Scent of a Timesman

CJR Daily today has an interesting Q&A with new New York Times perfume critic Chandler Burr — his name oddly seems to reference both detective novelist Raymond Chandler and Perry Mason portrayer Raymond Burr.

The article points to a couple of famous Burr descriptions of scents, notably: “What is wonderful about Diorella is that it smells like a new fur coat that has been rubbed with a very creamy mint toothpaste. Not gel. Paste. It is a great, great fragrance.”

Writer Liz Cox Barrett wondered whether Burr had occasion to smell such a coat rubbed with toothpaste, and, when pressed, Burr admitted he had not.

“You wouldn’t, by definition, smell most of the metaphors I use — well, actually, I shouldn’t say that, some are very, very literal,” replied Burr. “It really is a matter of seeking to communicate in as visceral and effective a way as possible the experience of the work of art. In this case, the work of art happens to be a perfume.”