The cherry blossoms in Central Park are not the only signs that spring has arrived in the Big Apple. When I notice that New Yorkers shed their habitual dark uniforms and incorporate a splash of color into their wardrobe, I know that winter is finally over. I start taking my lunch outside and find small open air coffee shops to enjoy some sunshine and people watching—one hour of la dolce vita, if you will. As I was observing a beautiful redhead in a pistachio green coat and pink shoes, I realized how energizing colors can be. I myself was dressed in grey jeans and a black sweater, hardly a dazzling color combination.
I could not go home and change, so I decided to fix my boring sartorial choice in the way most familiar to me. I returned to the office and put on some fragrance. In the perfumery school, we sometimes played a game where we had to smell a perfume and describe its scent in terms of colors. At first, I was skeptical about this exercise, because it seemed to me that such things are subjective. Jasmine might smell yellow to me, but pink to someone else, right? Well, the uncanny thing was that our descriptions often matched, even though we smelled everything blindly and didn’t discuss our answers. A spicy bombshell like Yves Saint Laurent Opium was brown, red and orange. A rich jasmine like Givenchy Ysatis would be purple and brown, and so on.
I know that there are some studies about synesthesia—a condition of mixed sensations, and perhaps there is a straightforward explanation of how this scent-color match happens. Or maybe we just were conditioned to think that spices smell red and woods brown. The fun aspect about this game was that it made me think about scents in new ways. And so I started to see the lemon yellow in Frederic Malle Carnal Flower and carmine red in Ormonde Jayne Woman. Today, for instance, I am wearing one of my most colorful ensembles– Badgley Mischka Perfume, which to me smells shocking pink and bright purple. I have no illusions that it makes my weekend outfit of yoga pants and white T-shirt more exciting, but it sure does make me feel more upbeat.
What about you? Do you have perfumes that smell colorful to you?
Image: Dublin’s Secret Blast of Colour by Steve H via flickr, some rights reserved