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Why is it I want more?

Now Smell This has reported two new lines of solids that interest me: Le Labo is doing a set of scents for Anthropologie, including in solids, and Burt’s Bees is doing a line of solid fragrances too.

I’m a sucker for solids. They won’t spill in your purse, they won’t shatter if you drop them on the tiles in the bathroom in the morning when you’re still bleary-eyed and butterfingered, and they usually have low sillage but tend to last. I also have super-dry skin, so anything included in a wax or a cream that will help the fragrance stay on my skin is welcome!

But I have to say, it’s more than a little ridiculous for me to want to even SMELL anything new right now, much less BUY anything. I smelled a lot of things at Sniffapalooza last weekend. A LOT. And I bought just about everything I seriously, actually wanted. (Note to self: at some point, will probably break down and go back to MiN to buy Frapin’s Caravelle d’Epices. But right now my spicy fall perfume needs are being nicely met by Opus I. My precioussssss.) Aside from everything I bought, I have a ton of samples to try. A. TON.

So really, why would I even want to leave the house to try these new solids? I don’t even care much for La Labo’s line. Why do I think they would suddenly be more appealing because they’re offered by Anthropologie? And Burt’s Bees is fine but I doubt they are going to suddenly provide seriously high end perfumes. Those, too, I can probably live without.

What is it that drives us to want to sniff something new when by any reasonable measure, we don’t need one more goddamn thing? It isn’t just the pleasure of ownership – though there’s a great deal of that as well. And it isn’t just the drive that we don’t want to miss anything (though there are those who make a huge effort to sniff everything new that comes out – I never want to be that driven!). I think it’s as though, having seen a glimpse of beauty, we want to see more of it. We want to find out if the next scent will be an even more glorious expression of whatever-it-was we’ve already sampled – or if it will reveal to us a country of which we’ve never dreamed.

When I was a kid we had pretty much no visual art in the house. I went to college and audited art history classes by showing slides for them as a side job – and discovered literally another dimension. There were perceptions I’d never dreamed of, and language for describing them, and I only learned a small part of it all.

I also grew up eating food mostly out of a freezer box or a can. I didn’t know until I learned to cook for myself (and ate in much better places) that beets with goat cheese are exquisite, that turmeric, ginger, and garlic make something much greater than the sum of the parts, or that there’s a world of difference between hamburger and filet mignon. There’s language for those experiences too, and a lifetime of experiences to be had.

But art never spoke to me viscerally, and cooking I can do for myself. Perfume is something I can’t mix on my own (even if I had the ingredients – though occasionally I flatter myself that I stumble across a fortuitous layering combination). And I love the way the world smells, I love the way people smell, I love the way food smells – smell has always been an important sense to me even before it was filtered through the lens of commercial perfume.

I don’t want to smell everything made. But I do imagine that around the next corner, something I never thought of before, something with plaintain and bergamot in it, will be an experience of the senses that turns my world around or opens a brand new door, and I chase after it.

What makes you want more?

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