Thursday, August 21, 2008

At Least I Can Still Smell - Sniffing Après L’Ondée

For the last two days I've been plagued with eye pain, and I finally saw the doctor today, even though my student health insurance doesn't kick in until Friday and my short term plan ended on Monday. Isn't that just Murphy's Law?

Anyway, right now I can't even walk outside because the wind feels like knives in my eyeballs, and the sun is too bright. Ahhh! Get me away from this fresh air and sunlight! But, should I lose all vision, at least I've been training my nose for the last few months. I'll smell my way around. (But really, I should be fine.)

Since I find myself with limited amusements, let me jot down some of my thoughts on the last perfume I smelled, Après L’Ondée by Guerlain.

From Bois de Jasmin

Après L’Ondée is not one of the classic heavyweights from Guerlain, which include L'Heure Bleue and Shalimar - these are powerful, heady perfumes. Meaning "after the rain shower," the fragrance begins with the a watery note - hard to describe, but once you smell it, you'll know it. The top notes I smell also include iris (a root-like scent), thyme, and sage. Just imagine you plunged a bunch of herbs under cold water and are holding them up to your face. Better yet, imagine you're standing in a herb garden after a rainstorm.

Then I get violet - a very purple and tiny smell. By "tiny" I don't mean the smell is faint but that it smells tiny, delicate, miniature. Sweet, too, but in a small way, not in the expansive way of sugar and vanilla. Like a petite candied violet.

I wish Après L’Ondée stopped there for me. I would be in love with this melancholy scent if it did. Alas, on me it finally develops into Eau de Baby Wipes. Once in a while, amidst the smell of infant hygiene, I get a whiff of something herbal again, only to lose it.

I also wish I loved this scent for a sort of silly reason: I want to like the house of Guerlain. I am secretly afraid that I will despise every one of their fragrances (I also do not like Shalimar). Will I then be denounced as completely bourgeois? What if I actually like Britney Spears' Fantasy instead? As a developing perfumista, I am educating my nose. I have samples of other Guerlains to try yet, as well as exclusives niche fragrances. But this brings up the question of how we learn taste: is it based on our own likes and dislikes, or on what is deemed "tasteful" by others? How does this work with food and wine? Do we naturally like caviar and truffles or do we because we learn they are "sophisticated" foods?

Maybe the test of natural affinity vs. pretension is whether we abandon our old likes entirely or not . . . I do love foie gras and escargot, but I also love a good mac 'n' cheese. I also have a secret place in my heart for junk Chinese food: mmmmm, Orange Chicken. What do you think?

1 comment:

Eddie said...

What a wonderful description of the fragrance…. you have made me to go for perfume shopping.