When I was younger, the advice I was given whenever I was stuck for an idea of what to buy a woman as a gift, for Christmas, birthday or other occasion, was this: ‘Buy her scent. You can’t go wrong with scent.’
And good advice it was too. Even at my most uninspired, a decent bottle of perfume always got me lots of brownie points, especially if the smelly was of the expensive variety.
But these days we seem to have gone perfume mad, at least judging by the tv ads with every other one trying to sell us the stuff as a gift idea. Most of them are trailed with weird, arty film of beautiful people doing bizarre things, like climbing chiffon scarves or riding round on motorbikes, but then I suppose it isn’t easy to commercialise a product that relies on the olfactory through a medium limited to our audio-visual senses.
It was a lot easier back in the day when your options were far more restricted. In fact, there was a time when perfume for the masses meant 4711, Lily of the Valley, Estée Lauder Youth Dew for the ladies (we won’t mention patchouli oil) and Old Spice, Brut and Hai Karate for the men. All pretty disgusting really, but we believed the hype about it making us more alluring to the opposite sex. Or even the same sex if you were so inclined.
And mention of Brut reminds me that that was when the celebrity endorsement started with Henry Cooper, Kevin Keagan and Barry Sheene encouraging us to splash it all over because it was okay for real men to smell like a tart’s boudoir.
Things have changed, of course. Celebrities no longer simply endorse the product, they claim to have actually created them. I have a lot of time for David Beckham as a footballer and master of the dead-ball free-kick, sporting icon etc, none of which qualifies him as a perfumer in my opinion.
Which leaves the question as to whether I have followed the advice I referred to in the first paragraph. Well that would be telling wouldn’t it, but even if I have, it certainly wouldn’t be the product below.