I recently tried the nu_be series, "an olfactory periodic table," which smartly counters the complaint that these new brands put out too many perfumes at once. If anyone criticizes nu_be, it's like criticizing the chemical structure of the whole world. "Too many perfumes? You try living without oxygen!"
My initial perception is unavoidably rooted in each perfume's relationship to its theme: Does Carbon smell like carbon? (Does carbon smell like pepper and sandalwood?) Does Hydrogen smell like hydrogen? (Does hydrogen smell like Fresca?)
Does Mercury smell like mercury? (Does mercury smell like that metallic Sex Pistols perfume by Etat Libre d'Orange?)
I think perfume themes work best for people who wear fragrance as a conversation starter. Our correspondence notwithstanding, I'm unnerved by having to make small talk about my perfume.
If I'm at a gathering and someone asks about what I'm wearing, I'm overcome by hyper-self-consciousness and it's all I can do not to crush the glass of wine in my hand. Or to drop it. The space between crushing and dropping is never narrower than when I'm obligated to talk about the way I smell. It's almost worse than getting stuck in a conversation about astrology.
Hey, why isn't there an astrology perfume series? People love talking about astrology. Inevitably when someone asks my sign, I'll say Taurus right before declaring I don't believe in such things, right before they respond, "Ha, ha, ha, typical Taurus!"
Apparently, my skepticism is built right into my sign and that I have no truck with astrology proves astrology is real. Which I don't believe even when, inevitably again, astrology enthusiasts name several other Taurean traits and all of them ring true. It's so annoying, like being an atheist and having to go to lunch with God every Thursday.
Where did I lose you, KP?
Back to nu_be: I do believe in science and I also believe several of these perfumes are quite good. I like Carbon best, probably because it wears more like a perfume than a concept. Oxygen is notable more for what isn't there (almost everything) than what is (almost nothing). It's pleasant enough but then so is breathing.
Sulphur is thick and spicy, Helium is sweet and feminine, Lithium smells like Dad spilled Indian take-out all over his leather recliner again.
|Say, this sag aloo really tickles!|
That reminds me...on an episode of Top Chef, the contestants asked each other if you could only eat two foods for the rest of your life, which would you choose? Several said bread and cheese. (Which, by the way, is the correct answer.)
|Your forever food.|
And while nothing here is the perfume equivalent of bread and cheese, they all beat anything with an astrological sign on the bottle. I don't care how good you tell me it is, on principle alone, I will never buy Taurus perfume. (Though I'd probably love it.)
Still life with bread, cheese and knife by Julian Merrow-Smith via
Taurus by akirathunder via