I wrote recently about my last exploits at the Tokyo recycle shops; about the fact that you almost invariably come back home with something to add to your collection, even if it is something that you have in your possession already. Yet another Caron Infini; Madame Rochas, or a Hermes Eau D’Orange Verte.
Sometimes, though, extravagantly gorgeous things turn up in these places, even if you don’t actually find them yourself. Zubeyde, my psychic friend who loves perfume as much as me and also has faster access to it than I do living in the heart of all the action (rather than down here among the mountains and the zen temples), somehow manages to find, on occasion, things like THIS – a 10ml butterfly parfum edition of Annick Goutal’s lovely L’Heure Exquise from 1984 for about 20 dollars that was wrapped in some cellophane shouting FACTICE! FACTICE! IT’S A SHOWROOM DUMMY, DUMMY! but which, when I actually unwrapped and unstoppered the precious flacon you see here, turned out to be the real thing, quite potent and beautiful, a charming little perfume that is cursorily similar perfume to Chanel No 19 in its similar uses of galbanum, hyacinth, iris, roses, and woods, but which over time proves to have quite a different internal spirit; much more powdery; pinker, warm and relenting than the sharp, green angularity of the beloved Chanel, with the accent on a vanilla-infused base note of sandalwood extract; more romantic and pleased with dusk, rather than the vetiver-leather masculinity of No 19’s more cynical, tree-darkened night.
As you can see, right now it has pride of place on one of my cabinets, in our room.
On top of as a whole other bag load of goodies (Patou Amour Amour, Coty Imprevu, Faberge Aphrodisia), Zubeyde also came down to the house that day carrying in her knapsacks with her a HUMONGOUS bottle of pristine condition Jicky eau de toilette (which I had never actually experienced before, I am only familiar with the current parfum); the flacon, a monster, basically bigger than her head.
And all for about 10 dollars.
It was big enough for me, certainly, to be able siphon some off quite happily into my almost empty modern Jicky parfum bottle without anybody noticing nor making a difference to how much was seemingly in the flacon (see above, on another section of my collection) – so great when you can get a refill unexpectedly like this when the sad, dry, bottom meniscus was all you thought you were ever going to have again. Somehow, the original is so much more alive, more evocative of the provencal landscape and sky; the lavender more plaintive and natural, the entire blend smoother and more lovable, dreamier, clearer and less uptight – a beautiful cream white shirt underneath, some flesh visible to the noticing eye, rather than the buttoned up tweed jacket Cecil of the current, more conservative Guerlain provision.
Thanks, Z, for letting me steal some.
But wait. The best is yet to come.
Ta Dah! says Zubeyde on the bed, as she produces her wares one at at time, a rabbit’s magician from a black velvet hat. One by one them come out, the convalescent sat hungrily and dazedly before her, his glass of sparkling cava, eyes only on the prize.
And what came next……I could hardly get over the fact that, tossed among the high street flotsam and jetsam and general unwanted detritus, pulled out from the bag like an Egyptian white colossus, was a huge, 50ml vintage extrait presentation of Caron’s classic N’Aimez Que Moi.
The drama. The sheer visual tension. The expectation, as you pull the amulet out from its protectant boxes, thick with material and heft, to unveil the, lip-pursed, corseted, Moulin Rouge fantasia that is waiting, voluptuously, beneath: : : : :
My god would you look at this thing.
And for about 25 dollars. The portentous, ivory velvet white box, sealed like a beautiful tomb.
The poetical, embossed, Parisian Grecian urn on top.
( I suppose it is the stain, here, that discounts this perfume in unstainable Japan, with its obsession with the pristine, but for me, personally, it almost adds something, a sense of history, of a person having once owned it – it has lived…)
As the gold-printed black box, hidden beneath the cream, reveals another level of Caronian security, we get closer to the perfume itself.
AAAGGGHGHHHH – she is peaking out ‘coyly’ from the sanctity of her dressing room, she knows the power of her roses
‘oh,………………….won’t you come in……….?’
Oui madame, je vais.
Et voila!!! She smells GORGEOUS.
Now that I can climb our steep set of stairs with relative ease (my healing and progress continue unabated: not perfect, I still get pain, I am still going to physio once a week and I still need to build up my muscle strength; but I walk – or plod, rather- around our house on my legs unaided with sticks;have been cooking standing up for the first time this week, am basically living normally and most definitely on the road back to normal – I go back to work in three weeks time), we have moved back upstairs, after four months downstairs in the makeshift bedsit, into the bedroom, the Japanese tatami room and perfume chamber where these pictures were taken: my favorite place in the house, and where I am sleeping so much more deeply than I was on my rented handicapped bed that, for now, is still standing unused in the kitchen.
And when I lie on the floor on my futon at night, from where I am lying I can smell N’Aimez Que Moi.
Even just with the slight crack open, as you can see, on the dresser, the smell is visible. This perfume radiates. It positively tra-la-las of love and wine and roses from its box. Beguilingly sweet, voluptuous and dramatic, this Ernest Daltroff Caron is a full, shocking pink smelling Turkish rose quivering with life that has been candied in sugared violets, lilacs and delirious musks, a million miles away from the perfume I once reviewed a while back now (from a current parfum sample) in which I wrote about death in the First World War; the dust and the must of fading sweethearts and sad remembrances. Posies and grandmothers and the past. But that’s the problem with new versions of old perfumes – I have never really understood the point of them, in truth. You should either keep them as they are, let them die, or create something new, not try to embalm a corpse that doesn’t want keeping, that wants to be sent to heaven. When you smell this, the original N’Aimez Que Moi as it was intended to be: delicious, incredibly confident and full of flirtatiously Satine pizzaz, you realize how fantastic the heritage of Parisian perfume really is, how it can be so swoonsomely petalled and sweet, how the presentation – outrageous, surely – how camp is this thing? only adds to the excitement of putting it on; a perfume that impetuously screams LOVE NO ONE BUT ME to her suitors that are unabashedly hanging at the fringes of her dressing room and who can do nothing but nod acquiescently, slavishly, as they make their way, mindlessly, and submissively, towards her bed.