As we have discussed before, I am weird. What I have not mentioned, however, is how very much I hate having my weirdness fetishized. Obviously I don’t want anyone to tell me, “Ewww, you’re so weird,” but I’m not any keener on the men who react to me with, “OH MAAAH GAAAH I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU LIKE ALL OF THESE NERDY THINGS! Those are the exact same nerdy things that I like! YOU ARE THE ZOOEY DESCHANEL-ESQUE QUIRKY GIRL OF MY DREAMS! Wait right here while I go carve you a pedestal out of MY OWN FLESH.” It makes me feel like a damn zoo animal, albeit one of the more exotic zoo animals. Maybe a lemur or something.
Nothing frustrates me more than constantly being told, “You’re so different from all those other girls.” Umm, I know. That whole “different” thing is why I have so much trouble making friends and connecting with my family. It’s not sexy. It’s frustrating and isolating. It’s not all fun and constant Lord of the Rings references up in this here abby normal brain, you know.
Also, I’m really not all that unique. Come on, son. We both know that you meet dozens of girls just like me every day. The only difference is that they’re not blonde 20-year-olds.
Because I do not like to advertise my strangeness, I tend to shun weirdness in my aesthetic preferences. (The one exception? My Pikachu hat. I wish I knew how to quit you, Pikachu.) My day-to-day fashion choices are calculated to be indistinguishable from every other East Coast sorority girl, right down to the Uggs. No rompers or whatever ironically hideous thing the kids at Urban Outfitters are wearing these days. My worst nightmare involves having to wear something insane, like an Alexander McQueen. I loathe abstractness. I can’t stand surrealist art, avant-garde writing, or incomprehensible “visionary” films.
Finally, I don’t wear weird perfumes. By “weird”, I mean perfumes that smell like gasoline, sulfur, tar, sawdust, paper, peanut butter. I can certainly appreciate them, but you will never catch me wearing one. The weirdest perfume I ever owned was Bulgari Black, and I ended up returning it almost immediately because I just didn’t feel comfortable in it. Just as I prefer Renoir to Picasso, I am drawn to perfumes that are attractive in an uncomplicated way. I don’t want to be challenged by a damn perfume. Isn’t life hard enough already?
Do you wear weird perfumes? Which ones do you wear, and why do you wear them?
24 thoughts on “Weirdness in Perfume”
I’m the opposite when it comes to a lot of perfumes I want to desperately try — but not necessarily the ones I frequently wear. The moment I hear the words ‘decay’ or ‘crypt-like’ I go mad in my quest to sample it. Avignon which is admittedly friendlier than most remains one of my favourites despite that on several occasions I made myself physically ill while wearing it. I just like the idea of bizarrely Gothic fragrances even if I end up being a bit nervous about wearing them.
Crypt-like!! I suspect that you are part of a mostly-untapped demographic. Someone (I guess BPAL does this, but their website is SO HUGE) needs to make a serious, high-quality Gothic perfume line. The For Strange Women line seems appropriate, at least in title, but I’ve never tried any of their fragrances.
Personally, I have no interest in smelling weird. Beautiful, yes. Intriguing and unique? Absolutely. But not weird. It just doesn’t…. interest me.
Ari, would you consider this author to be fetishizing weirdness (actually, nerdiness) or objecting to it? I’m curious to get your opinion. http://www.eatthedamncake.com/2011/01/18/nerd-girls-rule/
Hmmm. Well, first, I don’t think I agree with her definition of “nerd”. The author says, “When I think of nerds… I think of people who are willing to be weird.” Definitely don’t agree with that. I think of nerds as people who can’t help being weird, whether they want to be or not. To me, the article is kosher (if a little odd), because the author is declaring herself and her fellow nerdy women “sexy”. Sort of like the “black is beautiful” campaigns. Not quite the same as a man leering “Nerdy girls are so hot.” Thank you for bringing the article to my attention!
I can relate to a lot of that article – especially the bit about wearing clothes that are nerdy because you can’t remember what the trend is – if I ever knew! I don’t think I started to get a grip in the clothes department till I was about 48. In terms of the ten things a nerd does, I think I did all of those except write fantasy novels. Definitely put my arm up way too much in class.
Weird scents? Not so much – as in virtually none. Bvlgari Black is on the outer limits of my weird tolerance, so I am with you here!
If you ask me, the weirder, the better! I love wearing perfumes that are so macho that guys won’t even touch them. I love to douse myself in Secretions Magnifiques. I’m kinda arty, and so I tend to think of perfume as yet another fabulous accessory. I would wear McQueen every day of my life if I could afford it. Would people think I was weird walking down the street in some pompadour smelling like semen? Most definitely! Unfortunately, I am not weird enough to go to such lengths. I like eccentricity but I’m still a blazer, t-shirt, and jeans kind of gal. But I like to jazz it up by wearing an uber sexy scent, something that makes people want to sidle up and sniff. My favorite weird fumes: Al Oudh, Musc Koublai Khan, Patchouli 24.
Dang girl! I’m honestly glad that there are more exciting and eccentric people like you out there to balance out the outer conformists like me. Of your favorite weird fumes, I’ve only tried Patchouli 24, which I liked very much.
Let’s see, I think back in the day when I smelled Ambre Sultan I thought it was truly weird. I will only wear it dabbed, but not because I think it’s “weird” — now I think it’s “amber”. If you think about amber accord and the fact it’s inspired by ambergris — if you’re not a perfumista, that may be weird. I am really not sure what is weird in the perfume world any more. But I don’t have or wear anything that smells like gasoline, sulfur, tar, sawdust, paper, peanut butter. Or so I think. My husband keeps telling me that Grand Neroli (which I planning to get) has a burnt asphalt note. And yep, I think he’s right, it might be there for a brief moment…
Is the burnt asphalt note in Grand Neroli a plus or a minus, do you think? Serge Lutens is definitely one line that I still consider rather odd, even after many years of perfumista-hood.
Hmm. I think I have a comfort zone for “weird.” Or maybe my “weird” assumes “weird but really gorgeous.” I like Bvlgari Black, but I find it comforting more than weird – that rubber note reminds me of new bicycle tires or new Keds, which is just fun. I love Memoir Woman, which is sooooo strange, but has enough white florals in it to make me comfortable. I like that dirty-hair note in L’Arte di Gucci, but then I adore, ADORE, the way my boys’ hair smells after they’ve been playing outside. I like galbanum too, and galbanum is, we’ll just admit it, weird. It’s cold and green and icy and not all that pleasant and I love it anyway.
I get what you’re saying about the “nerdy girls are hot” idea… Being totally yourself IS sexy. But the guy thinking, “JUST LIKE ME, except with boobs!” – So Not Sexy. You already know he’s not able to give you the emotional space to be a girl, because in his mind, you’re JUST LIKE HIM. Except that you have a coochie. Yuck.
I’m with you. I pretty much want to smell good. Obviously, there are some perfumes that speak to us on an emotional level, which is awesome too. But my tastes are mostly conventional – have no interest in abstract art, experimental film or wacky clothes. I guess I am pretty simple. And while it may be interesting to sniff something and be like, wow, that really does smell exactly like (tar, gasoline, sweat or what have you), that’s not something I want to put on my person. Frankly, rubber, gasoline, and leather even in fragrances gives me a headache so Bulgari Black was not for me – I loved the idea of an offbeat/edgy vanilla, but that rubber made it a no-go. The only slightly odd thing I’ve liked in perfume was Lostmarch Lann Ael, which at the beginning has a very realistic bread/cereal note which is strangely addictive. If only it lasted longer.
Not simple at all!! I feel that being easy to please is a very positive quality 🙂 I have a sample of Lann Ael somewhere, which I clearly need to hunt down now. I’m surprised that I don’t already naturally smell like sugar cereal after eating it every morning for 15 years!
Pikachu hat is awesome.
Thank you, Rick! It also doubles as a cat toy! 🙂
Nerdy Chic!!! That’s me, you, and Zooey DesChanel!! 🙂 We are in STYLE right now 🙂 Great post Ari
I’m hoping we can turn this into a permanent trend!!
My three weirdest perfumes are Bulgari Black (futuristic oriental), Patchouli 24 (Lapsang Souchong + yak butter), and Barbara Bui (old paperbacks). Of those, Barbara Bui is the only easy wear for me; the others I have to pick my day/place. I don’t know if M7 counts as weird if worn by a woman, but I love, love, love that one, too. The rest of my taste is pretty conventional.
Dude, I don’t even want to KNOW what yak butter is. It sounds like the common thread between your “weird” perfumes is vanilla!
I’m not into smelling weird, by perfumista standards. I probably smell weird to Normals, though. I love leather scents, loud scents, brashness. The older I get, the more comfortable I am with other kinds of weirdness, though. If I had the money and the figure for it, I’d wear McQueen and all kinds of awesome grown-up goth badassery. Let ’em stare! I will only be here once, I might as well have safe and healthy fun while I am. 😀
I love this perspective, Jen! I hope that with a little more age, I can become that comfortable too.
I came for the weird, and I stayed for the Pikachu hat. (My spouse and I cherish our Togepi doll that rocks back and forth chanting “Toka, toka, toka…TogePEEEE!”)
For the love of all that is good in this world, please tell me where you found this incredibly adorable-sounding doll. I find Togepi so cute that I never let it evolve into Togetic.
Oh man, I love the weird stuff! I’ll try anything on and my favourites include Black, Dzing! (LOVE that one – horseys!!), loads of mens’ stuff, including Yatagan and Lonestar Memories… But I don’t expect everyone to like them, so I keep it toned down if I think I’m going to be somewhere that a good ol wacko frag would make folks uncomfortable. Though when I lived in the country it was great because I could wear Dzing! every day and the people in the supermarket just assumed I had a horse and didn’t wash much. (OK – to me that was fine.)
As for not fetishising your eccentricities, I do see what you mean. As I mentioned on Twitter, my daughter has Asperger’s Syndrome and as well as struggling to stay focused, she sees the world in a different way to me (and most other people). She’s quirky and funny and fabulous and I adore that she’s different. To me all that matters is that she’s bright and interested in the world around her. But I try to make sure she doesn’t stick out – I dress her in what the other kids wear and make sure she knows about things they talk about – she loves movies and cartoons, so that’s cool. The kids in her school seem to have taken to her and she seems to be popular.
However, I have made her a Totoro hat and am hoping she’ll always love it. Everyone needs just a tiny little bit of weirdness about them; kind of like adding a pinch of pepper to food.
If I were your daughter, I would wear that Totoro hat every day of my life. It sounds like the cutest thing in the entire world. I’m so happy to hear that she seems to be doing well with her school peers.
I really love Lonestar Memories too, but I don’t think of it as weird! To me it seems instantly likable and satisfying!