July 4, 2012
As our world begins to turn everything into digital bits and bytes we begin to leave the unique scents of the things being digitally replaced behind. The smell of a vinyl record fresh out of the album sleeve has been lost and now it looks like the scents associated with books will be next. Kindles, Nooks, and iPads have no inherent fragrance to add a bit of reality to them. That leaves perfumers to fill in the blanks. Christopher Brosius has taken up the task of bottling the smell of aged paper in his perfume CB I Hate Perfume In the Library. In the new fragrance by Geza Schoen he goes the other way as Paper Passion captures the smell of new ink on paper.
Hr. Schoen is one of our most creative perfumers but much of what he creates can be something that does not appeal at first. I have often only really come around to enjoying one of his perfumes after wearing it more than a couple of times. Paper Passion was not that way for me but that is because it also contains a very personal memory for me.
Hr. Schoen was approached by Wallpaper* magazine and Gerhard Steidl to produce a fragrance which would evoke the scent of the pages of a new book fresh off the printing press. Gerhard Steidl was inspired by a conversation with Karl Lagerfeld who first brought the smell of this to Hr. Steidl’s attention. Hr. Lagerfeld designed the packaging for Paper Passion and it is a tactile pleasure to unwrap this heavy grainy red paper to find a small cloth-bound book which you open to find the bottle nestled within the pages. There are some written words as preface all about the smell of paper. Hr. Schoen’s section actually describe his process in capturing this scent.
My father was a pressman for The Miami Herald newspaper and I spent a lot of time at work with him surrounded by the smells of ink and newsprint. Paper Passion captures the sharp smells of the ink and the warmer pulpy smells of paper. It is those inky accords which make Paper Passion a bit of a prickly pear to approach as they might be a tad too sharp for someone who isn’t as fond of them as I am but Paper Passion transitions into a fragrance of ink on the page and that’s when it truly turns a new leaf. It becomes the potential of whatever that ink says on that page.
Hr. Schoen uses cresyle acetate and ozonic notes to create that sharp ink accord. The page is first represented by a clean balsamic note and it doesn’t do much to soften the sharp quality of the early going. Hr. Schoen then brings in some osmanthus which adds a leathery hint along with its floral character. The richness of the paper comes from two notes Hr. Schoen describes as “fatty”; methy and ethyl lionoleate. Amber xtreme imparts the final bits of the paper accord and brings Paper Passion to a satisfying denouement.
Paper Passion has above average longevity and average sillage.
I loved smelling the mimeograph ink on pages I received in grade school. Paper Passion is not that scent; it is the scent of black ink on creamy thick paper. I think I’m going to spray some on the next time I start a new book on my iPad.
Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle of Paper Passion provided by Steidl.
–Mark Behnke, Managing Editor