Parfums and nosegays

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An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it makes a better soup

Betrand Russel

Call me a snob, but a day without perfume is a day without colour. Maybe owing to an overly active olfactory system or the fact that I’m the daughter of a rose grower, I can’t get enough perfume. I’ll abstain from reference to the cliche Proust quotes on fragrance and memory and instead offer a smattering from the olfactory spectrum.

While studying, I worked as a fragrance spray girl. The job was swell and the dress code simple- clean, pressed blacks, swept back hair, fresh dewy make up and a black hair ribbon to the width of the traditional Tiffany’s bow. I spritzed customers with Chloe, Balenciaga,Tom Ford for up to 8 hours a day and nearly levitated on the menagerie of fragance at my disposal to explore. I learnt that boutique fragrance is like the difference between Zara and Lanvin. I also discovered that I could spray non stop all day, a variety of scents and not grow fatigued from sensory bombardment.

As a child, my mother used to arrange flowers. We had a flower filled house. Since Dad had greenhouses bulging with them, it’s only natural the stock spilled into the house. Mum would arrange little cannisters with clippings and fill broken china wear whimsically- flowing ivy, jasmine and vintage roses. Mum had a penchant for one thing in particular in the 1980’s. With a full herb garden in our backyard, she would assemble tussy mussies and give them as gifts to friends. The Tussie mussie, or nosegay, dates back to the 15th century. Resembling a small posy to be held in the hand of gentle ladies to ward off unseemly scents from the street, it was critical they contained sprigs of fragrant flowers. If I could have it my way, I’d carry a nose gay daily. I’d probably fill it with clippings of daphne, mint, irises and violets; but instead I give myself a heavy spritz of juice.

These days its Trussardi Donna – citrus, woody and fruity. But in the past it’s been Phylosykos Dyptique, maybe because it reminds me of the old fig tree I used to climb on in our backyard, or Prada Infusion d’Iris, as a memento of the long stemmed irises Mum would arrange in her tall stemmed Venetian Glass or Hermes Kelly Caleche, simply because it is inspired by Grace Kelly, no explanation needed there.

Off to find a nosegay…

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