I am now safely ensconced at my parents’ house in England after a rather gruelling flight from Japan via Amsterdam, and a stopover at the reeking Duty Free of Schiphol airport.
God it was vile.
The stench. The uncouth, chemically cheap unpoetry of it – the vulgarian slop. And the irony: the great perfume lover, wanting to get up to date, but hating the smell of all the ‘perfume’ (these inverted commas strictly necessary), to the extent that he was not only unable to muster any enthusiasm for any of the nose-searing atrocities, but not even capable of being near it.I had to retreat to a corner of the airport and an art museum cafe to regain my bearings.
I suppose this extreme reaction is partly due to the fact that Japanese airports, while still polluted with the likes of Coco Madamoiselle and its insidiously chemical patchoulis (you will never comprehend how much I detest that perfume), are not so full of such billowing gusts of offensively concocted aroma chemicals that you get a headache from the moment you come out of customs, an olfactive ten max volume that would floor most Japanese people and leave them unconscious on the carpet. ‘Men’s Fragrances’ (god, HOW did we get to this point?!) that get worse and worse all the time, the same variant, the same sports smell, the same, Axe spray macho olfactory horror that makes me wince every time a ‘man’ walks by me and I just think ape. ape. ape, continually (though two scents I encountered, Prada L’Homme and Kenzo Totem at least seemed to be trying something at least vaguely different); ‘women’s’ ‘fragrance’ that are ALL, virtually bar none, now variations on the sickly, sickly Flowerbomb cheap vanilla theme, but much much worse. ‘Black Opium’: VILE! Poison Girl. VILE! Every other perfume. VILE! Even the new Angel Muse, had, seeing that it was the originator of this candy floss ethyl maltol craze, ironically gone the same route, caving in on itself and compromising and turning into yet another one of these crass, evil slag, fuckwits.
Exhausted, jet-lagged and ill, but still with time to kill , I eventually came across the Hermes boutique and thought YES ! I can try the new Muguet Porcelane. That will give me some clarity and beauty. Or at least a change from the unchanging tropes. Plus, the Dutch sales assistant is virtually guaranteed to be more friendly and amenable than the cold snooty bitches in the Tokyo shop, who I have freely condemned before, and who deserve to be locked in giant refrigerators up to the last minute possible until they learn their lesson. And yes, as I anticipated, the lady was nice, but Jesus the perfume!
Blimey. Hats off I suppose to Jean Claude Ellena for making his swan song for Hermes a full on floral, both swooningly intense and unrepentant, and cunningly old and modern at the same time. Shame to my nose it smelled so damn repugnant though. I mean I was never much of a lily-of-the-valley man to begin with, so ignore me if you are a muguet madame who can’t get enough of this flower, but.
I enjoy Diorissimo on other people, and the D bought me a vintage Diorissimo cologne the other day that was quite intriguing, but generally speaking I prefer this flower note muted and cold like Caron’s Muguet or Muguet De Bonheur or simply not at all. This new, quite bizarre interpretation of those strange little white May bells is like a mutant version of lily of the valley emerging Godzilla-like, and roaring, from the jungle. It is huge (at least thirteen metres high); it is animalic; it is musky and old fashioned, yet the giant lily of the valley bells come clanging from the undergrowth blaring in tandem with gargantuan melons – melons with teeth and eyes that open forth and split, and start immediately rotting, menacingly, on the forest floor. Yes, melon. And not the elegant, decadent melonic notes ingeniously employed by Roudnitska in Diorella or Parfum Therese; just a hint of my least favourite fruit to add some peculiar, dirty chic. No, we are talking MELON melon, right there in the funky, floral, melange, with some kind of civet like weirdness lurking underneath, and a smell for this tired traveller at that point in the day (or night? god knows) that was the straw that almost broke the camel’s back.
I could have puked.