Hello, and thanks for looking at my blog. I’m writing it to share my obsession with all things smell-related, through my obsession with perfume.
I experience the world through smell – I always have. Smell isn’t a subsidiary sense to me, it’s always been up front, equal with seeing, hearing, feeling and tasting.
While I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t sniffing things – everything! – I discovered the miracle of perfume as a very young child through the fragrant delights on my mum’s dressing table. It was the pretty bottles which attracted me initially, but once I got a whiff of what was inside, my world changed forever.
My mother is the model Daphne Masterson, known for the iconic pictures taken of her by Cecil Beaton, and others for Vogue in the 1950s (although she still hasn’t retired at the age of 85!) and she had a pretty amazing collection of perfumes – many of them given to her by the couturiers themselves. Christian Dior, Hubert Givenchy and Pierre Balmain, to name a few.
She was away a lot working when I was little and as a lonely only child, I’d go and take the caps off those tempting bottles and sniff them to find the ones that most reminded me of her. Sometimes I’d even take a bottle to bed with me for comfort.
So, without understanding what I was doing, I honed my appreciation of fragrance by comparing all the different perfumes she had and forming associations with each one.
Balmain’s Jolie Madame was ‘shopping’, Fracas was ‘parties’, Calèche was ‘Mummy going away’, Diorissimo was ‘Easter’, Joy was ‘Mummy going out for dinner’, and so on.
I had an exercise book that I kept by my bed and every night I would write about what I’d smelled that day and found interesting. Not just perfumes – although I tried as many of those as possible – but also things like butter heating up in a frying pan, a new school jumper, my cat’s head, the plastic feet of my Barbie dolls: how they smelled and how they made me feel.
I still think of perfumes and smells in this way. It’s the emotional associations which really interest me. There are lots of amazing perfume bloggers who write brilliantly about scent from historical, fashion, business, sociological, scientific, gastronomical, business and new release perspectives. I love all that will cover all elements too when I can, but my passionate interest is in that powerful emotional connection a smell can trigger.
When I list my posts the particular scents that represent an occasion, an idea, a person, or a group of people to me, it’s not necessarily an exact ingredient match, or what a particular person would actually wear, but simply what feels right to me. I go for the gut inspiration; the first associations that spring into my head from my heart and my olfactory bulb.
Some of the perfumes I refer to you will know, others are obscure, produced by small niche brands, and there are some that are no longer made, but that I’ve been lucky enough to smell in various people’s collections, including my mum’s.
Sometimes I hope you’ll agree with me, other times I’m sure you won’t – so please tell me what you think and what your own scent associations are. I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for looking – and keep on smelling!
PS As well as sniffing my mum’s precious bottles, I loved squirting the perfume onto myself, so from a very young age I walked around in a rather overpowering haze of scent. My father started calling me Fragrant Cloud, after his favourite rose – hence the name of this blog.
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FIND OUT MORE ABOUT POLLY BY READING MAGGIE ALDERSON’S NEW BOOK The Scent of You – out on March 27th (in Australia only at this point, but we’re working on that…!)