The Vileness






Walking into the Shinagawa branch of Dean & Deluca’s for coffee with some friends on Sunday, rather than the usual cinnabon latte odours of the quiche and delicatessen swirling temptingly around us as I would normally have expected, instead, in its place, there was a monoblock olfactory moron of oud chemical idiocy that was so encompassing in its horrifying all-pervasiveness that it was like having my head, and my nasal receptors ( and, intelligence, also ) unwillingly hijacked by its sheer blockheaded ugliness and crassness.




The culprit? I don’t know. But it was coming from one of three groomed and musclebound gaijin sat together in the corner, probably after a grimacing couple of hours at the nearby Gold’s Gym. After showering. Poured into their tight-fitting tees: and thigh clinging Lycra.





Maybe it was the new Dior Sauvage Eau De














Or it could have been one of any number of hideously brutalizing recent men’s releases  whose nuclear strength, and hulking assaults on the senses,  just make me want to















Coming home later in the evening on the train, I was suddenly plunged into an equally space- eating, but this time quite definitely familiar, masculine scent. All ozone and marine greenness and decade-ago gay club cliche,  I quickly realized that this was someone, out of eyeshot, doused in Armani’s Acqua Di Gio, at one time the best selling men’s fragrance in the world, as ubiquitous as its successor, the very nasty One Million by Paco Rabanne (one of the precursors of this bash-you-unconscious with-preposterone trend that so sickens me), but which, in retrospect, inhaling its unforgettable orchestrations for the journey back ( because I had no choice: also, as strong fragrance is so rare here in Japan to encounter it in such abundance makes my head spin ) I realized was actually vastly superior. At least in the Gio there is some gradation and airspace within the fragrance’s character: an orchestralness from the myriad of included ingredients. Some gentleness, or a hint, at least, perhaps, of human thoughtfulness. Although I never liked that perfume, while I was smelling it last night and making personal mental associations, I had to concede to myself that this former model of ‘masculinity’, in comparison with  whatever the brute at Dean and Deluca’s was wearing, was almost heavenly.





It is only in retrospect, sometimes, that we realize what we have lost. And got, for our sins, in exchange: scents of rage and aggression very suited to these cheap and bigoted, Trumpian times where the worst instincts of human nature are being jack-in-the-boxed out into the open and legitimized; perfumes that are more like basic weaponry : cretinous and clobbering scents of ‘strength’ and debasing ‘maleness’  I find just monstrous.











Filed under Flowers

12 responses to “The Vileness

  1. Tara C

    Dior Sauvage and its ilk are weapons of mass destruction. The female equivalent is Lancôme La Vie est Belle. The names are diametrically opposed but the nasal assault created by each is equally obnoxious. Love the final paragraph!

  2. Katy McReynolds

    I agree. Upon first smelling Dior Sauvage, I physically recoiled. There is a horrible, supposed to be cedar note that reeks of ISO E super crappy that slays me. And I find it’s vile presence sneaking through lots of perfume lines.

  3. OnWingsofSaffron

    Absolutely: those olfactory assaults are unspeakable! One of my worst experiences was entering the Abercrombie (or should it be – zombie?) & Fitch in Bruxelles. I instantly got a violent headache and fleeing the building didn‘t lessen it in any way. Have never, not once entered their shops again!
    It seems like a plague: that vile smell which purports to be „wood“. I last smelled it in Aqua di Parma Myrrh (Mirra?)! And now just imagine in Hermès Eau de Citron Noir!! Can one believe it? These perfumes start off quite pleasant, but then like some zombie jack-in-the-box out jumps a monster with an enormous aromachemical club and lunges it across your head.
    I am perhaps both pessimistic and cynical: yet I believe this is where it‘ll all end. Thank God I have enough vintage perfumes till the sun explodes, so I myself shall smell rather nice 😇

    • OnWingsofSaffron

      Btw: your choice of photographs is fantastic! I’m not sure what is viler: Trump making out with Kim Jong-un, or Johnny Depp devouring/retching sausages…

      • The sausages made me die laughing when I saw it, the Trump and Kim also just perfect. I am glad the spirit of satire is still alive and well and that people with an eye make such pictures!

    • Citron Noir : I was horrified too. THAT smell in an Hermes !

      I have also been to a Fitch store in Tokyo and know exactly the smell. Poor assistants !

  4. Maribeth

    Backward, aggressive- monstrous.
    Such sharp words yet they are apt. No finesse at all.
    And then there’s another phrase, “gradations and airspace within the fragrance’s character”,this description brings to mind the cool air of Baguio,here in the Philippines,where one can still smell beautiful mornings amidst the pine trees that are, by the way, in danger of being axed for new buildings,subdivisions,and I bet you,shopping malls.
    How come you write so well?

  5. David

    It’s all relative to me. I can only wonder how many people I’ve repulsed with my barnyard leathers and musks. I get headaches from anything aquatic. This makes me sad because I love the ocean. But I know some women who want to pounce on a stranger wearing Acqua di Gio (way back when, Drakkar Noir was a love potion, much to my chagrin….0h, the headaches it gave me ). I follow some perfume lovers on Instagram and one person wrote about how depressed she was because Lucas Turin, in his new book, gave one of her signature scents a bad review. Really? Does he pay your bills or go down on you in a theatre? It’s all relative.

    • Sorry for the late reply (I can hardly think straight at the moment, seriously).

      I agree with what you say about subjectivity completely, and yet….don’t you think there is something just so …MALLET like and simplistic about these new perfumes? Drakkar Noir seems so delicate in retrospect….

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