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Book-themed Fragrance: Paper Passion is “Perfume for Booklovers”

The smell of a freshly printed book is the best smell in the world.” Karl Lagerfeld

To a real booklover, the smell of books is a glorious and varied thing. New ones smell of ink and laminate and cardboard and sometimes a little like the store you bought them at, if it’s one of those new ones that sells not only books but also meditation candles, chocolates, incense, or coffee.

Old ones smell musty, sometimes a bit warm, autumnal, with occasional notes that can be almost unpleasant, like mildew. Whether new or old, they all have varying strengths of chemical undertones. When you’re an avid reader, it’s enough to make your head swim with delight.

This did not escape the notice of people who make fragrances. Those passionate about books can now wear their adoration on their wrists, their necks, perhaps a little behind the ears. The name is Paper Passion, and it is a unisex scent intended to evoke that smell that wafts to you from the pages of a book, that crisp, clean, new smell that makes your breath hitch in your throat with anticipation.

This tells the story of a passion and a twisting plot to put the particular bouquet of freshly printed books in a bottle. Gerhard Steidl was first alerted to the importance of the smell of a book by Karl Lagerfeld, prompting a passion for paper and the composition of a scent on the pages of a book. To Wallpaper* magazine the pairing of the publisher with the perfumer seemed a natural partnership and so the idea for Paper Passion was born. Wallpaper* magazine commissioned master perfumer Geza Schoen to create a fragrance based on the smell of books to be part of the Wallpaper* magazine Handmade exhibition in Milan.

This is an opportunity to celebrate all the gloriosensuality of books, at a time when many in the industry are turning against them. The idea is that is should relax you, like when you read a book, to a level of meditation and concentration. Paper Passion has evolved into something quite beautiful and unique. To wear the smell of a book is something very chic. Books are players in the intellectual world, but also in the world of luxury.

Hidden inside the pages of a book, Paper Passion is accompanied by texts from Karl Lagerfeld, Günter Grass, Geza Schoen and Tony Chambers.

I was recently in Miami, Florida, and attended the 30th anniversary party of Books and Books, a gorgeous bookstore in Coral Gables. While there, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to sample the Karl Lagerfeld scent. Forgive the goofy face; my husband was trying to make me laugh.

I wasn’t sure what to make of the fragrance at first. How can you possibly bottle the spicy, clean, enticing, exciting scent of a book? It seemed impossible to me, and I was skeptical. And I think I was right to be.

The perfume was not the smell of books, to me. But it was pleasant, so I dabbed some on and away I went, pausing here and there throughout the day to sniff at my wrists and explore the way the smell was developing with my body chemistry. And while I would feel like a liar claiming that I smelled like a book, I was pleasantly surprised. The smell is light and fresh and clean, with almost no floral notes at all. It is reminiscent of linen, and yes, paper, and even reminded me of certain light dried herbs, like sage or similar. It also brought to mind clean white sheets drying on the clothesline in the sun.

In short, I think they have achieved a beautiful smell, and unusual as well – I’m very fussy about perfume, and don’t like the vast majority, but there was nothing cloying, overpowering or ham-handed about this scent. It was certainly not inexpensive, and not justifiable, within our vacation budget, or I can honestly say I would have bought some. It was a very appealing scent. I would recommend that booklovers and people looking for an unusual scent do give this one a go.

Interested in better understanding the aromas of old books and how they came to be? Watch our video, Why do old books smell?

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