Name/Country of Origin/Profession:
Carrie Meredith, USA
1. What does your sense of smell mean to you?
My sense of smell is my ticket out of this stratosphere. I go to great pains to scent my environment just so, and choose and blend my perfumes each day either to suit my mood, or to alter myself, much as I did when I was younger with tattoos and piercings. To successfully modify my space, body and mind with scent is to exercise a certain control that is much more difficult for me to attain in other areas of my life. I use my sense of smell as a means of gathering pleasure where I can find it, and as a psychological tool to dig into and then reorganize my thoughts and creativity.
2. What are some of your strongest scent memories?
All throughout my childhood, my mother would bring me along to the barn where she kept her horse. I would follow around the barn cats all day until I discovered that the horses were actually pretty cool too. I never minded the smell of horse manure or any horse-related smells. What held my particular attention was the saddle shop, and the smell of the saddle oil and leather, the boots and other riding gear. Leather and hay are two notes I am always looking for in perfumes these days. There is a place for horse skank, and surprisingly, that place is in my house.
3. What are some of your favorite smells (things in nature, cooking &/or your environment)?
Fresh watermelon is the happiest smell I can think of. To me, it has this ozone-y amazingness that can’t be surpassed. I also love the smell of cat fur, lilac bushes, leather jackets/handbags/boots, mud, mushrooms, wood (in any way shape or form, including live trees), funnel cakes being made, Kasugai gummy candies (Muscat flavor).
4. Do you have any favorite smells that are considered strange?
I like the smell parakeets give off if you sniff their heads at certain points in their molt cycles. I think it’s a hormonal thing for them. For me, your guess is as good as mine.
5. Describe one or more of your favorite cooking smells.
Warm corn tortillas, grilled pita bread, portabella mushrooms on the grill, fresh caramel corn, cake batter, pickled things, olives.
6. What smells do you most dislike?
When I was a kid, my grandfather would make oxtail stew whenever my grandmother let him have at it in the kitchen. My grandmother used to cook homemade meals for her Afghan Hounds every day, usually ground hamburger and pasta or rice. Any combination of those ingredients can remind me of doggie meals or oxtails. Let’s just say that I’ve been a vegetarian for 18 years and counting.
7. What smell did you first dislike, but learned to love?
I have recently done a switcheroo with my scent preferences that has me surprised. I used to be obsessed with amber fragrances, and now they’ve become very hard for me to take. On the flipside, leather in perfume used to really turn me off, and now I’m seeking it out in as many different scents as I can in order to test my boundaries. I also used to have an aversion to jasmine, and that is also slowly earning my favor again.
8. What mundane smells inspire you?
Burning wood, snow, rain and fresh air. The elements and how they relate to the changing seasons are the most inspiring things to me. I’m not sure if I would really call them mundane, but they are what you get, whether you like it or not, if you want to be alive every day.
9. What scent never fails to take you back in time and why?
Musty paperback book smell reminds me of digging through all of my grandfather’s books when I was young to see if there were any I wanted to read. Of course, this was how I developed my taste for mystery novels and specifically, Sherlock Holmes.
10. What scents do you associate with memories of loved ones?
a. My mother used to wear YSL Paris, among many others, but for some reason I always associate Paris with her.
b. My grandfather wore Brut, and I was just thinking about it yesterday actually, musing on the name. I wish I could have been in that board meeting when they greenlighted that name.
c. My husband has what I like to call “cake-head”. He uses Jonathan Product Dirt in his hair, and it smells just like vanilla cake. Anytime you go within two feet of him, the cake-head scent emerges, engulfing everything and everyone in its path. It’s actually kind of nice.
d. The smell of Lancome foundation (a rosy sort of floral scent) will always remind me of my grandmother. She wore a full face of makeup and dyed her short hair jet black her whole life and throughout her very elderly years.
e. The great love of my life, my cat Maggie, passed away a few months ago (she had cancer), and I had come to truly define myself as her caretaker ever since she was diagnosed in February. She had a particular love of one kind of canned cat food made by Merrick called Turducken. It has a very gamey, oily smell, and even though I hate the smell of any kind of meat (and kitty food goes without saying), I began to associate the smell of the cat food with Maggie’s utter ecstasy at being served the stuff, so coping with the smell of it became not just okay, but a really, really good thing. The cat I have now, Troutie, will not eat any canned food at all.
11. What fragrance(s) remind you of growing up?
Anything from the Sanrio store, and fortunately, they are still going strong so I can indulge myself anytime if I want a walk down memory lane. Demeter came out with a Sanrio 50th Anniversary scent that is supposed to smell just like a Sanrio store. Long story short- fail.
12. What fragrance(s) remind you of the places you visited on vacation?
Juara Candlenut Oil perfume is a divinely tropical scent, but the closest I’ve come to visiting any place tropical is The Mirage hotel and casino in Las Vegas. They pipe in this fake tropical smell that used to get me all pumped to drop some cash at the low-limit blackjack tables while drinking fruity cocktails. That’s what I call ME time.
13. Describe a piece of sensory literature that is very magical for you.
Unless some sweetness at the bottom lie, who cares for all the crinkling of the pie?
The book The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley was published a couple of years ago, and was a revelation for me. It’s about an eleven year old girl named Flavia de Luce living in 1950s England who solves a mystery by using her precociousness, her bravery, and her deep understanding of chemistry and how to create poisons by using plants and other neat things. She is at once fascinated by the world around her, and repelled by many of its inhabitants, and that is a position I can sympathize with wholeheartedly. There are many wonderful sensory descriptions, and it would appeal to any perfumer or perfume enthusiast. Or any person with a beating heart.
EDIT: to show my dear departed kitty, who interestingly, had a tumor inside her nasal cavity, so although she couldn't much smell her food anymore, it was habit that drove her to run to the kitchen for Turducken. Around the same time, my doctor diagnosed me with a concha bullosa, a blockage in my sinuses that will probably have to be removed (which isn't that big of a deal). The coincidence continues to creep me out, but despite that, I ain't gonna let no "blockage" stop me from sniffing, although I wonder if it's affected my sense of smell at all.