Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pop Quiz: Psycho-Olfactive Sleuthing Contest

Via TheFashionisto

In his capacity as Special Correspondent for Allure’s Daily Beauty Reporter [Well, isn’t that special?—Ed.] Jeffrey Slonim attended last week’s Fragrance Foundation Awards at Lincoln Center. [Wait, they still have those?—Ed.] [Yes. They just don’t call them the FiFi’s any more.]

While covering the momentous event, Slonim asked various celebrities what scents “are most meaningful to them.” He published responses from

Linda Evangelista
Tommy Hilfiger
Alexandra Richards [Who?—Ed.] [Keith’s daughter. Try to keep up.]
Johnny Weir
Anja Rubik
Kiernan Shipka [C’mon, your killing me here.—Ed.] and
Victor Cruz.

Go take a quick look at the quotes. Then, using the clinical skillz you acquired at the Acme School of Olfactory Psychology, tell us in the comments which of the seven celebrities is really not that into smell. Be sure to explain your reasoning.


So which celeb did you pick?

On Twitter, perfumista Nick Gilbert (no relation) pointed to Tommy Hilfiger, citing his attitude in that BBC perfume documentary. I say interesting choice—weird that Hilfiger remembers the scent that he was wearing when he first made out, but not the girl’s scent. However, he is not my pick.

The correct answer is Kiernan Shipka, the kid who played the kid on Mad Men. Here’s her quote:
“I would say the scents of a couple of different places: My grandma’s house, nostalgic places that I've been to and visit. Certain stores. Or when you walk into a restaurant and recognize the smell. I like the familiarity of walking in and thinking, Oh, I’m here; I know I’m here.”
What’s striking about Shipka’s quote is what’s missing, namely any mention of a specific smell or specific place. Compared with those of the other celebs, her quote is bland and generic; it lacks any feel for fragrance. Of course, maybe she has a lousy publicist or just forgot the talking points supplied to her on the way to the red carpet. But based on the evidence in Allure, my bet is that Shipka is just not that into scent.


wesleyhallparker said...

This was fun - thank you for the invitation to sleuth! I read the comments before reading your article, and agreed re: Kiernan Shipka was totally the winner. (But let's cut the poor girl some slack; she's a kid.) I also thought Hilfiger's answer was strangely narcissistic. The other answer that stood out to me was Linda Evangelista's - what was interesting is that she talks more in terms of sight (watching her father and grandfather) than of smell (she talks about memories of them mowing the lawn but doesn't mention the smell of cut grass at all). So what struck me is that she is describing her father's and grandfather's relationship to scent - how she WATCHED them put sprigs of herbs behind their ears - and now that her father is gone, she is emulating their behavior, and discovering that connection as well. So, the focus on scent is sort of a new thing for her. But she's predominantly a visual person.

Avery Gilbert said...


And people call me a hard-ass! You're no slouch in the close-reading department.

Re: Shipka being a kid. Raises an interesting point: how old does one have to be to really experience olfactory nostalgia? (Earliest recallable odor memories usually date from childhood; she's fifteen.) She uses the word but I'm not sure she's feeling it.

wesleyhallparker said...

Well, at 15 I certainly wasn't particularly aware of scent or nostalgic - I was still absorbing my first impressions of everything, and hadn't lost much yet. I was wearing my first perfume by then, but it had been a gift from my mother. And I liked it, but I also liked it because I trusted her and had no real experience to compare it to. So - experience is a factor. Nostalgia also is an emotion of loss and displacement. A child can feel it if, say, they moved very far away from the landscape of childhood to a new geographic location with foreign sights/smells/sounds. So...I guess what I'm saying is nostalgia is related to loss and at what point loss occurs in a person's life. My guess is Shipka has not lost much yet.