2010/09/13

Ein Leben In Düften: Landis Smithers...

Text von Landis Smithers

I believe in signatures.

I believe that in order to live a distinctive life, one where you are not the norm, the example, but rather the exception to the rule, you have to spend time paying attentions to the details that surround you, and, in turn, that define you.

I learned this from my mother, a woman of exquisite (and of course highly expensive) taste. She used to say to me “Only you and I can walk into a store and pick out what seems to be the simplest of items, only to find that it is the most expensive”. Then she would sigh, fondling the sleeve of a dress or the links of a bracelet, look at the salesperson and smile. “But you don’t need much when you have the best, do you?”.

My mother believed in signature scents. She liked to think that a woman or man should enter a room and not be noticed, but that when you were in the midst of a conversation, and they turned to leave, you should breathe in, and notice their absence because of the trail of something almost undefineable that they had left behind. For her, this was how scent should function. The only person who should notice how you smelled was the one who was close enough to kiss you.


In my childhood I experimented with a range of scents. There was, of course, growing up in Houston, texas, the requisite experimentations with Polo (Ralph Lauren), a smell that was both musty and masculine, predictable and aristocratic. All the boys wore polo at one point.


Then there was Obsession. To this day, I think it is the most sexual scent I have ever smelled. I still pass it, faded, lost in a department store, and get turned on. I didn’t know enough about sex at the time to understand, but the oblong bottle and the amber liquid were all I wore, and for the first time amidst the argyle socks and heat of the winters, I stood out.

I had to stand out in subversive ways back then.


Then, I remember buying one called Fahrenheit. I loved the name. I loved the bottle, amberish and glowing. I loved the musky deep, sexual nature of the scent. I wore it aggressively, perhaps too loudly, as I flirted with and slept with the head of the pep squad at the girl’s school, then the captain of the men’s diving team. They loved how I smelled, and apparently, tasted.

I don’t remember what I wore when I was with my first love, the captain of the debate team and the wrestling team, my best friend and my first heartbreak. He was beautiful in the way only strong jawed, brawny, smart boys can be, with horn-rimmed glasses and a drunken father at home that he would cry about in my arms some nights. I think I was wearing Bijan, because I didn’t want to smell like everyone else, like the mass, and at the time something from Beverly hills seemed exotic and foreign.

My grandmother bought it for me, now that I think of it. I doubt she suspected I would use it to lure that boy into my world, and then be shattered by him.


The years that followed were a blur of smells, until I found Globe, by Rochas. They don’t make it any more, which is a pity. I received more compliments on that than anything I have ever worn. I can’t even remember the smell, but I know I loved it. It was “me” in a way that nothing else had been.

It was what I wore when I met Tim.

Now, I wear something by Hermes, one of their older scents, but I have determined not to share which one or why.

I have also learned that at some point, when you share a signature,
It is no longer your own.


Landis Smithers arbeitet als Fotograf und lebt in West Hollywood. Empfehlenswert ist auch sein Blog.

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