What I want from perfume is not a bland betrayal but, especially on another person, a scent that stops me in my tracks: brain stem engaged; instinct aroused; rationality dismissed.
Pissara Umjavani, founder and perfumer of Dusita, has an ability to put together ingredients in a way that – as it should be with quality perfumery – is more than the sum of its parts: perfumes that graze and stimulate emotion. Last year’s release, Fleur de Lalita is a sultry but living, and fresh, green magnolia ylang smouldering in vanillic ambergris and bois de santal that ignites an immediate reaction with its almost untenable sensuality : you can imagine a suddenly smitten and hopelessly in-love man haplessly falling from his bicycle in Bangkok upon smelling this on a girl : both familiar and unknowable, inviting ; yet ever so slightly disdainful.
La Douceur Du Siam, which I personally prefer, is a big, gorgeous, luminous rose de mai absolute tinged with a tingling of green carnation; the spring leafery of galbanum and violet, but blooming, graciously, on a warm, carnal base of white flowers and balsams that embodies the reaction I was talking about earlier : on the right person this perfume could be heartstopping. I don’t think I could wear it myself : despite the unbordered, sensitive androgyny in this house’s perfumes, there is still very much something of the ‘eternal feminine’ about much of the line – a contoured tenderness – but I would LOVE to have someone walk by me in this perfume on some hot summer’s evening. I know for a fact I would turn back and look.
After my last post on Dusita a few months ago, I got in contact with this perfumer in the hope of doing an interview with her, sensing, for some reason, some common affinities. Her love of poetry : both of us foreigners living in cultures entirely different from our place of birth.
I decided, also, to throw caution to the wind and circumvent the usual PR protocol and polite chatter by asking exactly what I wanted to ask, about Thai culture, film, her late father – one of Thailand’s most famous writers – and over several days, in written or voice mail form, Ms Umjavani replied to my questions as time allowed and the answers came to her.
But where my own posts are fast and impulsive ( I am writing this on my phone, on a train, on a gorgeous sunny afternoon ; the sun is finally shining as it should be after all this rain as I go to my next classes), collating, transcribing, and writing a coherent piece on somebody else’s words and life feels like more of a responsibility than my usual opinionated and spontaneous ramblings : I need the proper time – days – and space, to do it all justice.
To be continued.