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sábado, 6 de fevereiro de 2016

Fragrant Finland: A Fresh Affair

by: Eeva-Helena Laurinsalo

"Finland, the land of a thousand lakes!" That is a phrase all Finnish kids learn at school.
Actually, someone has counted our lakes, and the saying should go: "Finland, the land of a thousand lakes, or one lake per 25 people."

Lake Pielinen, Finland
Another thing they taught us at school was that the the colours of the Finnish flag referred to the blue lakes and the white snow. So growing up in Finland in the 1960's and 70's was a fresh affair. Fresh air was a national virtue. It went well with the zeitgeist of hard work, modest lifestyle and the importance of not showing off. See where Finland is on a world map by clicking HERE.

Not showing off! Finland had and still has a long border with what was then the Soviet Union, now Russia. We learned to keep our mouths shut. Don't get me wrong, Finland has been an independent Western democracy for almost a hundred years, but the so called geopolitics were all about peaceful coexistence with our large neighbor.

So what has all this got to do with the world of perfumes?

I remember my friend Marlen Harrison telling me how the smell of rotting oranges in his mother's Florida garden was imprinted in his brain in his childhood.

No oranges in my early years. My mind recorded the smell of dill! Dill for me is a smell of hope and happiness: when it's finally summer after those long dark and cold winter months! Fresh dill on new potatoes is the epitome of happiness for a Finn.
Another difference between Florida and Finland are the four seasons we have. There is the delicate smell of melting snow in March. The light green smell of the first birchleaves in May. The summer scents of strawberries and sauna, the aroma of burning leaves in the fall and the distinctive nose-nipping smell of minus a million degrees in midwinter.

Yes, that's Finland!

What I'm trying to say is that Finland could never be the land of oriental perfumes. The resins, frankincence, vanilla and patchouli would just be too intrusive in the land of "Not Showing Off".

Instead we nod approvingly at floralaquatic and fresh green scents: The ultra fresh4711 Echt Kölnisch Wasser from 1792 could probably be approved by most Finns.
For some reason unknown to me, unscented products are permanently in high demand in Finland. Beware of spraying too much scent before taking the bus, going shopping, going to the theater - going just about anywhere. The turning up of a collective nose will be the most likely result.

It's no wonder then that the most memorable moment of my university years did not take place in the great lecture hall of International Politics but in the ladies' room, when a girl named Lily walked in smelling of Shalimar!
Imagine the uninspired days in the University of Tampere in central Finland in the late 70s: young people hanging around in their corduroy pants and Russian scarves. Make up was not in fashion - and probably the height of vanity was Rexona deodorant.

Tampere, Finland
Charlie by Revlon had been launched in America already in 1973, but it took a long time  to find its way to the bars of Tampere.

So, Lily broke all the rules spraying her loud and alluring scent around. However, the 1980s were approaching, Finland was opening up to Europe. Christian Dior's Poisonwas just 5 years away.
To be continued...

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