A mango in Japan will cost you around 4000 yen. That’s fifty US dollars, or about 32 pounds Sterling at today’s exchange rate, and even then it will often be somewhat tarnished in its journey from Narita airport; small, sometimes stringy, a bit unfulfilling. While it’s true that these days, now the Japanese economy is supposedly in a state of permanent stagnation, and deflation the norm, mangoes do pop up more cheaply at certain fruit and vegetable shops, sometimes as ‘little’ as 700 yen, the fruit, over here, remains a rarified exotic animal: clothed in a dainty little polystyrene protective hair net to lessen bruising, looking out in cold solitary confinement from the shelves of the fancier supermarkets.
I had never even eaten a mango until I came here, as the fruit just did not feature in my childhood nutrition – though I have to say that I was always drawn to papaya and mango Safeway yoghurts, a potently creamy tartness that was often given a perfumey rasp by the addition of passionfruit and flavour enhancers.
The first time I had a true, unadulterated mangorgasm, though, was in Taiwan, where mangoes come cheap and are delicious. I could hardly believe the difference, or what I was tasting when I got back to my friend’s Taipei apartment: these giant mangoes felt almost sinful in their overrunnings of sweet,tart juice; their shining, tropical flesh: I had two in a row and was in some kind of mango-trance, greedily devouring the fruit with a relish of infatuation.
It was at this moment that I really got the mango (or it got me).
Two perfumes that base their main structures round the fruit are Bombay Bling, by Indian designer Neera Vermeire, and Montale’s Mango Manga, a Tokyo exclusive (until recently) that ties in with the ‘mango boom’ of recent years (Japan has these ludicrous media-drive fads: we are currently in the middle of a ‘lemon boom’). Both mango perfumes make me smile and dissolve coldness; both are completly OTT.
Bombay Bling is described by Ms Vermeire as a ‘joyful creation’ that embodies every aspect of the ‘very modern, colourful, eclectic, esoteric, ecstatic, liberal happy side of buzzing India’. For me it is a trifle, but a dazzling one, beginning with one of the most delectable opening salvos I’ve come across in a very long time: a thirst-quenching mango lassi like a cool glass of yoghurt draped in tropical leis and beads – a myriad of bright rainbow colours conjuring up the scintillating promise of Bollywood effervescence: a ffffffffrrrrrrruuuuitty, and I mean FRUITY opening of mango, blackcurrant and lychee, as bright as sparkling pop dust on the tongue; a mango seen through a jewel-encrusted kaleidoscope.
It is very difficult to dislike a smell as optimistic as this, even if you might not want to smell of it personally (I quite happily would), although I have to say that the miracle doesn’t quite go on forever – the base, flatter as the celestial fruit notes fade, is a bit standard poptastic-vanillic-floriental – but really, how can you complain when the top notes give you such a thrill.
Notes: a fresh, modern, fruit cocktail of mango, lychee, blackcurrant and cardamom.
An opulent heart note garden of plumeria, ylang ylang, tuberose, cistus and cumin.
And a soft, oriental base of vanilla, patchouli, cedar, sandalwood and tobacco.
Montale’s perturbingly fecund rendition of the mango actually made Duncan and I laugh (which is surely a recommendation in itself – not many perfumes rise/descend to the level of comedy). In the presence of Mango Manga, Bombay Bling seems suddenly artificial – shatters into thousands of shards of GM coloured glass : adorable, wearable, but most definitely a laboratory creation. Mango Manga, which I was expecting to be cute and fresh – a childish little thing to fit in with the idea of comics and Japanese kawaii – is a slippery, slimy, real mango, full of overripened juice dribbling embarrassingly down the chin; a cascade of discarded mango skins on a Kuala Lumpur street, rotting and waning by the dustbins as the avid South Asian sun begins to set.
It even feels oleaginous, thick, on the skin……. Oh this is a mango in all its earthy glory alright: foul, almost; gorgeous. Rotten, or starting to: alive. And very, very funny.
When I tried this (on the other hand was Montale’s Chocolate Greedy, which smells EXACTLY like a jar of stale chocolate Mcvities – I was really going for bulimia overdrive that day), it was a sweltering afternoon in Tokyo and the mango on my hand seemed fruity and fitting. I was intrigued: where could it possibly go from here? Putrefactive heart notes of fruit fly enfleurage, laced generously with tones of headspace, gellied, maggot?
As we settled down in an over air-conditioned restaurant called Istanbul, and a delicious bottle of Turkish red, the mystery was answered wonderfully as the listless mangoes of the beginning began to dissipate, and, to our amazement, a warm, gorgeous, real perfume emerged – rich, sensuous, of obviously good construction and materials that reminded me a lot of vintage Miss Balmain perfume extract – that sultry, 50’s strawberry leather that I adore.
So it wasn’t a joke after all! At this point, the scent was really rather suggestive, going perfectly with the belly-dancing vibe of the place we were eating in, as we tried to envision who it would work on best. But this didn’t take long – it could only be a full-figured, Mediterranean or Middle-Eastern woman of confident bearing who could pull off this scent with the right passion: invisible swirls of Arabian, saffron-dusted flowers drift about her person, exuding humour, fun, sex, and love of life.
Mango skin: mango bosom.
Mango Manga notes: mango, sweet orange, jasmine sambac, ylang ylang, neroli, Moroccan oud, oakmoss, cedar, vetiver.
22 responses to “I FELL IN LOVE WITH A MANGO…..BOMBAY BLING by Neela Vermeire Creations (2011) + MANGO MANGA by Montale (2005)”
I love mango and I thought paying 6 euros for a good, ripe, yellow mango in Athens was already too much. Thank you for giving me something to compare and be grateful! I have never dared try Mango Manga because I have always been afraid it would be too… fruity for a man my age LOL.
But you make it sound very interesting.
You must try it!
Thinking of you and this post last night as I ate my mango which I purchased from the supermarket for 77 cents (that is correct, under one dollar!). One of my favorite and ridiculously affordable ( under 6 dollars for the solid perfume at my local health food store) mango scents is Pacifica’s Brazilian Mango Grapefruit- the grapefruit adds a nice tang and makes the fragrance not over the top sweet. I know you enjoy tropical scents so you would probably like their Indian Coconut Nectar, Bali Lime Papaya, Hawaiian Ruby Guava and Wakiki Pikaki…….(for a while I was going through this Pacifica phase and had every single one of their scents!)
I adore Bombay Bling and now absolutely have to go out and get me some Mango Manga. That sounds like so much fun!
(And the Chocolate Greedy = stale McVities is hysterical)
TREAD CAREFULLY WITH MANGO MANGA!
(kind of great though, actually, but do take my slimy overripe warnings to heart: this is nothing at all like Bling…)
Warning heeded! Will proceed with caution 🙂
Reblogged this on The Black Narcissus and commented:
STILL FEELIN FRUITY
I have to admit to a horror of fruit scents, always subconsciously imagining that the peach, mango, or whatever that I spray in the morning will be limp, slimy, and crawling with flies by full noon. This may come from having grown up in Louisiana, where festive Mardi Gras fruit daiquiris and hurricanes were commonly found in the gutters on the afternoon, having been forcibly expelled by the stomachs of overconfident tourists. Might be time to get over it, or maybe I’ll allow myself this bias for a little longer while I explore some other note. After all, my attention has recently been drawn to the fact that I have little conscious experience with aldehydes….any strong suggestions?
Gawdily magnificent images come to mind….for me, Louisiana is very exotic and attractive, vomit or no vomit in the gutters.
As for aldehydes, I LOVE them. Just off to work now, but I have written about some of them : Arpege, Caleche, Chanel No 22, Tamango, Rive Gauche, Le Dix… mine the archives and get back to me….(long day of teaching ahead….looking forward to the evening perfume dialogues…)
I have a sample of Arpege at home. It’s the new, not the vintage, but may be worth a sniff. Louisiana was a wonderful place to grow up. I don’t visit my family there in summer, but the rest of the year is lovely.
I love mango! It’s my favourite fruit. I first ate it when I lived in Chapeltown in Leeds, and it always reminds me of when Dante was this little, chubby, blond two year old and the Summer of 1997! It was a beautifully hot Summer, and I’d just finished working for a dance company and was between jobs. I’d bought this huge armchair from a small ad in the local paper and had gone to collect it from another part of town, wheeling and rolling it along the street, toddler in tow! When we got home, it didn’t fit through the front door, so I just plonked it in the front garden and sat in it all Summer with my feet in the paddling pool, a big pile of mangos, cans of strawberry soda, kids from the neighbourhood climbing over the fence and Dante toddling round in his nappy and little sunhat! I then took some to my grandparents’ one day and it turned out it was my grandad’s favourite fruit too – he’d got a liking for it when he was stationed in Jamaica in the war. Must try some of these perfumes!
Uncanny for I was just thinking about you yesterday…not seeing you around much on the Black Narcissus and awoke this morning to see your comment! I am a mango lover myself and in the States they are ridiculously affordable so I can indulge at will!
Hope all is well!
Thanks Brie! I’m ok thanks and hope all’s well with you. I’ve been away for a few weeks as have had an intensive arts project on – I’m a freelancer, and as such when commissions come along, have to just focus everything on that to the exclusion of all other joys – also am in the last stages of a PhD! But I just had to comment on this one. Been enjoying reading the blog still of course, and your comments – you have a fab knowledge of perfumes! x
Of course you are an artist…I should have known…and completing a PhD…I am impressed! My knowledge of perfume pales in comparison to our Neil’s extensive knowledge but thanks for saying so!
I am glad you reposted this one as it was one of my favorites (especially the pictures!). Did I ever send you any of the Pacificas I mentioned above, besides the Indian Coconut one? ( I lost track of what I sent!!!).
I am dying to try all of Neela’s creations as I have heard so many good things about the perfumes…this one included. Time for me to get out of my “vintage” comfort zone and try more contemporary lovelies.
as always, great post, N!
Oh and I like the sound of Mango Manga…especially with the oakmoss included…just got my hands on some oakmoss essential oil…super viscous and hard to apply but one tiny drop on my wrist and Brittany exclaimed, “Wow! what smells so good?” Could wear it as perfume if it wasn’t so messy!
Another mango lover here. My first experience of mango in a perfume was EL Pleasures Exotic. Those fruity scents do work well in hot weather. I like the Pacifica line that Brie mentioned, too, though I haven’t tried the mango one yet. 🙂 Why are mangoes so very rare and costly in Japan? I think mango tastes like a cross between nectarine and melon, with a tinge of resiny pine sap. I buy dried mango for my husband. It’s candy to him. What a fun installment, Black Narcissus. I love all those colorful images. They make my eyes happy. Maybe I will get to try those fragrances this summer.
Definitely try the Pacifica Brazilian Mango Grapefruit…..it is ridiculously affordable and you can spray with reckless abandonment!!!!
I will sample it the next time I’m in Whole Foods. They carry the Pacifica line and I like to browse it when I shop there. I like the Pacifica soaps, too, but last time I was at WF they had stopped carrying them. 😦 I wanted another Persian Rose soap – a big glycerin block with bits of rose petals pressed in the top. And I wanted a French Lilac soap, too. I love soaps.
The soaps are fantastic…I agree! My favorite soaps from the line are California Star Jasmine and Tibetan Mountain Temple…I also like the Meditteranean Fig perfume roll on…the line is loads of fun for very little money!
Finally had a chance to try this one….all I get is massive cumin on my skin…..for some odd reason I amplify cumin!
These scents sound intriguing, especially the Montale.
I adore one scent that is mango based, enough to use it quite infrequently so it will last. It is Eau de Merveilleuses by L’Artisan. It has probably been discontinued for well over 15 years, or more, but it is such a perfect mango scent.
I will have to add some to the next scent package I do for you; I think you will enjoy it.