A little inertia (and scent doppelgängers)

Millennium Bridge

Vial, vial, on the shelf—

Which shall I spray on myself?


I’ve been spoiled for choice when it comes to which sample vial to try each day. I even have some yet unopened full bottles that I bought on my fruitful sniffing tours. Every morning there’s something to smell forward to.

If I’d faithfully worn a new one per day since my last big perfume adventure, I might have audited my entire supply by now. However, recent days have been characterized by work stress, and while I take full advantage of perfume’s function as an oasis from reality, I am also wary of its potency as an anchor of memory. I don’t want a new scent to be associated with any anxiety lest it dilute my enjoyment later on, so I’ve been saving new samples for a more relaxed day, and cycling through ones I’ve already tried.


My threshold for becoming infatuated with a perfume seems to have gone up steeply since broadening my horizons with the vast range of fragrances that exist. This scaled-up selectivity certainly makes things easier as far as FOMO and my wallet are concerned. I can slow down and smell the… oh.

Another side benefit of not worrying about each perfume that isn’t terrible potentially being the “one that got away” is that I’m starting to discover scent doppelgängers. For example, Olfactive Studio’s Flash Back in New York reminds me of Le Labo’s Santal 33, even though they purport different woody base notes (smoked birch versus sandalwood and cedarwood), although they have “papyrus” in common. Both have their charms and are complex in different ways.

I bought L’Orchestre Parfum’s Rose Trombone partly because it reminded me of the discontinued airport duty-free special Rêve d’Escapade by Givenchy, which was a love-at-first-sniff serendipity turned lifelong love (well, at least it’s been 3 years). Rose Trombone is darker and more sultry, if I recall—I haven’t opened my bottle yet.


So it’s a balancing exercise, between keeping enough variety to make every day interesting and reserving the shock of sheer novelty for a time when it’s warranted. (I was thrilled to learn that there is an invention for exactly that: the “smell memory kit.” It’s on my wish list now.)






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