By Deborah Fulsang Many years ago, a tuned-in makeup artist…
Whenever I see someone wearing denim on denim, I am immediately transported to the front lawn of the first house I lived in: I’m being hoisted up into the single front-yard tree by my Dad who is sporting the all-denim look, and the smell of fresh-cut grass and hot pavement hits my memory bank. It has long been understood that scent is linked intimately to memory—we’ve all been pulled back through time when the familiar odours of our childhoods make unexpected appearances—but in this particular memory, the trigger is denim. And whenever I rock the look myself, I feel a cheeky childhood spark that puts a smile on my face.
I’m not the only one who is transported by denim memories. I spoke to Jason Trotzuk of Fidelity Denim recently about scent and denim, and he too sees the connection between the North American working-class staple and perfume.
“I went to Malibu with my family and I was out on the pier and I smelled something that put me back to my childhood—it was tuberose I think. I hadn’t smelled it for 44 years. And it made my day different. The smell that I smelled out in the Malibu seaside brought me back to what I remember about California when I was four. It’s the same with that denim indigo smell: it reminds me of why I love what I do with denim.”
The link between denim and fragrance isn’t immediately obvious. Though the two share some superficial similarities—choice abounds for both, and the two commodities range in price from the accessible to high-end designer—it’s more about the relationship that both fragrance and denim have with its wearer.
For both, brand identity and loyalty is key. As is quality, and consistency. You buy those jeans and that signature perfume because you know what you’re getting; they’re you.
Denim and fragrance both undergo changes after they are purchased—which is what I find most interesting. As you wear denim it morphs to your body, reflecting your activities and absorbing your particularities. It becomes more personal as you wear it. With fragrance, the scent reacts to your skin, it changes as it dries; with prolonged use of it, it becomes part of your persona. “I wear the original Dior scent. I’ve worn it for close to 10 years and every time I attempt to try something new I can’t,” says Trotzuk, “I always go back to that. And people know that it’s me.”
The personal uniforms we create, the faces we present to the public, are made up of bits and pieces—like fragrance and denim—that make us feel more like ourselves. Whether you wear denim almost every day (like I do), or spritz the same scent, you’re doing so because it’s familiar and comfortable and it makes you feel good. It’s this feeling good that I believe sets denim and fragrance apart from other commodities. Our favourite picks from these categories have little to do with what is trendy or popular—though rest assured, you will be offered new styles and trendy options at every turn. Our favourite jeans and favourite juice often transcend time, and would not be tossed simply because what’s in vogue has changed.
“Denim becomes part of your life, part of your story,” says Trotzuk, “It’s like wearing a mood ring that never changes.”
The same can be said for fragrance, which is an intimate expression of self. Like jeans, wearing a fragrance that fits your mood and your personality is like becoming more like yourself; the best version of you.
“We often look to face our challenges in life with some sort of familiarity—I’ve put my trust in a pair of jeans.”
Here at The Whale & The Rose, we definitely love our denim but feel infinitely better facing life’s biggest obstacles when we’re wearing a beloved scent.