Perfume, ink and a bishop’s ordination

I spent Saturday at the Art Tattoo Montreal 2011 Show.  I’ve been going for the past 5 or 6 years and it stuns me that the tattoo culture hasn’t embraced perfume.  For me, both artforms have so much in common that you’d think they would play off each other.  Oh I know, there are the Ed Hardy fragrances inspired by the tattoo designs of Don Ed Hardy but I’m stunned that the tattoo enthusiasts themselves don’t wear perfume.  Yesterday, I think I got a whiff of vanilla… maybe.  I was expecting earthy patchoulis or über-indolic jasmines or animalic leathers… even sweet ambers.  But no.  Nada!  Zip!

A couple of years ago I held an informal survey at the very same show.  I literally stopped women and asked them if they wore perfume, what they were wearing and why they didn’t wear perfume (if they didn’t).  Their answer to that last question shocked me.  Money!  Money???  Do you know how much those tattoos cost?  And $60 was the most they would spend on a bottle of perfume.  I don’t get it.

So… what do tattoos and ink have in common?  Alot!  They’re both luxury products.  They’re both about adornment.  They’re both about making statements.  They’re both about self-expression.  The perfume and ink cultures should meld… but they don’t.  It’s too bad.  I think there’s an opportunity there for a new spin on perfume and a whole new client base.

After the show I left to attend the ordinations of Fr. Thomas Dowd and Fr. Christian Lépine as auxiliary bishops.  The cathedral was standing room only.  Now THERE I smelled perfume… all kinds of “vieille France” florals and big, beautiful chypres and what was even better was the incense from the ceremony that wafted through the church… I was in heaven, or almost.  It even buried my own Passage d’Enfer Eau d’encens by L’Artisan Parfumeur which was appropriate for both occasions… sort of, although I stuck out like a sore thumb in my shorts and tattoo-inspired t-shirt at the reception where everyone dressed in their Sunday best.

Back at the tattoo show, things were better this year than they have been in several years… major buzz… bzzzz  bzzzzz bzz bz bz bzzzz bzzzzzzz bzz…

Have a nice week everyone!

Top image : Studio Tattoo Art from Longueuil at the Art Tattoo Montreal Show.  Photograph by myself.

Bottom image : Newly-ordained Bishop Thomas Dowd.  Photograph by myself.

Leave a comment


  1. Tara C

     /  September 12, 2011

    I was at the ordination of a bishop at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco many years ago… similar experience to yours. I remember locking gazes across the room with a very striking red-haired man in a black cape and pants. The incense was incredible.

    • I think the tattoo world could learn alot from the religious one. That ordination was spectacular and to add incense to the whole experience speaks to us as humans… adding another sense to the whole experience. And Bishop Dowd’s cassock! Now THAT is celebration! It was so joyful… as was the tattoo show but it was missing scent, regrettably.

  2. Fascinating post, Normand. I would have thought, too, that the tattoo culture would be absolutely heady with perfumes — or at least head-shop perfumes. 🙂 Especially the ladies.

    Also, I love that you coupled this to the ordinations you attended that same night–and that you wore Passage d’Enfer to both. Perfect choice; I really like the way you think.

    • I know! I thought the ladies would really go for it. I mean not Chanel No. 5 but, like you say, head-shop pefumes, essential oils. I don’t often get to wear Passage d’Enfer so I though this was my big chance! The planets aligned on this one! Thanks for the comment.


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