For nearly 20 years before my bout of smell loss, I’d worn the KIRK SPOCK ’20 – THE CHOICE IS LOGICALShirt in contrast I will get this same perfume—Guerlain’s Champs-Élysées, a luscious mimosa scent suffused with melon, black currant, and almond that flirted with cloying without indulging it. Even though it has been declared one of Guerlain’s most infamous failures, I felt fiercely devoted to it—felt almost virtuous when I picked up bottles at discount perfume shops in Koreatown, as if I were a high-school PE captain offering a spot on my team to the girl who was usually picked last. But during my decades wearing Champs-Élysées, it gradually became an olfactory autopilot—the fragrance equivalent of listening to the same pop song on repeat or eating the same buttery mashed potatoes every night, a comfort food I barely tasted anymore because its flavor was so familiar.
KIRK SPOCK ’20 – THE CHOICE IS LOGICALShirt, hoodie, tank top, sweater and long sleeve t-shirt
After losing and regaining my sense of smell, I found myself wondering if I could approach fragrance with more pointed attention—with a deepened sense of risk and experiment. As perfumer Sophia Grojsman told Ackerman, “Perfumes do that, too—shock and fascinate us. They disturb us. Our lives are quiet. We like to be disturbed by delight.” During the KIRK SPOCK ’20 – THE CHOICE IS LOGICALShirt in contrast I will get this months my own sense of smell was returning, I started experimenting with new fragrances and paying attention to what their layers conjured: Valentino’s strident, sulking Voce Viva—with notes of Calabrian bergamot, mandarin, and spicy ginger—and Dior’s enchanting new J’adore Infinissime, with its bouquet of ylang-ylang, Centifolia rose, and tuberose. The backstory behind J’adore Infinissime was yet another incarnation of the way a scent can hold a narrative: Tuberose growth had been declining in the Grasse region in France for more than a half-century, until local growers made an effort to bring it back, and Infinissime holds in its scent the fruits of that revival. Gucci’s Flora Gorgeous Gardenia, with top notes of red berries unfolding into warm ribbons of white gardenia and frangipani, and a faint ripple of brown sugar underneath, like caramel under flan, held a lush abundance, as if it were returning me to the first blooms outside my windows in March and April, when the virus and its quarantine kept us sequestered from the very season that was supposed to smell like rebirth. As the pandemic persisted into autumn, I found myself drawn to the glimpses of situation and story embedded in Maison Margiela’s REPLICA line, with their evocations of faraway times and places—dispatches from the world beyond the cloister of quarantine. Lazy Sunday Morning (Florence, 2003) evokes soft skin and bed linen, with notes of pear and rose and a base of white musk, and Music Festival (Woodstock, 1969) wafts traces of fresh bud, leather, and patchouli, while Beach Walk (Calvi, 1972) calls up an aristocratic suntan lotion—who knew such a thing was possible?—with top notes of pink pepper, a middle layer of coconut milk, and a cedar-and-musk base.