Smell That? The Scents Of Life Are Upon Us
Thoughts on carnal seasonal fragrances and fruity feminine desires.
The Stink is a monthly column that analyzes the desires and cravings evoked by scents, particularly those of New York City.
I like everything.
But one of my favorite things is the spring meal I recently cooked at the beginning of Taurus season. My coworker forages upstate, so she brought me back some ramps. Huge rustic earth child brag opportunity. Personally, I’m only as rustic as need be for seasonal vibe purposes — the smell of a beeswax candle in autumn, psychedelic sweaty hikes in summer, spending twelve hours on a stew in winter, and of course, obsessing over the smell of spicy wet fresh bulb plants in early spring.
Anyway, I made some ramp butter. Ramps have such a particular stank about them- they ooze that welcome-to-spring-maypole-fertility vibe — they always smell a bit like they’re going to spoil at any moment. They are soil-y, green, spicy, and tinged with a gaminess that begs the question, “What animal did we have to sacrifice for this gift?” to which there is only one answer, “I don’t know, I’m horny.”
Courtesy of Brent Hofacker / Adobe Stock
I smelled my first cum tree of the season in the west village the other day, and as usual, I was alone and thinking about boys when I did. I’m obsessed with Spring, the chef I’m currently seeing is not (which is contrarian and hot, but, like, major eye roll). I, like any other pretty girl, so deeply feel the ancient mating process that is among us in April.
But I digress, my meal: I made a steak, topped it with a generous pat of ramp butter, and added a side of asparagus (another seasonal wake-up call). It’s so carnal, the first time you smell asparagus urine in the spring, it’s such an intimate and vulnerable effect. This spring I would like to throw a dinner party with a menu featuring ample amounts of asparagus, that way everything will be green and we can all become the same person. There’s something incredibly advanced and seductive about the thought of a party of beautiful people all eating asparagus and sharing the same smell of urine. This is one of Springtime’s most powerful elixirs- another is beer.
Beer was never my drink of choice, and now that I’ve given up drinking — NOT as part of the current impotent age-of-beige trend, but because I could not continue replacing phones, fighting with photographers at parties, and hooking up with semi-bisexual men in gag dimes square— I never drink it. But I have been very intrigued with the smell of it, especially spilled on the street outside of a dive bar on a cool spring morning; smelling it warm up in the naughty, goat-footed sun of Aries or Taurus.
Anyway, I decided to walk around the city today before diving into the chaos tonight. The warmth cracks open the city in a new way, inviting new sights and smells. All the boys want to dress like girls, while all the girls and boys alike only want to smell like men. In the past ten years, men have found a new attractiveness by rummaging through femininity. Women, in the past ten years, have clung to the mindset that smelling woody and spicy is more tasteful than smelling sweet, say, of violets or fruit. The disrespect with which unhindered sweetness is received by in-crowds, from academic book parties to underground fashion scenes, is elitist in the most boring of ways.
There's something daring about the low-culture implications of peachy, rosy, cupcake perfumes —I know this in my heart, and yet, even I can experience shame when smelling them. Maybe this is the year in which an appreciation for the indulgence of sweet-smelling things, and their inherent link to the feminine, can come into the light. And no, I don’t mean Margiela’s Jazz Club, I mean Victoria's Secret’s Love Spell, Prada’s Candy, etc. Yes, even 6-figure activists and politically-minded artists who boast their oh-so-dynamic and researched taste viscerally pull back from this smell. While somewhat recently the culture has un-ironically welcomed and praised many visual aspects of the bimbo archetype, its shame around the archetype lives on in their noses.
Courtesy of Victoria's Secret / Prada.
While not at all a bimbo, I am thinking today of the classic game-changer fragrance from L’artisan Parfumeur, the fruity southern belle of musk, the consequence of naughty feminine restraint, Mure et Musc. It’s a fragrance that starts with the excitement of sweet fruit and doesn’t stray as it opens up and examines it. There is hardly a vision of New York in this fragrance, but rather the vision of an escape from New York. Not to a vacation, but to a daily life elsewhere in the countryside. An aristocratic retreat of the feminine. A thick, jammy blackberry is slowly stirred into a cooling tea of dusty white musk, made slightly astringent by its quiet citrusy backup singers. This fragrance can act as a springtime gateway drug towards guilt-free fruity feminines in a climate where this now only exists between genders at the intersection of Glossier’s You (rip 2004 DKNY’S Be Delicious and all its juicy glory) and the lingering burden of flavored vape exhaust.
Fast forward to the East Village event I attended later that night, with one main objective: wear all white and get caught in the pouring rain. The space was really just a big richie house- all white, sparsely graced with expensive un-comfy furniture, and all I smelled upon entry was a tinge of weed. I sat down next to Meg and got a blast of her China White by Nasomatto, something we picked up together at Scent Bar a few weeks ago. It’s a fragrance that in many ways encapsulates New York. A powdery sophisticated chicness, the effortless gesture of throwing a leather jacket over your shoulders, a few days of unwashed hair, and the conglomerate smell of girls waiting in line outside while you skip to the front and walk into the party. The fragrance was assaulted in waves throughout the night by the smell of vapes. Meg’s vape flavor was called “Rainbow Cloud,” a disturbing name.
We both blew the vapor over the performers from the balcony where we were sitting, looking down at the show. One musician even sang a love song she wrote to her vape. Meg took sips from a bottle of nondescript red wine, another delicious smell I couldn’t tune out. Later in the night, a person in an undersized hoodie and ski glasses told me how they wear Burberry Touch and Dove spray-on deodorant and everybody says they smell like a baby. I wondered to myself if somehow I had been transported back to 2015 — with that, I walked home in the rain still buzzing from the mushrooms that had been shoved in my mouth- but smelling nothing but cigarettes and wet asphalt.