the magazine of the columbia daily spectator
May 1 2013
Mmm, baby: The very best in food porn
April 27 2013
Alternatives to Butler
April 19 2013
Red Bull and relaxation
April 17 2013
Back to the kitchen: A short journey through sexist pop culture
April 12 2013
Bikinis and big booties, y’all
April 8 2013
Azealia Banks Did What?
April 5 2013
More stories from Columbia’s military veterans
April 3 2013
Sing, O Muse, of some sappy story
April 1 2013
Missed the Cliterary Open Mic? Check out the highlights here
March 29 2013
Sex & Low Beach
Madonna has been making many headlines these days—for her new album, her tour, her graceful morph into a sinewy Gollum creature—but the most recent one to catch my eye was related to her newest fragrance, “Truth or Dare.” Specifically, one brief aside in an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, in which she speculates that her next scented endeavor should smell of “a really good old whiskey.” As that particular beverage is one of my major food groups, I perked up quick—and as I read the surrounding article text, some questions began to arise, which led to indignation, then to ire, then to this:
Honestly, I’ve really never understood the allure of the celebrity fragrance. In the first place, saying a fragrance is “by” a certain star is like saying Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook is “by” Gwyneth Paltrow. I remember clearly when Reichen Lehmkuhl was testing scents for his new cologne on The A-List New York: A specialist held various glass vials under his nose while he nodded and sighed and enumerated incredibly ephemeral, subjective adjectives like “masculine” and “very... Reichen.” (The final concoction has since been released: “Reichen, The Fragrance,” coming soon to a medicine cabinet near you.)
Perhaps because of this nod-or-don’t simplicity, celebrities are releasing signature scents all the time. Like, constantly. Did you know Britney Spears has five fragrances to her name? Michael Jordan has four—including two named after himself.
Speaking of which, what really gets to me is how friggin’ ridiculous all of these names are. Not only are they laughably over the top—re: Antonio Banderas’s “The Secret” or Jessica Simpson’s “Fancy Nights”— but many are also fundamentally misleading. “New York Yankees” does not smell like Derek Jeter’s jock strap, just as Sarah Jessica Parker’s “NYC” is free of stale urine and exhaust—and am I alone in expecting Nicole Polizzi’s “Snooki” to give its users a distinct air of pickles and self-tanner?
To be honest, the closest I’ve come to understanding the fragrance industry at all was that movie Perfume: Story of a Murder—and even then, the only information I could glean was that beautiful women smell just as beautiful when distilled (and that I will never not be attracted to Alan Rickman). I mean, really though: Scents are called “notes,” which is just plain synesthetic, and each perfume is specified as “for women” or “for men,” which is gendering and silly. Ultimately, I suppose, I fundamentally just don’t see the point of a perilously expensive, perilously small bottle of nice-smellingness.
That said, olfactory memories are by far the strongest—I mean, who doesn’t think fondly of the Eau de Wilting-Flowers-and-Slight-Mothball of their grandmother’s hugs? So I suppose I can jive with perfumes, as long as they’re affordable, denotatively titled, and feature “notes” that people actually want spritzed on them—à la the irresistible grease invoked by Fargginay’s “Bacon Classic” (also available in “Bacon Gold”) or the awkwardly salty, synthetic smell of Demeter Cologne’s “Play-Doh.” Indeed, the only perfume I own goes by the moniker “Gin Blossom”—and it does, as it turns out, smell like a pleasant springtime field of Bombay Sapphire.
So yes, Madonna, I will buy your whiskey fragrance, in order that I may leave the distinct odor of a wet bar ever trailing in my wake. Alternatively, I could just rub some Jim Beam on my wrists and call it a day.
We're looking for comments that are interesting and substantial. If your comments are excessively self-promotional, or obnoxious you will be banned from commenting. Consult the comment FAQ and legal terms.
© 2011, The Eye :: Spectator Publishing Company, Inc.