Perfume is all about the “and”

The And

“You think that because you understand ‘one’ that you must therefore understand ‘two’ because one and one make two. But you forget that you must also understand ‘and.’”
Donella H. Meadows, Thinking in Systems: A Primer


Jasmine and sandalwood. Oakmoss and vetiver.

Floral and fruity. Spicy and leathery.

Feminine and masculine. Warm and sensual.


Most fragrances, I daresay, blend together in a single whiff. Individual notes are perceptible, and may change over time, but they mingle into a synergy of scents.

My spoiled nose is used to that.


However, some defy that behavior, and insist upon presenting each accord individually. It’s the olfactory equivalent of hearing separate sounds through the left and right ears through headphones. It grabs your attention, taking advantage of your instinctive desire to equalize them, but quickly frustrates as you realize you cannot blur them together by sheer willpower or any other skill.

It’s as though the “and” took on a life of its own, and insinuated itself into the perfume to make its presence known. Like great UX design of modern wisdom, shouldn’t the “and” be imperceptible, à la the accords coming together to form a unique totality of “the” perfume?


A few days ago I drank a nitro blood orange coffee out of a can. I tasted blood orange, and I tasted coffee. Both were good flavors. They never mixed.

I wore Le Labo’s Santal 33 today. To me, it was a dual experience of peachy sweetness and sweaty wood with a hint of leather—one in one nostril and the other in the other nostril, so to speak. It was fascinating and disconcerting at the same time. I was glad to discover that throughout the day, it was the peachy warmth that prevailed. Santal 33 is joining my list of new favorites.






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