My favourite fashion innovation of the year was something you wear in only the loosest sense – a unisex eau de cologne range called Scent Of Departure which distils the smells of some of the world's most famous cities into something you'd squirt on to your chest.
The scents are the brainchild, if that's the right word, of perfumier Gerald Ghislain and designer Magali Senequier. He has cooked up the smells and she the packaging, which rather niftily uses the design of those luggage labels they stick on your Louis Vuitton duffle bag when you check in for a flight.
So how do the scents shape up? London promises top notes of pine, turf and bergamot, a heart of lotus flower and base notes of patchouli and treemoss. Result? A bouquet reminiscent of "warm Earl Grey tea - as a Shakespearean jasmine unveils a romance of mossy woods and white musk for a final wink at the London eye." You get the drift. Fruity in every sense of the word.
The Munich scent, which you imagine would smell of beer and sausages, is crisp and floral. In fact it's left to Istanbul to provide the earthier aromas with a scent concocted from sandalwood, cinnamon, pepper and lychee. Fair enough, though my over-riding olfactory memory of the city is the smell of sardines cooking over charcoal on the Galata bridge. (It's the same with Miami. All I get when I close my eyes is the smell of Hawaiian Tropic and Dr Pepper. They've loaded their scent with blood orange, pink grapefruit and caramel. No coconut!)
Predictably, there is an absence of any Scottish cities. I happen to like the smell of brewing that wafts over our capital but many don't and I imagine perfumiers are among them. The same would probably be true of the tangy whiff that comes off the Clyde when the wind's in the right direction. Any time I'm in Dundee, meanwhile, the city smells of chips and kebabs and it's always so cold in Aberdeen that I have my nose buried in my scarf and can't smell anything.
Still, I like the idea of tailoring a fragrance to a city and would be intrigued to smell some Scottish ones. Or how about expanding the idea to include other things, like fragrances for each day of the week? Monday would be bright and cheery, a pick-me-up after Sunday's more subdued scent, which mingles the smell of the sports section with a Bloody Mary. And – here we blend both day and city – what smell would best capture a Saturday night on the ran-dan in Clatty Pats? Answers on a luggage label, please. n
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