Monthly Archives: May 2014

Your black framboise

I was sitting in the classroom while some students did a test when suddenly a dark raspberry entered my conscience. 

 

Had my suit somehow brushed against our patchouli scented walls?

 

Was it the hints of Champs Élysées still that were lingering on my shirt? 

 

I don’t know, but the Body Shop’s Early

Harvest Raspberry cream, which I had on my hand, when combined with something else, suddenly brought me to Magie and

i thought, yes: a body bathed in raspberry, which forms the

delicious top note in Lancome’s dark spirited genius, then she herself….

 

 

 

i just just wish that one

day I could come

across the vintage parfum at the flea market: a holy

grail I have never been granted ( do you know it? TELL ME )

 

o and and while we are at it, 

 

 

fuck this iphone

 

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‘La femme idéale’ : CRISTALLE by CHANEL (1974)

 

 

 

 

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As its name suggests, Cristalle is diamond-cut and delicate: a crisp, pretty, and very Parisian floral chypre of slightly cold-hearted mien that lends the perfume a distancing, enigmatic quality – at once a citrus-galbanum, sherbety hycanthine jasmine freshness (all the joys of spring), and yet a darker, more pensive tension lying beneath this crystalline veneer in the vetiver oakmoss base that lines the high heeled assertions with a more gossamer vein of depressive melancholy.

 

 

 

An eau de parfum, a clever retweaking by Jacques Polge to update and bring the (at the time) somewhat obscure Chanel scent more attention, was introduced in 1993 that overlayed the essential character of classical Cristalle with a fuller, revitalized, fruitier beginning (a more pronounced peach, ylang and mandarin note in particular), but this robust, sharper remake was also rather gorgeous, if a little shrill in comparison to the more demure and refined reach of the eau de toilette. Whichever you feel more affinity with, Cristalle always creates a pleasing impression whenever its pointed, yet ethereal, chic gravitates about a woman in a room.

 

 

 

I have always loved Cristalle. To me it is a very beautiful perfume that speaks , almost too self-seriously, in some ways, of rather received ideas on understatement and elegance, of femininity, and of taste – its sillage trailing behind you like a bright new morning of endless possibility (if you were born to the right class, that is): a cool, light-grey silk scarf from Galeries Lafayette, removed from its paper box: tied effortlessly, irreproachably.

 

 

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KISS ME

 

 

 

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I sometimes like to just wander down the back streets of Yokohama or Tokyo and see what I come across. And find strange little bookstores or knick-knack shops selling old rubbish that nobody really needs, but that you feel like spending a 100 yen or two on in any case – like this old orchid-grower’s magazine from the early 1950’s that I have taken some pictures of and put here. It has adverts for cosmetics containing whale oil, instructions on how to grow orchids, and this: an advert for a long disappeared Japanese perfume that I had never heard of before, called キッスミ:Kiss Me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Japanese teacher helped me to understand the meaning of the writing next to the picture of the lady and the bottle, all of which is quite intriguing and which I thought I would share with you; instructing the reader that as perfume is gradually becoming more and more popular in Japan, to finish your look of an evening you should also learn to dab on some scent, unfamiliar though you might be with this custom. Honestly, it will make you really beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kiss Me, we are told, is composed of three main accords, or ‘feelings'”.

 

 

 

The first is ヘリオトロ-プ:heliotrope,

 

which apparently signifies yarusenai koi no amasa, or hopeless, sweet, disconsolate love, appealing to the sentimental, Tokyoite heartstrings – a sweet, powdery floral scent of poetic longing.

 

 

 

Then, nyuga na (elegant) kyara, the finest grade of Japanese agarwood, the same source material as Arabian oudh but used in such a different manner in the creation of Japanese incense (violet, camphor, cloves, and a particular of sea algae) for some homegrown, nocturnal mystery;  and then, finally, the Parisian connection: a direct reference to エメロ-ド, which is the katakana Japanese direct transcription of Emeraude by Coty, and an allusion to French chic, and the art of ‘liquid jewelry’.

 

 

 

We can thus imagine for a fragmentary moment, a place, a time, a woman and her perfume bottle, a drop of this perfume touched gingerly on the neckline          ( unless she was audacious?).

 

 

A powdery, mysterious blend, an ‘oriental’ for the orientals if you like, from  a completely disappeared era where even the colours look different, with curiously shaped trees, fifties Japanese interiors; a glimpse into another world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LE WEEKEND………TOCADE by ROCHAS (1994)

 

 

 

 

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I found and bought a bottle of Rochas’ Tocade today. After my night of gnashing fury (beautifully mediated by a late night viewing of John Cassavetes’ film The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie – there is no cure like real art), and a trip to the physio this morning with some friends tagging along for translation help (which we billed as the ‘knee party’) we all went for lunch at an excellent Japanese fish restaurant afterwards and spent the afternoon just talking and immersing ourselves in the lovely free, sunny-weather feeling of Saturdayness.

 

 

On the way back to the station: Tocade, by Rochas, in a second hand emporium. Somehow I just couldn’t quite resist it. Like a natural sequel to Laura Biagiotti’s Roma or Elizabeth Taylor’s Diamonds and Rubies, two other fresh and voluptuous vanillic florientals, this scent is one of those big, complex early nineties numbers, essentially, a pleasingly contrasting play between the redness of flowers (rose, geranium, freesia) and the milky yellow vanilla of the ambered, cedar-vanilla base. The contradictory play between the bergamot/magnolia opening and the powdered gourmand heart give the scent an uplifting presence; rounded:  there. While the blend might possibly smell dated and ‘unfashionable’ in some ways (Rochas does have a knack for releasing perfumes when the moment has already passed) , what strikes the nose the most is the obvious quality of the ingredients, the integrity of a blend that has been properly pre-imagined; tweaked, and perfected. Created by Maurice Roucel, who has always been very good at making complicated, orchestral perfumes in the full, top-to-bottom  style (Hermès 24 Faubourg, Guerlain Insolence, Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist among others), the strength of the composition, which feels much more like an eau de parfum than toilette, is quite impressive and long lasting, with a sweet, tenaciously suggestive aura and gently lingering contours that, with its inherent flirtatiousness and off-the-shoulder assertiveness make Tocade a perfect ‘date scent’. What the perfume potentially lacks in subtlety it certainly makes up in craft,and a really rather sexy ‘ready made’ presence: a buoyantly sensual, ice-creamy vanilla rose.

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combustion

 

 

 

 

 

 

my double life is killing me

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THE PEPPERED FRESHNESS: : OFRESIA by DIPTYQUE (1999)

 

 

 

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Diptyque’s florals all have something of the shadowy ancient world about them, as if the perfumes were trapped and panting in glass. Ofrésia is no different. Rather than attempting the usual freesia bouquet of the conservative – moingy and prissy  a l’Americana – Ofrésia is an intense, rain-grey block of freesias, peppered quite spitefully with mauve and lemon-yellow.

 

 

 

The flowers’ natural, sherbet-like vivacity – surely the most deliciously child-friendly of all flower scents – is tempered here with a certain dour, French severity. Olivia Giacobetti – master of the quiet, live floral – imbues the stems of her just-cut freesias with sternness, lending these beautifully fragrant flowers a watered, vigorous astringency.

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SIX TUBEROSES

The Black Narcissus

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It is cold, it is icy, and like many perfume lovers, I cannot only limit myself to the cosy and the spicy in winter: I find myself dreaming of summer, fast forwarding in my mind to that moment in May here when everything goes ballistically pink and green; an explosion of lush life after the cherry blossom petals get blown and washed away from the trees by the last ferocious squalls of Spring and everything heats up; jungle like;humid, moist and fragrant. Sometimes I just want to branch out, rip myself out of the January mindset and let hot flowers bloom; I find myself dousing my skin in the ylangs and noix de coco that make up a sizeable part of my daily collection; the tuberoses, gardenias, the vanilla and the frangipani. I can’t just remain dormant and docile and huddled and feasting on gingerbread.

A few…

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