Let us not forget that the other half of perfumery is in the wonderful toiletries that we use to perform the rituals of personal care. There is just as much character and identity to be admired in the bars of Irish Spring as in those of Mitsouko (Guerlain, 1919), as the recent article of Luca Turin explores.
We just moved into a new house and found two stashes of soaps in a cardboard box that contained the random collection of things typical of carefully planned moves: unbreakable objects individually wrapped, no doubt to give coat hangers and bathroom mats an experience of cosseted travel rare in their austere lives. Now the bathrooms contain one each of Irish Spring and Mitsouko. The former was bought in bulk for me by TS’s mother when I expressed undying love for it during a visit. The second was found on ebay: 20 or so soaps, which we’ve being going through deliberately, since they could well be the last on earth.
These two very different marvels serve as a reminder that perfumery, like all true adventure, is mostly about skill and fitness for purpose, and only secondarily about expense and pedigree. Irish Spring is one of those abstract accords that you somehow know is dirt cheap, yet perfect, like Coca Cola and Old Spice…
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