Igor and me:::::: EQUUS by LALIQUE…. (2001)

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The legendary producer of some of the most exquisite perfume bottles ever created is now an American conglomerate; their flagship shop in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles host to a smorgasbord of lugubrious, glassed, grotesquerie; the newest limited editions that speak of wealth; of largess, and often crass, conspicuous consumption of rather questionable taste.

 

Sheepishly you enter the gloom, and are immediately greeted with a musty smell of old carpets, furniture polish, and undusted, glowing green heirlooms; ring a bell, and wait, in the half-light, before a blonde, high-coiffed sales assistant arrives from a door somewhere; paints on a smile; and tries to flog you off some three-thousand-dollar, twirling tube of scented water from among her torrid wares…

New to America, I  remember finding the experience disconcerting and odd, as I squinted back into the dazzling sunlight on Rodeo Drive, emerging from a corridor of doom-laden motes of sweet, time-travelled dust.

 

 

 

 

 

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Yet, when you think of some of the classical perfumes that were housed in those stunning original bottles by Lalique himself long before ‘the takeover’, your heart sings, you feel such lust. I will soon be going back to the Perfume Bottle Museum in Enoshima, a curious little place near where I live, to do a piece for this blog and and you will see……..for the perfume lover the items on display (some with liquid, still, in the bottom) are nothing short of heartrending, yearning pornography.

 

 

Lalique was a genius, and his name is synonymous ONLY with bottles, the perfumes in the company’s current incarnation varying hugely in quality and inspiration over the years, as though the scent were put in merely as an afterthought.

 

While recently the quality of the juices has improved (Encre Noire being a very well-respected vetiver, for example), many of the perfumes just come and go with the seasons as they somehow seem to lack a hook; a catch, a smell that you deem worth wearing. Le Baiser,  which once I bought (at a bargain sale) for my mother only for its flacon, is quite vile and unwearable: crass; sinister; the kiss of an industrial barrel of liquid, rose-sandal chemical effluent.

 

Attempt to put your lips back together and they have gone; acified.

 

 

 

 

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One perfume Lalique made for men, Equus ( from a set of three), was more interesting, however, a scent chosen for me by a Japanese friend of mine, Seiji, a writer-aesthete who lives for Mishima but who also has a penchant for 80’s American icons such as Mapplethorpe and Herb Ritts and probably chose the bottle for its ironic aspect of Italian Stallion (though I suppose he really should have got me the Sagittarian centaur…)

 

 

 

 

 

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Feeling fragile and very mortal after being quite ill that summer in London, The Russian Winter party we decided to hold, Petrushak, in which we turned our apartment into a winter wonderland of icicles, magic and quaint russkyiana in homage to my favourite composer, Stravinsky, and his thrillingly beautiful atavistic ballet, was my birthday and our Christmas party combined, and featured a beautiful white horse galloping across the steps in a frieze that Duncan made in a brilliant moment of inspiration; its mane spray- painted white as it galloped fearfully through the snow towards Siberia….

 

With a soundtrack of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korskakov, cold-war Bond soundtracks and Goldfrapp, I was lost in the world of my childhood black-swan imaginings;  feeling tearfully thrilled to be alive on that day; grateful to my friends, lost in vodka, music, twinkling lights, and magic.

 

 

 

 

 

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That same morning, before the party preparations began in earnestness,  I had gone for a walk to pinch some delicious pale-yellow lemons for the drinks from a  tree growing down the road. The sunlight was diamond-sharp, ice-cold, and as I plucked the fruit from the trees and the waxen scent of unborn lemon-blossom grazed my hands from the leaves, a family of little partridges and their mother scuttled beneath and off into a copse. It felt like a blessing…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After Duncan’s white stallion piece, propped up triumphantly in spectacular fashion in the entrance,it was another beautiful coincidence when Seiji later then turned up unexpectedly at the party with this equine bottle, a synchronicity that added to the enchantment of the day (which really felt like my re-entry into my Japanese world as my friends all welcomed me back after three months away..)

 

 

 

While not the type of scent I would usually wear, Petrushka, which was one of the most beautiful parties we have ever had, is thus forever enshrined for me by this smell of Equus, which I wore with abandonment as we danced to cossack-danced kalinka and served up three types of steaming borscht.

 

 

The scent within that horse-frosted bottle is certainly no miracle of perfumery, but it is quite nice: a tea-laced, cedar-based, dry, fresh and elegant accord headed in by a sharp, unusual top note of pepper, mace, citron and jasmine placed over serotonin-depleted musks and watered woods….quite poised; if a little maudlin and straight; a perfume for a thoughtful, slim young man.

 

His character?  Possibly quite nuanced; of the trends but with a few twists and turns.

 

Slightly sociophobic.

38 Comments

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38 responses to “Igor and me:::::: EQUUS by LALIQUE…. (2001)

  1. alabasterwrists

    Fascinating bottles! I am looking forward to your future post on the museum and I am eager to see those bottles as well. For a time period I often bought perfume not so much because I adored the juice more so because I wanted the bottles. Had boxes and boxes of empty bottles in our basement and hubby would say “do you really need those?” then I went through my “yoga” phase and decided it was time to purge and
    THREW OUT ABOUT 200 BOTTLES! ha! I could have opened my own museum with what I had!

    anyway, great review…and why did you not tell me you were a ballet fan? That was my first profession and as a child I was actually in “Petrushka” at the Met with ABT. One of these days we’ll chat on that subject matter!

    Glad that you posted another review so that I may say happy holidays to you and your readers and a very auspicious new year to all!

  2. ginzaintherain

    As for 200 empty bottles, it isn’t hard to understand your husband’s thoughts…

    • alabasterwrists

      What I failed to mention was the boxes and boxes of his junk! I regret throwing them out for many still contained a minute amount of essence and would serve as great references now (there were plenty of vintage) even if just to sniff and not spray

      • ninakane1

        Noo! I am grieving for your 200 bottles here! Never too late to start a new collection?

      • alabasterwrists

        Nina- already done! I have two new boxes (hidden from hubby) already started in the basement and occasionally go down to “sniff” the sprayers from time to time! Goodness, it is a sight to behold me standing in a dank,dark basement sniffing away…my precious…..

  3. Oh! I just wrote a long reply that disappeared! This may come up more or less the same again! Anyway, that’s fantastic! You do right! Yes, there are various dark corners in my home where precious things are secreted from husbandly censure! I’m all for battling it out and putting them in full view too (and as such the top shelf of our kitchen is brimming with brightly-coloured kitsch crockery much to his hubby’s chargrin) but sometimes it’s nice to be able to enjoy and indulge in the objets d’amour without discussion or endless justification! It’s a funny one isn’t it? What are homes supposed to have in them? I suppose the nature of collections is that they will always grow to fill the space available – the compulsion to collect driven by desire – and are often very ididosyncratic! It’s a joy to share them with others – but inevitably it’s hard for nearest and dearest to sometimes fathom the passion – particularly with cultural objects that probably evoke personal response to aesthetic qualities and all that tangible sensory aura they contain (their look, feel, touch, sound, essence and qualities)….my family can’t understand why I have so many books, and as such I have recently moved about half of them into a caravan in the front garden! I love it! It’s my little den! Anyway, stick to your passion and may your basement collection ever grow! Out of interest, which perfume bottles are they? (I probably won’t know them as I am very new to perfume appreciation, but would still be interested).

    • alabasterwrists

      the ones I threw out or the ones that I am recollecting? Threw out vintage Chanels (5,22,19,Cristalle,Coco) Estee Lauders (just about every single one that was made from 1970 on) Tuscany per Donna, various Lancolmes (vintage Magie Noire,original O de lancolme, Miracle and others) original Prescriptions Calyx, original body shop OIl bottles (with the stopper) unknown beauties like Trend(Les Copains) and Womanswear (Alexander Julian)a whole slew of very old Avon bottles of various scents, L’heure bleue, mitsouko, le dix, nocturnes de caron,original Oscar de la renta, chloe, niki de saint phalle,metal, calandre,rive gauche……..I could go on and on but need to stop as I am aggravating myself just thinking about this unspeakable act 🙂 !

      the bottles I am collecting now are pretty much what is empty of juice from the entire collection of my family (three kids, myself and my parents). i keep what I really like but continue to discard that which I don’t. And I do still have a few empty vintage which were hidden in my parents apartment which my mum has returned to me at my request.

      • ninakane1

        Oh no! I meant the new bottles when I asked that! I meant, what are the names of the ones you have started re-collecting, not the ones you threw out! Sorry, I should have been clearer. But that does sound like it was a lovely collection. You will have gained great knowledge from having had them, and new ones will come to you.

      • alabasterwrists

        NINA- recollection empty bottles are:Chanel 5 1/4 perfume, Chanel 22 EDT spray and 1/2 oz perfume, Coco, coco mademoiselle, no 19 edp spray, burberry brit, brit gold,brit red, nocturnes, joop (womens and mens) cerrutti 1881 mens, antonia’s flowers,niki de saint phalle,poison edt splash, 15 various Pacifica edp sprays,chloe (original and new release), field notes from paris, evening edged in gold, reglisse noire, annick goutal chevrefeuille,every single Escada limited edition from 1993 to present,original escada, vintage alysa ashley gardenia (price tag is still on it was less than three dollars!), several from Sonoma scent studio,naturistics white river musk, vanilla fields, victoria, womanswear mini..this is all my middle aged brain can come up with for now…but I am still collecting!

        and I adored that story about your book coming around again for your daughter…the miracles of the universe!
        Happy Holidays

      • Sally M

        Noooooo! I couldn’t even bring myself to finish reading your list incase I started sobbing uncontrollably! (not trying to make you feel bad, mind). How many times do we have a purge only to wish sometime later that we could take it all back?! Then again, I look at my various collections – perfumes, tea tins (containing tea), salt cellars and wonder what will happen to them all when I pass on to the next adventure as probably my family members will just shake their heads at my eccentricities and order up the Goodwill truck…

    • alabasterwrists

      Oh and I forgot to say in regard to your comment about books….. between childrens books and my insatiable reading appetite we have over 500 of those! When hubby and I moved from one location to another 16 years ago I threw out numerous soft cover books of some of my absolute favorite authors:hardy,wharton.bronte, forester,austen,etc,etc. There was a young gentlemen going through the dumpster I had placed them in having the time of his life so at least I know they were going to a good home! Still….I regret that decision almost as much as the perfume bottles!

      • ninakane1

        Hurray for books! They’re great authors. I’m glad they were found by someone who could use them. I know what you mean! I’ve been replacing favourites lost one way or another through Abebooks and second-hand bookshops in recent years. Though, a funny thing – when I was a kid I used to love a comic called Bunty and bought tons of the annuals. At some point after I’d left to go to university my parents moved and cleared out old toys, books, as you do. Anyway, a couple of years ago, my daughter suddenly got into reading them, so we went to the local second-hand bookshop, and there was a Bunty annual – and when I opened it, I suddenly realised it was the actual copy I’d owned years and years ago! I knew this because I’d bought it second-hand first time round, and it had been owned by a girl who’d put her name and address in it, and done all these little drawings on the fly-leaf – very distinctive. So the minute I saw them I knew it was the one I’d owned!! It was one of my favourite ones too! How it had got from Margate, a town on the South East coast of Britain, up to Holmfirth in Yorkshire where I live is something I wonder – and where’s it been on its twenty year journey?! Perhaps some of your books or bottles will come back to you in similar ways.

      • ginzaintherain

        What a wonderfully sweet story (though for some reasonit doesn’t surprise me in the least)

  4. Those are beautiful bottles. And I lament the loss of Alabasterwrists/Brie’s collection! You have seen the Lalique windows at Henri Bendel’s in New York? It’s a nice day to go sniffing and then pop up to see them.

    • alabasterwrists

      Baconbiscuit- I promise one of these days I will find a way to tear myself away from my family and come down to the city for a visit. Although we would probably be a terrible influence on each other perfume shopping together 🙂 !!!!!

  5. My partner was wearing this the other day and I was really getting obsessed trying to guess what it was. I couldn’t, which proves that Equus does not gain any prizes for originality, but the sheer beauty and elegance of this was surprising. Of course I had worn it in the past but there is something so beautiful in sniffing one’s own perfumes blind. Your post captures the comforting elegance of this fragrance.

    • ninakane1

      Lovely to reread this post and the conversation. I love your Winter writings. There’s something very elegant and masculine in this one. It evokes a very distant memory in me of a Kensington flat in the late 70s that had white carpets and lots of heavy glass statues, rented by my uncle and his partner. It was quite shadowy and cool, but very luxurious and still, and there was always opera and orchestral music on the record player. When I read this for the first time last year I was standing in a busy shopping mall in Wakefield overlooking a drizzly car park and some illuminated polar bears! Everywhere had that freezing, tinny too-bright-white look and my nose was reeling from an overkill of Body Shop spritzes. Reading this moved me from screaming halogen to cool bottle green and I instantly felt calm and earthed. A year on and I still haven’t tried the perfumes, but the feeling of the writing is as beautiful and resonant as the first time xx

  6. I am in a state of entrancement, imagining your Russian Winter party. Of all the parties I’ve heard about, I would most love to have attended that one. It sounds like all the magical aspects of winter brought together in one place. Were there wolves? Surely the distant howling of wolves somewhere out on the tundra far beyond the white stallion would be part of the scene.

    • Would there have been wolves…
      No, we were living in quite a small place at the time and it didn’t look as spectacular as I have perhaps made it sound, but D is brilliant at scouring shops to find curiosities and oddities, and I do remember shards of light refracting through a crystal snowflake and tearing up: I had had pneumonia ( caused by isolation) and this was my tentative return back to life in Japan. I really do have a yearning for things Russian. And somehow just had to have a Petrushka party: it is my favourite piece of orchestral music. Sheer atavistic magic.

  7. You enchant me ever and ever, over and over again with your beautiful writing. Nobody gives parties like that anymore in my circle so I am thrilled that someone still does. I have been meaning to try Equus and now when I do I will think of you, Duncan, Seiji and Petrushka.

    • What a lovely thing to say. Well, I have to say that me and the D can’t live without parties. We had a good one in June, Music For Chameleons, where he did a dance performance. That one was the opposite: jungly, humid, Madagascarish: neither of us can deal with ‘reality’ for too long….

      It would be great to meet you at one.
      Actually, we might be in San Francisco next Christmas…let’s start planning a joint event: that would be utterly fantastic. You find the venue, we start thinking themes, music angles, invite your friends and perfumistas…

  8. Dearest Ginza
    Now I’m not familiar with Equus.
    Something I must correct.
    I rather liked l’Hommage, but then the bottle (the normal one) was exquisite and I’m a sucker for violet.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  9. What a lovely way to end my day. Your blog is always a delight but I thoroughly enjoyed this one and all the comments as well. I am not familiar with Equus but do have a bottle of Encre Noir. Although I now own several hundred bottles of fragrances, I sold at least a hundred vintage bottles years ago (long ago when there were not so many perfumes except for the classics and the cheapies and also when there weren’t as many people that I knew who were obsessed with perfume at the time besides me). I try not to think about certain ones that I got rid of.

  10. Nelleke Oepkes aka Booknose

    Dear M Ginz Always a treat. Fancy picking fruits in winter. You are making me feel quite divan japonais with the desciption of your delightful parties and exquisite presents. Not to mention the white horse statue … Classic and fairytale cocktail a la Russe. If only I had been your neighbour …
    Ah Lalique, a submarine wonderland … Only possible in Paris. I went to the great great Lalique exposition there years ago and emerged hooked line and sinker for life.
    I tried the first Lalique by Lalique perfume, iwith the famous flower rain stopper, of course not in crystal!, when it came out, also decades ago, and thought it quite pleasant. Don’t know what it smells like now. Did not buy it then, because of the price tag, and I was also not completely sold.
    Dreaming of all your scents to consider for the future. Like having a magic box close to hand, to open at any time I wish.

    • Indeed. The parfums were never as good as the bottles…..and the museum I mention here has now disappeared as well.

      That party WAS rather beautiful, though. I definitely do have a secret Russian fetish.

  11. veritas

    And what will it be this year?

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