Crowd Shortcuts – a quick chat about something that’s caught our attention. This week, perfume that helps us like our true complicated selves…

What’s that smell? It’s Harry Styles. He is soon to release a new fragrance that is said to be inspired by sex, and formulated to evoke smells of ‘skin on skin’.

The pop star certainly has a nose for a trend… And this ones for perfume not just as a blend of smells, more as a distillation of a person: their skin, in this case. Meanwhile, Phlurs’ Missing Person bottled the spirit of the co-founder Chriselle Lim as she went through a messy divorce. “Developing the scent with a fine fragrance perfumer, I described how I felt emotionally. I felt lonely and wanted to bottle something that would take me back to a time I felt secure,” explained Chriselle. Missing Person went viral on TikTok and caused users to weep. Or it can even be literally you – as with last year’s trend for #vabbing – using your vaginal secretions as a pheromone-charged perfume.

So bottle up ourselves, then spray it? Yes. It’s perfume that is inspired by our messy selves, whether our stories (as well as Missing Person, Phlur also does the storied, Not My Baby and Lost Cause) or our bodies (Harry Style’s ‘sex’ fragrance follows on from Gwyneth Paltrow’s This Smells Like My Vagina candle).

Any other message in this bottle? We have evolved from merely accepting the smell of real bodies taking part in real activities. It’s about being excited by, or attracted to our natural smells (it’s so good, we bottled it). Even places we usually tolerate body smells, like say in the sweaty club scene, have seen this taken up to a celebratory level. “This party stinks: That’s the point,” said a recent New York Times introduction to club nights called Pheromone, or the Laboratory that requires “no perfume” on entrance. Real smells – body odour, sex and sweat – have undergone a change from causing feelings of shame to thrills.

…and to satisfy a collective craving for intimacy? Not only is it an olfactory sensation that mimics our own body smells. It fits with a side of our lives that so many of us are opening up to – a spritz of authentic, and emotionally messy. We spray a perfume that mimics what we smell every day, rather than one that requires us to imagine running through a grassy meadow inhaling fresh, unpolluted air. We all know which of these scenarios is more likely right now.

TL;DR: There is no good or bad smell. Instead let’s be radically honest: Who hasn’t felt joy from a beery kiss or a sweaty hug on the dance floor? The time is ripe for letting all our stinks out, and enjoying it.