L’Air de Panache: Signature scents for fictional characters

Describing scents can be a tricky business. Though I love certain smells – including freshly cut grass, baking bread, and old books, to name a few – it can often be hard to explain what those things really smell like when you’re trying to set the mood.

Last night I was watching The Grand Budapest Hotel, and thinking about Gustave H.’s signature scent, L’Air de Panache. What does this cologne really smell like? It’s described as a strong smell, one that lingers, and many of the hotel’s guests are seen sniffing after the famed concierge glides past. The bottle also reads “pure musk,” which suggests something earthy, masculine, animalistic.


Oddly enough, Wes Anderson had this fictional cologne made into a real scent, courtesy of the French parfumerie Nose (though it seems they have run out of the limited edition already). The English description is quite comical:

“A tonic and lively Eau de Cologne sublimated in head notes by aldehyde which adore his most dear customers, and supplemented with a touch of intrigue symbolized by the green apple. A heart of Jasmine Sambac flower, Grasse’s flower, and rose sweared by the most refined dandies. To finally discover the ‘Panache’ of Mr. Gustave H., a return to the wild forest and animalic and greedy notes. I love you!”

The Nose website lists L’Air de Panache as belonging to the woody and citrus families, both of which I enjoy. My only real concern is with the base note of patchouli. Hippie stank, no thanks.

So now this whole thing has got me pondering a signature scent for my Parisian PI, Venus Delmar. She’s a classy dame, after all, and Parisian women are known for their style. What would be a good match for a woman who’s got a Glock 36 stashed in her garter, but needs to remain in the shadows as she stalks her prey?

On second thought, Venus probably just scrubs with a nice French milled soap and keeps it simple, sweetheart.

Have you ever chosen a signature scent for any of your fictional characters? How did you decide?

One Comment

  • Denise Calhoun

    I do. And I will even buy that scent, unless it’s one I just can’t stand. Then just spray a bit on a cotton ball at the perfume counter and put it in a baggie for writing inspiration. I have not chosen a scent for my current heroine, but am considering Calandre. This place is amazing, especially for old scents: http://hoveparfumeur.com