Sunday, 29 March 2009

Byzantium Burn Baby Burn

Couple of weeks ago I went to see the sumptuous Byzantium 330-1453 exhibition at the Royal academy with my husband and my old university roommate who now has a PHD in the Byzantine Empire (and also has a heavy metal rock band). The empire spanned across Venice, Istanbul and Greece and as a result the artefacts were mind blowing. I loved the jewellery, which wouldn’t look out of place in Browns today. As I walked around I revelled in all the gold bling from religious icons and this rather impressive silver gilded perfume brazier in the shape of a domed building from the 12th century. Fragrance such as incense would have been burnt in the brazier in a highly ritualized and religious way and I find it fascinating how people throughout history have shown their reverence for God using all five senses including the sense of smell.

Fragrance is a very powerful phenomenon as it taps into memory and your emotional well- being and it was only a few years ago I realised how much I loved the fragrance world and how much it means to me. Certain fragrances can put me in a foul mood (overt Bergamot / orange blossom if you want to know) while others leave me feeling happy and chilled.

I went to a Catholic girl school and adore Calvin Klein’s Man on my husband and surprise, surprise one of the key ingredients is incense. Pushing aside any weird Catholic guilt I realised I love incense, especially on my man, as it taps into my warm, fuzzy, serene and safe emotions. On me I love big, sexy oriental fragrances and white flowers such as tuberose, jasmine and gardenia, which brings out the vamp in me. I love Annick Goutal’s Gardenia Passion and Le Jasmin for their sensual bouquets.

To lock in happy memories on my wedding day I wore L’Artisan Parfumeur’s La Chasse aux Papillions a fresh floral, which is laced with linden flower and tuberose. I also made sure the reception room was filled with Diptyque Tuberose candles to make my wedding reception feel more like a fabulous 18th century boudoir, which I loved. Everytime I smell tuberose it whisks me right back to that day. That’s the thing about fabulous fragrance, it has the ability to carry you away and take you on a spiritual journey.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely piece Ateh... you are so right about memory and smell. I have kept one of my grandmothers lovely silk scarfs tucked away and every now and then a bury my face in it and breathe in her wonderful old fashioned floral perfume. Its more 'her' than any photographs I have...

    On another note - I hadn't even thought about perfume for my wedding though - eek, two weeks to go. I like quite spicy perfumes - but are they really 'wedding-y' enough?!


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