Let’s leave narrative for the written and spoken arts. The art of perfumery has to do with the state you put yourself in by wearing perfume. Perfumery is like dance in that it can be hard for the audience to make sense of it and the people who make it aren’t much help. Just as audience members would do well to be suspicious of what choreographers tell us about their work, perfume wearers should be advised to disregard perfume marketing, whether it comes from the mouth of the perfumer or the sewer system of the PR flacks.

Martha Graham sold her audience on her greatness with talk of the body speaking the soul through dance. Her elevated soul, her mythic interior journeys, were performed by her company. (The company members’s souls and journeys were sidelined in order to speak Graham’s soul, I suppose.) Dior sell/tell us that that crossroads of art, glamor and exclusivity is the runway and that if you wear J’adore it will be yours.

Keep in mind that dance is also a formal, composed exercise in getting a group of people in front of an audience to move their bodies in an organized fashion. Keep in mind that perfume is a calculated composition of aromachemicals and botanicals for you to use to affect your states and experiences. Let’s disregard what we’re told our experience will be and find it ourselves. Consider what Martha and Francis give you. Or leave it, for that matter. The meaning only starts with them.

You have the means to experience dance as an audience member without the previews and program to tell you what the dance is “about.” You have the means and tools in your head (literally) to experience heightened and meaningful states by use of perfume whether you know what oak moss, oud and iso-E Super are.

Let’s flip the discussion. You tell the choreographer what her work means. You tell Francis K what his work is “about.” Let’s see what perfume and dance look like when we do.