The Fragrance of Books

Very seldom do I talk about my passion for perfume. It’s hard to explain how fragrance can alter a mood, created a unified thread through the day, bring back memories in a powerful way, but perfume does all that and more.

Image: Luckyscent

I have a collection whose size both delights and embarrasses me. The scents I buy are ones I like–that may sound odd, but many perfumistas buy fragrances that “challenge” them or that you can’t wear anyplace but in the studio. Me? I buy fragrances that I like, whether store brands or niche fragrances. But I have to like them top note to bottom.

Noses (perfume designers) are artists. They work with ephemeral and shifting materials that blend and shift over time. Scent is four dimensional, in addition to top, mid- and bottom notes, there is an element of time that makes them glow or fade.

Gutenberg bibles in the Yale Rare Book Library. There are no windows in the library to prevent the breakdown of paper and parchment. Light comes in through marble slabs cut so thin they admit light, but no UV rays.

Paper Passion is a perfume that evokes the smell of books. Yep, paper books. I’ve stuck my nose onto paper and inhaled deeply from the time mimeographs were fresh out of the machine to the time I stood in the Yale Rare Book Library breathing the smell of brittle and fragile history and art.

Paper Passion comes packaged in a hollowed out book. The idea of a book fragrance in a book doesn’t strike me as being clever, although the design has gotten a lot of print. Personally, I would have wrapped it a cover made of incredible handmade paper. But no one called me to ask.

Paper Passion is a collaboration of Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld, Göttingen book designer and publisher Gerhard Steidl,  perfume nose Geza Schön, and Wallpaper* magazine.

Luckyscent, the internet store for hard-to find niche perfumes, lists the notes as: “osmanthus, copaiba balsam, amber accord, air accord, paper accord, musk accord.”

This may be the first fragrance I purchase, not to wear, but just to sniff for memories. It’s been accused of smelling like glue, old books, and appropriately, paper. Can’t go wrong.  Even if I don’t want to smell like a book, I would love to smell a book whenever I want.

Paper Passion is available from Luckyscent and Aedes in 1.7 oz. bottles for $98.00 Luckyscent has samples available.

-Quinn McDonald is a writer who has bottles stashed in the linen closet and her dresser. She can time travel on the scent of a perfume.