Scents can be wonderfully evocative - I remember the first time I realised one of the Maths teachers in school smelled exactly like my mother, because they both used the same Estee Lauder perfume. I had to resist the urge to call out "Mum!" every time I went into the teachers' room. While I don't like most women's scents - all that sugar and vanilla and jasmine, ugh, and worse still if they're commercial bilge dressed up in a fancy bottle - I do like a good unisex or male scent. (Emphasis good, because office monkeys who drench themselves in Polo Ralph Lauren or whatever and stand too close on the MRT make me very grumpy and a little nauseous.) Anyway, I'm no expert on scent apart from what I read (and watched) in Perfume: The Story of A Murderer, but here's my semi-tongue-in-cheek opinion on four fancy smells.
1. Atelier Cologne Bois Blonds
A gentle golden vetiver, soft and warm and lazily good-natured - like sunrise in the woods. There's something eternal about it too - the scent remains purely itself, whether accompanied by the brisk rhythm of carriage wheels or the purr of something red and sporty. For time-travellers.
2. Maison Martin Margiela Jazz Club
This one is meant for people who think of themselves as naughty because they read 50 Shades of Grey. 'Oh, I'm dark and mysterious and tobacco-ey.' Half an hour later, in bed: "Um, I think you should know - I'm actually just vanilla.' Disappointing.
4. Tom Ford Neroli Portofino
Too perfect, like a Vogue photo shoot inspired by a classic Italian talkie. An airbrushed idea of a warm afternoon spent aboard a yacht moored in - you guessed it - Portofino. It's beautifully composed, but there's an unsettling sterility lurking. It's present even in the first open-arms hit of bergamot and mandarin orange. I suppose a well-groomed serial killer on vacation might appreciate this.
5. Armani Prive Cuir Amethyste
This scent comes from a Russian oligarch's dacha, deep in the heart of a silver birch forest threaded by a frozen river. The leather and amber notes say 'I am a man like my father, and my grandfather before me' while the powdery violets clumsily acknowledge the singing-mosquito demands of civilisation. This is what Putin dabs behind his ears when he's off to an evening soiree with the European ambassadors, followed by a 2 a.m. black-site prisoner interrogation.