There are some smells that all of us have a visceral dislike of, some people hate boxwood with its pungent slightly cat pee odor. Others love it and have all sorts of happily associated memories of parks, gardens and playgrounds triggered by boxwood. Eau Illuminee from Parfums Delrae is said to feature boxwood as part of the sensory landscape of San Francisco. Then again some people love the scent of cumin while for others cumin (especially detectable in the revamped Femme from Rochas or old Alpona from Caron) can put off a lot of people who only smell sweat and stale takeaway curries. Even roses can be controversial, although most of us love them. Anne of Austria (Louis the XIV’s Mum) so hated them that reportedly she couldn’t stand to see a rose in a painting and who knows what happened when she spotted one in a vase…*
The Queen’s reaction was a bit extreme, but it’s true nevertheless that most of the people in this world have a smell they just can’t endure, and sometimes it’s one that many of the planet’s other inhabitants adore. I used to loathe the smell of cooked cauliflower. Who knows why? I just did which was unfortunate because that was one of my husband’s favorite foods. Eventually I got over the cauliflower aversion, but only by dint of
experimentation with soups. Cauliflower cheese is still quite beyond me.**
In perfume the smell of synthetic melons is one I really hate, so much so that I would throw out bottles of shampoo scented with whatever it was that mimicked melon. When I got around to wearing le Parfum de Therese last summer the famous melon note made it impossible for me to adopt as a fragrance. Even the smell of ripe melons is no great favorite of mine. The smell is very pungent and one ripe melon can really advertise that it’s time to chill said melon and get out the prosciutto pronto.
I have changed my mind about smells that I once hated. The most marked case is cumin. I used to get that sweat odor and dislike the note. I mean I can and do produce my own sweat fairly copiously and so saw very little reason why cumin was going to enhance anything by smelling more sweaty. That was big time counter-intuitive.
I have come around though, and find the cumin in Alpona a very good counterpoint to the galbanum and rose accord that is the basis of that Caron minor classic. I’ve smelled versions of Alpona that downplayed the cumin and frankly, they were not as good. I’ve even come to like heavy cumin frags such as Vetyver from Parfums de Nicolai which has a big wallop of cumin in the heart, so expansive I doubted I could ever get past but surprisingly I ‘ve come to like the note.
Perhaps melon is more than I can absorb, but this makes me think that our tastes really do evolve over time with scent, and what you end up with in a wardrobe may not be what you started out with.
What scents have you changed your mind about over time, and which perfume persuaded you to like what you’d previously detested- if any?
* I got this odd story from The Welcoming Garden by Allen Lacy.
**Actually I made my very first cauliflower cheese two nights ago and my daughter remarked that it smelled like,” very salty garbage” which shows perhaps that aversions are hereditary and that adolescents seldom see much point in tact.