INTRODUCTION

excerpt from NECTARSONGS – Secret Language of  Garden Planet. TR ©2017

 

Perfume is a territorial marker, an artificially applied odour (as opposed to an intrinsic body odour) that broadcasts qualities about it’s wearer’s identity.

Perfume is a calling card; it signifies such qualities as allure, wealth, status, power, intellect, class, sexuality/ies, spirituality, religious faith, etiquette, aspirations, cultural proclivities, well-being, personal sense of style and taste. We typically baulk at such blunt generalisations…..

No, dear, I only wear perfume because I adore the way it makes me smell’.
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That’s true too, of course, but the underlying message that our applied scent throws… is tantamount to making one’s presence keenly felt/smelt. Olfactorily.
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We are also, (very generally speaking) powerfully influenced by the inestimable power of advertising; luxe brand marketing and associated messages of glamour and desirability all combine to speak loudly to our unconscious minds about image, and in so doing, shape the choices we make with our money, (or our creditor’s money). It’s really not so very long ago that people wore one special perfume for every occasion for most of their adult lives. Our families, friends and colleagues knew us by that scent,
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‘…that’s Aunty Rhonda’s perfume’.
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No-one in our social circles dared wear ‘Rhonda’s perfume’, because that was her smell and sacred to her alone. Woe betide a conniving friend or scheming relative who was caught smelling of eau de Rhonda. This was known as the signature scent. It marked our territory and alerted those around us that we had arrived (or recently departed).
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These days we are recognised by, and admired for the astonishing variety of fragrances we can cram into a single day’s comings and goings. People actually plan their entire week’s wardrobe of ‘at-work’ fragrances, even seeking advice from others in their closed inner circles of perfume devotees. Respite from the tedium of that ‘tired old spicy-wood thing’ is welcomed at the end of a day with a quick change into lounging clothes and a timely spritz of a much sassier ‘just-got-home-from-work’ refresher. Total transformation quickly follows, with a ‘just-out-for-a-drink with-the-crew’ statement perfume, and finally, as the day concludes, we celebrate life with a hot shower and one final metamorphosis via the sweet dab of a ‘beddy-byes’ comforter (which is still so frequently Chanel No 5).
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Is it because our collective unconscious is still gouging out its own eyes in shame over the lascivious fantasies of Marilyn Monroe generated by that breathlessly candid interview with Marie Claire’s editor-in-chief, Georges Belmont?:
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You know, they ask me questions. Just an example: “What do you wear to bed? A pajama top? The bottoms of the pajamas? A nightgown?” So I said, ‘CHANEL N°5,’ because it’s the truth… And yet, I don’t want to say ‘nude.’ But it’s the truth!
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Marilyn’s revelation continues to inspire the sleeping (dis)apparel of men and women in all walks of life, fifty seven years after that memorable interview was given as Marilyn arrived for the premiere of her 1960 film Let’s Make Love. I wonder if she ever imagined the impact her simple home ‘truth’ would ultimately have in the world?
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Perfumistas are everywhere, out and about and easily identified as glorious, shape-shifting fonts of ever-changing aromas that perfectly match the moment.
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‘Oooh, what are you wearing today Jerome?’
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‘Oh pfft, Nancy, it’s just some skanky old juice that I found in the clearance tub at my local servo’.
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There’s a curious type of reverse snobbery that surfaces in many ‘fumies who love showing-off their penchant for reprising cheap and tacky retro ‘fumes by thrusting them suddenly into the fashion limelight amid shocked gasps of wonder and amazement.
We write ourselves into society via our fashion choices, our handshakes, our hand-writing, our means of transport (from leather to lycra), our holiday destinations, our favourite restaurants; we seek to impress each other by projecting subtle (and not-so-subtle) markers that construct an ideal projection of fabulous identity.
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Generally speaking, people wash themselve fairly regularly, dress themselves and perform regular rituals of beautification; donning hats, scarves, arranging hairstyles, sporting beards, applying make-up, selecting jewellery, spraying on fragrance, matching handbags to shoes, carefully selecting ties, even surviving the sobering aftermath of surgical enhancements, multiple tattoos and piercings. We proudly display our plumages to codify our presence, and to attract and garner a variety of responses from others. Self-decoration is not new.
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Cosmetics have been sought and cherished by human beings throughout our (sadly, brief) evolution. The instruments and products of ritual beautification were either handmade, purchased from artisans, traded, raided or collected as highly-prized imports. Even so, it was unlikely that people en masse (Versailles residents excluded) owned a multiplicity of scents large enough to stock a small convenience store. Usually one favourite frag’ was enough… until it was completely gone. The empty shell of its formerly fragrant self mysteriously migrated from the dressing table to the dining table as a bud-vase. This subtle move was enacted to drop the hint that, perhaps a looming birthday or some other occasion may well be a suitable moment for perfume replenishment.
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‘oh, Elspeth, you really shouldn’t have.’
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More and more perfume is released into the world of commerce daily. New brands, new fads, old trends rebranded and reconstructed, more and more and more perfume arriving in the boutiques, department stores, online stores, alleys, back-streets, chemists (drug-stores) and auction sites.
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‘Psst, hey lady…, wanna buy some fancy perfume?’
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I wonder if the accelerating upsurge in so much mass-produced fragrance and it’s endless stream of launches and flankers and new releases reflects the ever-increasing number of people in our bursting world, all competing for love, oxygen, employment, and maybe even their own unique place in the race?
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