Fragrance is different from other stimuli out in the world because it directly connects with emotions through our olfactory system. It’s a direct line to our limbic system, the place in our brain where emotions are generated.
So does fine fragrances worn by people reflect their identity? Are fragrances an archetype of our personalities? Do we select fragrances that represent how we feel and want to appeal to those people we meet through the day, or night? Or is fragrance just an aura of fantasy?
Or conversely do fragrances we wear evoke specific emotions within us? Make us feel intrepid, adventurous, sensual, sexy, confident, or even mysterious? These are the emotions that the creators of perfumes may have had in mind, a perfume that itself is a unique personality. Conjuring up a persona that the creator imagines someone to be.
The marketing avant-garde tells us that we purchase a perfume for what we want to be. Research tells us that fragrance evokes strong emotions within us. So if a fragrance was a personality archetype, who would they be?
Let’s have a look at two of the poplar fragrances, one from the past and one from the present and decipher their personalities.
Poison was launched in 1985. This classic feminine perfume utilized very carefully placed coriander amongst wild berries, plum, anise, and rosewood. The heart of the perfume is a deep rich balsamic tuberose, carnation, jasmine, opoponax, cinnamon, myrrh, rose, and wild honey. This is all supported by a woody vetivert, musk, sandalwood, cedarwood, amber, vanilla, heliotrope, opoponax, with a tint of tobacco.
Although Poison may initially appear sweet, the fruity floral bouquet soon emerges in an overpowering manner to tell you that someone is here to make an impression upon you. Its only after you get to know the wearer that the more subtle powdery feminine side shows itself, and grows on you.
Poison indicates a sense of inner wildness, but the balsamic mellow woody vanilla notes also indicate an urge for something lasting. There may be a dark side, or a disappointing boring side.
Poison has a distinct air of maturity about it. It represents longevity and stability. Poison certainly is in the image of a woman of the 80s lost in the techno-complexities of this second decade of the new Millennium. Poison isn’t subtle about the act of seduction, as It was more about an ambush. Poison is the essence of the power woman who knew what she wanted and not afraid to spell it out in a blatant form.
Poison is continental European, suited to Autumn nights in Vienna, Budapest, Paris, or Venice. Those that wear Poison will be bound to create some excitement, but this could also be just crude attention seeking, ostentatious extroversion. There is no subtly or shyness about Poison. Poison is brave, bold, and was designed to take a woman to where she has never been before. It’s very dangerous for those who can’t handle it. Brutal in fact, even conquering up the characteristics of tartness, bound to send out the wrong message. It’s for the gothic woman, so velvert, taboo, and aggressive, so rare in today’s conforming generation. The new version has taken all the passion away.
Fan Di Fendi launched in 2010 is very representative of the “synthetic” nouvo urban femme with its predictable tangerine, pear, blackcurrant and peppercorn tops notes which upon wearing show some promise. This is set upon a classic rose, jasmine, and tuberose accord, which is rather nonchalant as fragrances go. This is set on a leathery patchouli, and suede base, which seems to fade away within a few hours indicating no stamina or determination. The total effect is abstract which has seemed to take away any unique individuality of the fragrance. Fan Di Fendi doesn’t radiate the freshness and naturalness of a floral in its class, signifying lack of a genuine bouquet, where sincerity is a question . As a wearer you are one of the herd and go baaaaa.
Fan Di Fendi is for the non-thinker, something you just splash on and go with without any serious philosophy, as for these people, thinking is something that’s hard to do. One could argue that the fragrance has a sexy undertone, but its sex appeal is according to script, no more than a choreographed lingerie advertisement. It’s not daring, but rather very dab and conservative. There is no sense of luxury or exclusiveness about it whatsoever. Fan Di Fendi is for a wannabe who doesn’t want to put any effort to put into it.
Fan Di Fendi is a short term powerful but nondescript fragrance, a fragrance for one of those thousands, if not millions out there who are looking for true self, in the wrong place. Fan Di Fendi is urban to the hilt, something that lingers in the office canteen and can be sniffed on the dance floor that night. The initial fruity notes gives one an early idea that there is some potential, but they quickly fade away in disappointment. There is no mystic or sense of adventure at all. Fan Di Fendi is something you might have some fun with for the night, but will forget very quickly. Perhaps the most apt description for the person wearing Fan Di Fendi is Fan Di Fon.
Fragrance is culturally something very close to our psych. It makes up part of our identity and how we want others to see us. Culture has created universal meanings about odour. So we are what we wear, and there may be some sub conscious link to our personalities that we are still trying to understand. This is something very true in the animal kingdom, but researchers in fragrance and psychology are still trying to find this missing link in humans.
Meanwhile the slick marketers of fragrances have delight in conjuring up images that we aspire to be. Fragrance is probably about wearing who we want others to believe we are.