I really like perfume, but for me it’s not as much an obsession, as beauty products are. If anything, I tend to find the perfumes that suits me, my mood and personality and stick with it-at the moment I have five perfumes which I use on the regular basis, each one special to me in its own way.
New perfumes are launched all the time and I do venture out to perfume boutiques or perfume halls in department stores to smell the new ones, but I can’t fathom to linger for longer than 10-15 minutes at a time, as the combination of smells is truly overwhelming, if not headache giving.
When my lovely friend Tracey invited me to go with her to a perfumery lecture, given by a well-known writer, blogger and perfume expert Katie Puckrik, I jumped at the chance to experience and learn something new. The event itself took place at a Central London club, which I prefer not to name, as I found it a bit shabby and slightly strange, with people darting around and me trying to figure out its clientele base-office workers, people passing through the town with some waiting time on their hands ?
The gathering was quite intimate, with about 30 or so people, of various ages and actually, I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a few men there-as Katie’s lecture progressed, everyone got involved, voicing opinions and offering comments, which was great and added to the buzz. Katie herself, a petite woman is a beautiful pleated red dress, black heels with white edging and a mass of red hair, was a bundle of energy, who twinkled and regaled us with the stories of how she got into perfumery, what drives her and the comments that she tends to receive on her site, Katie Puckrik Smells, and on YouTube where she posts video reviews.
Katie talked about why we might dislike certain smells, while loving the others desperately. Have you ever actually paused to think what kind of a person you are in terms of fragrance-personally, I never asked myself this question until Katie’s lecture. She also said that people look for more in their perfume choice than just the initial smell and come to think of it, it’s true, isn’t it? We use perfume, as Katie says, to provide ourselves with the sound-stage, while we are engrossed in the portable bubble of delight-a time machine of sorts, taking us back to our favourite memories, offering us confidence and sense of protection in the present moment.
Ms Puckrik seems to be an original thinker, calling some perfumes ‘panty droppers’, yet she is smart too, adding that for that to actually work, you have to have a personality to match and a dash of charisma wouldn’t hurt either! I also was amazed at times about her honesty. Case in point? Her comparison of Tom Ford’s ‘Wild Orchid’ perfume with American lollipops called ‘dumm dumms’-imagine a bag full of candy, let’s say some apple lollies, some pineapple, melon and lemon and than, somewhere in the middle of the bag you get a mysteriouss, with question marks all over the wrapper-basically, the factory runs out of specific flavours and then pours the remainders of all the flavours together, serving you with the flavour the taste of which you have to guess-kind of like a guessing game we all go through while smelling perfume-the base, middle, top notes…’. Well, as Katie said, to her, the above named perfume is just that, a mix up of random smells .) If that honesty doesn’t rivet you, then Katie’s charisma and way with words will, poetic, thought provoking and original in its simplicity, when you pause to think and have a light bulb moment with the realisation of ‘darn, that makes perfect sense, why didn’t I come up with that!’
It’s fascinating that people e-mail Katie with requests, asking her to match certain perfumes to their favourite smells or situations-she gave an example of the guy whose ex was coming to pick up her things and he wanted to create an impression that since she left, all he was doing was having joyful sex ( Katie’s suggested perfumes like Thierry Mugler cologne or Femininite du Bois Serge Lutens ) or a guy who considers the smell of his dog’s paws to be enchanting ( Bois Farine by L’Artisan Parfumeur or LikeTthis Etat libre d’Orange ) or a person coming with the request to smell like Chinese pollution ( Dzongkha par L’Artisan Parfumeur or Jasmin et Cigarettes ) -Katie manages to come up with ideas and matches for those, how she does it, I don’t know but it surely is fascinating!
While I haven’t smelled any perfume on that evening that made me sit down and take notice, I loved the sense of humour and curiosity, of looking around the room, with people exchanging ideas or memories-a very liberating and fun sensation in a room when many people were meeting each other for the first time. And talking to Katie after the event, slightly shy, yet very open was a perfect ending to a very enchanting evening of perfumery and conversation!