Last Tuesday I was invited to London to present The Perfume Lover at Soho House, a club for members of the media, creative and entertainment industries. The TV presenter, performer and perfume reviewer extraordinaire (as well as all-round lovely person) Katie Puckrik is a member there, she’s been based in London for the past weeks, she loved the book and the scent, so she whipped up the event and found an interesting angle: how our choice of fragrances not only reflects our personalities, but can also be a projection, an anticipation of the personas we dream of becoming.
This is a major thread of The Perfume Lover: how to interpret a life through successive fragrances. The way their stories weave themselves into yours, and the way they can influence who you become. Katie and I had picked milestones that clearly resonated with the audience: Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, the first drop of perfume to touch my skin; Jean Desprez Bal à Versailles, my mom’s secret fragrance; Habanita, the perfume that turned me into “Carmen, la del Canada”; Carnal Flower, because tuberose was the olfactory emblem of one of the greatest loves of my life…
We also smelled raw materials: indolene (a Schiff base of indole and hydroxycitronellal) to speak about skank, galaxolide when musk came up, orange blossom absolute which triggered the memory of Seville I told Bertrand Duchaufour. And then, as we discussed my involvement in the development of Séville à l’aube, I pulled out three of the 130 mods, most of which I’ve kept (N°3, N°63 and N°123) so that the audience could get a rare insight on how a composition evolves.
Katie was, of course, a well-prepared, consummately professional interviewer, and putting myself into her able hands made the evening an effortless, enjoyable, lively moment, with lots of interaction and relaxed banter.
My thanks to Katie then, but also to Vanessa of Soho House for organizing the event and to my friend Silvia who agreed to be my blotter minion – I’ve never seen anyone do such elegant blotter fans to dip or spray them before passing them around!
While I’m at it, I’d also like to recommend the Dean Street Townhouse, which is Soho House’s London Hotel (and, no, this isn’t a plug because I got a freebie, I did pay for the night): the staff is lovely and friendly, the rooms overflowing with amenities (full-power blow-drier, flat iron, full bottles of Cowshed grooming products, and delicious ginger cookies). The pillows are as soft as if they’d been filled with down plucked from a prepubescent swan’s butt. In fact, the rooms are so pleasant that lounging listening to Chet Baker from the iPhone dock, I didn’t even feel like poking my nose outside…
My only regret is that this was an event for Soho House members only. I hope to be coming back to London to do a couple of events when Séville à l’aube comes out. No dates are set yet, but for those of you who are in the UK, please feel free to pester your local L’Artisan Parfumeur counter for more information!