Carola Long: The most interesting fragrances are those that also offer a conduit to years of social history'
Saturday 11 September 2010
Much is made of perfume's Proustian properties; its ability to teleport the wearer back into their memories. However, the most interesting fragrances don't just offer a conduit to our own personal past – to hosing ourselves down with Body Shop White Musk, for example – but to years of social history.
The perfumer, Roja Dove, is your man when it comes to appreciating the evolution of scent, and he's put his considerable knowledge into two new olfactory projects. He's curated The Perfume Diaries, an exhibition at Harrods of the most epoch-defining scents to have emerged since the 1800s (on until 2 October) and he's created the fragrance Diaghilev for the V&A (£75, from the V&A and Harrods) to coincide with the museum's upcoming exhibition about the legendary founder of the Ballet Russes.
Diaghilev takes its inspiration from the 'chypre' fragrances pioneered between 1909-1929 which offered something fresh after the heavy, powdery perfumes of the Belle Epoque era. Against a background of some women getting the vote in 1918, Dove explains that chypres "took what had been considered masculine materials such as vetiver, oak moss and cedarwood and redefined femininity for women who didn't want to smell flowery any more".
However, Dove is adamant that Diaghilev isn't a retro scent, but a contemporary take on the chypre. After all, as a pioneer of art deco and modernism, Diaghilev was "about looking forward not back". Unlike the dark chypres of the era, it's a warm and sensual fragrance which leads you through a rush of citrus, bergamot, lemon and mandarin, a heart of Rose de Mai from Grasse, a "main story" of peach and touches of ambergris, vanilla and Orris. If you want a more creative way to enjoy it, take inspiration from Diaghilev himself, who would always perfume the drapes of his room when travelling. Dabbing it on your wrists seems so bourgeois.
Life & Style blogs
- 1 Kylie Jenner challenge: Bizarre lip suction device inspired by Kardashian sister goes viral
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor are reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
- 4 Bruce Forsyth backs assisted dying campaign: 'If I had Alzheimer's or dementia I would do something about it'
- 5 Giorgio Armani criticises the way some gay men dress saying 'a man has to be a man'
£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...
£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...