It’s addictive, this book perfume thing. After a disappointing encounter with Demeter’s Paperback, I went off to the wonderful Noor Boutique to get a whiff of some more of Penhaligon’s scents. (Thanks, Heather, for suggesting Quercus. Yum!) I mentioned that I was on the hunt for perfumes that smell like books, paper or libraries, and I was introduced to the glorious Dzing, a fragrance by l’Artisan Parfumeur. It smells like paper, hay and an uncomplicated plot that ends happily. Here is a discussion of how it achieves its distinctive smell from Perfumes: The Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez (via the New York Times):
Olivia Giacobetti is here at her imaginative, humorous best, and Dzing! is a masterpiece. Dzing! smells of paper, and you can spend a good while trying to figure out whether it is packing cardboard, kraft wrapping paper, envelopes while you lick the glue, old books, or something else. I have no idea whether this was the objective, but I have few clues as to why it happened. Lignin, the stuff that prevents all trees from adopting the weeping habit, is a polymer made up of units that are closely related to vanillin. When made into paper and stored for years, it breaks down and smells good. Which is how divine providence has arranged for secondhand bookstores to smell like good-quality vanilla absolute, subliminally stoking a hunger for knowledge in all of us.
It’s divine!! Sadly, it lasts less than five minutes on my skin, otherwise I’d snap up a bottle. Its story, and I’ve discovered that perfumes have stories, is that it evokes the circus, and I’m sad that the big tent gets packed up and moves away so quickly.