CLIQUE WEAR: That “new” smell
Back home rarely smelled of homemade cooking, as mum preferred drinking to eating. But it wasn’t all bad. I could, for example, come and go as I pleased without any supervision, and the Tour Montparnasse shopping centre was a veritable magnet for all the little lost boys.
In the early 80s when sportswear was in its golden age, I loved to hang out at Roussev Sport. It was here I discovered I could forget my woes by thirstily taking in the new smell of sportswear. The aisles were heavy with the scent given off by marvellously-named treasures such as Tacchini, Puma, Nike and Fila, which I could smell but couldn’t touch.
Doomed to loneliness and with a tendency to dream, these sensations quickly took on a near-erotic nature, and the chemical fragrances stirred me as much as they consoled me.
Of course at the time, I could never have imagined that these moments would change my olfactory instinct forever.
These slightly nauseating odours and their underlying sensuality still make me blush today.
Everyone has sensory flashes of memory, like Proust’s madeleine. Personally, there’s nothing that bewitches me like the hydrocarbon scent of an Air Max 90 fresh out of the box. From the first whiff I find myself immersed in a story in which the universe is one enormous, incredibly clean Foot Locker. Everything is correctly displayed, all the laces are meticulously threaded and tied, and the oblong forms of tissue paper are gently pressed into the trainers.
Of course, I’m not the only one with this sort of fetish. The true trainer collectors won’t disagree: slipping on a new pair is both pleasurable and heartbreaking.
In an episode of MTV Cribs, Fat Joe licks the sole of an Air Force One, explaining that he puts on a new pair every time.
A dressing room in which new trainers in their boxes are piled ceiling-high is almost a must in hip hop stars’ fantasies. Flavor Flav was one of the pioneers of this love of all things new, and always kept the tags on his trainers and clothes.
But for us, humble earthlings, following this desire dooms us to frustration, as every new item carries with it a solemn fate.
I feel that clothes are supposed to be worn, thereby losing their original shine and new smell.
As I grew up, I became more independent. I started buying my own clothes, and I was eventually able to buy my first Lacoste trainers. The first wash was always a near-death experience when, after wearing them for several days, I had to put them into the washing machine knowing they would never again have the same smell or feel.
I experience similar emotions when I slip my feet into a brand-new pair of sports shoes. It’s an incomparable, dizzying feeling, because when you take them off at the end of the day, a universe disappears forever. True addicts fear not, however. When you’re really on the ropes, you can always go and hang out and home interior stores; the smell of new carpet is an excellent substitution. Or you can order car air freshener online, which will give your wheels that new smell you crave.