Monthly Archives: April 2016

NINE AND A HALF WEEKS: : : : TUBEROSA by SANTA MARIA NOVELLA (1939)

 

 

 

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Off-white lipid tuberoses float in musked, Italian water: looming, moonstruck flowers that exhale blushlessly with a pure and florally animal sexuality – full, rude skinned smells to make the introspective, the loveless, and the anaphrodisically affected white floral hater shudder.

 

 

But for hot and uninhibited lovers of the flesh, these beautifully erotic flowers, aided and abetted and then captured in rich alcoholic liquid by those Florentine magicians of the monastery (their chastity very much in doubt as the fumes of this tuberosa rise up from the flacon) coalesce beautifully to produce an unfettered and uncensored perfume that is mesmerizing: rich, sweet, natural and heavy;  langid and dripping, like barely sated bodies in blissfully semi-conscious repose.

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friday in tokyo

 

 

 

 

 

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DO YOU DREAM ABOUT PERFUME?

 

 

 

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I have just woken up from a nightmare in which I was trapped in a hotel room in the Czech Republic with my Japanese boss. I was stressed out of my face despite the fascinating array of characters that kept appearing, yet amid the maelstrom, being chastised for lighting a candle in the middle of class (‘but I just wanted to create a nice atmosphere!) I still somehow managed to discover on the way there an intriguing (and actually non-existent) perfume for about 4 Euros  – something ‘-issima’ by Armani, spicy, adulterous, leathery and fur-coaty-  outside the window of a Czech curiosity shop (I had been in Mexico, but suddenly I went over the border and it was Eastern Europe). I wanted it, and there were other things in there as well, in the dark interior of the shop, really rare looking Carons and their like in beautiful bottles that I was desperate to own but was then dragged away. Thank god that Duncan woke me up with a cup of tea just at the moment that I realized that I and my vicious castigator would be sleeping next to each other and that I would not get a second’s sleep. I could feel my throat closing over. This often happens to me, though. I dream about perfumes that don’t exist. And I can physically smell them.

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D E L I R I O U S (a celebration, and exploration, of all things jasmine, featuring: JASMIN DE NUIT by THE DIFFERENT COMPANY + ACASIOSA by CARON + JASMINE ATTAR by AMOUAGE + VENT DE JASMIN by IL PROFUMO + VELVET DESIRE by DOLCE & GABBANA + OPHELIA by HEELEY + A LA NUIT by SERGE LUTENS + IKAT JASMINE by ERIN LAUDER + JARDIN BLANC by MAITRE PARFUMEUR ET GANTIER + FLEURS D’OMBRE JASMIN LILAS by JEAN CHARLES BROSSEAU + VOILE DE JASMIN by BULGARI + IMPERIAL TEA by KILIAN + FIRST by VAN CLEEF & ARPELS + ECLAT DE JASMIN by ARMANI PRIVE + WHITE JASMINE & MINT by JO MALONE + JASMINE FULL by MONTALE + NIGHT BLOOMING JASMINE by FLORIS + GIANFRANCO FERRE + SARRASINS by SERGE LUTENS + LA REINE MARGOT by LES PARFUMS HISTORIQUES + LUST by GORILLA PERFUMES + LOVE AND TEARS by BY KILIAN + GELSOMINO by SANTA MARIA NOVELLA +PALAIS JAMAIS by ETRO + JASMIN ET CIGARETTE by ETAT LIBRE D’ORANGE + CAROLINA HERRERA + LE JASMIN by ANNICK GOUTAL + ORIO by MONA DI ORIO + SAMSARA by GUERLAIN + JASMIN ROUGE by TOM FORD + JAZMIN by LE JARDIN DE JIMMY BOYD + OLENE by DIPTYQUE + SONGES by ANNICK GOUTAL + EVA EVANTHIA’S INDIAN JASMINE )

IT’S JUST OUT, FILLING UP THE MOUNTAINS AS I WALKED HOME, AND I KNOW THAT PRINCE WOULD ALSO HAVE LOVED IT.

WHEN 2 R IN LOVE……

The Black Narcissus

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Jasmine taken outside just now by my Japanese piano teacher’s house

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The previous night we had stayed in a stuffy, foul smelling hotel in Bandung, where you could practically see the fungal spores floating in the air. So lungeing and moist, we should really have gone somewhere else, but it was too late and we just decided that we had to put up with it. This was then followed by a blistering row on the streets, where we practically came to blows down one of its back-alleys; a bad night’s sleep; vile breakfast, and tense, infuriated silence.

We were soon on the train to Yogyakarta, though, a seven hour journey that passed like a dream, and let our souls ease back into a gently relaxed pace again as Javan scapes bled slowly past in a light green blur of elegantly shaped mountains, paddy fields, and the self-contained, feline…

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THE RECENT HERMES RELEASES: : : EQUIPAGE GERANIUM (2015), EAU DE RHUBARBE ECARLATE (2016) + EAU DE NEROLI DORE (2016)

 

 

 

 

 

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You could do far worse than the contemporary line up of Hermès colognes. From the crisp, citric classicism of Eau d’Orange Verte (green, subdued and angular as it always smelled), the plush, more obvious pink grapefruit of Eau De Pamplemousse Rose; the calm, blue mysticism of Eau de Narcisse Bleu and the more sensual Eau de Mandarine Ambrée (the one I am closest to buying at the moment because it reminds me somewhat of vintage Calvin Klein Obsession and immediately makes me feel happy); and, now, Eau de Néroli Doré and Eau de Rhubarbe Ecarlate, these clear and relatively reasonably priced fragrances are clean, fresh, but effectively pleasing spring and summer scents that work well as taut, spritzy pick-me-ups.

 

 

 

As with the Hermessences, I like some more than others. Eau de Gentiane Blanche doesn’t really grab me (though I appreciate its pale and watery oddness), and though I enjoyed certain facets of Iris Ukiyoé,  Epice Marine, Santal Massoia, and Vanille Galante, ultimately, neither did they. The ‘new’ rhubarb, Rhubarbe Ecarlate  (which in fact smells almost embarrassingly familiar), also courts my ambivalence. It is quite nice, and should probably be a commercial success I would imagine with its faint vanilla custard note running through it (white musks), reminding me of particularly nostalgic boiled sweets you can still get from a confectioner’s shop in Hurst St. in Birmingham  ( Rhubarb and custard. I have always loved that combination). Over this soft and malleable skin scent base note is layed a fine, fruity, and indeed, truly red rhubarb accord that bursts forth from the flacon, appealingly rendered but a touch unimaginative, coming across rather like Rose Ikebana and Eau De Pamplemousse Rose’s sturdy, but perhaps less intelligent, younger cousin. That this is Christine Nagel’s first work in her new position alongside Jean Claude Ellena comes as something of a surprise, then, as it feels like a copy – albeit more rounded and smooth – of her co-worker’s own oeuvre, as though only just esconced in the Hermès studios she is as yet still afraid to really experiment.

 

 

 

Ellena’s own neroli (for which Tunisia and Morocco apparently had half of their annual neroli crop bough up by Hermès) is more successful in terms of creativity – a raspingly smooth, almost bitter, very natural orange blossom scent that is very neroli-centric and indeed smells clean and golden with an unusual underlay of saffron. I like it better than the recent Eau Des Sens by Diptyque, another orange blossom effusion (is this the latest ingredient du jour?)  because it smells less synthetic to me and more refined. Neroli lovers should definitely give this one a spin – it would make a very pleasing travel companion I would imagine, but my partner is a confirmed neroli-hater and I would never personally get away with it ( I sometimes secretly spritz on some Annick Goutal Neroli on sunny days when he is not looking, though, my personal favourite interpretation of these provocative and pungent, smell-me early summer flowers).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Surprisingly, given how awful most reformulations or ‘reimaginations’ of classic, discontinued scents tend to be on the whole, Jean Claude Ellenas’s remixes of the classic Hermès masculines are more successful than I would have imagined. I was happy to reacquaint myself with Bel Ami Vetiver again recently- a beautifully rich and elegant scent that seemed like a real Duncan contender to me when I smelled it the first time, and better than the current formulation of Bel Ami which feels a bit doctored. (The original was great -like a hairy, gay 70’s porn star having a quiet night in at home in his leather dungeon) but I personally find it, now, a bit other era – only someone really working the theme with confidence and with the appropriately hirsute physique  could properly carry it off, in my opinion. The vetiver remake – more held together and now –  is more up to date, modern and more easily worn.

 

 

 

Another classic by the house, Equipage, by Guy Robert (Calèche, Doblis, Madame Rochas) was already the epitome of male elegance for me – one of the most appealing of the traditional cigar-smoking, properly orchestrated masculines – I have a vintage bottle that I dip into from time to time on an autumnal Sunday, say, in a thick-knit woollen sweater as the golden light of yellow leaves filters through the garden. Complex, citric, aromatic, floral (lily) and delicately spicy, Equipage represents the thorough dignity of the thinking male without the bulging thongs of the chest-thumping 70’s ballbearers. There are few classical male scents this intricate, light, yet simultaneously trustworthy, full and self-assured.

 

 

 

The geranium variant of Equipage seem to me to be Ellena at his more experimental and playful, taking a fresh and powdery, yet still quite manly fougère accord, draining out some of the smudged old-school musky animalics that date this kind of perfume easily, and flushing it with a cool, Hermesian fraîcheur, the geranium flower note hale, uplifting and fresh from the bathroom (in fact the whole very much reminds me, in its overall projection, with its rose and sandalwood and cloves, of Imperial leather soap,  a creamy and soothing smell which I have always loved and sometimes ask people to bring me from England when they come to stay). Its appearance in Geranium Equipage makes the perfume very wearable, humorous and life-loving – cool, neo retro at its very best.

 

 

 

All housed in similar bottles, now, as you can see in these pictures, the Hermès full collection of perfumes may represent a certain clean, held-back conservatism, bound very firmly by the Parisian laws of chic, and now, packaged quite homogeneously as well. But there is plenty of poetry and playfulness within these scents too. They basically all smell good, imbued with a luxurious feeling of calm and glassy detachment. In these woefully crass and oversugared times, I have to say that I do admire the dignity that the house seems almost effortlessly to maintain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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raspberry beret : : : : :: japan on a sunday can be strange

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PRINCE & HIS PARADISE OF FLOWERS

 

 

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The music of Prince is woven inextricably into the fabric of my youth, of summer, of friendship, of a boundless sense of freedom and lushness. My best friend Helen and I would lounge about in each other’s rooms with the latest album or 12” on the turntable (when the extended, endless b-sides would often be even better than the A), birds singing in the garden outside, the warm liberating sunset of late July and early sexual awakening and the flowering of our minds, always doused in our latest perfume and proffering our wrists to each other, holding forth on whatever nonsense we wanted to hold forth about, leafing through magazines, laughing and drinking and letting the succulent, delectable warm funk of his wonderful music flood the room and our bodies and our brains. It is indelibly linked to a great feeling of happiness, of parties where we would always play him and dance all night long, of times spent with my brother and sister where we would listen to his music on the beach or in my room upstairs, swooning over The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker, and in particular of a particular holiday in Greece where I would lie outside in the sun by myself all day blasting out Lovesexy on my cassette deck, for me the epitome of his Apollonian groves of purple bliss and fields of flowers and splendor and his gender and race- transcending musical brilliance – like some kind of far-removed, delectably scented heaven. I lay there trapped in the sunshine and the music and the eucalyptus leaves like a young god: this music was not touching or emotive or sentimental in the way that some singers make you want to cry. For me it was the opposite; a kind of silken, flower-strewn ebullience that strengthened the nervous system like a tonic to the senses and made me feel real. Full of energy. Full of light. In the moment. Alive. Excited. I remember Helen and I speeding into Birmingham city centre one night in the middle of summer as I know she will (Helen I am crying as I write this) : dressed up in our finest, perfumed to the max, nineteen or twenty years old, looking great, windows down, life soaring through us, and the new 12” house remix of Gettt Off that we had just got hold of blasting on the car stereo with a propulsive sense of funk driven ecstacy and delight, of absolute possibility and young-minded mindlessness. It was wonderful. We felt immortal.

 

 

 

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