Like many perfume lovers, I have a lot of samples, not very well organised. Inevitably, one or two of these samples have lost their labels. The other day I picked out one of these label-less samples and on a whim decided to wear it.
I don't hold myself out to have a brilliant nose, but generally speaking I do think I have a decent sense of smell and over the years have managed to build up a library of olfactory associations with most of the major notes. Or at least I thought I had. Wearing this perfume, I realised that I had absolutely no idea what I was wearing. When I first sniffed it, it smelled quite dry and leathery, and for an instant I thought I was wearing Knize Ten. Then the perfume sweetened a little, started to smell a bit more 'perfumey', with perhaps a touch of aldehydes. At that stage I realised I was probably wearing a feminine perfume, but one that a man could pull off.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I eventually worked out after a few minutes as the oriental nature of the perfume revealed itself that I was wearing Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles.
This got me thinking about how our minds are influenced by the labels of perfumes we wear, and whether most of us really do have as good a sense of smell as we think we do. I read somewhere that most, or a lot, of people actually would struggle to identify the smell of roses if they did not see the flower they were smelling. I can't remember where I read this and I haven't tried this experiment in real life, so I don't know if it is indeed true.
What do you think about your sense of smell? To what extent do you think a label influences how easily and quickly you smell notes? On my side, I am tempted to decant a few perfumes into blank vials and see how good I really am at identifying which perfumes they are!