Ever walk by a Bath and Body Works or Victoria’s Secret and get slammed with that hodge podge of smells coming from within? And don’t get me wrong, this happens in the perfume section in Neiman Marcus as much as it happens in a Yankee Candle. A lot of people find it offensive. Be it offensive in its overwhelming qualities or offensive in its mish-mash of aromas that combine to form some mutant scent.
Perhaps I’m crazy, then, to admit that I actually kind of like that smell. I think of it as a challenge and I kind of like it. I wouldn’t like to stand about and smell it all day, but as a passing fancy and curiosity, I can’t say it’s offensive–most of the time.
See, when one of those hodge podge scents hits me, my brain always tries to pick out the dominant smells then categorize them and analyze what might come together to make this mixture. For example, at the moment, the Bath and Body Works at the mall by my house smells predominantly of faux cupcake, aqua, and a heavy dose of coconut and pineapple. This makes sense as a few of their featured fragrances for summer are heavily tilted toward vanilla and scents of the “cupcake” or “funnel cake” quality. Summer is also dominated by thoughts of the beach for many people which explains the aqua, and of course coconut and pineapple are derived from thoughts of escaping to the tropics to soak in the summer sun.
If we were moving up to a more department store level, walking by a Chanel counter in the 90s used to hit me with No.5. It almost always smelled of No.5 back then and always reminded me of sophisticated ladies, black dresses, and–for some reason–peacocks. These days the Chanel counter tends to smell a bit more like Chanel Chance or Coco Mademoiselle and often is a mixture of the two. They don’t play too well together, but they can be a fun challenge to dissect out of the hodge podge aroma that frequently floats out of the perfume department. Chanel counters these days remind me of modern fashionistas, the colors pink and light green, freshness, and metropolitan lifestyles.
Then there’s the hegemony of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scents that wafts out of my holding box containing the numerous samples of BPAL I’ve collected over the years. There’s over a hundred vials in there which makes separating the scents rather difficult. Instead of being able to dissect it all, I interpret it as a representation of the all the scents I like because I tend to keep the samples I enjoy and trade the ones that I don’t. As a result, my BPAL samples box smells of spice, cotton, aqua, white florals and a touch of soft woods.
But maybe I’m just strange to like this kind of thing. A lot of people hate the mixture of smells as they say it gives them headaches, scent blinds them, or just stinks of synthetic fakeness. After all, how many pieces of media out there make fun of the perfume department smell? I’m reminded, in particular, of the episode of Spongebob Squarepants (don’t judge me) where Spongebob and Patrick had to escape through the “dreaded perfume section” of a department store.