Smell: the most evocative of the senses. It can summon up emotions, memories, stories - even times long past. We smell a perfume from the 1920s and the age of Charleston opens up before us; we sense the sweet, pungent fragrance of patchouli and sandalwood and are transported to the Goa of the hippies. The hall of time is also the hall of scents, and since the 20th century it has produced a blend of styles, trends, outlooks, aspirations, affirmations of identity and social achievements. To use vintage perfumes is to expand one's presence beyond the self, assimilating the scent of the past into the space one occupies in the present-day world. This book is a journey through the olfactory time machine. It explores the evolving social status of women by focusing on the transformation of feminine tastes and modes of seduction. This is what makes a perfume-centred history more interesting than a history of perfume: it illustrates an age through a niche and fresh subject.
Nicoletta Polla-Mattiot has been working as a magazine and newspaper journalist for over twenty years. She began her career by writing investigative reports and articles on fashion and social trends for La Stampa and later La Repubblica. She then specialised in the conception, planning and development of women's periodicals, working for Grazia (as joint editor) and PerMe (as editor-in-chief). She is currently the editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine of Il Sole 24ORE, How to Spend it, published in partnership with the Financial Times.