“We don´t perceive fragrances with our nose, but with our brain”. With this psychological approach to perfumes I knew that Aivaras at Crime Passionnel, a niche perfumery in Copenhagen, would take me deeper into the universe of scents. Not only “oh that smells nice” kind of thing. And I was right- Aivaras took me on a journey through the enchanting world of fragrances. He introduced each perfume with a story. It could be about the perfume maker´s inspiration or vision for creating the scent or an imaginary picture envoked by the perfume itself.
The smell of a green garden after the rain. The fresh feeling of recently squeezed oranges and the happy mood of an early summer morning. The mysterious smell of a bonfire in ancient time. The exotic scent of a spicemarked on the silkroad. The sexuality and energy of an alfa male. The adventurous fairytale of 1001 nights.
Crime Passionnel Perfumery is stunning, but it´s not snobbish in the way as other niche parfumeries usually are. No, this is a shop with rough aesthetics and it leads my thoughts toward the japanese concept of wabi sabi. Brick walls and shelfs made of industrial iron bars displaying the artistic vials of perfumes. It´s like the rough and smooth, feminine and masculine comes together in a perfect harmony. “This place has the courage and integrity to walk its own way” I was thinking for myself, “and that philosphy also apply to the way we should choose perfumes”. Aivaras grabed a midnight blue bottle with gold decoration from the top shelf. “This is Interlude Man” he said. “By Amouage”.
Amouage was established in 1983 by the Sultan of Oman to restore the arabian art of perfuming. Amouage use only the best ingredients, some of them are rare and very luxurious. They are blended in masterful ways by the best parfumers on the planet. Creative director Christopher Chong said this about Interlude Man:
“I interpret what I see and feel into scents. All the social and natural chaos and disorder surrounding us today can be translated to a much more intimate level. The interlude moment is a reflection of all the trials and tribulations one overcomes to attain personal satisfaction and achievement.”
“Interlude is the bomb!” Aivaras smiled and gave some generous sprays on my arm. I became speechless. There is no words to describe that experience. At that moment I was not categorizing the scent as “good” or “bad”, the fragrance just belonged to a sphere outside of language. Mysterious and otherworldly on one side, near and known on the other. It was like a interplay between consciousness and subconsciousness. This was the moment I for the first time experienced perfume as art. The whole day I had to sniff my arm frequently in curiousity. The smell was adicting like a drug. Natural high quality notes like myrrh, oregano, balsamic, leather, vanilla, flowers, pepper, wood was playing on my arm in dynamic ways. Constantly shifting. It was a kind of chaos and disorder as Pierre Negrin intended when he created this masterpiece. And then, in the last phase, the perfume flowing into a heaven of vanilla, of peace and harmony. Like a sweet creme brulé after an overwhelming dinner. Like the sun shining from a blue sky after the storm. For me Interlude doesn´t only has a story. It is like a living being, a storyteller, narrating its own biography while you wear it. I am still trying to understand this phenomen. Amazing stuff.
Monday morning I went back to Crime Passionnel and bought Interlude. “Im really happy you liked Interlude”, Aivaras said. “Its like a perfectly cut diamond revealing different faces. Thank you for appreciating quality of Amouage ingredients.” It was one of the best and most personal shopping experiences I ever had.
I am new to fragrances, but I have to say that the world of high quality perfumes really should be appreciated as artwork. Scents stimulate our senses just as a painting, music or films do. A painter use colors and put them together to affect its audience. In a similar way, a perfumer put toghether aromatic ingredients to influence the phenomenal world. So, what is the reason why perfumes has been ignored as an artform? (Or has it?) It is a shame, in my opinion, that these niche parfumes mainly falls into categories like “cosmetics” and “beauty” when it really belongs in an art gallery.
Smelling is maybe the most poetic of all senses- scents envoke feelings in our bodies and images in our minds. It can take us to our childhood, exotic places and imaginary worlds. A smell can make us feel happy or sick or nostalgic. It stimulates our body and mind in magical ways. For me the gateway to this “new” world was Crime Passionnel, this small distinguished perfumery in Denmarks capital, and I am glad that the “gatekeeper” Aivaras sprayed me in to this universe.
Hyskenstræde 14 (find Zara in Strøget shoppingstreet and follow the crossing street a few meters)