Thursday, February 7, 2008

Dreaming Scents

If you are like me, no matter how tired you are on a weeknight you put on a little something before bed. (Weekends are a different story entirely. This is New York City.) A brushed cotton v-neck tee, my flannel boxers from Uniqlo and, of course, something that smells good. It has struck me of late that fragrance may trigger and/or influence dream activity or, as may be more the case, a “thinking over” the problem of a particular scent. Not the problem in the sense of defect, but problem as in arithmetic –– the unraveling of a Gordian (or not-so-Gordian) knot. Sometimes, as in “what cigarettes are my neighbors smoking and why is it coming through the wall?” But often it’s a problem I’ve set for myself.

For the past week, I’ve been working through my repertoire of rose soliflores. Is it some premonition of Cupid Day? Or is it the balmy weather beckoning an early spring? In any case, my dreams have had a close, affectionate quality: strait, as opposed to wide-open, spaces; faces of childhood sweethearts; a phalanx of sad, tender salad-day crushes; duvets thrown over futons in student rooms, wine glasses and brandy snifters found the morning after whatever wild party ... In the past, I’ve found that animalics upset my sleep. Some of the sweeter musks are innocuous, but civet and castoreum act our their feral tendencies. I awake at two o’clock, as if visited nocturnally by some succubus. Or, more commonly, I scratch myself. Feline grooming behavior of a past life? Would somebody get Shirley on the phone ... please. The ouds I was sampling are, by far, the most stimulating. Even before falling asleep, my mental state would be keyed up. I would catch myself in waking daydreams, opening some door, traipsing down some mile-long corridor, or visiting places that I’d never been before: jungle, palace, temple. And then there are the scents that I sleep through: the hesperidics, the citruses, the L’Eau Imperiales of the fragrance world. They must get absorbed into the sheets or just -- poof! -- into the air.

But my favorite -- enjoyed with a friend after a sumptuous little feast last night at Cookshop on Tenth Avenue -- was a balloon-shaped glass of Calvados, which seduced my nose, caressed my palate and transported me back to an old apartment after a dinner party, the candles’ glow caught in my neighbors’ windows, a lover asleep on a pillow next to me. If only someone could make it into a perfume ... The premium I would pay is, itself, the stuff of dreams.

Image credit: Picasso, La Rève, oil on canvas, 1932. Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society NY


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ive never really thought about if my bed-scents affect my dreams or my sleep. Whos to say whats affecting my sleep these days, take your pick. But dreams - well, I dont dream - my having a dream is like the Siamese spotting a white elephant.

But I always pick something to sleep in, ensuring I project a fragrant aura round the clock - in case I should sleep through a burglary, I'd at least want to perpetuate the fact that I care about things like this.

February 8, 2008 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

I recently acquired some "white" ambergris oil. I think, along with rose, it's my new favorite sleep scent. But an expensive sleep... Like sleeping at some high-end resort in the Maldives with ocean breezes caressing my body.

February 8, 2008 at 2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a similar bottle - but its Mysore Sandalwood. The good news is - a little goes a long way. And usually - I dont get time to enjoy it anyway - once I hit the pillow Im out.

February 8, 2008 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger Perfumeshrine said...

Animalics distrubing a good way, one hopes??


February 9, 2008 at 5:46 AM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

I made sure to request Mysore sandalwood oil from all friends traveling in Asia this winter. I also keep a string of sandalwood mala beads in a small coffer near my bed. They have taken on the shine of use but each time I warm them in my palms, that divine odor wafts up to my nose.

February 9, 2008 at 7:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! I'd love to contact you for an interview while passing through NY (and area) sometime in between Feb 20-26. You around?
I'm a design researcher/writer doing early "sniffing" around about perfume...
Myself and two colleagues would love to meet you, and of course we'll compensate you for your time.

Interested? Thanks!!

February 9, 2008 at 4:30 PM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

Jennifer, I'm interesting in hearing more. Email me vetivresse at gmail dot com.

February 9, 2008 at 10:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the perfume you put on me smelled until next morning. It was really nice little dreaming time I ve ever had in my williamsburg apartment. usually, I put Nectarine Blossom & Honey by Jo Malone on my pillow before I go to bed. You showed me little bit of rose garden in heaven!

February 11, 2008 at 9:12 PM  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Calvados !
Ah, we are soulmates, no doubt....

February 14, 2008 at 3:20 AM  

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