Back in the 1950’s there was a move afoot by the more progressive advertising companies to introduce men’s perfume and deodorants onto the market.
My father, who was a medical doctor with a speciality in psychology, said to me, “If they want to sell these products, first they will have to convince these men that they stink!”
This did not seem to pose a problem in France.
A recent survey by a Swedish Hygiene Product company declared that French Women spend 46 minutes preparing themselves for the day, and French Men spend 35 minutes getting ready to face the world, more time than any other country in the review.
In my younger years in Rhodesia Men’s Perfume was unknown, except perhaps for an occasional aftershave application, which inevitably attracted ribald comments from one’s men friends. Or a deodorant used in extreme conditions, which was known as “Instant Bath”.
My first real exposure to this phenomenon of “eau de cologne” used by men was in the early seventies when I was based for a short while at Basel/Bale Airport on the French/Swiss border, flying dubious boxes of chemical freight to Northern Nigeria. I was crewed with a German pilot who during our first weekend off-duty introduced me to villages in the Black Forrest and the flaming torch parades with brass bands at night, somewhat reminiscent of the Nationalistic thirties in Germany.
The second weekend this same German pilot decided to go hunting in the discothèques of Basel for female companionship, and so he covered himself with a combination of scents and preparations that would have stunned any passing mosquito within a twenty metre radius, to the ground. I was tactful enough to say nothing but it seemed to me that this aura of olfactory overload would only serve as a hindrance, rather than bait.
Judging by his grumpy attitude the following day it seemed as though his pheromone deception attempt had not had his anticipated and hoped for result. It was many years later, when settled in France, that I came across this phenomenon again. Scented men… usually they emerged in the evenings as though their allure would be enhanced at night, because the objects of their desire would be attracted like clandestine moths to their bouquet.
However in more recent years I have become more aware of French male perfume during the day. Is this because my sense of smell has improved? Or is it that the masculine use of body sprays has become more widespread?
I am not sure, but it is confusing when dumping rubbish at the “Déchèterie” to discover the aroma of “Irrésistible” mingled with the odoriferous melange of rotting vegetation and discarded engine oil containers.
A doctor who hosts an Internet site concerned with health and safety in food has stated that we are attracted to members of the opposite sex who give off pheromones that indicate that their immune systems will combine with our own to produce healthy babies. Furthermore, contraceptive pills can distort these pheromones in such a way that their change of use can distort the detection of these same pheromones that we give off and receive, which may cause us to find repulsive those who before we had found attractive.
Maybe this is why our perception of the “morning after” beauty is not quite the same as it was the “evening before”, because the effects of the perfumes have worn off. Any nose that has been trained and educated, as well as being genetically selected by generations of nose sensitive partners, has many potential good uses.
I suggest that these “good uses” could be in the experimentation and development of odours in appreciation of the “nose” and the “taste” of wine.
Is not the appreciation of wine one of the most important reasons for coming to France? And is not almost every Frenchman an expert, in his estimation, as to which wine is the best?
Perhaps nasal acuity (if there is such a thing) is a necessary adjunct to the development of a successful wine industry.
Could that tell us something about why wines from certain countries are less than pleasant?
Is it that the men from those same countries don’t believe that they stink, so they have not developed their nasal sensitivities and their perfumes, and as a result their wine development has suffered?
So if you want a wine with a fine “nose”, find a country where the men use liberal quantities of perfume!