It has been a languorous yet eventful summer and I am out of practice with writing so I will come back with a brief post on three perfumes we picked up on one of our recycle shop hauls : the simple, but timeless, Pour Un Homme, a perfume I had always wanted in my collection for its soft ease but had never got round to buying, and a recent reiteration of the scent that I had never encountered before, the fantastic Pour Un Homme Sport, a welcome addition to the collection that has turned out a summer hit and D’s scent for most of August.
For those not familiar with Caron’s most famous masculine ( and probably the house’s bestselling scent) , this is essentially a potently subtle, fresh French lavender combined with a musky, civet-licked vanilla that will not suit everyone – this was one of the perfumes I used at my book launch as an example of a good lavender scent : a lot of nodding all round, initially, then later, slight consternation as it ‘turned’ on some people’s skins and went sour or rangey.
On me it works. An intimate, soothing sensuality; manly, if you like ( James Dean wore this, apparently – an idea I find very erotic ), but really, more androgynous, undefined; quietly self confident. Perfect for an afternoon tumble in the sheets.
Or not : depending what decade you find this classic being advertised in
We had picked these Carons up in a great cache of fumes spree-d on one fun, sweltering day in Yokohama. I wanted more, and could have spent twice as much, but was trying desperately hard to act frugal and show some very necessary restraint ( as we had unfortunately haemorrraged quite a lot of money – more on that in the next post in the series ) and I couldn’t afford it.
With me, though, things I want – records, perfumes – often linger in my mind like taunts of regret- sometimes things I only HALF want, but am materialistically intrigued by. Thus, when D said he had to go back the next day to the same area to buy a bizarre garment he had spotted that was perfect for a performance piece, but had hesitated over because of the price – I gathered some coins and said he could go by himself, as I would be preparing my toilette for that evening’s night out in Tokyo and couldn’t bear getting sweaty beforehand; but that if he was going back, there was something he should buy: Caron Sport ( a combination of words – that sounds like an oxymoron but in practice isn’t ) : the lingering after/effect of which had remained lodged in my mind. It was only ¥1500 ( about fifteen dollars), and, more importantly, something I could definitely imagine him wearing : on first impressions, a musky, minty, balsamic yet astringent smell, almost vaguely similar to Jean Paul Gaultier’s bestselling and cheaply shouldering Le Male, a scent we had both sometimes shared back in the day when we first met and still on occasion recall with affection.
That evening, we were very excited indeed to have stage-side tickets to see the singer Neneh Cherry, someone I have always loved, but never seen in concert, at Billboard Live Tokyo in Roppongi. I got ready alone at home, taking my time, dancing naked around the kitchen to her records, and we later hooked up on the train, me bathed and squeaky clean and happily sprayed head to toe for the occasion in another scent I had never heard of before but picked up for five dollars on the same day: Lohna by Harnn
– a crisp and refreshing, uncliched combination of lavender and lemongrass (funnily enough, a west-meets-east harmony I have sometimes chosen myself in homemade herbal tea blends: somehow they can synergize quite beautifully), with undertones of mid-laundered cotton shirts that felt ideal for the hot summer’s day, and a perfume which is now fixed forever in my memory as The Scent I Wore To Neneh Cherry.
The Scent That Duncan Wore To Neneh Cherry was, and now always will be ( I love this self conscious STAMPING of a perfume on your memory like this : a deliberate etching in your heart and brain stem) : Caron Pour Un Homme Sport, a new version of the original that was released by the company in 2015.
The base of this fragrance is truly great on D : a tonka/ benzoin/ white musk accord, a skin tattoo laced with a (slightly salty) real ambergris that leaves a silky, but tangible trail of sillage down Tokyo escalators, or on bike rides around Kamakura ( “ I am loving your bicycle sillage !” I shout into the wind ); the top notes strange but compelling : leaves and twigs of lavender flushed through an anti-intuitive, brash, even almost amusing – dose of grapefruit and mandarin and an unimagined twist of ‘Madagascar blue ginger’ , nutmeg and verbena tautened with a bodily essence of Virginia cedar.
The effect : revitalizing and clean, a tad cocky, yet warm and dirty: optimistic, uncomplicated, sexy – and absolutely ideal for dancing .