My fascination with fragrances

By Alok Joshi Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/10 15:13:40

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT

My friends know that I love to wear new fragrances. But they don't know that once, during my dating days, a Chinese girl refused to sit for coffee with me because she couldn't stand the smell of my fragrance.

It is a mystery to me what went wrong, and I am not ready to believe she rejected me for my smell.

Maybe it's all about body chemistry, and the same perfume can smell differently on different people.

I haven't thrown away that expensive bottle. But after that incident, I never had the courage to wear the same fragrance again.

Later, I met someone who fell for a particular perfume I was wearing. It was an old fragrance that I had picked up on sale in an airport. I used it so much that it finished quickly, and I couldn't find it anywhere. She bought the same perfume online and gifted it to me.

Individual preferences about fragrance differ. Some people like a strong smell, while others prefer theirs mild. Some like it floral, some spicy or woody.

Choosing a fragrance is like selecting a profile picture. You want something that accurately represents you and doesn't turn people off.

Some Chinese men admire the West and adopt many of its preferences, but not so with fragrances. They probably think it is feminine or an avoidable luxury.

Traditionally, the Chinese believed perfume was a form of medicine and that a deep connection existed between an aroma and the state of the mind and body.

But the trend is changing. Modern Chinese men are becoming more fashionable and trying out new men's cosmetics, including perfumes. It has blossomed into a billion-dollar industry with fat marketing budgets and celebrity endorsements.

China is now the second largest cosmetics market in Asia. Although fragrances count for only a small portion of the whole cosmetic business, the sector is growing robustly, targeting women between 18 and 35.

To most people, the words perfume and fragrance essentially mean the same thing.

Their usage, in fact, varies from country to country. In the US, fragrance is the more common description, while in England, scent or fragrance is more prevalent. In France, it is called parfum.

Interestingly, most of the Chinese females I have interacted with said they like men who wear perfume.

A colleague once joked with me saying that she knew when I entered and left the office because the elevator smelled different.

I have an enviable collection of men's fragrances because I like to wear them. Like my eyeglasses and watches, I choose which perfume to wear depending on my mood.

I wear perfume because I like it and feel good about myself, not just to impress others.

But, honestly, it feels good when a lady whispers to me that I smell nice.

Wouldn't you like a fresh fragrance in a crowded subway instead of pungent body odor emanating from weary commuters or the nauseating smell of someone munching on a dried fish snack?

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.


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