Photos: Holger Homann
1. The Blind Tasting | Perfume 11 by BLK DNM
We confronted Thorsten Weiss with a mystery perfume in a neutral, opaque vaporizer. Only afterwards did we reveal the name of the scent. Follow Thorsten on his journey into scent …
I would wear this scent in the fall, in Rome. This perfume would be totally at home there.
The scent is pleasant — and pure, too, or so it seems to me. Doubtless because of the incense I detect in it. Incense is used in religious rites, for spiritual purification. I was raised a Catholic, so I often went to church as a child. But the purity I sense here goes beyond that. It reminds me of a trip I took to Thailand. It was a good eight years ago yet I can still see the small timber temple, perched beside a loud, busy road on the city margins. It didn’t look much at all from the outside — but inside I found a monk, deep in meditation: a really ancient guy who lived there. People said he no longer needed food because he derived his energy from prayer alone. So he was a genuine yogi — and he didn’t even bat an eye at our presence.
The temple was very simple, Spartan even. Above all I recall the ancient timber, the odor of it. The timber had soaked up the scent of the incense burned there over countless generations. And the dry heat of the region drew it out, set it free again. It must be great to burn such timber. I wonder how it smells when it burns …
Now, in my mind’s eye, I also see the Thai tropical forest we once hiked through — the vines, wild undergrowth and trees. Plus the elephants!
If Beuys had ever created a perfume, it would perhaps have smelled like this, but without the slightly sweet note. That would have suited his interest in material as a cache for energy and reminiscence. He would have enjoyed the temple timber drenched in the scent of incense, as well as the question of how it smells when it burns.
If it were a movie, then one by Almodovar: with a total aesthetic, an underlying sweetness, as well as this urgent need to address painful issues that are crying out for purification and clarification.
This scent is made for a headstrong male in his mid-30s. I see someone with a strong interest in the modern world, and in all that is happening around him: a cosmopolitan man in a creative profession. He is a city dweller but also leaves room in his life for nature. Which is expressed not through rustic furniture or potted plants but through his love of physicality itself, and of artifacts handcrafted by traditional methods in the countryside. There is one plant in his townhouse however: a huge bamboo, two-stories high.
I would wear this scent in the fall, in Rome. That would be apt. This perfume would be totally at home there.
2. The Interview
What is Thorsten Weiss’ earliest scent memory? What is the significance of fragrance in his life? Which are his personal Top 3 perfumes? Find the answers below!
Freedom smells of infinity.
Helder Suffenplan: What is the first scent ever you remember noticing?
Thorsten Weiss: The scent of my grandmother’s bedroom. She lived in the mountainous Eifel region of Germany and her room had a very particular scent. There’s a picture that goes with it — of a bright blue ballerina — which hung on the wall, above the bed. The room always smelt a little damp but mostly of talcum powder. I guess I must have been four years old at the time.
HS: What is the most beautiful scent you can imagine?
TW: Freedom. It would smell of infinity. One would have to capture the scent of crystal clear air for this perfume, I think. And a note of water as well as of earth would be vital too. Not just one or the other of them! It isn’t a classic sea breeze thing, but nor is it dry earth. To my mind, both water and earth are part of the scent of freedom!
HS: What, for you, is the most unpleasant odor around?
TW: Something I unfortunately face all too often in taxicabs or clubs is the smell of cheap perfume, and cheap men’s perfume in particular. I always find that at least as unpleasant as walking by overflowing trashcans in the heat of a New York summer.
HS: What role does perfume play in your life? Do you use it regularly?
TW: Yes, I use a few different ones although my must-have is Rive Gauche pour Homme from Yves Saint Laurent. I have hoarded quite a lot of that and I keep it in the fridge.
HS: Do you sometimes consciously select a perfume, so as to influence your mood for example?
TW: Absolutely. For instance, some perfumes conjure a perfectly clear memory of a summer holiday around five years ago. And I consciously use them to recreate the way I felt at the time. One cannot do so too often, however, or the effect wears off.
I use perfume expressly to match certain situations. And for that, I use AuroSoma. The so-called pomander is available in small plastic bottles with a mix ’n’ match range of scents and colors. The turquoise-colored one is for communication, for example, while another is for purification. And one is for anyone who travels a lot, to make sure his mind keeps pace with him. Whether AuroSoma actually works, I don’t know. But even if it serves only to make one think about the situation one is in, which perfume one wants, and the impact one hopes to make, that’s already quite something.
HS: What was the very first perfume you ever used?
TW: I think it was Heritage from Guerlain, a very woody and warm scent — and aromatic too, with a touch of leather about it. That was the first I ever bought with my own money: a very small bottle!
HS: How important is it to you, how someone smells?
TW: Vastly important! You know, we Germans say to a person we can’t stand: “I cannot stand smelling him!” And in my opinion, that pretty much sums the matter up. Nobody wants to be around a person whose odor they find repulsive.
HS: What is the difference for you, between sight and scent?
TW: Well, I believe it’s a lot easier to conjure images simply with a scent than vice-versa.
HS: Thank you!