Monthly Archives: June 2015
Once given to me by a Japanese friend who liked the scent but found it too melancholic (‘setsunai desu’, she said – it makes me sad), I still use this perfume on occasions when something cool, dignified and is required. When I want to erect (invisible) barriers.
A modern iris; airy; an ethereal bouquet of solemnity – the botanical fragility of the flower’s texture evoked with a perturbing, paper white of carrot leaf, lifting the petals somewhat balefully as they exhale their timidly rarified fragrance – Hiris then remains like this throughout its clear, morose introversion: clear, pallid, depressive almost, developing very gradually, gently, to a soft, light, yet austerely powdered note of orris root and ambrette: the refined, bluest, very essence, of discretion.
I have just had an extremely stressful evening, an emotional conflagration that threatened to become ghastly and overwhelming.
As I sat on the balcony, and they were downstairs, and I nursed my red wine, but put it aside, and drank some leftover rooibos tea from last night, and sprayed myself all over; emphatically; again and again, deeply breathing, behind my ears, on my chest, on my stomach, on my hair, with an organic lavender spray from California I had bought; and put some marjoram oil on my tongue and sucked on a Rescue Remedy, I felt my heart and nervous system pounding less, could get a quite firm grip on myself, and after a time – let’s say thirty minutes or so though it might have been longer, or less, I can’t tell: I was REALLY stressed, more than I have been in a long time, almost unbearable (especially as we have this bloody party tomorrow, the ridiculous Delicate Delinquents – why the hell do I do it to myself, all these people congregating and expecting fun when I felt as if my head was about to explode) – I was able to go downstairs; but the point is I KNOW that if it hadn’t been for these plants, these oils, these essences that genuinely do calm people down, especially me, I really don’t know what would have happened tonight.
I am thankful for this, and for having embraced aromatherapy and the healing power of plants all those years ago.
Quite literally, these beautiful gifts from nature can be life savers.
It’s ironic. Where By Kilian’s In The Garden Of Good And Evil series was a selection of fruity florals without much real hint of the sensual, in the post yesterday I received, unexpectedly, the latest from the Asian Tales collection – Imperial Tea. I quite like tea fragrances, and so was readying myself lackadaisically for a delicate, unthreatening scent that might be nice come Spring. Instead, spraying this perfume on the back of my hand I am assailed by an intense and beautiful green jasmine, rasping on a bed of fresh Chinese (oolong?) tea leaves; impertinent in its reach, hypnotically sexual, the kind of perfume that is guaranteed to turn heads as its wearer moves knowingly through the room in an open-at-the-neck white dress.
I don’t have the official notes of Imperial Tea (to be released later this year in April), but to my nose, it is essentially an inspired…
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I am at this moment just taking a break from dancing around the kitchen, putting the soundtrack together for our next big party, Delicate Delinquents – the first big event since Sexual Emergency last year and the first proper summer extravaganza since 20I3’s Music For Chameleons, a rainforest weirdity of atmospherica that was moist and tropical and very chameleony (D even did a chameleon dance after he had been body painted by the crowd). This next party is going to be tighter; more furiously exciting and rebellious. I’ve got the films sorted, I think (we have two big projectors: beginning with Cassevetes’ Shadows (fifties delinquent hipsters) and Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point (seventies radicals), I am thinking about moving onto Almodovar’s Pepi, Luci, Bom for a bit of Madrid eighties underground and some fine splashes of Spanish colour, possibly contrasted with Coffy, Pam Grier’s Blaxploitation classic that will look good spread on the walls as the congregation gets down and grooves.
The art performances are in the pipeline; my clothes are ready (I think): some Japanese white and blue jinbe pyjamas, and possibly thief makeup (see above). The only thing left to decide, and this is important, is PERFUME.
What do you think?
Me (on the right) and the D heading out incognito into the night. Neither of us can take too much of the humdrum reality: there comes a time when you just have to E S C A P E.
The main thrust of contemporary high street perfumery is vulgarity. A pushed up cleavage; cling-wrapped derrière; the rubber-lipped Kim Karshadian of a ‘celebrity’ magazine culture that is peached up, pouted and packaged in a fruity, pink, vanilla’d explicitness; a fruitchouli ‘sensuality’ (you will never know how much I hate Coco Mademoiselle); or else virginalized, and rigidly chastity-belted, as the pure-as-the-driven-snow ‘roses’ that are often, in their holier-than-thou, quite angrily overt ‘get your hand out of my pants’ passive-aggression, strangely, somehow, even more crass.
Despite this rather rum state of affairs out there in the world of popular perfumery, there is definitely, nevertheless, still a market for more nuanced and intelligent scents that don’t place themselves as definitively at whichever position they have chosen on the culturally prescribed sexometer, that go for a more subtle, distanced approach, melding sensuality, and the mysterious promise of what may be, with fragranced veils…
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THE NEW SUMMER FLOWERS: A LA ROSE by MAISON KURKDJIAN (20I4) + L’ISLE AU THE by ANNICK GOUTAL (20I5)
I am a big wearer of flowers, always on the lookout for new varieties of beguiling fresh florals, particularly come the summer months, when the jasmines, tuberoses, frangipanis and gardenias come into play, though I can be equally content with some blue-freshing hyacinths, carnations, or the right kind of rose. In recent commercial fragrance however, roses have been maniacally overdone in the most prissy, prudish and synthetic manner imaginable and I have come to almost hate the note: that sewn-up, more hygienic-than-thou aspect as you pass them on the street, a note of irritation; woman as factory-machined item – bottled and pink, choreographed with a cream, plastic bow.
Sometimes I yearn for more exuding roses: powdered, glossy, but with undercushioned nuances. We were in Shibuya the other night (having missed the last train: we slept on the steps of Bunkamura for a while and wandered the streets like nightcrawlers until the first train), but there were some girls up ahead on the pavement in their heels, and one of them was wearing a rose that was familiar, but which I couldn’t pinpoint, and it changed the midnight air beautifully: lending a satin swagger and flirtatious uplift that I had been craving in my nose brain. I was inhaling greedily as we followed them down the street.
Yes: why not sucker punch your perfume (especially on a Japanese girl, quite unusual), rather than this pseudo demure that pollutes our cities?: these hideous red belts of chastity that come across like olfactory interdictions from the religious police. Be. Clean. Smell. Fresh. Like a rose that has never been. Plucked.
This is all perhaps a strange opening for a rose review that isn’t what I am describing here: A La Rose is something of a compromise between the two, but at the very least, smelling A La Rose yesterday I didn’t feel sick as I usually do these days with the endless stuck up posies of chemical rosies. In fact I thought, mmmm…clever….
A Japanese only release, Kurkdjian has here found a way to stride the river of prim and sensual and create a rose perfume that is rosy (it certainly is very rosy), but without that pink pepper / ‘peony’, nose-nauseous bllieeiruruugggh that the majority of ‘rose’ perfumes currently evince : there is a freshness and a softness but as though through the billowing bottomness of glass. Damascus rose and Turkish rose absolute are citrified and violetted, but only gently, and there is a rougeness that blends naturally with the cedarwood musks of the base. It is one of those perfumes I would never wear (it is still a little bit straitjacketing for me, this style), but which I nevertheless distinctly thought nice on first sniff; a rose that smells urbane but light-hearted; effortless yet thought-out. I can imagine it being quite a big hit here among the Tokyo cognoscenti.
I had actually gone into Takashimaya though, pre-work, to smell L’Isle Au Thé, the new release by Annick Goutal that has had great reviews on several sites, and whose imagery caught my fancy: the island of Jeju in South Korea, and its tea, and its flowers, and I very much liked the idea of a mandarin osmanthus revivifiying summer spritz that might get me through the final two months of term (eleven weeks down, still eight weeks to go). I adore the smell of a well done orange perfume, or mandarin, or tangerine, or any citrus scent if it is handled in an imaginative way, and had imagined an eye-opening citrus perfume with green tea accents; a sly lick of osmanthus.
I immediately liked the perfume, as I had anticipated I would: I think Annick Goutal is one of those houses whose perfumes smell joyous. To me they smell unfettered and alive and devoid of crass commercialism though managing to smell current. Unbased on gimmickry and boilerplate fashion tags they are just bottles of beautifully made scent: romantic: well crafted, and pleasing. This new release is another successful addition to a line that encompasses all flowers done in the French contemporary style yet with classicist leanings: a musc softened green tea neroli with mandarin accents: lovely, but for me a touch too heavy on the orange blossom: I have already fallen in love with the brand’s sharper and more uncompromising pure Néroli, as I wrote the other day. My immediate impression was that L’Isle au thé was like a combination of that perfume, with an underlying dose of Bulgari’s Eau Parfumée Au The Vert (which I have and wear on occasion), but which smells a touch nineties to me in a way, a bit of a throwback. However, the osmanthus touch is very appealing, and so is the overall execution of the perfume, and I would certainly keep an eye out for a discounted bottle as I can imagine this being delightful when you are in the exact right mood. As a full priced bottle though it doesn’t quite reach the mark. I already have my cabinets full of more exciting, sense-gratifying treasures.