Greetings everyone and a very happy 2013 to you. Thanks for being part of The Black Narcissus: I am meeting some lovely, really interesting people on here and am very much looking forward to some more exchanges over the next twelve months and beyond. Don’t be shy! Let’s rant, wane and wax together…

I hope you had a lovely Christmas/holiday period and are rested and ready for the new year. Myself, I emerged, reluctantly, from my cocoon yesterday and went off into Tokyo to research vanilla perfumes for my latest Sweet Little Thing guest post over at Olfactoria’s Travels (it will come out on Friday, so please have a look if you are interested in the various discoveries of my bean odyssey). Stopping at Lush in Shinjuku, which was SO packed with people bargain hunting at the sales it almost precipitated a claustrophobic panic attack, I tested their sandalwood-heavy Vanillary, which is an effective little perfume in its heavy-hitting, jasmine absolute, coconut-incense-stick kind of way, very erotic and in-your-face, but then came across a small perfumed sensation and forgot all else: LADYBOY.

That name!!  The pungent, rotting bananas of the top notes!
The bubblegum, nail polish and eyelash-heavy violets! I simply had to get a bottle – and it just so happened, on that day, to be 50% off as well (only the Shinjuku branch stock this perfume, which shows its oddness): I suppose it was never likely that a large chunk of the populace would go for a perfume that smells of melting hot bananas and amyl nitrate.

Now, the banana is not a note we often find in perfumery, and my Ladyboy has the most overt banana as its main note I have ever smelled…..

But what other bananas are there?

Probably my first exposure to the note of the genus musa was in J Del Pozo’s Quasar, a blue-sporty fragrance from 1994 that nevertheless had a very innovative top note of fresh green banana leaf that I always thought should have been the mainstay of the fragrance (it wasn’t – what came later was always a disappointment). It imprinted itself on my brain nevertheless. A brilliant banana did come, later, in the form of Vanille Banane by Comptoir Sud Pacifique, a scent I discovered while staying in Paris: fresh, delightful banana, halfway between the clean, unripened fruit, and those chewy, artificial, 2p banana sweets you grew up with from the local shops – dry, fresh, a touch acidic- but it then folded, unfortunately, into the ‘classic’ Comptoir vanilla, which always errs on the side of the sickly and plastickly sweet. You would have to be a really cute party bopper to pull that one off effectively, and I unfortunately couldn’t, on my skin.

A very unusual banana tree note was later to be found in Jean Patou’s Sira Des Indes, a very languid, almost sardonic, tropical perfume that features a top note of banana leaves before turning to a more voluptuous, if beautifully blasé, animalic floral: I wish this perfume had had more success because the combination was very interesting, though clearly ultimately too decadent to ever find mainstream success.

One perfume I own that combines flowers and banana delightfully is a rare scent I found at the flea market one Sunday – Jazmin by Le Jardin De Jimmy Boyd, a Barcelona-based perfumer whose jasmine flowers morph effortlessly into banana leaves and then morph back again….an effect that is either simply the quality of the jasmine flowers used (which might have a fruity-tropical facet) or is a trick by the perfumer….either way this is by far my favourite jasmine and the watery, luscious banana green of the top notes only makes it better.

Aside these, I know of few banana perfumes, so please let me know if you are aware of others.

So….Ladyboy. But before we get to Ladyboy, let’s talk some more about bananas.

For me, I am not sure if the banana would necessarily feature in my Fruit Top Ten (would it yours?), but I do love the taste and smell of the fruit and am also somewhat obsessed with the banana tree growing in our back garden (which has grown to unexpectedly monstrous proportions), as well as the smaller ones growing in pots on my balcony and in the hallway upstairs. Kamakura is strange in that it has winters not much warmer than England but fully tropical summers, as hot as Borneo and equatorial Africa, which means you see snow on palm trees in February, and frost on the poor banana trees which tower back up again in August, never to fully bear fruit as they die on the vine at the beginning of November; a sterile frustration I always feel as the baby bananas start to cluster in June…..

But to that fruit top ten:

(I would love to hear yours as well by the way, as I am a fruit freak. I basically love all of it, though I am somewhat less partial to kiwi and melon than other fruit (which is why I never go for those appallingly melona melona scents like Eau Emotionelle and Après La Mousson….and why I wasn’t overstruck on the kiwi perversions of Amouage Interlude…)

Off the top of my head:

1. pineapple

2. papaya

3. grapefruit

4.  lemon

5. strawberry

6. apple (not Japanese: English, or the like)

7. plum

8. cherry

9. orange/satsuma/Japanese iyokan

10. rhubarb?

Basically I go for the tart, and the fluffy dessert flesh of the banana doesn’t even seem like fruit to me, somehow, more a species all of its own: a beautiful alien: creamy, pulpy, feathery (goodness writing this is really making me crave a banana….!), and yet Duncan and I, despite this, did have a whole party one summer based around the fruit.



Before your minds turn toward filth and assumptions, let me say that we also had a beautiful wintery party in Tokyo called Kirsch, but I can see that I am digging myself into ever deeper holes by talking about cherries and bananas, oh dear.

Kirsch was held at a 1950’s café-diner in Ebisu called Kissa Ginza, and all was red, and all was cherry, and it was sublime, if chaotic… Delicious Banana, meanwhile, came from a postcard we found one day. As is well known, Japanese English is often hilariously, atrociously bad on a daily basis, or else almost surrealistically strange and simple, like the innocent declaration ‘delicious banana’ which is so saturated with itself and its nothingness we quickly picked it up and turned it into a party, which I must tell you about here if you have nothing better to do.

Delicious Banana was one of our strangest festas (and we have had many), for a number of reasons. Firstly, the venue: a curious, three-storied art café called Mogura (mole), which was as tight a fit as a fairy-tale, and had very poor air conditioning, which brings us to the second point: it was, or seemed like, the hottest day of the year, seriously, seriously boiling: sweltering like you couldn’t imagine (around 36 degrees, though hotter in my memory, with about 80% humidity). I remember us carting records, cds, decorations and white Casablanca lilies all the way from Kamakura (at least 90 minutes away), and arriving covered in lily powder, our clothes ruined; we bought heaps and heaps and heaps of bananas and hung them everywhere……the guests came all in yellow, and we had little kids running around in banana hats, plus the menu, all devised beforehand of course, was exclusively banana (it’s a wonder I ate a banana ever again…)

There was banana salad; banana tacos, banana desserts… bananas were coming out of our ears and we were wilting from the heat along with the bananas that were stringing the stairwells…

The music, which I spent a lot of time on, was all tropicalia-tastic, and I remember almost swooning with pleasure dancing to ‘One Day In Your Life’ by MJ with my beautiful friend Takako in temperatures that were not fit for human beings upstairs….the heat, the sun pouring through the skylights…we almost became our very own banana flambée of human melée; the climax being when I ended up trussed and decorated by five or six women ( the other strange thing about that party: for some reason it was exclusively female apart from Duncan and myself, hilarious given the name of the event) and, in some kind of fertility ritual, all of which happened spontaneously, I was dressed up and made up by the women in some Wicker-Man-like sacrifice (though in honesty the end result was more like Carmen Miranda….)

The party is imprinted in my memory as fun and banana bliss, and as the place it was held no longer exists, just writing about it here feels like some sad, beautiful tropical resurrection…


So there I was in thick makeup, anyway, covered in fruit, and here I am now wearing Ladyboy. And like the Delicious Banana party with the women congregating around,  and showered with the fruit, is there an internal joke to the perfume?: the lack, or the covered-up fruit of the Thai transsexual or ‘transvestite’ an implicit feature of the creation?

Who is to say? Simon Constantine, the perfumer at Gorilla Perfumes, strikes me as a very nice kind of person and I can’t imagine any gender or homophobic malice; strangely, the rich banana of the top note segues beautiful with a powdery, thickly scented violet that might recall makeup, but also those delectable, hot, coconut, banana and tapioca desserts that Thai cooks make so exquisitely, and the ‘invisible banana’ is an interesting sexual motif dangling enigmatically in the mental void of this ladyboy in any case; it is possible that I put too much stock in the name of perfumes sometimes but then I think that the names of scents, like the names of paintings and mixtapes, are crucial, making linkages in the mind that  involve the participant and open vistas and connections in the soul that when truly inspired…

I have also been to Bangkok and it was dizzying; being driven at night in a tuk-tuk bicycle taxi to a restaurant where the delicious smelling lime-chilli fish had me drooling and weeping hot involuntary tears it was so spiced as the lights on the water bobbed and the mysteries I could never understand lay mercilessly on the other side of the bay….

While we were there I don’t know if we actually ever met any real ‘ladyboys’, but I have met my fair share of Asian crossdressers or whatever term you find most suitable, and I am happy to wear a scent in their honour; the humour, the true beauty, the confusing gorgeousness; all of this is served well in this perfume…

The smell of nail varnish, of hair spray, of the little cabaret’s dressing room and its fairy lights on mirrors conjured up by the acetatey sheen of the initial, artificial banana smell; the bizarre addition of seaweed added to the mix, which I can’t thankfully detect ( I HATE seaweed, the smell and the taste of it, which is a problem living in Japan! ) but which I imagine adds some leathery temperance and wearability under the banana banners; the perfume becoming, eventually, an eminently wearable perfume of oakmoss, patchouli, and labdanum, the scent definitively no longer a joke if, in fact, it ever was one.


Filed under Banana, Fruit, Jasmine, Perfume Reviews


  1. ninakane1

    Happy new year Ginzaman! I love this party story (which i have of course heard before, but am enjoying reading here). The perfume sounds most wonderfully uplifting! Looking forward to perfume chatter in 2013. X

  2. Dubaiscents

    Hello, your banana party sounds wonderful! What a brilliant idea. I really need to spend some time trying all of the Gorilla scents, they sound so interesting. I guess I am afraid I will be lured into buying all of those delicious bath products as well if I go into the store… Temptations! Thanks for a wonderful review and story, as always. I can’t wait to read more of your vanilla musings in Olfactoria’s Travels.

  3. Your reviews make me smile, because I love your sense of humor and your ability to describe the smallest little objects, experiences and moments in the most sensual ways. The Ladyboy scent sounds interesting as bananas are my favorite fruit along with plums. However, while I use it on my toes in the summer, I can’t stand the smell of nail polish. I have a good friend who definitely considers himself a “ladyboy”, so maybe I’ll search it out for him as his profession is a manicurist/pedicurist. I have and LOVE Patou’s Sira Des Indes in EDP and “languid” (one of my favorite words) is the perfect word to describe the scent. I think people missed the boat on that one as well. I’m looking for the pure parfum version, so I can really feel languid in the hot summer weather.

    • ginzaintherain

      Delighted that someone appreciates that decadent scent, that you can rock the banana so well!

      Ladyboy is no masterpiece, but I just COULD NOT resist that banana top note! Let me know what your pedicurist thinks!

  4. Suzanna Perez

    I am a new reader, and absolutely love your blog! I was so taken with your concept, as I was the first time I read Das Parfum, i.e., there are whole worlds out there of which we know nothing… I , too, am an amateur pianist and still play, though I am employed in the mundane financial arena. Because of your posts, I have recently purchased small amounts on eBay of Infini Caron, L’Elephant (love it!), and I will soon receive my Guerlain Winter Delice. I am afraid I have been a citrusy Vetiver kind of girl (Diorella), but as someone who grew up on White Shoulders, Chloe, etc. I am enjoying the journey back to more exotic and complex mixes. Thank you for writing, and please continue!

    • ginzaintherain

      This is so lovely to hear, thankyou ( I LOVE Diorella by the way, and Chloe as well – White Shoulders was something we never got in the UK – isn’t it a No 22 like tuberose or something?)

  5. brie

    Sounds like a great party! I have tried several of the Lush fragrances and they are pretty good and quite affordable. Some of my favorite fruits are:starfruit, watermelon, apricots, cherries,limes,pomegranates and coconut.
    Happy New Year! looking forward to more posts!

    • ginzaintherain

      Hi Brie

      To me the Gorilla perfumers are intriguing but all very harsh; extremely harsh because of the high strength of essential oils. However they draw me in and I want to keep smelling them to work them out…

      (apricot, lime and coconut in perfume terms are divine I think by the way: I have no idea what a starfruit smells or tastes like!)

  6. Wow! I am surprised to see that Lush’s Gorilla Perfumes made it to Japan. Some of them are seriously potent!

    Thanks for the great review about Ladyboy. The name immediately made me think of the former name of ELdO’s Fils de Dieu (my little tropical obsession): Philippine Houseboy.

    For me, I don’t normally gravitate towards fruity fragrances. However, I never like to rule anything out. For example, I love Frédéric Malle’s Parfum de Thérèse’s melon note despite saying that melon is one of my least favorite smells in fragrances. I like citrus a lot, coconut, peaches, plums, pretty much all stone fruit. Berries maybe a little less so. I’m good for rhubarb!

    Have you ever smelled Casamorati by Xerjoff Dama Bianca? That has an irresistible kumquat note. I try to stay away from it though because it’s so darn expensive!

  7. penseedautomne

    A happy new year to you ginzaintherain! Good music, good parfum, good movies, and good bananas.

  8. laurie

    the photos of you as sacrificial fruit flambé are here somewhere, surely… shall i send them right away? also, very much wanting a day out with sleeping with ghosts. thanks for the teachings.

  9. ginzaintherain

    (and no, Ghosts is a LOT about the name: though I like it, I know you would be disappointed by its vulgarity; its thickness, its missed chance……..)

  10. Reblogged this on The Black Narcissus and commented:


  11. Marina

    I wear Terre!

  12. I have to admit that most fruit notes turn me off, and I can happily picture myself at a banana party but just can’t imagine myself wearing Ladyboy, or anything else with a strong fruit scent. But reading this makes me think that you need to sample Noora, if you haven’t already. I bought it unsniffed because of a review that said something like “unknown flowers dipped in honey,” but on me it’s a (very) strong dose of Cherryade. I’d love to send you a sample; it might inspire another party! If you haven’t tried it and want to, send me your details at wooddogs3 awt gmail dawtcawm. But I warn you, I think it will cause mass absence if you wear it to class.

    • !!

      I wouldn’t dream of it (‘mass absence’ not entirely unattractive all the same…..)

      • Good point, I probably shouldn’t have tempted you with the prospect of inducing a sick-out at will.

      • Actually, I am back on track again now: quite enjoying it all again. My seasonal biorhythms are pathetically predictable – now all the green is blooming, and after that lovely spring break, and new, seemingly more positive students coming, I am feeling good again.

        Within six weeks or so you will see psychotic mayhem on here, probably, but for now I think I will try not to drive away too many of my students.

  13. brie

    Ha! Loved this review the first time around and here it is again! I actually tried Breathe of God for the first time a few weeks ago…not bad….(and you are probably cringing-hee!hee!)

  14. Dearest Ginza
    “Melting bananas and hot amyl nitrate”…. golly gosh, that sounds like a night out and a half.
    I remember that back when I was a lad, Cucci Rush was rumoured to contain amyl…. though I think it was more likely that its just the two were the ubiquitous scents of so many nightclubs in Old London Town.
    Tremendous review and adorable photographs.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s