I am not a fashionista. And I am definitively not a shoe person. Since I was a young boy I have been vastly indifferent to them, loathed shoe shopping, hated the stress of it; the boredom, the heat and stuffiness of the shoe shops, the artificial lights boring a hole in my brain, the floor mirrors; the shoe ‘horns’ (what the hell are they?); the fact that I have to choose something that I have no interest in looking at in the first place, and also the fact that, in Japan, now an adult, I can’t find any shoes to fit even when I do find myself compelled to buy some new ones, always and only when they are starting to fall apart and my friends or relatives urge me aggressively to go and get some right now because you really need some new shoes ( I buy at most one pair of shoes a year I would say, when they get scuffed beyond recognition, and I still have trainers from about twelve to fifteen years ago which I like well enough and which look fine to me); but even when I do want to buy some new ones, even then I have to go to a specialist store in Tokyo for personages with overlarge feet called Big B, full of hulking trolls looking for something among the rank, ugly selections, which means I then, when I have finally found something I can bear to hand over money for, have to slink shamefully out of said shop with an ugly brown plastic bag slung over my shoulders advertising to all the fact that on the Lilliputian island I inhabit, at least, I am a Caucasian with giant feet – an ungainly, unelegant maxiped (for the record I am only a UK size 10 1/2, or US 11, which is hardly huge), but, with the increasingly westernized diet that has crept in steadily here, the feet of the nation’s youth are also getting bigger as the youth gets taller, and regular shoe shops, not just ‘specialists for the gargantuan of foot’, are now, finally, starting to stock my size.
This still doesn’t mean that I am about to be badgered into caring about shoes because I never will. In terms of my appearance they are the last thing I care about (also in others, I don’t tend to notice shoes on them unless they are especially spectacular), for some reason my eyes rarely stray down that far, despite (or because of) the fact that my father always chided me forebodingly that you judge a man by his shoes and encouraged me to polish my school shoes on a Sunday night, especially the bit at the back – no, don’t skip it! that is the part they look at the most! and the fact that my mother and I would literally get into hair-pulling frenzies of exasperation at the whole experience as I huffed from changing room to changing room, from shop to shop, refusing to take an interest or else suddenly becoming so shoe-choosy that it was impossible to find anything that would please this evil, shoe-hating Little Lord Fauntleroy and we viciously skin-pinched each other in momentary mutual hatred. Ah the memories. (And now, to boot, I have a very shoe-centric partner, who gets complimented frequently on his choices, from nifty blue suede numbers to pink converse, from Kenzo to Klein to Prada, who then also nags me about my lack of shoes………fat chance D, if I have a spare lump of cash you know straight away what it is going on………….)
To those of you reading this who are shocked that ‘a gay’ is not inexorably drawn to the world of shoes à la Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, which, to me, is nothing short of putrid anathema – that whole mincing, sour-mouthed, fag-hagged schtick that gets my goat no end for its insidious, limiting categorizations of the non-’straight’ male, the assumption that ‘we’ are all shallow and so easily marketed to, shocked that I wasn’t genetically born to shop, that I wasn’t forever craving some more unneeded chaussures, well to all of you I say examine your conscience and your entrenched, if well-meaning stereotypes: my middle name is not Imelda.
At the same time, and despite all of the above (amazing that I can get so furious about something as irrelevant as shoes isn’t it? Perhaps I need shoenotherapy or something, to be introduced slowly to them gradually until I can understand their inherent attractiveness), my eyes, I have to say, do like a bit o’ beauty, and I can deeply appreciate fashion aesthetically even if I don’t spend any time thinking about it myself (the exception being neckties - I do love a nice vintage floral Léonard tie to go with my work suits). Don’t imagine I will wear anything – I won’t ; I am quite fussy and narcissistic in my own way – but it must be simple and unfashiony: when I am talking about ‘what to wear’ I am almost always talking about perfume.
Yes, I do, very much, appreciate beauty of all kinds; I live for it, almost, and I read Suzy Menkes of the New York Times religiously, she who with her delectable prose can translate the fickle and shallow world of clothes and la moda into poetry and from which I get any knowledge I might have of the latest collections and who is creating them. I am also a deep cinephile, as may be obvious from some of my posts. I can swoon over light; colour; the sensations that flow through me in my chest when I am in thrall of good cinema, and one of the key components of this mystery that I can never solve (quite why I love film to the extent that I do) is surely the element of that capturing of a moment in time; the fixed, the plotted, but also the random, aleatory realities of the times; particularly the fashion, captured permanently on celluloid, fashion that immediately dates a moment and yet preserves it, makes it live again before your eyes- I can thrill to the chiffons of the models in Cassavetes’ Killing Of A Chinese Bookie, feel my heart beat with pleasure at the camouflaged Dior boots (see, I knew they were Dior thanks to Suzie) running in slow motion across a Paris pavement from the assassins in hot pursuit, in Brian De Palma’s deliciously oneiric Femme Fatale; smile in poptastic appreciation of the pink satin delicacies and blue Converse tossed into the shoe closets of the queen in Sofia Coppola’s gravely underrated Marie Antoinette.
And, for my sins, though I haven’t had a TV for 15 years now ( I don’t need it – mental pollution), I do watch TV series sometimes on rental DVD, and for a while there, like everyone else, I was glued to Sex And The City, that addictive, stupid, fun, engaging HBO series where a gaggle of wealthy, self-obsessed, vain, superficial, yet somehow likeable women met in Manhattan island restaurants to wail and toast and lament and laugh about their careers, their men, their apartments, their shoes…
Yes, those shoes. Carrie was obsessed with them, would squeal with delight when that lantern-jawed fool she ended up marrying created a walk-in closet for them. The Louboutins; the Manolos; the Jimmy Choos. She was an inveterate shoeholic, and though I harbored a secret fantasy that they would all somehow, most improbably, be mowed down by a combine harvester as they sashayed down Fifth Avenue in the final episode, I do know that even this obstinate shoe-phobe had those glamourous labels rammed into his skull. I learned from the show that you could, apparently, spend thousands and thousands of dollars on shoes, and that that holy triad – Choo and the others, represented the stilettoed zenith of those people who, mystifyingly to this shoe-autistic creature, spend hours and hours fantasizing about what to put on their feet.
What is far more mystifying is how such a revered celebrity cobbler as Jimmy Choo, presumably licensing himself out, could allow his (for shoe-philes, hallowed) name to be attached to such pieces of olfactory trash as these two fragrances, which brings me to the whole point of this piece: Flash, the ‘brand new fragrance!’ and the original ‘Jimmy Choo’, which, to me, in all honesty represent new lows in the glitzy hollow shite that is presented to us these days as perfume.
Perfumes that have no connection whatsoever to the apparent quality that the shoemaker is known for. That bring his image down to such an obvious, painful, degree.
How can such a thing happen? I realize, naturally, that perfume has always been a way for the relatively moneyless to dream of high-end fashion, that in buying a bottle of Miss Dior, they could taste a bite of the pie even if they could never in a million aeons afford one of the gowns for themselves. But in the case of Dior, in the old days at least, the perfumes themselves were of such good quality that you surely didn’t mind.
Flash is, we are told, all ’about the cool rush of excitement and the sense of excitement a woman feels when dressed in a pair of sexy shoes. Its character, which is both heady and effervescent, captures this perfectly….the thrill of the red carpet, the fun of the nightclub, the glamour of dressing up. It captures a moment of sheer hedonism where adrenaline and confidence collide…..encased in a luxurious, shimmering, crystal faceted bottle, reminiscent of a paparazzi flash bulb, Flash is for the glamorous, urban woman. At once provocative and a little bit naughty, she challenges convention; she’s a risk taker, charming, audacious and magnetic…’
These descriptions amount to nothing less than a gross, misleading deception for those brainless barbette twiddlies who haven’t got a nostril hair between them and believe whatever they are told by glossy fashion magazine beauty editors because they cannot for a moment judge a good perfume for themselves.
In my piece on the new ‘toilet waters’, Like A Monster, which you can read here, I discuss how haute parfumerie and functional perfumery, (which is another way of saying toilet sanitizers) are, on some of the lower echelons of the industry, becoming virtually indistinguishable. It has got to the point where these cheap (god Flash smells cheeeap………)
- these cheap, vile, aromachemicals have come to form the main ‘bouquet’ of a fragrance, yet, personally, all I can think of when I smell these lavatorial accords is what have you got to hide there, missy?
Those sparkling, florachemicals from the sparkliest of toilets, those high class restrooms with surfaces so clean you could eat your dinner off them, that you don’t mind smelling in that environment, as anything is better than the alternative, yet when they are transferred to a perfume emanating from a real person’s skin just smell FOUL.
But I am getting carried away so let’s, for fairness’ sake, do a hand to hand comparison.
On the left hand: Jimmy L’Original, et, sur la main droite, FLASH. I have to tell you that this is not easy for me. As I type this I have just been eating my lunch, and I have both the Choos sprayed on tissue paper next to me on the computer. They are not pleasant, and to actually brave them on my skin strikes me as rather gallant.
But right, here goes:
Jimmy (he sprays, lifts his hand up to his nose…..) Mmm, the first top notes of sparkly pear and fruit salad over new shampoo aren’t too bad; in fact, the first time I smelled this for a microsecond I wondered if it might be suitable as a work scent, ah but no, see how it swiftly cheapens, contaminates itself, the ill-matched, nasty, vulgarizing notes of ‘tiger orchid’ (in yer dreams!!), ‘toffee caramel’ and ‘Indonesian patchouli’, bleeurrrgh, rising up like a tramp from the gutter and we are find ourselves in strictly toilet bowl territory: in fact I can vividly see that coloured water swirling, swirling round sweetly as the doo doo gets flushed down to eternity…
On the subject of which, ‘Flash’ is so irredeemably shit that I can only think in bathroom metaphors. I can’t find a single nice thing to say about about it. The PR is a bare-faced lie; this is nothing but a rank, sickly, astonishingly banal and artificial concoction (‘strawberry’, ‘tangerine’, ‘tuberose’, ‘white woods’ that I am going straight to the sink to off right now. Sorry. I just can’t.
All in all then, to conclude this rather immature and unsubtle review, I would say that this new perfume is nothing more than a sickly, trite flash in the pan. A bedpan. For such a well esteemed couturier to have allowed his name to be associated with such crap is mind-boggling. It cheapens the brand, soils the soles, and does nothing whatsoever to enhance what this papoutsiphobic louse would have liked the fragrance to do – rev up some interest in something that bores him to tears: the whole essence of what Monsieur Jimmy Choo is supposed to be all about – the shoes.