Marina Holthaus

Slow Fragrance

Slow Fragrance

The pedestrian area is hectic. People push themselves through narrow lanes, while on the hard cobblestone pavement the sound of thousands of feet combine with the murmurs of passers-by. It is one of the first warmer days this year, an indication for the beginning of spring. The first sun rays entice droves of people into the shopping zones. Between the bakery and department store, people bump and collide into one another only to get their everyday produce, buying a gift for their best friend on their birthday or to hastily get the latest item of clothing from the special offer. The streets outside are already narrow, but this is nothing compared to the abundance of people that await me in between the racks of the department store. A strong wave of different senses breaks over me. The incomprehensible announcements of employees fuse with the voices of customers and witty sounds of the music. The smell of soap, shower gels and lunch offer of the restaurant begin to mix with one another. Apparently there is pasta on the menu today.

I’m not here to eat pasta. I’m not looking for soap or shower gel. I’m looking for a perfume for my best friend. It should be something very special. I know him very well, therefore I know exactly which perfume will best meet his expectations: a woody scent with a hint of cinnamon. I’m entering the perfume department to have a look. In an estimated length of 15 meters of shelves, hundreds of bottles await me. The selection is enormous, but also confusingly overwhelming. As a sample, I take a bottle from the shelf and try to only concentrate on the fragrance. A customer who pushes me a little rudely aside quickly distracts my mind. I try to focus myself back to the fragrance, but the revolting scent mixtures of soap, shower gels and pasta in the air make it impossible to concentrate on the perfume. Furthermore, the enormous background noises make it difficult to enter a perfume journey, through which I would love to find the perfect gift for my best friend.

I take a look around to watch how other people find the right fragrance for themselves or their loved ones. The majority sprays the perfume on strips of paper for testing. The first few seconds then decide whether the fragrance is pleasing or not. In a book about perfume, I once read that a fragrance is made up of three components: a head, a heart and a base note. As a perfume is freshly sprayed on, the top note, which is determined by intensive but also volatile essences, is always recognized first as we take the first breath. Once the top note fades, the long-lasting heart note becomes perceptible, forming the character and heart of the fragrance. The base note forms the longest bond with the skin and takes advantage of its features. She is noticeable for many hours. Therefore, such a superficial test is not sufficient enough to detect the true beauty of a fragrance with its full range of characteristics. I leave the department store – dissatisfied because I won’t find the perfume my best friend deserves in this place.

A pleasant freshness welcomes me outside. I decide to escape the hustle and bustle in the shopping area, buy my first ice cream this year and stroll along a side street with it. Suddenly, everything becomes quiet and peaceful around me. The majority of people don’t leave the large shopping areas; do not look left and right. They miss the little beauties along the way, such as the first crocuses, which gently stretch their heads out of the flowerpot in front of the café. I’m walking slowly, enjoying the ice cream. The taste of vanilla and cinnamon distracts me for a moment, as I almost missed noticing the shop that brings a little smile to my face.

I enter the perfume store. Quiet music plays in the background, a pleasantly sweet scent is in the air. Instead of pushing and hustling, I find myself on an island of peace and calmness. Perfume bottles with a variety of individual colors of caps arouse my curiosity; kindly I am asked to take a seat. I quickly notice that this is the right place to search attentively and devotedly for the right fragrance for the right person. I have arrived at the Perfumebar of BIRKHOLZ Perfume Manufacture and I take the time to submerge myself consciously and sensually into a fragrance – experience without any pressure. A perfume-sommelier supports me through my journey and after an extensive consultation we find the perfume I was looking for all day: Supreme Oud.

The top notes impress with cinnamon, pink peppercorns and a hint of cedar wood. After a few minutes, the heart note becomes noticeable: a woody note interacting with patchouli. In contrast, the base note will remain perceptible for many hours: Vetiver, amber and musk.

It is the fragrance that reminds me of my journey to the Orient a few months ago. This will be the fragrance that will capture all memories of my best friend and me forever. I decide to design my bottle with a plain white genuine leather cap. Furthermore, I add a small engraving to the noble flacon with a small birthday greeting, which not only makes the fragrance, but also the bottle unique and unmistakable. I leave the shop smiling. It may still be hectic in the pedestrian area, but I am calm and relaxed, full of anticipation to finally hand over my present.

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