Perfumery is an enigmatic universe. It appears like an inextricable lattice woven from imagination, expertise, memory, chemistry, procedures and cultural histories sprinkled with personal tastes. Its evasive and elusive prestige offers exquisite sensations, yet so thinly that they elude language.What escapes sight is hard for words.
Over the course of its history perfume has been classified and when it became a volatile liquid based on alcohol concentrations a nomenclature was slowly settled. There are the processes of extraction, the types of concentrations, the essences etc and so the word “eau” or “water” came to be used for scented solutions dosed with alcohol. There are plenty with names as evocative and vague as the dosage and as precise as the short story to which each of them is attached to.
Historian and perfume specialist Elisabeth de Feydeau, author of diptyque’s history, has published a book titled The 101 Words of Perfume for Everyone. The Eau de Cologne, eau de toilette, or eau de parfum are well known but here are some other waters (« eaux ») haphazardly chosen in this book, names which aren’t common yet poetic:
Water of Adonis
Water of Arquebus-shot
Orange Blossom Water
Isn’t it surprising then that the expression ‘nose-watering’ doesn’t exist?