Last night I watched “Snow White And The Huntsman”. What an ugly, steaming, deadening pile of horseshite.
Like the equally dreadful recent Hollywood rendition of “Red Riding Hood”, the director’s display zero visual acuity, no understanding of atmosphere, and bathe every last take and cut in dreary, music video ‘moodiness’ and ‘special effects’. How can such beautiful fairy tales be rendered so flat?
Sometimes a perfume can reveal far more atmosphere; break into your imagination and make you dream of these magical woods and flowers far more escapingly than some naff computer generated, unfurling ‘flower’ revealing grotesque, uncute little bald fairies that roll their eyeballs in delight or dismay at Kristen Stewart’ every jut of chin, or shed marble tears as the HIDEOUS, ‘magical’ white hart is shot by some crappo villain with an arrow and disappears into shards of black evil whatever. GOOD. I AM GLAD YOU WERE SHOT, as you were an emblem of all that is wrong with the film industry.
Anyway, o sweet readers, pray forgive this little rant. To mend matters, I am wantonly reblogging an old post about bluebells, those most magical flowers. Apologies for my uncurdled romanticism in advance….
MEET ME IN THE WOODS……GOTHIC BLUEBELL by UNION (2012)
……….Although I have been living in Japan for the last fifteen years, one thing has never changed: my love of the English countryside. The mountains and pine trees, the plum blossom and moss of my adopted home can be breathtaking, but I seem to be hardwired to respond more keenly to the gentle, sylvan pleasures of the woods in May; the cold rush of streams, green ivy, and swaying masses of bluebells.
There are very few scents that have this flower as the main theme, the most noteworthy examples being Penhaligon’s classic Bluebell (1978), and L’Artisan Parfumeur’s limited edition Jacinthe des Bois (2000). A new interpretation of one of my very favourite flowers is thus very exciting for me, but also fills me with a certain trepidation: will it be vulgarized? Will the perfumer be able to do the flower justice? Thankfully, this new creation, to be released this summer, is both beautifully strange and wildly romantic. Everything about its construction seems to be geared to fire the imagination: ‘ingredients sourced from the oldest estates’, are apparently used, including bluebell oil from the Wellbeck Abbey in Nottinghamshire; violet leaf from Devon; and ground ivy from Dorset. The company, committed to locally sourced perfumery, describes its Gothic Bluebell as ‘dark and dreamy’, and this sums it up well. Whether the perfume (which I would imagine would be difficult to carry off except by the prettiest of bare-shouldered Ophelias) will find favour in the current market is another question: it is simply not of these times.
Beginning with a head rush of flora that is unmistakably bluebell (though not the innocent pale-blue of Penhaligons’ holographic rendition: these less angelic bluebells are at their peak, at the point of floundering into decay – with an acetic tang of spice, and mushroomy, dark undertones), it is seemingly no coincidence that the blend, unlike the forget-me-not blue of Penhaligons, is tinted a light sorrel brown. As if some embittered harridan from a fairy tale, having discovered her niece’s nightly escapes to her cherished in some woodland bluebell knoll, had gathered basketfuls of the flowers in the moonlight; hurled them in vats of boiling water for their witch-spell extract, and worn their essence in spite. The smell is rich and ripe, and not a little amorous.
The heart of the perfume is still warmer, suffused with the remembrance of bluebell, and a feeling of the flower’s stems crushed in the hand – the lactic white juice of the hairy, stalky interiors bolstering the blue with their salivary powder. These central notes cede, gradually, to a subtly lascivious, faintly musky leather that brings to mind the slightly dirty base of Guerlain’s horsewhipping Habit Rouge (our heroine has outwitted her aunt). It is a fittingly carnal conclusion to a scent that succeeds in not merely giving a suggestion of bluebells, like other renditions that simply fade to nothing, but that fleshes out the flowers into a fully formed story.