Perfumer launches Eau D’ometer in response to ABC Radio Melbourne’s challenge to bottle the city
A Victorian perfumer has encapsulated the smell of Melbourne traffic after being challenged by ABC Radio Melbourne to bottle his rush hour business.
Perfumer Janelle Donnelly was asked to create the scent, named Eau D’ometer, after speaking to the radio station about some of the city’s suburban scents.
Ms Donnelly said she likes to push the envelope, but has never been asked to bottle the essence of traffic.
She hoped the finished product would encapsulate the “tears of being stuck in Melbourne traffic”.
“We put in a bit more black pepper to give it that intensity, so it would be sharper and have a more scratchy effect,” Ms Donnelly said.
The fragrance was built on geosmin, which gave the product that earthy scent produced after rain, often referred to as petrichor.
“We also put in vetiver, which is grassy.”
Mrs. Donnelly also managed to capture the smell of gasoline.
“It’s wood smoke,” she said.
She added that despite its petroleum notes, woodsmoke was highly sought after in fragrances.
A city steeped in odors
Heritage Victoria’s senior archaeologist Jeremy Smith said Melbourne once smelled so bad it could be smelled by sailors at sea.
“Milestones offshore people could tell they were finally approaching Melbourne.”
He said Melbourne’s topography and sewage made the city prone to flooding, which could have caused the stench.
“The Werribee system didn’t come online until very late, so Melbourne had a problem with cesspools, which were banned in the 1860s to try to stop people using them,” said Mr Smith.
Heritage Victoria curator Annie Muir said Melburnians have long used cologne, with perfume bottles dating back to the 1860s found in homes in North Fitzroy.
Form basic memories
Philosopher Daniel Teitelbaum said that while smell plays an important role in an individual’s perception of the world, it is one of the most neglected senses.
“The smell is very difficult to categorize,” he said.
But Mr Teitelbaum said smell often works with other senses to help create and recall fundamental memories.
After all, brain neurons connected to olfactory receptors did not function in isolation from other senses.
“The smell works in the background to say, ‘This is where you’ll find that memory,'” Teitelbaum said.
“The idea is that we need to understand how smell affects us in order to better understand how we can perceive the world.”