On rediscovering perfume with new sensorial superpowers

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I started sprinkling 5th Avenue Elizabeth Arden perfume on my pillows a few months ago, at the start of this lockdown. It was a way of using a large bottle of perfume from a fragrance I no longer associate with. Back when, a lifetime ago, I would dress up and get into rooms with people, chatting to (and getting close to, goodness) strangers, I would wear Japanese perfume. Issey Miyake had become a favourite since 2018, so my good old 5th Avenue bottle had been gathering dust for years.

The pillow, dusted in relatively expensive droplets out of the kind of perfume I found meaningful in my 30s, has become a wonderful little private pleasure. This is a luxurious while easy new habit to indulge in.

This morning, I have gone a step beyond. I thought: why not sprinkle my wardrobe? Why not wake up and kiss those colourful dresses I have abandoned for so long this year?

Living without perfume for so many months makes me intensely receptive to the pleasures of well-made fragrances. Of course, I am much more perceptive to annoyances too. It is like having a new — restored — sense.

Before lockdown I was saturated with competing industrial fragrances. I am now cleansed and every drop, literaly, counts and has an impact.

Having a bath with a few droplets of lemongrass had an impressive effect on me last Tuesday. I do not recall being so entranced by the powers of aromatic oils before. Before lockdown I was probably, like so many of us, saturated with competing industrial fragrances, unable to discern new layers. I am now cleansed and every drop, literaly, counts and has an impact.

I have just dared dose my wrists with a hint of Issey. I have not worn perfume since March 11th. It is extraordinary company; the touch of a safe, home-based while daringly exotic old friend.

I would love to get a locally made perfume next. How will it feel to open a fragrance made in small scale? I will continue to infuse things myself — floral and herbal teas have provided essential aromatic company from the start of this enclosure. But it feels spectacular to bring the genius back out of my few expensive bottles; to awake the superpowers dormant in those crystal receptacles, a legacy of my crazed airport days…

It is fantastic to spread these intense droplets, not for anyone else but myself, my home, my pillows, my clothes. It changes the colour and feel of everything. It transforms my home into a larger world.

New York, Tokyo, welcome in. I will never again take you for granted.