Andrew Crook, the Victorian Department of Transport’s spokesperson, is a self-confessed “traffic nerd”. Recently he appeared on ABC Radio Melbourne, where it was jokingly suggested that he needs a personal cologne to honour his devotion to our daily commute.
Rather than let the gag lie, the team at ABC followed through, asking Collingwood perfumer Metascent to bottle the agony of Melbourne traffic. Co-founders Yen Huynh and Janelle Donnelly thought it was a prank. But after an on-air consultation, Donnelly says she realised the concept was actually “really in [their] wheelhouse”. They took on the challenge and set about distilling the aroma and mood of your sacred hours lost to the tedium of gridlock.
“Perfumers say they can tell any story through a scent,” Donnelly tells Broadsheet. “It’s not just about the smell of the traffic, it’s about how it makes you feel when you’re in it.”
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Eau D’Ometer (a punny name crowdsourced from the station’s listeners) doesn’t literally smell like tarmac, cheeseburger wrappers and vanilla air fresheners – but rather offers a pungent, ethereal interpretation of them. It speaks not just to the actual odours, but the emotional low notes of being stuck in traffic.
Geosmin, an earthy compound commercially sourced from blue-green algae, was used to add a hint of petrichor – aka the smell of breaking rain. Another key component, galbanum, is a bitter gum resin and popular fragrance ingredient that’s extracted from aromatic plants in the umbellifer family, which includes parsley, celery and cumin. It adds notes of stone and earth. And then there’s a wood smoke element Donnelly says gives Eau D’Ometer its “asphalty and road-emissions-type character”.
The scent, with its industrial fortitude chased with spicy natural freshness, is actually fairly on-trend for a clean-cut guy in his thirties. Donnelly says: “They love those smoky, dry characters.”
Eau D’Ometer isn’t available off the shelf, but Metascent’s create-your-own perfume service lets clients produce their own personalised bottles, or even make them at home with a kit. Do you want to smell like Melbourne traffic? Get in touch.