Tuesday, 10 May 2011

THE SMELL OF THIS NON-PLACE



With this post you can play a guess-game and guess what the fragrance is before clicking on the link. 

I m in Charles de Gaulles airport and my flight is 2 hours late, which means that I ll be spending 3 hours in a non-place. Marc Augè, one of the most prominent anthropologists of our times, uses the word “non-place” to describe transit places, like airports for instance, where people just come and go and no one lives, places that have a rather hybrid identity.
What is the smell of a non-place then? Non-smell?! Maybe body smells, smells of the air conditioning system, carpet and other materials, combined with a few contained food odours. Until you reach the duty free, of course. Here the overpowering smell of hundreds of fragrances gives the usual goodbye/welcome scent to your trip, like if this non-place suddenly turned into an everywhere-place, considering the amount of scenarios all these bottles can evoke. 
To kill time I'll go on a 30-min trip then. The window welcomes me with a new long-awaited launch that I haven't tried yet. I am taken on top of 24 FABOURG SAINT-HONORè PARIS. I must say I am a bit disappointed with having to tour only to a Paris terrace garden (and to no other exotic destination) but it’s worth it. The fruity, vegetal, floral smell is wonderfully crafted, as all the other 3 JARDINS.
I go down the woman fragrance aisle...I walk barefoot on wet freshly cut grass, in the morning, sparkling with dew... wonderful, hadn’t smelled it for long. Used to be one of my favourites, but this soft-soapy dry-down (lily of the valley-cyclamen) I note now doesn’t make me crazy anymore, it's funny how our preferences change... I am then on the grass again, this time by a river, having lunch; diving into some tangy fruits and listening to the birds.

Going then through a classic that has always had me sniffing addictively its ‘30s fur-esque glamour, I sniff for the first time a new version made from it, exclusively for the French market, which to me is so much the smell of nudity, of a powdery, dry and gorgeous (maybe somehow earthy) female skin. Yes, if I am to pick a few favourite fragrance houses this is definitely one of them!
As I am about to fly, an experience that I don’t enjoy, I’m happy to dive my spirit in a feminine sensual floral blend of lavender combined with bergamote, that calms me down remarkably. It’s a part of a floral collection that includes some citrus notes (one of the several collection-lines launched recently).
As I move to the men section my level of excitement is drastically reduced. My sense of smell notes the usual shift in the raw materials used and smells then the typical woody notes straightaway. My sense of sight notes the flatness of colours and shapes for the packaging. Everything is mainly brown / dark-green, blue, black, grey-transparent-white. I’m overwhelmed with seductors that look quite desperate and sporty men. 

As I leave this smelling every-where place (Duty Free), I realise I am still in the non-place (airport) and that beside all the perfume stories of the Duty Free, none of them talks about the non-place. I'm then keen on working the anthropological equation non-place = non-smell. Or maybe that the smell of a non-place is "the smell of transiting experiences". What do you think? Final call to my London flight - this seductor is still with me though! 
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