I'm no fragrance historian — there are, like, what, four of those in the whole word? — but I think it's safe to say that perfume and cologne have been used for centuries primarily to enhance attractiveness.
Whether it was to cover up b.o. back in the infrequent-bathing days of yore or to blatantly enhance one's natural pheromones, we wear bottled scents to seem more appealing. Many people choose a fragrance based on not only their own enjoyment of it, but how they hope it shapes others' perception of them. And don't lie: sometimes (read: most of the time [read: all the time]) you want that perception to be, Oh damn, that person is sexy as hell.
And that's why I'm so confused about Demeter Fragrance Library's latest Pick-Me-Up Cologne Spray, New Baby.
I realize Demeter is known for their catalog of unexpected scents; they make plenty of fragrances that might make you ask, "Why would anyone want to smell like that?" — Clean Windows or Glue, for example. But when you consider that fragrance is so often used to heighten allure, it's especially odd to me that an adult would want to smell like an infant.
And yet, Demeter claims that in the 15 years it took them to finalize New Baby, it has been "a concept that someone asks us for each and every week." I realize that makes it sound like a really popular request, but that could also very well mean that a single persistent weirdo made the same request every week, which is the explanation that makes the most sense to me because I don't understand the desire to smell recently born.
I had to try it, though, of course.
Before spraying it on my wrists and neck as the last step in getting ready for a friend's birthday party, I read Demeter's description of what supposedly makes up a recreation of new-baby smell: "a light, bright, transparent and sheer fragrance, with slight lemony touches and an underlying creaminess." That actually sounds quite nice, and not at all like a newborn baby, which I'm guessing smells more like amniotic fluid, blood and meconium. Demeter was probably going for been-alive-for-a-few-weeks baby smell.
My nose's own interpretation of New Baby: it's powdery, but not as suffocating as straight-up baby powder, and there's even a slightly plastic note that I'm not sure is purposeful but could arguably be construed as clean diaper. It's pretty damn sweet, but it's not loud.
It was so subtle, in fact, that no one noticed I was wearing a fragrance until I shoved my wrist in their face, which is a really cool thing to do at a party. Highly recommend it.
"Give me an adjective to describe my perfume," I demanded of the guests, some of whom are my friends and some of whom probably never will be after cornering them with my baby-scented arm and word pop-quiz.
Here are some of the responses I got:
- "This is making me kind of uncomfortable."
My inner Olivia Benson wanted to be like, Aha! Sensual! That's not an appropriate word for the scent of a baby, or anything about a baby for that matter! But my follow-up question of "Would you say it smells like a baby?" got a unanimous response: no.
And I have to agree. It doesn't strike me as the natural scent of an infant. (Granted, I haven't been smelling a lot of infants lately.) Even though the fragrance concept doesn't sit too well with me, the fragrance itself doesn't scream, "I'm trying to attract people who are turned on by the smell of extremely young humans." And thus, it's not as creepy as I originally thought.
And besides, it's not like Demeter is marketing New Baby as sexy. That would be creepy. Seriously, who would do that?