A New World

  • Perfumery photo by Peter Kaminski

  • Last night I was on the phone with another natural perfumer, and the talk turned to when we first got turned on to perfumes. I was fortunate enough to be exposed to glorious perfumes in the first big heyday of post-WWII perfume. From what I understand of history, before that, women only received perfume as gifts, but after the war, demand for the beautiful juice was prodded by returning soldiers bring lots of perfume gifts back, and the newly-liberated Rosie the Riveter types deciding they were going to snag a lot of this stuff for themselves with their new paychecks.

    So, by age 2, in 1952, I was the happy recipient of nearly-empty bottles of great perfumes, given to me by my mother, relatives,and my mother's friends. A cousin in Paris modeled for Dior, and I'm sure some of my stash came from her (she was 25 years older than me, not a child model ;-)

    So here's my funniest story: I'm about three years old. I'm sitting on the floor, lovingly evaluating two of my most precious bottles. I have no idea what they were. They were two of the most glorious scents my little nose had ever experienced. Sigh. Love. I decide, in some Germanic, efficient way, that it's better to have less bottles to clutter up, and so I'll also pour the two together and probably have an even-more-glorious perfume.

    Disaster. I can still feel/smell the shock. Horrible swill resulted from the combo. Immediate recognition that I couldn't undo the fiasco. Eyes wide, mouth hanging open, I burst into tears. I think. Maybe not. Maybe I was in too much shock. I felt like crying, I know that. The stun that Ayala (click on Ayala's blog link in the blogroll) felt the other day with her patchouli/cocoa/vetiver = dung scent - magnify that 1000 times in the nose of a child, and have the child regret the disaster, knowing she did it. Boo hoo.

    OK, so what a new world it is. The rise of perfumiastas communicating amongst each other via the internet, the wrestling of the mysteries and Closed World of perfume study away from the Biggies ensures that a new, fun, educated population of perfume lovers will forever change the scent world.

    Although I studied perfumery on my own via books from age 25, it wasn't until 1991 that I launched my first line, simple 'fumes, packaged simply (no access to "great" bottles due to the lack of internet, local suppliers, etc.). The kids in this picture, if they love perfume, should have a line out by, oh, age 15! LOL. Heck, if the kids can grab on to the computer at age three and be programming soon after, why not perfume? If they have the knack - the nose - they're off and running.

    I love it -- that's all I can say -- I love it!


    1. Your post makes me enthusiastic for the youth of today. I can relate to your childhood experiment of mixology. Yikes! I wonder what perfumes they were, anyway ...

    2. Yes, they have an enviable situation now, as opposed to even ten years ago, things are much easier with the internet and all the suppliers willing to sell to individuals, I am sure it will lead to great things being accomplished, much more creativity milling around everywhere!

    3. Cait,
      Isn't it wonderful that there are so many classes for perfumers out there, even for kids..it is a new world, indeed.

      Oh, the lost perfumes...I can almost remember the bottles, too. Maybe I need to be hyponotized to remember the names, although I don't think I was reading well by then, just comic books, but you never know!

      The internet is the great egalitarian, the great connector, the great source of a worldwide change in - everything-!


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