As I was walking down the street with a friend last weekend, a woman suddenly rushed by, stopped, and turned to look at us. “I followed you down the street,” she said, breathless from her efforts to catch up. “Which one of you wears the beautiful scent?”
As it turned out, it was me. I don’t even think about it anymore because I’ve been wearing the same perfume every day for almost 20 years; It’s the only fragrance I ever wear, summer or winter, day or night. It’s a special brand, of course, but its essence is rose. It’s my signature scent and I actually feel undressed without it.
“I knew you were here today even though I couldn’t find you,” a co-worker told me a few years ago. “Where from?” I wanted to know. “When I walked into the office canteen a while ago, it smelled like roses,” she said.
Fragrance and what it says is an interesting phenomenon. Likewise the effect of a certain smell.
In a recent survey conducted by Oxford University and Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute, 10 different smells – including lavender, clove, sweaty feet and green pepper – were introduced to testers in various geographical locations, stretching from urban America to the Asian rainforest. Of the 10 different scents on offer, it was vanilla that topped the poll across all regions.
While it’s no surprise that sweaty feet hit the ground running, why, you would ask, would vanilla do better than, say, lavender (third) or rose, my own favourite, at number five? Vanilla is pleasant, but rather boring. Perhaps it’s precisely because it falls into the “pleasant but boring” category that it made the top spot; a Goldilocks choice, as in one way or another not too extreme, but certainly “just right” somewhere in the middle.
There is of course so much more to smell than the actual olfactory aspect, because there is science at work here. When an odor is recognized, it is relayed along the olfactory nerve to the brain, and from there the signal is apparently interpreted by the limbic system, a part of the brain related to memory, mood, and emotions.
Yes, I read about it this week (science is not a forte) and it was the memory aspect that caught my eye. For many of us—not just Marcel Proust, with his well-documented sensory considerations—smell is all about memory. And good memories don’t always mean good smells.
Just the slightest whiff of TCP antiseptic and my father is instantly on my mind. Here was a man for whom TCP was the panacea for everything that had ever plagued him.
When I meet someone smoking a cigar, I linger in their presence, close my eyes and revel in the magical smell that brings my late husband back to me for just those precious few seconds.
Harmful cigar smoke versus fragrant vanilla? No competition. There is far more to every fragrance than what’s right under your nose.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/unlocking-the-power-of-a-scent-to-send-us-back-in-time-41528135.html Unleashing the power of a fragrance to take us back in time