Last weekend Mr. Howe and I had a horror-movie marathon, filled with zombies (the French kind, and also the Nazi variety), psycho-killers, and aliens. Then, early this week, Kevin reviewed Sécrétions Magnifiques at Now Smell This, stating,
When I wore Sécrétions Magnifiques for the first time, before I noticed scent, I felt sensations: unease, chill, damp, repulsion, queasiness.
Which got me thinking… our sense of smell is a powerful tool: the smell of rotting food repulses (most of) us because a few hundred thousand years ago, all the hominids who thought rotting meat smelled good were weeded out of the gene pool. Revulsion, disgust, nausea— they serve a purpose. Keep us alive long enough to breed. (Is this why older people have a broader appreciation for pungent foods? That’s a question for another day.)
Avery Gilbert shared some interesting insights on his blog, First Nerve, in a post titled “Basic Instinct: The Smell of Fear and Sex.” He summarizes a study which I’ll summarize further: some guys put maxi pads in their armpits and watched some scary movies, while some other guys with the pit-pads watched nice movies. When nice young ladies (recruited for the purpose) were asked to comment on pictures of smiling guys while smelling the aroma imbued cotton, the scary movie batch of sweaty pads (as you may have already guessed) caused the women to perceive the smily faces as fearful.
Smell can manipulate the way we perceive the world. Scary smells serve a purpose, but do they belong in personal fragrance?
Last year, for my birthday, my husband tracked down and bought me a bottle of Lisa Kirk’s Revolution*, the fragrance piece of a conceptual art collaboration (Revolution Pipe Bomb). My interest was piqued when Robin posted the announcement:
Through research gathered from interviews with anonymous journalists, activists, and political radicals, Kirk developed the Revolution fragrance based on their memories of the smell of revolution. The final solution contains the odor of smoke, gasoline, tear gas, burnt rubber, and decaying flesh.
Wearing Revolution is an interesting experience. If you can imagine L’Artisan’s Al Oudh blended with Bvlgari Black, then you’d have a similar olfactory experience. It’s synthetic, but it’s also animal. It’s repulsive, but also incredibly attractive. Should it be worn out and about? That depends on the type of horror movie watcher you are.
Do you close your eyes during the scary parts?
*at the time, you could only get it at the Ace Hotel in New York City.
Revolution is available at indiescents, $50 for 12mL