JUS perfume interview
Your name – Ronny Geller
Your work – my UK-based webshop, Scent-and-Sensibility Perfume, offering niche perfumes, launched in 2009
- What first attracted you to the world of perfume / scent / fragrance?
It sounds a cliché, but I’ve always been drawn to fragrance. Some people recall a longstanding interest/obsession with art, food, music – for me, it is fragrance. One of my earliest and strongest memories is of sticking my face in the philadelphus bush next to the house in which I lived as a child. I must have been four or five years old at the time. I don’t recall the smell being good or bad (though I do love philadephus), I just remember the compulsion to ‘smell’.
- What perfume would you rescue from your collection if an evil perfume tax collector came round and said he was going to take every scent but one?
My bottle of pre-reformulation Guerlain Mitsouko perfume. A liquid work of art, I think I could get by with simply smelling this from the bottle, meaning I could make the pleasure last for a good long time. Take that, evil Mr Tax Collector!
- If you won the lottery, what would be the first perfume in your shopping bag?
Rather than a bottle of fragrance, I would bankroll Victoire Gobin-Daudé, a French perfumer whose wonderful, idiosyncratic perfume line flowered briefly in the late 1990s/early 2000s, with the hope she might re-issue a few of her original perfumes along with some new things.
- If you could only wear one scent for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Uh, no. Can’t do this one. I haven’t worn one fragrance for my whole (adult) life so far. There’s no way I could settle on one perfume for here ever after. Body chemistry changes, life changes, taste in perfume shifts. New, surprising things are released. You never know what extraordinary stuff might come your way. It makes my head spin to think I would be limited to just one perfume.
- What is a smell, or combination of smells, you wish was a perfume that you’ve never come across in any bottle before?
The combination of smells caught under the mimosa tree on Union Street in Brooklyn, NY, near the Gowanus Canal, on a hot summer’s day: mimosa, hot asphalt, salt, honey, ozone.
- Can you describe a moment of passion or poignancy in your life linked to a scent?
Over a decade ago, I wore Santa Maria Novella Patchouli exclusively. It was my signature scent and I put it everywhere: wrists, décolleté, back of neck, behind my knees. I recall early on in a soon to be very intense love affair my not-quite-yet man bending down to sniff behind my knees, which definitely made them weak.
- What is your earliest memory of perfume?
My mother’s bottles of Jean Naté and 4711 cologne: sneaking a spritz or a splash. My fascination with not only the fragrance within, but the bottles and what they seemed to signify: pleasure, mystery, adulthood.
- Is there a perfume you wore in the past that you no longer wear, and why?
Santa Maria Novella Patchouli. After pregnancy, my body chemistry changed and it no longer smelled right.
- Is there a particular figure or house in the world of perfume that you admire, and why?
I admire noses, perfumers, as a grouping. We wouldn’t be having this exchange without them.
- Is there any art (literature, poetry, theatre, visual art, music, etc) that you have experienced that uses scent in a provocative or beautiful way? If not, can you think of an idea for scent in art?
Vampire characters in novels tend to be very focused on scent and frequently are very precise and articulate in their descriptions of smells.
Michael Ondaatje’s poem, The Cinnamon Peeler’s Wife, is among the most beautiful, evocative renderings of fragrance in literature.
Do have a browse and a shop at Ronny’s wonderful online shop www.scent-and-sensibility.co.uk.