Monthly Archives: December 2016

THE YLANG YLANG TERRORIST

The Black Narcissus

Ylang-Ylang

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The other day I came home with two small bottles of very good ylang ylang and bergamot essential oils, and, as you do, I decided to terrorize my perfume collection .

The tampering/contaminating/ disrespecting of a perfumer’s formula is something that that probably fills most real perfume lovers with horror. And, ultimately, when I look at my own triumphs and misdemeanours and weigh the whole thing up, I would have to agree. The formulae are the way that they are for a reason, the creation of a perfumer who has tinkered, and weighed up, and mulled over the details until he or she has liked what she sees and gives the green light.

This I know.

What if you disagree, though?

Or if you have perfumes lying around that you never really use and probably never will, because there just is something about them that gets on your wick, that is…

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NOMBRE NOIR SLOB MARQUIS

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I haven’t had a shower in three days. Duncan has Type A influenza, and I am feeling weird myself as well. Like a man suffering from rabies, I am hating the thought of water touching my body. Instead, I am dousing myself in cloves; in all the Italian perfumes I was writing about the other day, and, to go to the shops, in my pyjamas and a hoodie (because I can’t be bothered to get dressed), I am steeped in the exquisitely rare parfum of Shiseido’s Nombre Noir.

 

 

In my initial, stunned review (because I couldn’t believe that I had found it for the equivalent of ten dollars, or whatever it was) I admitted to you that I was overwhelmed and a tad dry-eyed; I suspect at that point I had been reading all the ecstatic reviews with perfume lovers prostrating themselves purple-prosedly before the altar of Serge Lutens and Mr. Turin, and the cynical, devil’s advocate in me could only smell a variant of Knowing, Rose De Nuit, and Jean-Marc Sinan, and had to churlishly beg to differ.

 

 

I still think that Rose De Nuit is probably the closest I have smelled to this delicious, damasceneous perfume (YES, it is all about the damascones, the volatile, neon prune roses) and they leap out from my hoodlum, crumpled clothes and fill up the room, as does all my SPICE from my skin that lies beneath – and also the stench, I suppose, of my lingering, unwashed filth.

 

 

 

And yet as I walk out into the cold cold night surrounded by this dramatic, incandescent, and decadent perfume I feel like the French aristocracy; like an iconic marquis, like the sybaritic, indulgent royal scumbag that I possibly once was, in another life long ago

 

 

 

 

(and yes, the photo above is of me, taken just after that monster got into power…….I wonder…..is all of this deep perfume mania, this pungent incantation, some kind of livid, pointless revenge; some kind of talismanic attempt to frustratedly de-poison him, and it all, from my system? I don’t know; I know that I am still, as many of you are, traumatised……………..)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I WISH THERE WERE MORE SPICED WOMEN ::: TEATRO ALLA SCALA by KRIZIA ( 1985 )

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IN the mid-1980’s there was a mini, sudden, spice wave: Italianate, operatic; fur coats and roses steeped in mulled wine. With cloves and cinnamon, carnation, ylang ylang, mimosa, pimento, leather,  incense, even chocolate,  these piquant, extravagant, animalic floral bouquets screamed stilettos: full dressing, elaborately applied expensive French makeup and a sense of purpose : to be the last minute, and delectable crowning spritz or five for that exciting; hair perfect;  gala night out.

The most famous by far of these dark-lacquered divas is undoubtedly Coco, Chanel’s bird-plumed foray into drama; Gucci’s taloned and gilded L’Arte; then Fendi’s successful ( and now also defunct ) eponymous perfume that was so jam-packed with spices it practically fizzed. Teatro Alla Scala, by Krizia, another fine addenda to this short-lived ( but thrilling) craze of the olfactory extroverts even put its opera credentials right up there in its name, but it is, in any case, also inherently plush and rich and eventful : full-throated and sensuous;  less oriental than Coco, less all-spiced than Fendi, less tragic than Ungaro’s Diva ; more balanced, more knowing , and self-fledged in its heart (admittedly, I have added more clove oil to my own petit miniature ( about 20% of its total volume), just to make it even MORE lush and spicily histrionic – but that’s just because I am possibly insane).

 

At at this time of year especially, though,  I CRAVE to smell these kind of happy, screw-you, voluptuous scents. I want a woman to walk by me on the street looking gorgeous, whatever her age, in  total possession of herself, contented; and SLAYING me there and then as I drink in her trail  :::: her hot, tantalizing, humorous, life loving, spice- drizzling, neck-guzzling…….PERFUME

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EQUILIBRIUM : SPICED CITRUS VETIVER by SONOMA SCENT STUDIO (2013)

          I had a brazen woody on one hand – Wazamba (Parfums d’Empire), and Spiced Citrus Vetiver on the other. And passing from the simplistic ebonic rudeness…

Source: EQUILIBRIUM : SPICED CITRUS VETIVER by SONOMA SCENT STUDIO (2013)

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THE DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS EVE : ANGEL by THIERRY MUGLER (1992)

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Angel is a monster.

There can be no denying it. I knew it then, and I know it – particularly upon opening an old vintage box set yesterday and getting whole swathes of it running down my hands when one of the bottles broke – now.

It was so BRAZEN. So ugly beautiful. So loud, and sheaven of all imaginable subtlety.  A patchouli, purified, yes, but in its original incarnation much earthier than you thought, emerging stealthily with its nuclear, syntho-vanilla concussions.

Sharp, caramellized, fruit- sapping metallia,  and secretly macho ambitions : spilling this faux-innocent, blue coloured juice all over my pajama bottoms last night as I recanted some juice into bottles I am now very much persuaded by Luca Turin’s assertions that this was, as originally intended, an air munching, hairy fougere.

It is toxic, this chimaera of praline; this mango of the switchblade.  So it is no wonder that my sister wants to KILL people in London who wear it, and suffocate her, on the underground. She has something verging on a phobia. She totally loses her rag.

 

 

 

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Angel was never released in Japan. So in buying a discounted box set of pleasingly shaped star shaped little Angels from an antique shop in Ofuna recently ( an unwanted gift from overseas? ), I have been able to fob them off quite happily as  novel, last minute presents for Japanese friends.

 

And it is as if, being so inside-out-familiar with this perfume myself ( I do wear it, on occasion, then usually regret it ), but simultaneously it being new here to people, that I am smelling its gourmand, lactic iconoclasms all over again –  anew.

 

 

Yesterday evening, a beautiful clear starry night, it was my friend and neighbor ( and colleague) Kunihiko’s thirty fifth birthday.  At our local bar, with all of his friends and the cigarette smoke and the booze flowing ( and a wonderfully jovial atmosphere as Nat King Cole sang Christmas songs on the stereo  ) my hastily put together present of Angel in a white mini feather boa encased in bubble wrap went down a treat. He really liked it ( last year I have him Bal A Versailles), and  he was getting everyone, sat in various places around the joint,to then try it.

 

 

‘Sharing the Angel’……the smoky air light with the skin smell of chocolate….

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A CHRISTMAS CONFESSION

 

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Sometimes I wear Estée Lauder’s Beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL CHRISTMAS……..LOOK AT ALL THE VINTAGE PERFUME IN THIS UNASSUMING KAMAKURA ANTIQUES SHOP……

WHICH ONE ( S ) WOULD YOU BUY?!!

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I was in Kamakura today and ventured into one of my usual haunts, Strawberry Fields (in case you are interested: Kamakura station, Enoden station exit, shopping street, it’s just a bit down there on the left) :

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today, 1000 Japanese yen = 6.86 British Sterling

11.73 Australian Dollars

8.16 Euros

11.38 Canadian Dollars

8.48 US Dollars

 

 

 

 

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From the outside, you probably wouldn’t imagine that inside there is an Ali Baba’s cave of vintage perfume among the bric-a-brac. Well, that is an exaggeration perhaps, but seeing that all I have to compare this with is threadbare Mother Hubbard selections at British and American flea markets and antiques fairs (tell me more: I am very interested in the comparisons), there is no doubt that this shop, for the perfume maniac, is like a dream come true.

 

 

 

 

Before I go any further, this is not by any means the first time I have been in this shop. It does tend to yield. And Duncan will sometimes pick me up something from there on his way home from work (for my birthday he got me a gorgeous extrait of Lanvins’ My Sin, for instance). But you can go for a long time without any new additions. Today, though, she seemed to have a whole new influx of perfumes, of many different kinds, and I was in my ELEMENT.

 

 

 

Here she is – sorry I forgot to ask her name – with a bottle of Amouage Gold (by far the most expensive thing perfume wise), which I have considered buying (a beautiful rose sandalwood concoction) but which doesn’t quite smell right on either of us (yes, the lady does let you try the perfumes a bit, within reason): anyway, she is hoping that I will buy  this set at some point, and who knows, on some hot summer’s sultry night, maybe I will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Otherwise, things are MUCH cheaper. Some things are perhaps a bit overpriced, like this Infini

 

 

 

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which pops up everywhere and which you can get more cheaply. On the other hand,

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are exquisite prices for intact, vintage editions of such classics.

 

 

 

 

 

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Things are presented in something of a jumble. But that is how I like it.

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I’m thinking now that I should have got that beautiful Jolie Madame. In that size, and that price, that is a bargain from hell. I already have one the same, though.

And can anyone tell me about Gres Eau De Cologne? I forgot to give it a sniff.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lilybelle, look: vintage Eau De Joy and Joy parfum!

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For anyone who loves vintage Madame Rochas, there is TONS of the stuff in Japan….

 

 

 

 

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….quite often very cheap as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What else?

Obviously, my heart leapt at a full bottle of

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as I only have a couple of miniatures and this stuff is GORGEOUS. However, the colour alarmed me a bit and I felt the top notes weren’t there (for me, the beauty of La Nuit is in the contrast between the sweet, strawberry innocence of the head and the nymphomania of the base, otherwise there is no point).

 

 

 

 

 

Mmmmm……. Other animals available today included the much sought after

 

 

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which I could never get into for some reason (please take it, it’s yours – there was another bigger parfum there as well), and

 

 

 

 

 

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which I have quite enough of already (love that bottle though: very Antoinette – I might have to get it anyway).

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of animalics, what I saw and knew I would definitely have to have today was

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the DELIGHTFUL  Parfum d’Hermes, (in parfum!) which I happened to be wearing upon entering the shop in any case (in edt): a kind of Marquis De Sade meets Chamade, ET QUE J’ADORE.I seriously love this stuff.

 

No, there was no way I was leaving without that one. I can’t quite carry it off, but on a red cashmere scarf, oh yes, baby, yes.

 

 

 

 

 

Also, how could I say no to this?

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Never seen a boxed edition cheaply of this legend in Japan (they actually had TWO – I might have to hurry back and get the other one, in spray: on my arm tonight it smells like someone wearing Givenchy’s Insense while walking down a midnight avenue of sad and beautiful Christmas trees……..really sexy actually. I might get Duncan to wear it tomorrow when we go to the Cranach exhibition in Ueno.)

 

 

 

The proprietor also, as she always does, gave me a discount and let me have both for 5,000 yen (which for 34 British pounds is a SERIOUS bargain), and threw in a boxed Dolce & Gabbana miniature boxed set for the hell of it ( I happen to really like the original releases by them so was rather chuffed).

 

 

La la la.

 

 

What else was there?

 

 

 

Some Interdit parfum, if you’re interested

 

 

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and of course some

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(somewhat overpriced I thought), as was this, but then this is CAPRICCI ( SO beautiful, and it is a really big flacon)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

argh I want this

 

 

 

 

 

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Some mysteries

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(does anyone know what this is?)

 

 

 

 

Some old chestnuts

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and some more recent perfumes as well.

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Still, you can’t really beat the vintage thrills. There is something about the rectangular shape of this Mitsouko eau de cologne that blows my mind, but I couldn’t afford it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to CLUTCH IT IN MY HAND.

 

 

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(This round bottle isn’t too shabby, either.)

 

 

 

 

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Sigh………

 

 

Anyway, there were others as well, plenty of them,  that you could rummage among: miniatures, half used bottles, even sample vials stuck at the bottom of wooden boxes………..things that the average punter on the street wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow over, but which for the perfume enthusiast, are nothing short of heaven, really.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you do come to Japan and make the day trip to Kamakura (for all the beautiful temples and the Great Buddha, the mountains and the history), aside a few Japanese trinkets, you know what souvenirs you want to be taking back home with you….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Better bring a big suitcase……..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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