THE SECRET PARFUMS OF SHISEIDO

The Black Narcissus

mode, architecture, beaute,

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‘We both know that it was a girl

back in Bethlehem

And on that fateful day

when she was crucified

She wore Shiseido red’

sings Tori Amos on Boys For Pele, cementing once gain the iconic status of Shiseido in the western eye, its rarified, aloof and untouchable Franco-Japonicity.

And yet the Shiseido that we know way out west and the one I know here are really quite different. The gleaming, curved beauty of the feline Serge Lutens collaborations such as the groundbreaking and quite brilliant Feminité Du Bois, or the now almost mythical Nombre Noir, have almost nothing in common with the far more homey and almost pedestrian fare that one finds here on your local Shiseido counter: sweet, and outdated, aldehydic nothings such as More, the original old musty fresh Zen, or Mémoire; or the powdery, green and irisian Chanel N°I9 wannabe, Murasaki.

While the best of…

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