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.