‘Pandora’s Box’, a silent film from 1929, stars Louise Brooks in the role of Lulu: a ravenous, naughty fille fatale who leads all those who fall for her irresistible charms to catastrophic ends. That is, until she herself tumbles into the greedy hands of one Jack The Ripper – and we all know what happens next.
This lithe, luscious character was supposedly the inspiration behind Cacharel’s oozy ’87 blockbuster, Loulou, a fragrance that made no effort whatsoever with restraint (some might say taste, either): a thick, gorgeous, but airless block of scent by the creator of Obsession – that other eighties giantesque sex kitten which it resembles like some exotic, Polynesian cousin. On the right girl, however, (and strangely enough, on me), Loulou is simply one of the most instantly feel-good things around: fun, disinhibiting, and gleefully sexy.
The perfume’s addictive, shock-sweet main melody is a seductive, powdery, almost furred, tropical flower: Tahitian tiare, coconut, cherry-bomb heliotrope, iris, vanilla, ylang ylang, and a darker, woodier base of sandal and incense that is the perfume’s master stroke, tempering the leis and pina coladas with a plunge into ambiguous island shadows. The whole is perfectly constructed; though sweet, and very extroverted, it never really tips over the edge. Rather, it is a knowing, sloe-eyed cocktail of undeniable erotic presence that trails a girl like a challenge. You up to this?
If all of this sounds somewhat vulgar, it is. But it is great nevertheless, and if worn now, something of a tongue-in-cheek 80’s classic. I have been draining my bottle in the last few weeks as the Japanese spring has heated up and I crave something beachy and ‘up’; and in fact on Sunday, at Rainbow Pride in Tokyo, I practically doused myself in the stuff, with touches of other exotica (Yves Rocher’s Malaysian coconut; a spritz of Montale’s Intense Tiare), to get into the party spirit – a silent Mardi Gras of scent that I took as my costume. Despite my semi-ironic wearing of Loulou however, several people kept grabbing me close to smell it again saying how lovely it was.
The best thing about this perfume, apart from its depth and richness (unusual now, where even many of the best niche scents exhibit a certain anorexia) is its price: a 100ml bottle can be purchased online for practically nothing from discounters, and you can be sure that hardly else will be wearing it. For fun evenings out, and as an instant serotonin booster – and if you can carry it off – Loulou is very highly recommended.