Who would begrudge an ardent bibliophile the chance to smell like a book?
Whispers in the Library – Maison Margiela
Whispers in the library evokes the memory of a mysterious library made of antique woodwork perfectly waxed. The slowing down of time between books and the whispers of turning pages. Inspired by the scent of wax wood and paper, the combination of pepper notes with woody and warm notes of cedar and vanilla recreates the atmosphere of an ancestral library.
A dusty old copy of a Barbara Pym novel did it for us. This Demeter scent is sweet and just a touch musty, a lot like Pym’s world come to think of it. Read her if you haven’t. Her writing is wonderful, if slightly musty, English satire from the 60s and 70s.
Luca Turin says in The Little book of perfumes: The 100 classics:
Dzing! smells of paper … Lignin … is a polymer made up of units that are closely related to vanillin. When made into paper and stored for years, it breaks down and smells good. Which is how providence has arranged for secondhand bookstores to smell like good-quality vanilla absolute, subliminially stoking a hunger for knowledge in all of us.
In the Library – CB I hate perfume
To many of course, these various bookish odors mean nothing. But to an avid reader and collector like myself, these smells are as magical as the bouquet of a great wine is to a connoisseur – a sort of literary terroir. These scents mean Excitement, Adventure, Discovery, Enlightenment and Knowledge. Of course my deep love of reading is exactly what lead me in the first place to begin capturing the scent of books and of the libraries where they live. That’s what this perfume is all about.
Paper Passion fragrance by Geza Schoen, Gerhard Steidl, and Wallpaper* magazine, with packaging by Karl Lagerfeld and Steidl. “The smell of a freshly printed book is the best smell in the world.” Karl Lagerfeld.
This tells the story of a passion and a twisting plot to put the particular bouquet of freshly printed books in a bottle. Gerhard Steidl was first alerted to the importance of the smell of a book by Karl Lagerfeld, prompting a passion for paper and the composition of a scent on the pages of a book.
Has hints of the bookish thanks to the sticky tape and glue in its ingredients:
Aldehydes, Safraleine, Hawthorns, Lilac Flower oxides, Industrial glue, Brown sticky tape, Musk, Styrax.
A fragranced candle:
Top: Peach, plum
Heart: Violet, peony
Base: Patchouli, leather, vanilla
Paper and cotton No. 17 by Tokyo Milk
A decidedly different collection of brilliantly paired fragrance notes housed in an alluring glass bottle decorated with an image of vintage fashions. An original, reinterpreted: Coriander, White Sage, Birch Wood & Tundra Moss
Poe’s tobacco No. 1 by Tokyo Milk
A decidedly different collection of brilliantly paired fragrance notes housed in an alluring glass bottle decorated with Poe’s own raven.
Dead writers by Sweet Tea Apothecary
This blend evokes the feeling of sitting in an old library chair paging through yellowed copies of Hemingway, Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, Poe, and more. The Dead Writers blend makes you want to put on a kettle of black tea and curl up with your favorite book … This bottle contains black tea, vetiver, clove, musk, vanilla, heliotrope, and tobacco. It can be worn by either sex.
Old Books Eau De Parfum, it whispers to you when you wear it, and also to those around you by the incredible ingredients of frankincense, olibanum, myrrh, and elemi, with a loyal accord of patchouli, amber, vetivert and cedar.
“The memory of picking up that old book in grandma’s attic, and watching it fall apart holds memories of heritage and intelligence that is profound and a rare perfection.” – Azzi Glasser
Check out these fragrances on my Pinterest board How to smell like books.
- The science of “the smell of books” by Kathryn Zickuhr
- The smell of books by Kathryn Zickuhr
- That “Old Book Smell” Is a Mix of Grass and Vanilla by Colin Schultz
- The smell of old books analysed by scientists The Telegraph
Bonus: Perfume mix