Exploring Thierry Mugler Le Parfum Coffret - Baby
I have always thought that scents that profess to smell “like a baby” were built on romanticized stereotypes and have little to no relation to real, actual, human babies. Most of such scents make emphasis on purity, freshness and/or powderiness. This, to me, is a reflection on a politically correct, sterile society obsessed with extreme cleanliness. There is much more to a baby than the smell of shampoo we use on its hair or the powder we put on its tiny bottom. A fragrance that strives to be baby-like, even a very-clean-baby-like, has to be more than simply reminiscent of Johnson & Johnson products. Babies smell –rather obviously- of milk; poor little pumpkins drool quite heavily when they are very small, and so they are always slightly redolent of a vaguely vinegary smell of saliva. However much care one takes to keep a baby clean (and hopefully we all take a lot of care), however promptly one changes its diapers, the very faint smell of urine will be inevitably present in the background.
The wet nurse in Suskind’s Perfumer, the one that leaves little Grenouille with Father Terrier in Chapter 1, has always seemed to me to be a sentimental fool. Quite frankly, I don’t believe that any wet nurse familiar with babies would describe the smell of an infant in such romanticized notions. Babies do not smell of “fresh butter”, “griddle cake” or “caramel”. Having said that, she is right in one thing- once you smelled them, you love them. And perhaps she did not mean those things in a literal sense and I should give her credit. The milk, the saliva, the pee and the poo, the baby shampoo and the talc all combine to create a smell that is more delicious than any caramel. Babies smell “sweet” and “magical”, because they are cute, helpless, smiley, endearing little creatures, and because they are YOURS.
I am glad that Les Christophs (Christophe Laudamiel and Christoph Hornetz) did not try to create Baby, one of the 15 scents from Perfume Coffret, inspired by the movie Perfume, based on the sappy ramblings of the Wet Nurse. Nor did they follow the clean-powdery trend, typical of contemporary perfumery. Baby is a very simple, very quiet fragrance that combines delicate citrus notes, a very subtle almond accord, and what I can only describe as a rather true smell of milk. It smells of a baby who not too recently took an orangey-almondy smelling bath, had its milk and is now resting with that serious, determined face that babies have when they are asleep, snorting ever so softly. When I make an emphasis on not too recent a bath, I mean that I detect something musky-dirty lurking in this scent, underneath all the fresh citruses …something like the faintest hint of Human Existence. Uncomplicated and delicate (at times hardly smell-able) as it is, Baby became the first scent ever to evoke in my mind an image, or a memory, of an infant, and for that I applaud its creators.
Having said that, I don’t really have any use for this fragrance, or for baby-smelling perfumes in general. I would feel strange smelling that way myself, and my child already has a natural smell all of her own. Perhaps when she is grown up and I am very old and very nostalgic, I would sniff Baby and long for the time when she was tiny and smelled milk-y and drool-y.
Le Parfum Coffret can be purchased at Thierry Mugler USA, $700.00 for 15 bottles.
You can read the reviews of other scents from the coffret, Boutique Baldini, Amor and Psyche and Nuit Napolitane, here.
The images are from krasivoefoto.ru and thierrymuglerusa.com.