Monthly Archives: June 2014

s o f t l o v e : michelle by balenciaga (1979)

The Black Narcissus

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I love scents with hidden facets; secret folds; a sense of nether, and this obscure scent from Balenciaga’s disco-age is one such creation.

A boudoir: The Hunger: Susan Sarandon tumbling in vampiric ecstacy with her girl-lover in wind-blown drapes; billowing filigrée, tulle; soft-focused, kohl-eyed, endless trails of honey-white curls…..

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Apparently inspired by Cristobal Balenciaga’s favourite model of the 70’s, Michelle is suggestive, soft, with filthy underbelly, all concealed beautifully in a masquerade of big-eyed, girlish innocence. The main accord – peach/aldehydic, leafy floral of tuberose, orchid and gardenia, is similar in some ways to Paco Rabanne’s Métal (which also debuted in 1979), but in Michelle there are no harsh edges; all is willowing, dreamy; whispers of illicit, powdered musks and dusky coconut hollows. It is alluring, disturbing, and one of my very favourite tuberoses.

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KEEP YOUR FLOWERS: :::::::::::THE ORIGINAL MISS DIOR by CHRISTIAN DIOR (1947)

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The Black Narcissus

“My dream is to save them from nature.”

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So, apparently, said Monsieur Dior.

And his first scent, the marvellous Miss Dior, was the highly abstract, crisp and green aldehydic chypre that was the sensation of its day, a refreshing post-war antidote to the idea of woman as flower. In its original form, this was a lush, complex, and very poised blend that managed to be womanly without even a hint of sweetness, like a sharply-tailored tweed suit. The keen-edged aroma that you experience as you first apply the perfume comes from a vivid, racy blend of green galbanum; clary sage; bergamot and fresh gardenia petals, on a spiced, and unfloral, heart of rose, jasmine, muguet, carnation and orris, and it is one of those dastardly well constructed scents that brilliantly radiate out these ingredients so you experience each soloist in turn – yet never out of step with the whole ensemble…

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JAPANESE GARDENIAS IN THE RAIN

 

 

 

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Just now. They smell INCREDIBLE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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what i smell tonight

 

 

what i smell tonight is invisible lilies, entwined in a bower somewhere above me in the dark mountain foliage. stargazers, probably : downy; cloved; drifting down from somewhere covetous, out of sight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MYSTERE by ROCHAS (1978)

 

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Critic Jan Moran describes this underdiscussed masterpiece by Rochas as a ‘dark, dank forest’, and for me, this is a very apt description of a perfume that truly lives up to its name.

Mystère dwells almost entirely in the lower notes, in the murky, sylvan depths – particularly in the stunning vintage parfum if you can find it ( I have a private stash). All, here, is patchouli, rose, resins, vetiver, styrax, leather, civet, and a strange and unexpected marriage of cascarilla bark and cypress overlaid ingeniously with galbanum, rosemary and coriander: the unusual accord that gives the perfume its impenetrable, curious, and unmistakeable identity. Top notes are creamy, almost metallic:  peppered florals that weave in and out of the centred, sodden heart like the lighter, sun-peppered moment before you lose your way.

One of my favourite ever perfumes – on me it becomes a smooth and brooding amber – this rather atypical Rochas is a very enigmatic scent that never raises its voice with shrill notes, nor clichés of any variety, nothing to disturb the immaculately crafted aura of the top soil. It draws you in, tells you nothing, and leaves an incredibly well controlled, unique – and deeply erotic – sillage in its wake. Recommended, but smell Mystere first – this is an acquired taste.

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PATCHOULI CONSCIOUSNESS: : MADONNA’S LIKE A PRAYER, PIGUET’S BANDIT + MONTALE’S AROMATIC LIME

 

 

 

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If you were to rewind time back precisely twenty five years, at this exact moment I would have probably been dancing ecstatically around my bedroom in a daze of awe and elation to my 12″ record of Like A Prayer. It was a song – no, more than a song – a monument, that had been out for a couple of months now but which had taken an absolute, reckless hold of my consciousness. I couldn’t actually believe how good this new release was, how she had managed to change herself so utterly effectively again just at the moment that her image had begun to get stale, that her profound, chameleon intuition had allowed her to lay low for a while, dye her hair black, get divorced from Sean Penn, and re-emerge, triumphantly, with a fantastic, epic record of such monster proportion. I had always really liked Madonna, but now I loved her.

 

 

We had already seen her acute sensibility to cool, and the brutal, unsentimental ability to shear away the past, in the swift conversion from the ribbons and lace shenanigans of Like A Virgin to the shorn, cold, ice-bitch gleam of True Blue (a look she had blatantly ripped off from Melanie Griffith’s porn star turn in Brian De Palma’s Body Double), but by 1987, four years into her success, the sound was already beginning to get a touch samey and ‘typical Madonna sounding’ with the Who’s That Girl soundtrack and You Can Dance remix album; she was resting on her laurels, she was stuck. I, personally, pop pundit extraordinaire, thought that was that, that she was finished, because at the time I felt that I was so attuned to the fortunes and misfortunes of all pop stars and rock bands, the shifting conscious in relation to their positions in the pantheon, that I could sense, like a seismological instrument, the exact moment that their fashionability dipped, the tragic moment when Duran Duran released ‘Notorious’ and lost their edge (although in reality that was with the release of ‘Wild Boys’), or when solo acts like Howard Jones or Nik Kershaw, popular at their exact moment of hit status i.e 1984, suddenly entered the farewell land of uncool gone forever. Essentially, it was, and is, extremely difficult for a pop act to keep their edge, their relevance in the fickle world of teenagers, record companies and trends, and virtually no one was able to sustain interest, let alone dazzle the public, beyond a couple of years. Cyndi Lauper managed it for about three years, Michael Jackson already seemed outdated by the time that he released Bad, Culture Club looked, and sounded ludicrous at the five year mark, and although the Human League had latched onto Janet Jackson’s producers Jam & Lewis to update their sound for their ‘Crash’ album, it was to be just luck; a fluke of fate.

 

 

 

Madonna was an entirely different entity. With Like A Prayer she crashed back into the public sphere fresher and more vital than ever. Seriously, whatever you may think of her, the woman is a genius in this regard, her antennae always listening in, her instincts, in those early days especially, infallible. When Like A Prayer was released, with its genuinely uplifting, gospel chorus, and dance floor power, it was as if she were an entirely different person ( and so were we). It felt as fresh as a daisy and just as shiny and new. Sensing the oncoming beginning of the nineties, she had updated the sound, ditched the disco nuances, brought in a live rock band to record the music, and imbued it all with emotion; memory, familial reminiscence, melancholia. And rather than the separate, four minute pop slices of the previous albums, there was a continuum to the songs, a cohesion of spirit, with upbeat, rousing anthems such as Express Yourself and Keep It Together being juxtaposed by far sadder, emotive songs such as the exquisite Oh Father, Spanish Eyes and Promise To try, tracks that brought her back to her childhood, the sixties, and the death of her mother. And, fascinatingly for the olfactive sensitive, Madonna did something that I have never experienced before this album or with any musician since: she had each album scented with patchouli oil. I don’t know how this was achieved, precisely, with the record company and logistically (you can imagine the manufacturers being up in arms at this request), but it is a well known fact among Madonna-philes that the initial editions of the album inner sleeve were all doused in musky, well-aged patchouli essences to add, overtly or subliminally, to the church-incense vibe of the title track. And it worked, brilliantly: when you lifted the paper inner sleeve out of the jacket, you were assailed with just the right amount of spectral patchouli – not the cheap music festival ‘oils’ but the essential: it lingered, and it of course scented even the record itself, the label in the middle, meaning that as you put on that album for the millionth time, as it spun round and round it gave off an evocative atmosphere of patchouli, making you associate that smell with Madonna, the paisley patterned aura of the music, the Strawberry-Fields-Forever sixties’ longing of the sweet child’s lullaby Dear Jessie, the delicately scented past. My original copy is still in my parents’ garage in England, but I am pretty sure that even a quarter decade later, if I were to take it out from the pile of records it would still be smelling, clearly, of patchouli, a gimmick if you like, but one that three-dimensionalized the experience of Like A Prayer ingeniously, making the music, the scent, and the icon fuse into one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With music I tend to suddenly crave a certain artist or album without knowing why exactly, and then I realize that it is because this was the season or the month that the record originally came out, when it flooded my brain and took over. I find that I start singing certain songs completely out of the blue, then impulsively have a fierce desire to hear them again, or, rather than the usual iTunes mix, as people used to do, listen to a complete album from start to finish. A similar thing happens to me also in regard to perfume. Before even thinking about Like A Prayer, a couple of weeks ago, while still in my jasmine & coconut phase, patchouli sinuously started to wind its way into the back of the brain, telling me it needed to be worn, that something deeper and more complex than tropicana was on its way.

 

 

 

 

The required scent, that was rising up slowly in my subconscious like a necessity, was not the simple, unadorned Haight & Ashbury love of the Madonna record, however, but Parisian patchouli chypre, a genre of scent I adore absolutely, that clings to you the entire day like a second, imaginary skin, orchestrated, finished, the embellishment of patchouli oil with rose and other flowers, balsams, spice and animalics to produce that black magic undertone that is always so sinewed, stylish, and je ne sais quoi. I speak, of course, of Eau Du Soir, Cabochard, Parure, Magie Noire and the like, but last week the specific perfume that was suddenly being called out for and that I knew absolutely I would have to wear come the weekend was Montale’s delightful Aromatic Lime. I bought this a few years ago from a perfume shop in Tokyo, and have not worn it all that much, but when I found it at the back of my cabinet and sniffed it from the lid I knew that I was right. This was the one. In some ways rather similar to Eau Du Soir in its essential profile and sillage, this is nevertheless possibly more masculine, less floral, and more long lasting, with a lime note in the top that keeps the whole thing smelling delightfully fresh throughout. The initial impression is quite odd, almost like a rich, lime chocolate ganache, with saffron, patchouli, vetiver and myrrh competing with the greener notes of bitter orange, galbanum and lime essence, but it soon dries down to a heart and aura that is, indeed, very ‘aromatic’. Like the perfumes that I mentioned earlier, it has that quality of complexity and shadowiness that you feel is trailing intriguingly wherever you go.

 

 

 

 

This weekend was a busy one socially, and I knew beforehand that the patchouli vibe was definitely how I wanted to be continuing. On Saturday night there was a friend’s birthday party in Sangenjaya, eighties themed, although we had been too busy, this time, to do proper costumes. What was funny was that aside one girl, who had come as an 80’s singer from The Philippines, every single other woman was there as Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan, with the day-glo colours, ripped tights and leather gloves, the teased up hair, showing the singer’s absolute domination of that decade in the popular psyche. It was Madonna central. D won a lip-syncing contest (which I thought was hilarious, singing along to Tainted Love), while I spent much of the time chatting to a woman called Anastasia, who was also got up as the Madonna but to far more pleasing effect. Perfume-wise, I was perhaps a little overdressed, having decided to finally debut the glorious Piguet Bandit shower crème that the extravagant Rafael sent to me at the beginning of this year, and that I knew I wasn’t going to touch until the moment was right, until the patchouli phase began its inevitable hold.

 

 

 

 

And this, I have to say, is the ultimate. I have never worn Bandit before ( I prefer Cabochard, with its more powdery, hyacinthine edge ), not, on the whole, going for that kind of harsh and uncompromising bitter leather, Germaine Cellier’s fighting call for women’s olfactory emancipation and its acridly voluptuous smack, but on this occasion I felt, intuitively, that it went perfectly with the Montale. Where most shower gels lather up and bubble and foam and leave you only vaguely scented with the signature perfume in question, this unctuous, satin-esque creation deeply perfumes your skin with a spiced, leather patchouli, all-over-scent, to the extent that you could almost leave it at that. I didn’t, of course, and went for a Kenzo Pour Homme stick deodorant for an extra, patchouli/marine effect, with the Aromatic Lime worn on my clothes and skin. I worried, initially, that it was too much (moi?), but D assured me that the whole thing smelled actually really fresh, the citrus on top coasting on the air and jamming the patchouli waves, keeping it all strangely subtle. It was, fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, nomihodai, or ‘all-you-can-drink’ (god those parties are dangerous), and before you knew it, leaving just in time to get our last train, we were walking down the street, arm-in-arm, singing, yes you’ve guessed it, Like A Prayer, at the instigation of Yukari, belting it out at the top of our lungs, to the bemusement of onlookers (and the police), and it still felt great, still had the impact. That song is timeless.

 

 

 

 

Sunday. Well, usually I don’t like to have two nights of seeing people and socializing in a row – I think one is ideal, followed by a more mellow day just spent at home, but there was a dinner party on the cards that had been planned for a while, three people who had never been around to the house before, and I was actually really in the mood for it for some reason: perhaps I am just getting more sociable now the weather is heating up and summer is almost in full swing. This time I opted for the same scents, essentially, but toned down: the Bandit shower gel used in smaller amounts (it is pungent!) and just a couple of sprays of the Montale on my T shirt, which I wore under something else. I loved how this combination smelled, the way it would occasionally rise up but not overpower, somewhere between quite masculine and androgynous, but definitely enigmatic ( or so I like to believe). Curiously enough, there were more Madonna connections: Spring Day, one of the guests – her real name, and an excellent stand up comic, incidentally, was tantalizing me with tales of how she had not that long ago had lunch with one of the dancers from the Blonde Ambition tour in Los Angeles, how she had loved Madonna for years ( I love such vicarious pleasures) and it wasn’t very long before we were on the piano singing along to Oh Father and Spanish Eyes and getting all emotional. I botched Like A Prayer itself with an ironic theatrical theatre organ sound that I thought would liven things up a bit after those ballads (in fact it just sounded stupid), but it was hilarious fun nevertheless. And then something else happened: Makana, a recent friend from Hawaii who had come along with slinky Jonathan, said he wrote songs and lyrics, and wondered if I could try and put down some chords and music for them. I have never done this before, and have an inadequate knowledge of chord structure, but before you knew it there we were writing a pop song; though I felt bad for the other guests, as once we were getting down to it the music took over and we didn’t talk to them (!) there was something delightful about the spontaneity of all this: it is something I have long wanted to try, at the back of my mind, I think: I have had the knowledge that writing a song would not be impossible, but having the lyrics and the basic melodic ideas laid out (he is a Leo, like Madam M, who also works this way, co-incidentally) meant that there was a template, that I could try different permutations until we got it right. Like Madonna, Makana is also somewhat exacting, and the song, if it ever surfaces, is not quite ready yet – I/we will have to work on it, and I look forward to it, actually, but the whole thing, at that moment felt exciting, and new, everything rising up spontaneously; freely; and without restraint.

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GOLDMINE TRASH

We have friends coming round for dinner tonight, and I have been instructed to order, dust and clean the perfume collection. I wonder what I will come across?

The Black Narcissus

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Recently Birgit at Olfactoria published a post congratulating herself on finally finishing a whole bottle of perfume. When I read it I didn’t know whether to laugh or blush…

Yesterday, upon the orders of Duncan, and because we have the time now that we are in the spring holidays ( I am a slob of unbelievable levels, and he is a tidy Virgoan ) I had to dust, reorder and make more presentable the perfume cabinets, a task that took me a whole afternoon, but which yielded some treasures I had forgotten I had, and some I had no idea I owned in the first place. We also nailed them to the walls to prevent the possible calamity I described in my Killed By Perfume article, so hopefully now if there is a Richter 9 earthquake the perfumes may rattle about and spill but at least they won’t be the…

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My new friend tonight

 

 

 

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ON PERSONALITY, VERSATILITY, AND HERMES EAU DE NARCISSE BLEU (2013)

 

 

 

 

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The terrifying, and profoundly affecting, central conceit in Stanislaw Lem’s novel Solaris (made subsequently into brilliant, if entirely differing, film adaptations by Andrei Tarkovsky and Steven Soderbergh) is the idea that we are, essentially, how others see us. Although this is hardly a new notion, especially for anyone who has studied existentialism or simply spent time analyzing the human condition, it is still put into very painful relief in the form of Rheya, the wife of the main protagonist and scientist, Kris Kelvin, a man who finds himself investigating the mysterious circumstances surrounding the deaths of scientists on board a spacecraft that is being inexplicably magnetized, radiated and manipulated by Solaris, the planet the spaceship is currently in the process of orbiting: an insidious, nocturnal, interference that manifests itself in the form of night visitations to the surviving crew members by people that they left behind on earth, many years ago, mostly dead.

 

 

They return, to visit their loved ones, looking and seeming identical, the planet’s advanced intelligence scanning each crew member’s memories of that person and reproducing them with perfect fidelity, except, and most crucially, for the fact that they only have that person’s memory to go by. Meaning that the replicant being – unmalevolent, new, unaware of his or her condition – feels strangely, and excruciatingly lacking: sensing, and suffering, from the fact that vital parts of their mechanism – their soul if you like – are missing, for the simple, yet deadening, reason that their reborn, reassembled selves are composed, solely, of one other person’s limiting, self-serving and subjective, view point.

 

 

 

As the implications of the narrative begin to unfold, I always find this to be quite a horrifying idea. Where the myriad of components of our personalities, some concealed, some revealed, some unformed, some exaggerated, are in a perpetual flux of opposities and contradictions, moods and nuances – an ever evolving, constantly shifting mass of contrasting moods and perceptions, the Solaris projection is fixed: locked: and limited, simplified annihilatingly by the absorbent and moulding – if loving –  gaze of another. We are trapped, in other words, in their vision; undeserved: simplified: trashed. I may be wild and anarchic, a hooligan, libertarian: rude, vain, aggressive, irrational, a dreamer inclined towards decadence and crazed romanticism – but I can also be conservative, quiet, logical, removed, and actually, to the surprise of some people, really rather introverted. Both libidinous and chaste. Stupid and intelligent. Compassionate yet vindictive. Spiritual, yet a hedonist. Multifaceted. Just like anyone.

 

 

 

 

And although it may seem like a somewhat spurious link, I think the ideas presented in Solaris are also connected, in some ways, to perfume and personality: signature scents, other people’s associations of us, and the varied, unfaithful, and promiscuous lives of the true and collecting perfumist. Unlike the civilians on the street, who usually probably have just one, or possibly two scents, often given to them by somebody else as a gift (can you imagine having your signature scent conferred on you? my mind thrashes instinctively in protest and rejection even imagining this), just to wear………. because, we ‘smell sensitives’ bond far more deeply with the scents that we have identified with and chosen for ourselves – knowingly -and use them, often, to externalize and exteriorize our internal feelings (….why do we do this? To reinforce them? Double them? Colour them and decorate them, make them manifest? What weird, space-probing extroversion is this exactly?).

 

 

 

 

 

When we feel erotically inclined, we know what to wear, precisely, to boost the body’s arsenal. Extroverted, gregarious, attention-seeking: they’ve got my name on them. Comforting, sweet……oh yes. Mysterious and complex….something vintage and difficult; impenetrable, androgynous, and cloaky, from my antique Japanese cabinets. Then, another day……. simplicity, to strip ourselves right down to the bright rind frisks of the lemon, the yuzu; iciness, colournessness. Negation; nihilism even – I Hate Perfume’s Black March, with its bleakness of black-branched, crow-cawing sky; its hints of death, of soil, and of winter.

 

 

 

 

 

So while we may have our standard, essential, familiar-to-others base character – in my case probably patchouli, vanilla, tropical flowers, and coconut, and I admit that these are the smells I most readily identify with (party boy: heat: dancing: summer), we all, all of us, have our secret sides, our private sides, our unexpecteds, our anti-intuitives – our mood-changers, if you like: the perfume that is our rebellion against type. Our clandestine, impenetrable, refuge.

 

 

 

 

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Rheya, in Solaris, is trapped, tragically, in her grieving husband’s remembrances of her, which centre around three pivotal characteristics. Firstly, her sensuality (less so in the Tarkovsky, but especially in Soderbergh’s version of the story – one of my favourite films of all time, incidentally, starring a beautiful, sad and bereft George Clooney as Kelvin, and the compelling, eerie Natascha McCelhone as his dead wife . We see their first chance meeting, on a train, and she is mystery and salvation itself; alluring; intellectual, all eyes and try-to-get-me gestures). Her strange beauty, which has such a hold over him, is the principle affirmation in her alien reincarnation. But also there is poetry, for this is what they bond over, initially – their shared love of Dylan Thomas’ ‘And Death Shall Have No Dominion’:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And death shall have no dominion.

Dead men naked they shall be one

With the man in the wind and the west moon;

When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,

They shall have stars at elbow and foot;

Though they go mad they shall be sane,

Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;

Though lovers be lost love shall not;

And death shall have no dominion.

 

 

 

 

 

And death shall have no dominion.

Under the windings of the sea

They lying long shall not die windily;

Twisting on racks when sinews give way,

Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;

Faith in their hands shall snap in two,

And the unicorn evils run them through;

Split all ends up they shan’t crack;

And death shall have no dominion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And death shall have no dominion.

No more may gulls cry at their ears

Or waves break loud on the seashores;

Where blew a flower may a flower no more

Lift its head to the blows of the rain;

Though they be mad and dead as nails,

Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;

Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,

And death shall have no dominion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mostly, though, what Kelvin seems to remember about his long-disappeared wife, now, is her depressive and hypersensitive nature, her strong, and ultimately fatal suicidal tendencies (he finds her dead in bed following a row, and is guilt-stricken and destroyed as a result). Rheya is thus confined to these three, simplified characteristics in her resurrected incarnation; a truncated, edited person, limited by his own projections of what she represented for him personally. Convinced, the first time, by the other vehement crew members to get rid of ‘it’,  sending the cloned version of his beloved out to her death into the lifeless atmosphere outside, Kelvin nevertheless again has numerous re-visitations by this wife-clone, this hampered, uncomplex creature who feels all the lacks in her constituents, keenly, painfully, to the extent that she no longer wants to ‘live’ any more because her memories, and her sensations, don’t feel like her own ( despite the love that they still feel, inexorably, between them). The scientist, is too profoundly overjoyed, however, to have been given another chance at redemption – even if it is by an alien life form that is tampering with his insecurites – and is unable to let her die again. And as expected, he pays the ultimate sacrifice as a result (or does he? The film is steeped in ambiguity and the lovers, in whatever form they have taken, seem to be destined for eternity……..ultimately, though ostensibly a science fiction film, I think of Solaris as a deeply haunting love story). The Soderbergh version is one of the most hypnotic films I have ever seen, actually, largely due to the set design, atmosphere, and the throbbing, shimmering soundtrack by Cliff Martinez, while the Tarkovsky, original film from 1972 is almost too intolerably exquisite for me to bear: profound perfection, but deeply depressing, touching some chord in me that I wasn’t entirely sure I needed to be touched. It sits there waiting in my film collection to be re-viewed, but where I have seen the Soderbergh version probably at least six or seven times, The Tarkovsky will just have to wait until I can steel myself again fully, to its beautifully, searing, unalloyed, unflinching poetry.

 

 

 

 

 

Essentially, I am fascinated by the theories at the heart of this story, of the limiting nature of human-to-human interaction, how we box people, categorize them, reduce them to one, defining buzzword, feeling, trait. Even on the blogosphere, among the perfume cognoscenti, we know the essential tastes of the better known writers, can imagine this one person constantly sashaying about in a tart, trumpeting tuberose; that one in an essential oil of Laotian oud, another in Indonesian vanilla, even if they are guaranteed in reality to be as complex, and conflicting in their desires and fantasies as we ourselves are. Maybe they also, like myself, need their rebellious sanctuaries, reactions against type, smells to help them escape the confining, and suffocating, constraints of society, stereotype, and ‘personality’, to be freed.

 

 

 

 

 

And I think that Hermès Narcisse Bleu, which I smelled for the third time yesterday in a Japanese department store and loved ( I will need to buy it), might be one of those saviours: those tranquil, nerve-calming smells of cool, stalactitian antidote: the shady undergrowth where I suddenly want to be not what is expected of me; to rebel internally and from without, to be invisible, swimming silently, more subtle……The Blue Narcissus, this time, not the Black.

 

 

 

 

 

This is a perfume that is austere; aloof, removed: almost daringly, and revitalizingly cold. Though the notes are listed simply as being of narcissus and galbanum over woods, I was reminded immediately of the melancholy distance of Hermès Hiris (one of my other go-to ‘refuge’ scents), as well as the green and beautiful escape chute that is Geoffrey Beene’s violet-leaved Grey Flannel. I smell iris, and green notes, and something crisp, unsweetened, even bitter and tannic in this scent- it almost repels you, startlingly, with its aversion to the the sweet, even while it draws you in with its understated, arcadian elegance. It speaks to me directly, and will be a portal. To my grotto, a place you can’t touch. A place of isolation, peace, solitude. My anti-reference point. My blue lagoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOLARIS THEATRICAL ONE SHEET MECHANICAL • ART MACHINE JOB# 5136 • 10/09/02

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DE NATURA : Four organic perfumes from the collection of Frazer Parfums (2011)

The Black Narcissus

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The work of Tammy Frazer, a South African perfumer who works exclusively with locally sourced, sustainable aromatic materials, is impressive. While the names of the perfumes in the nine ‘chapters’ of the collection, each based on a particular combination of natural ingredients discovered on her travels, might not evoke poetic insights (‘Coffee and Orange’: ‘Mint and Patchouli’ and so on), the lack of pretentiouness also makes a refreshing change in the concept-overheavy current climate. Besides, some of the scents themselves are really quite beautiful: strange, poignant and peculiar creations that work on you slowly and emotively with their gentle fusions of time and place. This is a stimulating, delicate poetry of captured plant essences that produces an olfactory timbre very different from that of mainstream of perfumery or even of niche, and while it might be considered unfashionable among scent cognoscenti of the Chandler Burr School…

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