Toronto artist Carly Waito is well-known for her dazzling paintings of mineral specimens. Each of her pieces focuses on one in particular, and is rich with detail and demonstrative of a creative mind keen to the wonders of the natural world.
What most Waito fans don’t know is that this talented painter comes with a very discerning nose. Which is to say: Carly Waito loves perfume. She really, really loves it.
WORN had the privilege to chat with their Toronto-art (and perfume) crush Carly Waito about falling hard for fine fragrance, letting her nose travel, and the scent gurus that have been her guide.
When did your interest in perfume start?
I didn’t really think I liked perfume in general for most of my life (I still dislike plenty of it). I had been half-heartedly searching for a signature scent for a few years, and finally found one that really clicked in 2011 (Terre d’Hermès). Then, about a year and a half ago, while browsing at the Hermès counter at Holt Renfrew, a conversation with a salesperson about Terre d’Hermès led to him showing me some other fragrances by the same perfumer (Jean Claude Ellena) and the Frederic Malle line. It was revelatory. Down the rabbit hole I went. I started reading perfume blogs and ordering samples online. The more I’ve tried, the more curious I have become. Now I can’t imagine my life without fragrance.
What about perfume appeals to you?
On one hand it functions as an extension of your personal style, adding an aura to your presence. But it can be so much more than a fashion accessory. The perfume you wear can change the way you feel. Smell is such a powerful sense; the way it connects so intimately to our memories and emotions. To be more actively conscious of scent adds a whole other dimension to life. I get so much enjoyment from just smelling different perfumes, even without actually wearing them. Good perfume can be as interesting, beautiful and moving as visual art or music.
What’s your favourite perfume to wear and why?
I have a few favourites, but I think my ultimate cool weather perfume is Cuir de Lancome (which seems to have been discontinued before it even made it to the stores, but can be found online). It is a slightly smoky, cozy, but sophisticated floral-leather scent. In the heat of summer, I adore Carnal Flower from Editions de Parfum Frederic Malle, which is a sensual and glowingly fresh tuberose.
You have a collection of vintage and dead-stock perfumes, where have you found these and what drew you to them?
I kept reading about these classic fragrances, and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. In some cases it cost about the same to get a vintage mini bottle on eBay as to get a sample from a decanting website. And once you start browsing on eBay for this stuff, it can get dangerous. Vintage perfume bottles are such seductive objects. Add to that the possibility of the bottles containing gorgeous scents, and they can be hard to resist. Luckily for my wallet, my vintage perfume phase was pretty short-lived. Some of my favourite acquisitions are an exquisitely packaged trio of Balenciaga perfumes from the ’50s, and an adorable mini of Mitsouko by Guerlain.
What perfume is on your current wish list?
I’ve cut back my perfume budget significantly since my initial rush of buying last year (which was a little insane, to be honest), so I’m being super picky about what full bottles I invest in. Frederic Malle just did a lovely, cozy sandalwood and saffron fragrance for Dries Van Noten. I’m also contemplating Seville a l’Aube from L’Artisan Parfumeur, which is a gorgeous, sultry orange blossom and incense fragrance. But I might not buy any more full bottles this year, if I can help it. There are a couple of online shops where you can order small decants of just about anything, so I’ll be going that route for the most part. There are entire lines that I haven’t even tried yet, and so many notes I want to explore in more depth (tuberose, tobacco, saffron, iris, orange blossom—the list is endless), so I’m excited to do more sampling.
If you could make your own scent, how would it smell?
It would smell natural, yet sophisticated; sensual, but smart; slightly sweet, warm and cozy, with a slight edge and a quiet strength… woods, smoke, skin… Actually, Cuir de Lancome comes pretty close to fitting this description.
Have you found anyone else in the city who shares you love of scent?
I have a few friends who appreciate perfume, who I’ve been pulling into my obsession with me. It’s so fun to play fragrance consultant to friends, either with my own collection or in a store. But, the best way to indulge my perfume nerdiness is chatting and sniffing with my favourite sales guy at Holts. He’s hardcore.
photography // Paige Sabourin
interview // Emily Whalen