Home by way of Hollywood… The Perfumed Dandy’s Staycation Snapshots


Rain fell in London today.

From billiard ball black clouds water descended to make lawns lush again, tarmacadam and cobbles shiny and knock the gloss of happy moods.

Turning a corner into a familiar mews where a friend once lived, I found it made a film shoot.

Though cameras and actors had not arrived yet, lighting men were hanging glowing orbs in the sky from improbably angled cranes and other engineers were building scaffold towers for who knows what adventures.


Around the corner… vintage cars, that I remember from the first time round, gleaming like new under layers of turtle wax, making me feel tortoise old, wait for their on-screen moments.


What do movie sets smell like?

Tonight, wet foliage, sodden pollen and flushed through storm drains mixed with motor polish.

IMG_20130806_005231 (1)

Leaving behind this closed road turned rabbit hole leading to a fictional period world, I am still left pondering…

What is the scent of the ‘real’ cinema close up?

Is it iris heavy greasepaint? Or newly laundered clothes? Egos?

Perhaps, these days, air-conditioning and anti-sceptic?

What do you imagine the fragrance of the films to be?

Do tell.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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11 responses to “Home by way of Hollywood… The Perfumed Dandy’s Staycation Snapshots

  1. Hey, what are you doing here? Weren’t you supposed to get some sniffing/writing done while on a staycation?

    I’m not good at scenting anything so I won’t even try. Wait… somebody has done it already for me: YSL Cinema! 😉

    • Dearest U
      Too true!
      And the fruits of my labour will start appearing soon, but when one passes such an unfamiliar sight (to those of us not living in Southern California that is), it seemed improper not to stop and stare and ultimately share.
      Yours ever (and now back to work)
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • I don’t know who you were hinting at, but none of us (two) lives in Southern California 😉

      • Dearest U
        Oh, The Dandy wasn’t hinting at anything other than the location of Hollywood… but now I learn that’s technically Central California, so really the aside was about nothing at all.
        I thought you were in the North of the Golden State, but perhaps that was mis-remembered too!
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

      • No-no, you were right – I do live in Northern California. And sorry, I didn’t realize you were talking about Hollywood in your reply 🙂

  2. Lilybelle

    The only movie set I’ve ever smelled was on someone’s student film, and I was an extra in a train station scene. The smell was of an old abandoned train station that was used for the scene, and it was wet and cold. It smelled like old, wet, concrete and bricks, and dank air. It seemed like it took all day to get it right.

    • Dearest Lily
      Now that does sound familiar lock ups and garages, public toilets and deserted car parks, closed railway stations, such are the settings for student films the world over!
      But a very pretty Bloomsbury mews just as night was falling… this did catch my curiosity.
      Also, judging by the kit and size of crew (all unfortunately tight lipped as to what they were making) this looked like quite a substantial undertaking.
      As to the smell of wet concrete, there a Jacques Bogart fragrance ‘for men’ that always puts me in mind of clay, but that’s not quite the same thing.
      I’m sure there will be a scent out there, there nearly always is!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  3. Lilybelle

    It will come to mind sooner or later, the fragrance. 🙂

  4. fleurdelys

    That polite sign, apologizing for the inconvenience, strikes me as very British! In New York City (which seems to have a film crew on every other block either setting up, taking down, or in the act of shooting), they would have no qualms about telling you to be quiet and stay out of the way. I have been on film sets doing extra work, and can remember a night shoot during a chilly late April, running across the grass to the bathroom trailers at 2:00 AM. So I’ll say that’s the smell of a set: The cold grass and earth of early Spring.

    • Dearest Fleur
      That is so very true. Unlike New York, where I was regularly herded off sidewalks and coralled away from parks and open spaces by some rather brusque runners, the film crews here are a somewhat more laid back lot.
      Usually they can’t actually prevent you from walking along the street, and merely advise you that you may be filmed. Being British though most people are happy enough to watch from the sidelines rather than trying to steal the scene.
      What a lovely memory too and a fabulous fragrance: cold grass and early Spring earth… I think something of Dior’s by Roudnitska would work well. Perhaps Diorama, with its hints of wildlife.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  5. On set smells like… stale coffee, dust motes scorched by hot lights, old rafters, metallic gear, people who showered — at five a.m., impatience and anticipation…

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