Follow your nose for scents of success
Sometimes life resembles art — or in this case an advertisement.
I have a hypersensitivity that makes it difficult to tolerate bright lights, noise or overpowering smells.
It’s a big hassle living in the world like this; but it has its advantages. Colours are more intense; the taste of certain foods can have me breathless; certain music can be so exquisite as to almost be too much to bear.
Smell is the most disturbing for me. Any form of perfume will have my eyes watering as if someone is sticking knives into my sinuses.
No one can wear perfume or scented deodorants or I’ll begin sneezing. And my house is a smell-free zone with neutral cleaning products.
But walking down the street with my partner, something overcame me. I suddenly found myself running towards a man walking ahead calling, “Excuse me …” My partner chased after me wondering what the hell was happening.
What was happening was that I could smell an unusual fragrance. It was like a symphony of notes: harmonious, discordant, highs, lows, colours rolling in waves in front of me as I ran. I felt like I was in a scene from the movie Perfume, or an ad for aftershave, and I was even aware of how stupid I was being as I ran.
The man stopped at the traffic lights. There it was. Gloriously, subtle. I tapped him. “Excuse me. I have to ask, What is that fragrance?” He turned around, a lovely young man in his 20s, with soft eyes.
“It’s my own creation,” he said shyly. “I’m a student perfumer. I’m learning to make fragrances at college; I’m selling perfumes by word of mouth under my name Samuel Gravan Perfumes.”
He uses rare essential oils but also distils his own fruits and woods — dashes of vetiver, cedarwood, patchouli, citrus, pomegranates — which he creates in beakers in his tiny lounge room. His fig perfume contains fruit, peppers, aromatic woods, and citrus notes such as mandarin.
My partner was gobsmacked. “You have no idea what a compliment this is. She hates any perfume or thick overpowering aromatherapy oils.”
A week later, I’m sampling two of his creations that were homemade for me. My partner is using them too.
The strange encounter taught me this.
It’s not that I’m hypersensitive to things — it is the overburdening ugliness I am allergic to. The false smells, chemicals, preservatives, horrible sounds, billboards and bright lights in this bombarded world.
The pure, natural and subtle remain beautiful to me. And I take a bow to those artists, chefs, painters, musicians, artisans, designers, architects and, yes, budding perfumers who summon true beauty into existence.