Perfume for Performance

High school acapella! Can you find me? Hint: I'm the short one.

I sang Soprano 1 in acapella choirs for all four years of high school and the first year of college. To the best of my knowledge, I am the only member of my college acapella choir to ever be kicked out twice. That’s right: Arielle Weinberg, acapella renegade. This happened for a few reasons. First, despite having trained for four years with Dr. Mira Yang, an unbelievable Korean voice professor who could literally sing every note on the piano (that last octave didn’t sound pretty, but she could do it), I have a decidedly average voice. Second, I came down with mono during my first week of college and missed an awful lot of rehearsals.

Finally, I have severe stage fright. My voice instantly becomes weak and shaky whenever I try to sing in front of another person, much less a crowd. Because of this, and the aforementioned decidedly average voice, it is fairly obvious that I will never be a professional singer. But recently, I have been missing singing. I wrote this post with literal stage fright in mind, but perfume can be used to counter all kinds of performance anxiety. After all, we all perform in one way or another.

When actors are trying to prepare for a role, they often rely on symbolic items to connect them to the character. They’ll play a guitar that belonged to their character, or wear a dress that the character might have worn. Daniel Day-Lewis built his own freaking canoe to try to get into character for his role in The Last of the Mohicans.

Very impressive, DDL. The canoe, I mean.

The same principle applies to perfumes for performance. Wearing a perfume that represents the role you’re trying to play can help you get into character. “Dress the part” is a common expression; I’m telling you to “smell the part”.

For example, if you’re trying to present yourself as a powerful business woman, wear a perfume that projects competency, efficiency, authority. We’re talking liquid shoulder pads. Chanel No. 19 is always presented as the ultimate power suit perfume, but I personally find it a bit too floral for those purposes. I would choose something sharper, bitchier, like Stella McCartney Stella or Gucci Envy. If your role for the night is the most glamorous woman in the room, you can’t go wrong with Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose, Chanel No. 22, or Yves Saint Laurent Yvresse.

How do you perform, and which perfumes do you match to each role you play?

24 thoughts on “Perfume for Performance

  1. I used to dance – I did from kindergarten up through the time I was a junior in high school. I also did marching and concert band in high school and concert band the first two years of college.

    Strangely, the smells I associate with these times are hair spray (dance) and what might be described as “band funk.” Sad as it is, I hadn’t really discovered all the joys of fragrance at that time. I probably did spray some Oscar de la Renta during concert band because I sprayed that stuff all the time in high school and college. So maybe that is a little bit of a power suit perfume for me.

    1. Oooh, a dancer! I was always very envious of dancers growing up, after essentially failing out of ballet class. What kind of dance did you do? “Band funk” sounds vaguely unpleasant, but very evocative, I’m sure!

      1. I did a little of everything. Growing up, I did ballet, jazz, tap, and a little bit of lyrical/contemporary and hip hop. For a while I did acrobatic dance too, but I stopped that in high school. In college I stopped doing ballet because I felt the ballet clique was kind of catty and I also didn’t have as much/enough pointe experience as a lot of the other girls. I also learned a lot more hip hop skeelz in college… Tap was probably always my biggest passion though. I kind of wish I could go back to at least tap. I still have my shoes!

        Yeah, I don’t wish band funk on anyone.

  2. ooooooooooh look at that lovely short one singing the following:
    “You tell me that you’ve got everything you want
    And your bird can sing
    But you don’t get me, you don’t get meeeeeeee!” -Long Life to the Beatles!-

    Do you really think that Stella McCartney Stella is bitchier like ?? hahahaha OMG what did I …. I gave it away to mum…!! Lol!

    I agree with the ones for most glamorous woman in the room.

    ps: but wtf, which canoe…??

    1. LOL! I said “the canoe, I mean” to try to distract from the fact that what I was actually impressed by were THOSE ABS!!

      I’m sure your mom will turn Stella into something beautiful and very non-bitchy!

      1. THOSE ABS!!???
        Sorry this too much for my reading full comprehension skills due to the slang and the ironic jokes… It requires high knowledge!


      1. I don’t think so, but I haven’t bought any in years. It was the first men’s frag from Lagerfeld. I must have discovered it right after it was released – I’ve always sniffed on both sides of the aisle. Wore it through the 80s & 90s whenever I knew I’d need a jolt of self-confidence. Box & bottle were a very tailored, understated presentation. The fragrance reminded me of children’s chewable vitamins, in a good way. I believe it’s now considered quite lowbrow, really lounge-lizard stuff.

        Guerlain Habit Rouge smells similar to me, but HR is much more smooth and elegant. I got HR for myself, but told the husband it was for him. He’s so easy.

  3. I’m very similar to you – was in choir in elementary school and college, but just an OK voice and would get performance anxiety, so never did do too well during concerts. At least these choirs were big enough to cover up my poor singing! Never did think of perfume that way back in college, but in those days I was wearing Escape and Diamonds and Sapphires and New West and Sunflowers and everything oceanic. Hey, it was the 90s! Other performances eliciting anxiety would be oral presentations in college. Thank god that is over. Don’t have much “performing” these days, but interviews and presentations still happen occasionally. I would just want to wear something quiet that wouldn’t distract me. Or perhaps some distraction is in order to turn off the brain worrying? Something to think about.

    I do miss singing as well, as it is pretty much confined to singing along while driving or doing dishes these days. You should hear me in the car, though – I can really belt them out! Just this morning, I gave an inspiring rendition of Condemnation by Depeche Mode. I see it as my public service – keeping bored commuters entertained while stuck in traffic, pointing and laughing at the crazy lady singing.

  4. I would like suggest to bloggers: Perfume Talks on the topic PERFUME FOR PREGNANCY.
    I can’t find any useful information on the Internet. Instead, I find many things like: “Women warned not to wear perfume during pregnancy” and so on… and I’m a bit worried about it. :O 😦

    Currently the research on this matter is somewhat inconclusive. So, is perfume harmful? Or is it something you can safely enjoy during your pregnancy?
    What your wise and honorable father thinks about the question, Ari…?


  5. I do not perform, I am who I am. I distinguish my perfumes by time and place: something suitable for a New Year party will be completely wrong in the office; great outdoor scent will suffocate my fellow-travelers on a plane and an opulent date perfume might be just too much as a sleep scent (if I plan on sleeping that is). Luckily I have a wide variety of scents for any occasion.

  6. I used to debate, act and sing even less than averagely in school choirs and musicals (usually the patter songs, to spare the audience as much as possible), but those were days long before I got into perfume.

    I have been known to wear Cristalle to a difficult meeting, but beyond that I haven’t much to offer here in terms of performance-related scents!

  7. A fellow choir-singer and soprano! Singing is my biggest hobby, I’ve been doing it for years now, mainly classical. Nowadays I don’t suffer stage-fright when I sing in a choir, due to massive exposure I guess, but singing solo is another matter. It’s silly that I get more shaky and heart beating fast when I’m singing than when someone is actually dying (when I work as a doctor that is)! I would like to wear some confidence-boosting perfume, the problem is how the other performers will react, if someone is sensitive it might exaberate their stage-fright. At my last concert I was wearing OJ Woman, very comforting I thought, but the pianist complained, and I had to wash it off…

    1. How odd! I think of Ormonde Woman as rather quiet, I can’t imagine someone complaining about it. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m definitely going to find a way to work your “I get more shaky when I’m singing than when someone is actually dying” line into conversations!

  8. I would like to add that it takes time for the voice to mature, myself I have a much better voice (relatively speaking 🙂 )and greater range now at 35 than I did at 20, so don’t give up on singing!

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