Friday, May 18, 2012

Paper Passion Perfume

I once asked my creative writing students to bring an object to class for its smell - we passed them around to sniff and try to describe their scents. One student brought a book, because this particular children's book had a smell she loved as a child. A book would not have been my obvious choice for an olfactory exercise, and yet, she had a point: Books do smell, and they don't all smell the same.

I was reminded of this when I recently read in Brigitte, the German women's magazine I subscribe to, that master perfumeur Geza Schoen had been commissioned by the British lifestyle magazine Wallpaper to create a perfume that captures the scent of books, inspired by German fashion czar and book lover Karl Lagerfeld, who purportedly said, "The smell of a freshly printed book is the best smell in the world."

I'm not sure I agree that a freshly printed book has the best smell, or even the best book smell. I prefer the mustier and dustier smell of the old yellowed books that already graced my grandmother's shelves, rather than the inky smell of a new one.

In any case, the result of Schoen's efforts is the perfume Paper Passion, to be released later this month, packaged in a hard cover book with a cut-out compartment inside that was designed by Lagerfeld and produced by his publisher Gerhard Steidl. Odd idea, this perfume, and yet it makes so much sense, doesn't it?

I'm not sure I'd want to run around smelling like a book, but having the smell of books ready to be sniffed is an intriguing idea. But it also has me wondering whether this is the harbinger of books becoming endangered species that need to be distilled and bottled in order to be preserved?

Source: via Tamara on Pinterest


  1. Wow! Agreed, have to smell this first before I'd think of wearing it. But love the idea!

    I think that real books will never go out of style; the e-book is a fad, and one that takes up precious fossil fuels. A book is made out of trees that can be replanted. We can't "plant" coal or oil.

  2. oh my goodness, what a unique idea!!!! I hope real books never become extinct- because I love their feel and look- not just their smell. I love flipping through an old book -it is like reuniting with an old friend.

  3. I love books. I love perfume. But maybe not all rolled into one.

  4. Also wie ein Buch zu riechen, kann ich mir nicht vorstellen. Irgendwie erinnert mich diese Lagerfeld-Idee an "Das Parfuem" und ich frage mich, wie die wohl den Duft hergestellt haben, aus welchen Essenzen sie den Buch-Geruch herausgefiltert haben. Schlecht riechende Buecher kann ich nicht lesen. Da stimmt dann die Chemie nicht...
    Wieder eine Interessante Geschichte.

  5. Love the packaging concept. Have been sniffing my fifty-year-old King James Bible and trying to get the original smell back into my nostrils. Like the rest of me, it smells of lingering childhood. Good to check in with you, Annette. Your posts are so intriguing.

  6. When I was young, I loved to go to the Bookmobile that stopped by my city housing project each Thursday. I loved the smell of those books! Years later, as a mother, I took childen's books out of the library and they had the exact same smell from my childhood. Adult books don't smell the same. I always thought I was a bit crazy thinking about book smell until I read this post. But wearing book perfume? I would have to think twice about that.