Saturday, January 17, 2009

Scent Sense


We all know that the five senses are important to writing. I never feel I incorporate them enough. While I'm primarily a visual person in RL, I'm pretty sensitive to scents, and love to wear perfume. Unfortunately the woman I work with is allergic, so I've abandoned my Chanel No. 5 in the interest of keeping my job. The most aromatic I get on weekdays is from applying Gold Bond Skin Therapy Lotion, which works wonders on my dry elbows and feet. It has a very pleasant smell that so far has not made my boss sneeze. But I miss eau de cologne.

My first grown-up perfume was Arpege by Lanvin. My parents always bought it for me for Christmas, but I can't even remember what it smells like anymore. I was a Charlie girl in college (cheaper), tried Shalimar but it stuffed me up. Chanel No. 5 and 19 are old favorites, but I also loved something called Champagne, which had to change its name because of conflict with the wine trademark. I've worn Beautiful and Sunflowers and Green Tea. I like floral and citrussy things, but can't deal with musk. One whiff of something and I can be instantly transported to a different time and place. Who will ever forget the sharp tang of Clearasil at a high school dance or the soft scent of baby powder on a little bottom?

My interest in aroma must be genetic. Distant relations manufactured Murray and Lanman's (my maiden name) Florida Water, which has a pretty bottle. (That monkey above thinks so too. The illustrations here are from vintage advertising cards.) In doing research on the product, I've discovered some people use it in witchcraft rites. I don't think my dead relatives would approve. *g* I prefer something less spiritual on the men in my life---Old Spice will do just fine. My current hero Edward's signature scent is lime; his heroine Caroline wears jasmine.


Are you a perfume person? What do your characters smell like? What's your favorite scent? I love fresh-cut lemons and oranges. Peonies and lilacs. Raspberries and blackberries. Coconut sun lotion and ocean breezes. Fall leaves and summer rain.

Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume. ~Jean de Boufflers

15 comments:

Tiffany Chalmers said...

I love scents.

I wear Jo Malone. My preferred scent is the Vintage Gardenia. It's a light floral scent that just suits me.

My current heroine smells like lilacs. Or so Thaddeus keeps saying. I don't particularly like the smell of lilacs (too overpowering) but it seems to keep my hero on his toes. I can't recall if Thaddeus smells. lol!

Elyssa Papa said...

I'm especially fond of food scents. Vanilla and cinammon. Freshly, baked cookies and chocolate. Strawberries, raspberries, and peaches. Now, I'm hungry.

For other aromas, I like the smell of freshly mowed lawn, lilies of the valley, lilacs (the last two remind me of both grandma's houses where each flower grew), and that subtle colonge that some men tend to wear that says come here.

The scent I could do without: fish.

Marnee Jo said...

Honestly, I don't wear much of anything, preferring the scent of clean from soap. I don't even like the scent of moisturizers or anything. But I do like the musky smells and I don't generally like floral smells or citrus smells. I really like Victoria Secret's Amber Romance smell, but I think they discontinued it. Of course.

Gillian Layne said...

I'm a huge citrus gal. I boil orange peels on the stove with a dash of cinnamon. Food smells work for me. I also love the scent of peppermint.

J.K. Coi said...

I do wear a little perfume, but not much at the office, since we have a no-scent policy as well.

For me, it's Tresor by Lancome

Anonymous said...

Oh, Maggie, Arpege will always remind me of my aunt. Thanks for a wonderful memory!

I love all your scent choices, especially the citrus ones. I would add strawberries, sun-warmed tomates just off the vine, toasting bread and the smell of the earth just after it rains.

Anonymous said...

(Sigh). . tomatoes. Sorry.

Maggie Robinson said...

Anon, I looked up Arpege. It's still made and you can order it online. Now I almost want to get some, but I don't think I've worn it since my twenties.I wonder if I'd still like the smell!

Tiff, I used to wear something called Jungle Gardenia when I was in college and I felt very naughty, LOL.

Ely and Gillian, I have a friend who always keeps a pot of cinnamon water on the stove. Her house smells like she's baked something delicious all the time. Cheater!

Marnee, don't you hate when that happens? I used to wear something named for a designer but he died and so did the perfume.

JK, I do love perfume, but they sure can trigger reactions in enclosed spaces. I hate it when I go to a play/movies or out to dinner and have to smell something strong I don't like.

J.K. Coi said...

Oh, and in MI, Amy smells like citrus. In IK, Baron smells like vanilla (Mmm).

Gillian Layne said...

Maggie, when I went to see Twilight two ladies came in late and sat right in front of me, and good grief, did they smell! Their perfume probably cost a pretty penny, but I had to move, and I hated it, because I knew the minute I stood and looked for another seat, I was blocking the other people trying to enjoy the movie!

Perfume is for private times, or in very, very small doses in public.

Janga said...

I used to be a Charlie girl too, Maggie. :) These days I like Chanel #19 and Philosophy's Amazing Grace. My budget prefers the latter.

On conference days I always ended up battling a headache and mild nausea from the mix of perfumes at close quarters. It was worse during winter.

My favorite smells though are earth after rain, babies after baths, and tea olive, roses, hyacinths, and cape jasmine in the garden.

Anonymous said...

Gillian, your story reminded me of something a famous designer once said, "If a woman's perfume precedes her by more than 18 inches, she's wearing too much."

irisheyes said...

I love scents. I think my sense of smell is the strongest of my senses. I always wanted to wear a really awesome fragrance but could never find anything I liked. I finally settled on Moonlight Path from Bath & Body Works, but I'm still kind of iffy on it.

My problem is that I'll smell something and it triggers memories or feelings but I can't grab onto to the smell long enough to identify it. Either that or it's a scent someone is wearing in passing or I'm too shy to ask them what they're wearing.

I was in the store the other day and found the perfume "Windsong" and took a wiff. It really reminded me of my grandma who died in 1973! That was pretty incredible.

Scents I like - lilacs, apple pie baking, babies, puppies, springtime (there is a definite smell around here when spring is coming), the ocean, the beach, sunscreen. Lots more that I can't think of right now. LOL

Maggie Robinson said...

Irish, I love all the beachy, suntan lotion stuff too---reminds me of my misspent youth at Jones Beach.

Janga and Gillian, I'm with you on heavy perfume in enclosed spaces.Yuck. Janga, your garden sounds divine. I love it when my peonies bloom. Even if I cut just one to bring in the house, the whole downstairs smells beautiful.

terrio said...

I wish I could wear perfume, but I developed an allergy to scents as an adult. Since I don't know exactly what chemical or ingredient sets it off, I have to avoid them all. Body sprays seem to work for me, if they are subtle. I wear Warm Vanilla Sugar everyday and I found one called Vanilla Buttercream that makes me smell like wedding cake.

I'm like Ely in that I prefer the food smells. Cinnamon, berries, apple spice and especially the cookie ones.

There are certain scents that take me back. Lavendar will always remind me of my grandmother and I'm pretty sure most any woman my age would remember Drakkar. :)