Barbara Herman changed my life. In fact, she’s changed it twice.
The first time was in 2010, when Barbara moved to New Orleans to work on her book. A mutual friend in New York — Jenny — introduced us via email, convinced that we’d hit it off. Intrigued, Jonno and I met her for ice cream:
Me: “So, Jenny says you’re working on a book?”
Barbara: “It’s true: I’m writing a book about perfume.”
Me: (Wondering why anyone would come to New Orleans to write about perfume) “Oh. So, I guess you’re focusing on Hové?”
Barbara: “Well, not really. The book is more like a cultural history of perfume, told through vintage print ads.”
I know, I know: on the page, it doesn’t seem especially transformative. But that afternoon, Barbara started a conversation about fragrance that continues to this day.
You see, neither Jonno or I were into scent at the time. In fact, we were what you might call “scent-averse” — at least where scents from bottles were concerned.
Barbara changed our minds. Over the following weeks and months, we learned how fragrance works, how it tells a story, and just as importantly, we learned about all the amazing people who write about it — including Barbara herself.
Two years later, Barbara’s book, Scent and Subversion: A Century of Provocative Perfume, is almost done. (It would’ve wrapped up sooner, but securing reprint rights for vintage ads is tricky business.)
To complete the project, though, Barbara needs help. And so, she’s started a campaign on Indiegogo to cover the purchase of ads, additional research, and other expenses. I know that this is all leading up to an amazing book — have a look at the video above, and please consider chipping in.
(Added bonus: the perks for contributing to her campaign are stellar.)
Oh, and the second way Barbara changed my life? She introduced me to mi xao. HOLY CRAP WHERE HAS THAT BEEN ALL MY LIFE?