For Oscar Wilde’s Birthday: A Quote from “The Picture of Dorian Gray”

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“Life is not governed by will or intention. Life is a question of nerves, and fibers, and slowly built-up cells in which thought hides itself and passion has its dreams. You may fancy yourself safe and think yourself strong. But a chance tone of color in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgotten poem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceased to play, —- I tell you, Dorian, that it is on things like these that our lives depend. Browning writes about that somewhere; but our own senses will imagine them for us. There are moments when the odor of heliotrope passes suddenly across me, and I have to live the strangest year of my life over again.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

Nose News: “5 Iconic Fragrances” for the NJ Council for the Humanities

 

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Description of my presentation on the NJCH website

I mentioned this in an earlier post, but now it’s gone “live” — my presentation on “Five Iconic Fragrances of the 20th Century” was accepted into the New Jersey Council for the Humanities’ Public Scholars Project for 2020 and I’ll be offering it at various venues around New Jersey (my home state!).

If you’re based in New Jersey and you know of a local organization that would be available to host me, here’s what you can do…

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“The World of Anna Sui”…in Scent

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If you visit The World of Anna Sui at the Museum of Arts and Design, you’ll come across a gallery space decorated to evoke Anna’s boutiques (and her apartment), with black lacquer dressing tables and cabinets lavishly stocked with boots, handbags, jewelry, and yes — perfumes.

I really wished I could have opened that cabinet and sampled some of the fragrances while viewing the show! Of course, as a museum person, I understand why that’s not possible…but I couldn’t help playing a mental game of matching the fragrances to various looks and “archetypes” in the exhibition.

Here, I’ve paired a few of my photos from the show with quotes from Anna Sui herself and some of her branded perfumes. Read on for my thoughts…

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5 Fragrance Facts from Anna Sui

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When you wander through the 4th-floor section of “The World of Anna Sui” at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), you may notice a sweet hint of scent in the air. This floor of the exhibition is fragranced — a concealed diffuser releases a faint aura of Anna Sui Fantasia (released in 2017), adding a subtle olfactory dimension to this fashion retrospective.

I had a chance to chat briefly with Anna Sui at the exhibition’s preview on September 10 and to ask about her own taste in perfumes and her fragrance collection. Here are a few things I learned…

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