Fashion: Dress Sense

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The Independent Culture
FRESH AIR. You can't beat it. But how long before a fashion house comes up with a way to bottle it and sell it back to us at pounds 24 for a 30ml spray vaporiser? They've certainly tapped into every other smell under the sun, including leather, dirt, gentle rain (will somebody please tell me, what exactly does gentle rain smell of?), sweat, chocolate and melons. Anything that hadn't been distilled already was mixed into an avant-garde potion by Comme des Garcons, which launched the oddly named Odeur 53 last May. According to them, it is designed to smell of the memory of a smell. Fifty-three different aromas, from burning rubber (always seductive, I find) to washing drying in the wind, were all crammed into one chunky flask. It's the smell of the future. Thing is, I can't for the life of me remember what it smells like.

The nasal hairs of Yohji Yamamoto have been twitching too. After launching his first fragrance, Yohji, in 1996, he has come up with Yohji Essential. Like Comme des Garcons scents, this is a cerebral affair, and to prove it, the packaging makes it look like a chemistry project - in case you hadn't realised how essential a test tube full of smelly water really is. And Jean Patou, the fragrance house responsible for actaully making Yohji Essential, is bringing out four more scents this month alone: Un Amour de Patou, Gieffeffe Donna and Gieffeffe Uomo by Gianfranco Ferre, and Sonia Rykiel by Sonia Rykiel (who else?). Oh and not forgetting Lacoste Junior. That's a starter perfume for kids (as if they weren't smelly enough). Then there are new smells by Emporio Armani, a Cerruti number for men, and Kenzo.

How many new perfumes does the planet need? All I know is the bottle of good old-fashioned Chanel No 5 that was bought for me as a present about five years ago is still more than half-full. The whole point of a perfume is that you savour it and treat it as a precious commodity. What do these fragrance companies think we are going to do? Drink the stuff? Bath in it?

There is one new perfume I might be seduced into buying. That's Vivienne Westwood's first scent, Boudoir, launched last week. When Westwood's Swatch watch came out a few years ago, I threw away the packaging and kept the watch, only to find that, barely a year later, the entire package (preferably unopened) has become a collector's item and is now worth hundreds of pounds. I've learnt my lesson: I intend to buy a bottle of Boudoir and never even open it. I shall put it in a safe place and watch my investment grow. After all, there's nothing like the smell of money.