28 novembre 2009

Edible women

The other day someone told me my hate for gourmand fragrances is very unfair. Well, I've been thinking it over for a while and I can say with some confidence that it’s not true, I don’t actively hate gourmand scents. When they are well built they’re great scents, and some are even masterpieces, harmonious designs that tell stories in which orange peel, vanilla, cocoa are characters in all respects. I wear Mitsouko (ripe peach), Dzing! (caramelized apple), Borneo 1834 (cocoa), Heliotrope (brittle), to name but a few, with great satisfaction.
Yes, they are dominated by food notes, but they have a soul of their own, they surprise me, talk to me... they are very different from candy perfume releases of these years. I'm not talking so much of artistic perfumery creations, but of scents which can be found in department stores, and I’m not criticizing individual commercial fragrances, I’d like to speak of the general gourmand trend, producing scents which make me angry, and who noticed it, the other day, was absolutely right. With all the notes that modern perfumery offers to perfumers (3 thousand and more), how is it that today there are so many fragrances dominated by food? Apparently they attract a lot of people, otherwise the trend would have ended long time ago.
In any case, I decided to deepen my reflections. I'm not a sociologist so I have no scientific basis, but many readings and a forced familiarity with food-related topics brought me some meditation that I’d like to share with no pretension, just to try to think together.
What strikes me is that we live in a time of nervous anorexia, in which women experiment a difficult, guilty relationship with food, because society asks us to be thin and to nourish our bodies at the minimum possible. In parallel, every year hundreds of sugary fragrances are launched, perfumes which turn us into candy, popcorn or fruit baskets.
Apparently these two facts are in conflict, actually they compliment each other perfectly. Who gives briefs to perfumers to create fragrances? Mostly cosmetic companies or fashion designers. Couturiers, as artists, are able to capture trends, paths, unconscious tendencies of society, and make them visible by turning them into clothes. Clothes and accessories draw the idea of a woman of the time (refined creature, androgynous, hypersexy, glamorous...). When designers’ collections are presented, you can "read" what the collective imagination associates with being a female, in all the facets that the creators have captured and turned into clothing. And as the fashion Maisons also guide the perfume market... this thing of capturing collective imagination trends to turn them into something to wear, is true also for scents.
What is the idea of women in collective imagination, then? An individual smelling of strawberries and popcorn. One that conveys the message "Eat me!" through the scent, but who is asked to abstain from food. A woman is something you can eat (in the broadest sense, something to eat, something that satisfies and nourishes), but which, in turn, is not entitled to receive satisfaction: it’s fine if she smells of rum brittle but she shouldn’t eat it. Perhaps sweet scents help us to feel a gastronomic satisfaction without the guilt derived from having really eaten, and then at large, may help to better endure the frustration of not being able to fulfil our desires? Not only food-related desires, as the deepest desires may include sex, freedom from preconceived rules, desire for spirituality, for closeness to Men, and so on. If our nose has been filled with vanilla scent for 4 hours, part of our desire has been satisfied in the nose, and what remains can be kept under control without feeling too frustrated for not being allowed to taste it.
Somehow, many girls understand –at least unconsciously- this and are on the constant quest for scents which offer a partial fulfilment. Which is way is better than no fulfilment at all, isn’t it?
I don’t know if it’s really like this, but if it is, may I make an appeal, which may sound shallow and stupid, but which I strongly believe in? Girls, when we feel like a cup of hot chocolate with cream, let’s find a bar and taste it calmly. Maybe, sinking the spoon into the thick cream, we may think of how to subvert rules unfit for us, and make plans to get what we truly desire for ourselves. Then, let’s wear a huge jasmine masterpiece, and go out to do damage!

Pic: http://www.affaritaliani.it/

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