Perfume for Hercule Poirot : On Fictional Characters and Fragrance

Poirot

Do you have a favorite fictional character? What perfume would he/she/it wear?

Following in my mother’s footsteps, I have been an avid fan of Agatha Christie for as long as I can remember. These days I am enjoying the British TV series starring David Suchet as the incomparable Belgian sleuth, Hercule Poirot. In an episode “How Does Your Garden Grow,” he buys a bottle of cologne from Geo F. Trumper. The story does not mention the name of the cologne, only that it smells of lemons.  Correct dates aside, I imagine Poirot wearing Guerlain Habit Rouge, a fragrance with a distinctive hint of retro elegance. Miss Marple, on the other hand, is a Penhaligon’s Violetta woman in my mind!

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46 Comments

  • D: My favorite crime novel character is Donald Westlake’s unluky Dortmunder, a hapless organizer of elaborate robberies, that always go a little wrong. (If you feel the universe is irretrievably messed up, if Murphy of Murphy’s law is your lawyer, or if you simply need a laugh-read anything by Westlake which you can get your hands on, but the Dortmunder novels are a great star). Dortmunder would not wear a fragrance-he is not the type and thieves literally do no want to leave traces behind. However, he is the kind of man who would carefully plan to steal of box of gold from a warehouse, and, through no fault of his own, end up with a box of Donna Karan Gold testers, one of which he would have given to his long time love- May. Dortmunder’s occasional colleague Mrs. Murch is an excellent taxi driver when not acting as a second wheel on Dortmunder’s capers. She, like myself, would have a sachet from Agraria dangling in her vehicle. July 22, 2011 at 12:34pm Reply

  • Olfactoria: I love Poirot as well.
    Another great character is Agent Aloyisius Pendergast, hero of several thrillers by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Pendergast is a southern gentleman and renaissance man par excellence. With impeccable manners and a piercing intelligence he is the type to wear Knize Ten that he personally aquired in the Knize store in Vienna, when he commissioned his bespoke suits. For his niece Constance he chooses Guerlain Apres l’Ondėe. July 22, 2011 at 12:57pm Reply

  • Alnysie: Fun game! When I was a kid my favorite character ever was Archie Comics’ Jughead. I have no clue what fragrance he’d wear… Something foody, probably? Maybe a very gourmand vanilla, something smelling of milkshakes? 🙂 Or else a fragrance very peculiar, quirky, something that doesn’t want to seduce anyone but just establish “I’m here, and I don’t care what you think of me.” I don’t yet know of any fragrance like that, though! July 22, 2011 at 1:09pm Reply

  • Austenfan: My favourite British detective is Lord Peter Wimsey, created by D.L.Sayers, who was a contemporary of Dame Agatha Christie.
    My favourite “TV”-detective is Inspector Morse. If you like Poirot you might enjoy him as well. David Suchet is such a wonderful actor. I have seen him in other stuff besides Poirot. He is an altered creature then, with a wonderful voice into the bargain. Mouchoir de Monsieur would suit him equally well as Habit Rouge. And maybe Cologne Impériale for summer.

    Detectives aside my absolute favourite fictional character is Elizabeth Bennet ( P&P). I haven’t got a clue though as to what perfume would suit her. July 22, 2011 at 2:21pm Reply

  • Lavanya: I loved reading Agatha Christie too and enjoy the televised series too with David Suchet..I can’t think of what he’d wear though – I can imagine him wearing either something green, vetiverish and overtly masculine or something that is warm, tobaccoey and unisex.. July 22, 2011 at 2:35pm Reply

  • D: P.S.
    Of course Ms. Marple would wear Violetta. July 22, 2011 at 3:16pm Reply

  • Victoria: I am busy writing down more reading suggestions! 🙂 Seems like there are other fans here of this genre of literature. July 22, 2011 at 4:17pm Reply

  • Victoria: Fantastic! I can just envision him perfectly through this information on his scents. July 22, 2011 at 4:18pm Reply

  • Victoria: How about Dinner by Bobo? For some reason, I have revisited it recently, and I definitely think that it fits this line–“I’m here, and I don’t care what you think of me.” And it is certainly quirky and gourmand. July 22, 2011 at 4:19pm Reply

  • Victoria: I now really want to watch one of the films with my favorfite Ms Marple of all–Joan Hickson. July 22, 2011 at 4:20pm Reply

  • Victoria: Tobacco and vetiver sounds like another great Poirot suggestion. And yet, I feel that it must have a bracing citrus note too. 🙂 July 22, 2011 at 4:21pm Reply

  • Victoria: I am definitely going to look for D.L.Sayers’ books. Thank you!
    Suchet has a great voice! As Poirot, he speaks in a rather high-pitched manner, but out of character, his voice is suave and deep. July 22, 2011 at 4:23pm Reply

  • Lavanya: Yes- that *is* true- citrus instead of the green (Was my afterthought) July 22, 2011 at 4:48pm Reply

  • Lavanya: Joan Hickson is my favorite Ms Marple too! July 22, 2011 at 4:51pm Reply

  • annemariec: Oh yes, Elizabeth Bennet is my fave too, but I’m stumped to think of a perfume for her. It would have to be something sparkling and joyous, but with a darker base. Something to suit her character even as she changes in the course of the book? That’s a toughie! July 22, 2011 at 5:29pm Reply

  • Anne: My favourite fictional detective is Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret. I doubt he would have been a cologne wearer and I don’t know men’s fragrances well enough to know what to suggest, although it would have to be in the region of pipe smoke, leather, damp wool (his overcoat), sweat (he often works for days on end without going home), smoke and grime from the many trains he catches … I’m trying to remember what he drinks – absinthe? He loves to eat rich, meaty casseroles and his wife’s soups, and loves to warm himself in front of the heater in his office . Sounds like a great brief for an indie perfumer! July 22, 2011 at 5:37pm Reply

  • Andy: Favorite fictional character: Sayuri in Memoirs of a Geisha
    …but what would she smell like? I don’t have a great knowledge of perfumes, but I imagine her smelling quite clean and austere, yet pretty, lively, fresh (sort of opposites I suppose, but she is such a multifaceted character). I imagine her smelling of yuzu, osmanthus, sandalwood and orris, with a trace of waxy incense. simple and understated, but somewhat bright. Maybe someone knows a fragrance which somewhat goes with this? Since peach is quite similar to osmanthus, maybe Mitsuoko (or perhaps that’s quite far off?). Maybe Bond No. 9 Chinatown (I haven’t smelled either one of these two, I must say). Or for a more lotus fragrance direction, I can see the old version of Pacifica’s Lotus Garden on Sayuri. July 22, 2011 at 5:44pm Reply

  • Musette: Nora Charles: elegance personified. I see her in Vol de Nuit.

    Nick Charles: elegant, with that slightly rough ‘Nicky’ edge – Habit Rouge is a goodie for him, as he takes Nora to a boxing match and Asta gets loose and starts a brannigan in the audience.

    xo A July 22, 2011 at 5:52pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: Jane Eyre, without a doubt. It’s hard to imagine her in any perfume at all before her marriage to Rochester, but I envision her in something green with a steely edge: Serge Lutens Bas de Soie fits, somehow.

    From a more recent work: Pearl Chin from Lisa See’s novel Shanghai Girls. I envision her in something classic and floral, and a little prim. Caron Fleurs de Rocaille seems appropriate.

    Last but not least, Antonie Buddenbrook-Gruenlich-Parmeneder (she had enough husbands to rival Scarlett O’Hara) from Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks. She would wear something golden and opulent, to display her pride and love of luxury. Guerlain Shalimar parfum for sure! July 22, 2011 at 6:12pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: I envision Elizabeth Bennet in Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete. It’s cheerful, elegant, and somewhat rustic, reflecting all aspects of her temperament. July 22, 2011 at 6:15pm Reply

  • Undina: Fun game!

    My absolutely favorite fiction caracter would be… Comte de la Fère (Athos) from Duma’s The Three Musketeers. My perfume choice for the character would be Library Collection Opus II by Amouage. July 22, 2011 at 7:16pm Reply

  • TaffyJ: David Suchet is perfect as Poirot, isn’t he!

    My favorite fictional character is Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison in “Prime Suspect”, as played by Helen Mirren. I can’t quite decide which fragrance to give her; I love her as much for her foibles as her strengths, and her true genuine heart. She rubs the old boys the wrong way, sometimes makes mistakes, has a smokey, dark side, but loves her work and intensely desires that justice be done.

    I was thinking that Chanel Cuir de Russie might fit her well. But I want something for her softer side, which discreetly rises up now and then. Oh wait, Serge Lutens Sarrasins, the burst of in your face unsettling jasmine which settles down into something beautiful. Yes, beautiful Jane would wear Serge well. July 22, 2011 at 10:55pm Reply

  • TaffyJ: Oh, I love Detective Chief Inspector Morse! John Thaw played him to perfection in the television series. The Colin Dexter novels are a joy to read. July 22, 2011 at 11:00pm Reply

  • Eric Brandon: I’ll be completely honest: I still have not read a single Agatha Christie novel! However, I am reasonably certain I’ve seen almost all “David Suchet as Hercule Poirot” outlets (movies, minimovies, whatever). I loved them, definitely.

    I see him wearing something that smells of shaving cream, maybe like an astringent lavender. I’m not very knowledgeable of male perfumery classics, ironically, so that is the best I can do. :3 July 23, 2011 at 2:33am Reply

  • Ines: I love D. Suchet as Hercule Poirot. I can’t believe how well he played him, forever imprinting the look in my mind when thinking of Poirot. Who is btw my favourite crime novel character. 🙂
    I never combine characters with perfumes as the connections never spring to mind. I think that’s because I’m so flighty with my choices, I keep thinking everyone else would be too. 🙂 July 23, 2011 at 7:10am Reply

  • Linda: I’m a great fan of detective fiction, and my favourite character of all is the wonderful Bernie Rhodenbarr in the Lawrence Block “Burglar” series. He has such wit and style, I laugh out loud at these books! I would imagine him to wear something like YSL Pour Homme (which I haven’t seen, unfortunately, for ages….) July 23, 2011 at 7:41am Reply

  • Austenfan: Funny you should mention Le Temps for Lizzy Bennet. I was trying to think of a green chypre’ish perfume for her. It would have to be a chypre because of her intelligence and great individuality. Mitsouko, I think is too sombre, Diorella too green. I was considering Odalisque, but Le Temps would be even better. July 23, 2011 at 8:11am Reply

  • Austenfan: Maigret is wonderful as well. Do you like the Bruno Cremer version on TV? July 23, 2011 at 8:12am Reply

  • Andrea: I was reading through some of your older reviews awhile back and stumbled across the review of Iris Poudre. I happened to be reading Anna Karenina right then, and your identification of her with the scent caused me to procure a sample. You were right! It fits her character (esp. on the night of the ball) perfectly and it really did add an interesting facet to her already intriguing character. As that’s my favorite book, I’ll steal that association from you for now, but it has definitely started me thinking what perfumes a character might wear. I’ve yet to come up with a combo that actually seems to fit so perfectly, but it’s fun to play with! July 23, 2011 at 10:42am Reply

  • Vishishta: My favorites are Madam Bovary and Anna Karenina. I think Madam might wear something heavy, sweet and obvious like Diorissimo. Whereas Anna’s fragrance would be more subtle with deep undertones (but also sweet)like Samscara. July 23, 2011 at 10:48am Reply

  • Austenfan: Dame Helen Mirren was so splendid in that one, wasn’t she? Up on youtube there is a documentary about the making of Prime Suspect; it’s called drama connections.

    I have always pictured her in Bandit, but Bvlgari Black would be good too. And I love Sarrasins! July 23, 2011 at 11:02am Reply

  • Bellatrix: I love Poirot!! I am reading “him” just now. Not sure which perfume would suit him since I haven’t tried many male perfumes, but your suggestion for Marple is BINGO! 🙂 July 23, 2011 at 11:04am Reply

  • andrea dittler: Crime Hero: Judge Di and his four wives in Robert van Gulik’s Ming Period crime series. Obviously Osmanthus, peony, green tea, plum, kumquat, bamboo, lapsang souchong tea, freshly cooked rice. Cymbidium Orchids, too. Wet stones and horse sweat. His ladies would perfume their combs with jasmine oil from India, but each would smell differently wafting by.
    Daphne du Maurier: ‘Rebecca’. There is this scene where the new wife walks down to the boat house through the Azalea valley. She is wearing dead Rebecca’s coat and finds aher crumpled hanky smellling of Rhododendron and her. It should be a smell that is silvery, sharp, light violet, wilted, sweet and difficult at the same time.
    There is a crime story I once read and adored called ’32 Cadillacs’. I don’t remember the author, The setting was amongst gypsies and their scams and how to become a gypsy king. I wonder how they would smell.
    Has anybody read Neil Gaiman’s ‘Neverwhere’? Stone, mildew, rust, leather, musk, apple, caramel?
    What a challenge! July 23, 2011 at 11:15am Reply

  • Irina: I think, some chypre. He is definitely chypre man. 🙂
    I’m miss Marple fan, because of her ability to make psychological parallels, and she smells like lavender, because she is old lady, every old lady uses lavender. The other fictional hero of mine is Captaine Blood from Rafael Sabatini books, the most suitable perfume for him would be L’Artisan’ Eau du Navigatore, with it coffee and wood smell. July 23, 2011 at 8:23am Reply

  • Anne: No, I haven’t seen it. For some reason, Maigret )books, TV series, films etc) are not well known in Australia. I only discovered Maigret myself about a year ago, ands then only by chance. July 23, 2011 at 5:27pm Reply

  • annemariec: Funny, I have a decant of Odalisque on its way to me, and Le Temps is on my wish list for spring. No I can call this ‘a project’. Purely ‘research’, you understand! July 23, 2011 at 5:30pm Reply

  • annemariec: Sounds marvellous. It’s years since I read AK. Have been meaning to try IP for ages, so now I really should. July 23, 2011 at 5:33pm Reply

  • Julie: Let’s see, it’s a toss-up between Cara Black’s character, Aimee LeDuc and Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
    Aimee is always dabbing on some Chanel No.5 on her way out the door, but I would love for her to try Vol de Nuit. For Salander, I think Bulgari Black. And there’s alway Severus Snape wearing Possets’ Dark Lady. July 23, 2011 at 10:27pm Reply

  • TaffyJ: Thanks, Austenfan! I will check out the Youtube reference.

    Ooooo Bandit is a good one for her! July 23, 2011 at 11:16pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I find them both gorgeous, but then I am a huge fan of the Nicolaï line anyway. My favourites are Sacrebleu and New York. July 24, 2011 at 4:58pm Reply

  • Victoria: Your suggestion of Mitsouko seems so perfect for Sayuri. Another fragrance I see her wearing is Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist, rich, unusual, striking. July 24, 2011 at 8:14pm Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, I love these associations! July 24, 2011 at 8:14pm Reply

  • Maureen: I did not think I would like the Stieg Larson novels, but my son gave them to my and I ended up loving them, reading them right through back to back. I do not know that Lizabeth Salander would wear a fragrance(but she could certainly afford anything her heart desired. sigh!) If she did it would probably be very unique, but subtle, so as not to announce her whereabouts. Also, I think if she were to wear a fragrance it would have to be one of those that are like her own personal armour, only nice when in real close, although she does not let too many people in close. I have never smelled Bulgari Black, so I don’t know if tht is it. I do not see her in Chanel, which is what I am most familiar with. Probably a very exclusive niche fragrance she picked up on the run while killing time waiting for someone. July 25, 2011 at 8:48am Reply

  • Rose D: Lovely story! I also became an Agatha Christie fan thanks to my mother. Your comment brings back some very fond memories.

    As far as my own literary tastes, the book that best evokes perfume for me is Cheri by Colette. The author relies a great deal on the abstract idea of a fragrance for forming her pictures. I am especially fond of an scene in which Cheri and Lea lay together, and even when her eyes do not see him, she knows he is there because she smells the perfume he wears as a signature scent. It is a “mélange des fleurs grasses et de bois exotiques”, and it floats in the air around them.

    This is the perfume of a lover, and I think everyone has a different idea of the name it bears here in our world. For me, it would be Dior Homme. Maybe the brand and the composition are too contemporary when compared with the novel; but as I have already said, it is the perfume of a lover, and I would love to find a man to whom this suits. July 25, 2011 at 5:08pm Reply

  • Madea: I love Harry Potter, so I imagine Lucius Malfoy smelling like the original cologne water, the Farina version. Something to emphasis tradition and valuing the classics.

    My all time favorite movie is ‘The Trojan Women’. Hecuba would smell like something hot and dry, with a note of incense in the backround. Maybe a couple of the CDGs mixed together?

    Andromache would smell, faintly, of SL’s Fleurs d’Oranger, with it being mainly cumin on her skin.

    And Helen? Helen would smell like Fracas, way too much, enough to make a person drunk on it. July 30, 2011 at 12:46am Reply

  • Coco: What a lovely blog!!
    Colette would love Vetiver perhaps by Guerlain. She mentions putting Vetiver into her bath somewhere in her short stories, perhaps Bella Vista.
    Jean Rhys mentions L’Heure Bleu by Guerlain in one of her novels and the nostalgic loveliness of it compelled me to start using it in the early 80s when I first read her marvelous novels. And it is still my “signature scent”.
    I have used Violette from Penhaligon’s myself and think it may indeed be the scent of Miss Marple. Or a lavender.
    My husband uses Dior L’Homme and it is my favorite for men. Soft and sensual, it whispers instead of screaming. I believe that it is the favorite of Clive Owen.
    I have also used Habit Rouge by Guerlain and Apres L’Ondee myself in the past. Habit Rouge is really for men but women use it too.
    My favorite detective series is hard to choose but probably the Dorothy Sayers series. Adore that Harriet Vane character and Harriet Walter was wonderful in the TV version of the book. She might wear Chanel No. 5 and perhaps a very dramatic fragrance for formal occasions. I’m thinking L’Heure Bleu…… July 30, 2011 at 12:51pm Reply

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