corner of a room, depicting a rather serene woman, without the hordes of tourists, would I have said "wow!!"? Taking that analogy to perfume, if I smelled anything by say Serge Lutens, Frederic Malle, Caron or Guerlain, without having had any prior knowledge of them, would I have been wowed by them to the extent I have? 

My question is really this - to what extent are we influenced by reputation and review in any art? If I had never heard of Serge Lutens, and every review I read said that those perfumes were shit, would I have even tried them? Or looking at it another way, if a bog-standard mainstream fragrance received glowing reviews from all the perfumerati and bloggers out there, I wonder to what extent I would be duped into believing it was so good?

I suppose another question could be: to what extent do we really form our own unique opinion on any art form, including perfume?


  1. I actually wrote a tiny bit about that

    I DO think that reputation affects the way we perceive fragrances (and music, and art, and and and...) I have been thinking a lot of this lately, and attempting to sniff new perfumes differently. Either as unbiased as possible, or if something immediately doesn't hit me, I try to smell it as if I LOVED the perfumer! I'll keep you posted on how my experiment works out!

  2. Frida I'm glad I'm not the only one thinking about this. I do think I've simplified this of course - it's much more complicated. Still, in a way it would be great if we could sniff things unlabeled for example and form an initial opinion. Could be quite revealing!

  3. Actually that is a great idea - to sniff things unlabeled!

  4. Yeah, like a blind wine tasting... I should try it some time!



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