It is with great pleasure and delight that I can announce that from next year I will be writing about perfume for Vogue Japan.




This is a turn of events that is extraordinarily exciting for me. I am daunted, but cannot wait. Frothing like a latte. Just call me Anne Hathaway, clutching her cappuccinos hysterically on her way to the offices in Shibuya to meet Meryl Streep. A rabbit in the headlights. Absorbing all the glitz. Smelling all the fumes. Foaming at the gills. An amazing way to start the new decade. Because although I have always thought that fashion is a double headed beast, at once nothing (it can be foolish, vacuous, pretentious, elitist; passive aggressive; ridiculous; disastrous for nature), and everything (profoundly influencing all the things I love most in the world – music, cinema, perfume; literature; the visual universe around us, the people on the street, how we present ourselves, the smell of the city; the tip of the iceberg)  – to a person to whom aesthetics matter almost more than anything else in this life –  the visual, the sensory, art, basically – creativity is of the most fundamental and sacrosanct importance. ‘Beauty’. I suck it up with continuous pleasure. We both do. Urban creatures. Living near the biggest city in the world (in the nature-surrounded refuge of zen temples, Kamakura where we cool off and gain calm) but I adore Tokyo. We are there all the time.I am addicted. I love the extremes. The quiet ancient beauty of this restrained, austere, but atmospherically profound place I live in, and the constant stimulation of the great metropolis of thirty three million people under an hour away that provides, constantly, never-ending, exhilarating stimulation and energy and is the coolest place I have ever known. It is beautiful to be there. Busy, crowded, maddening, but simultaneously serene. Gliding through neon at night; swimming in it; I love to watch people, photograph them, thrive in the energy. The gender blasting, outlandish and creative ensembles worn by people on the street; the sleekness; the style. Because although I am not such a fashion horse myself (as you know, the money goes on perfume)  I have always kept on eye on what is happening, in magazines and on television, since I was old enough to think. ‘Fashion’ leaves a vivid, temporal stamp on any given month or year…….it marks our passage. Without it, where would the pleasure be in dipping back into past decades, whole time periods? The beauty of an old zeitgeist captured eternally in celluloid? In a pop video, a film, a photograph, a news reel, all captured in the current…..









As teenagers, Helen and I would leaf through Vogue at her house, marvelling at the bewildering, almost alien beauty of the models (we could never quite get over the beauty of Christy Turlington and Karen Mulder; the supermodel years of Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell – we would stare into the pages, feasting on it). My younger sister Deborah and I would rip out pages all the time and plaster them over our bedroom walls.  And the perfume adverts. The mystery and delirium of a new ad campaign (Coco, Poison, Anais Anais…..which are your most pungent memories?); the sealed enticement of the late 80’s scent strips you could rip open like glued velcro on the bus and release the latest fragrant sensation into the collective air….these were all very formative influences on my life. The photo shoots, the fashion stories, the faces, presented an almost obscene unattainability of covetable desire; I would buy Vogue Hommes, and Uomo Vogue when I lived in Italy; obsessed with this picture or that; pasted on my university bedroom walls……it always seemed like the apex of a rarified world that was in another stratosphere. Until now.
























Madonna. When her single Vogue came out in 1990, after the complete transformation of Like A Prayer, and yet another vampiric, chameleonic shift into the gay underground world of Paris Is Burning and its ravishing capturing of larger than life queens and their vogueing balls in NYC, just the word Vogue itself is now synonymous with something fantastic and shimmering; we danced that entire summer to that song, my sister and I, like a million other people around the world mimicking the video, striking poses (: ‘on the cover of a magazine’), and to think that I might now actually be part of all that from next year is almost absurdly stimulating (feel the exclamation marks exploding in my mind and bloodstream…D and I went out to have a celebration dinner last night). It will give me great new challenges as this decade comes to an end and we enter the 2020’s; present opportunities to flex my flexibility as a writer. I am in the mood for versatility. My book: ‘Perfume, In Search Of Your Signature Scent’, is what got me into this position, and I have come to feel quite proud of it in many ways despite its flaws and lacks – I feel it is a moment in time; frozen in binding,  a diary that has been confiscated. I put my absolute heart and soul into that tome – my blood, sweat and tears if you like –  and I hope that it in some way inspires people and lets them dream a little; it was designed to be very immersive. At the same time, I relish the opportunity to be able to smell brand new things and report on them, to revel in the now, and to try my hand at different kinds of writing. The Black Narcissus will always still be perfume + , because I can’t help myself; I cannot be limited to a scent flacon. To me, perfume has always meant much more than that – it leads to so many other things; memory, life, experience, other art forms, culture, people and how I interact with them, politics, everything – to me it is inherently psychological. Having said that, a more society-wide olfactory objectivity based on what is going on in the higher echelons of commercial creativity is also appealing to me from a different angle – I will definitely be meeting a lot of new people through this venture – and since I plan at some stage ( I have already written several chapters) to publish an autobiographical book on my years spent in this fascinating, vexing, unleavable place full of the most superb contradictions, I cannot possibly say no to this new adventure.









Japan Vogue here we come!!



















































PS. D and I first properly laid eyes on each other when dancing, extravagantly, in tuxedo and bow tie to Vogue at a summer ball…..











“Beauty’s where you find it……”






Filed under Flowers, inexplicable happenings, Japan, LUXURIANCE, New Beginnings, operatic, PERFUME AND PERFORMANCE, PERFUME: IN SEARCH OF YOUR SIGNATURE SCEN, pretentious aesthetes, Psychodrama, SELF-OBSESSION


  1. Mark Gardner

    Ahhmazing, congratulations!

  2. Bob / Chicago night

    Congratulations indeed! I just finished reading the 2012 Reve D’ossian post when I saw the news; was deeply moved by the last paragraph, and the last sentence, of that post, and will follow you wherever you write.
    Happy Christmas! Much joy in the New Year!

    • You too. And thank you very much. This year has been a TOTAL rollercoaster for me personally, with amazing highs, and some terrible lows I am not at liberty to write about, but it is astonishing to end on a high like this.

  3. Diana Harvey-Williams

    Congratulations. Your wonderful writing deserves to be read by a wider readership.

  4. Tora

    How wonderful, Neil! Congratulations!!

  5. Tara C

    Such incredibly fabulous news, what a way to enter the next decade and open a new chapter in your life! Wishing you every success.

  6. Nelleke Oepkes aka Booknose

    With all my heart I congratulate you!!
    Now you can delight a lot more people with your wit (very literal!) and your sense of ….
    You join a whole tribe of trailblazers (don’t forget Diana Vreeland!) through the century of Vogue existence!!
    Now I have a reason for buying the Japanese Vogue!

    You mon cher M Ginzain!!!

    Chapeau!! all the fourty hats in my closet

    This is your year. What better place to be than in VOGUE.
    Living in the depth of political uproar in Northern Virginia, where do
    I find copies of VOGUE JAPAN in 2020. Or is that a question for
    Goggle? I love your life and hope you do too… from
    sylvia on the Potomac.

    • I do, of course, and hope you love yours too, despite the macro-horror of the way the world is going with our blond despots and the End of Nature and thus of everything. On the micro scale, this has been a boiling bonanza of creativa ; SO many things while holding down my teaching job – a double, triple life plus some other setbacks like anybody else that it leaves me breathless just thinking about it. I thought this kind of thing happened in your twenties !

  8. Just wow! Many congratulations Neil. You deserve it!

    • Do I ? I thought I might be too extreme for them ( I am aware that The Black Narcissus is not quite like other perfume blogs ), but maybe despite of (or because of) my risk taking they decided to take a chance on me. We met up in a hotel in Tokyo and my book and a copy of their latest edition was there on the interview table …

      • Of course you deserve it. I think your descriptive writing is exceptional. I expect D is overjoyed. Good luck with your new venture. Who knows where it may lead? Perhaps one day your very own perfume range???

      • I think it is the writing itself I love the most actually : I love attempting to encapsulate smells/sensations/experiences/memories in words; I think I will leave the perfume formulations to the perfumers ( wouldn’t say no to collaborating though …)

  9. OnWingsofSaffron

    Great! Great! Great!
    Will your texts be printed in English and Japanese?

  10. Hurray!! Congratulations! Can’t wait for your first appearance in their pages — now I’ll have to figure out how to get a copy.

    • If I am not too vehemently ashamed of any pieces I do I will put them on here – no fear!

      I keep dancing around the house to Vogue.

      • You may be the wedge that gets Japan to accept more than fruity florals! What a platform for introducing acceptance of a wider range of scents! Baby steps.

      • Yes. I don’t know yet exactly how to approach it all – and will have to hold back the full Narcissisan deluge, but I am sure I will meet up with the Vogue folks and discuss it. I am also going to have to be in Tokyo more often in order to keep ahead of the game! Need to know everything that is there in the shops for start and then synthesise it into something coherent.

        It’s all just too cool for school .

  11. Robin

    Today Vogue Japan. Tomorrow the world (or at least American Vogue, et al).

    Damn it, I am so pleased for you. This is more than a writing gig. This is events, dinners, invites, trips, oceans of review samples/bottles, more fame and fortune, and possibly a few hangovers. You will be in your element(s).

    You are going to need better clothes, my friend.


      I agree then, an update of the wardrobe is probably necessary although I have NEVER bought expensive clothes – ultimately I can’t be bothered really. I like it simple (except when I am Burning Bush).

      As for the other things…….in your (my) dreams (?)!!

      I will only be contributing some articles sometimes, not a fully fledged employee. So none of the events, dinners, trips, invites, I wouldn’t imagine. It will be teaching job as usual, just more perfume immersion at the weekends. And the KNOWLEDGE.

      • Robin

        Dunno bout that. Fragrance houses may well be spoiling you regularly in the name of enlightening PR for an occasional spot of ink. You might be pleasantly surprised, N. I’d love to think so. Rooting for you.

        Vis-a-vis new duds. Simple is good, always good. You be you. Just spend more doing it. I mean, more yen per jacket, a couple of good ones. Hey, let’s you and me go shopping!

      • Well I met the Vogue people in my regular wear and got the position so I am not worrying too much..

        As for perfume : BRING IT ON

      • Actually – do you remember the post I wrote about my former student who is trying to get a job with LVMH? She has a discount card for Isetan Shinjuku and said we can use it one afternoon. I may take her up on it.

      • Robin

        Hell no, not to worry at all. You could wear burlap and still be desired by the entire publishing and fragrance world. 😉

    • emmawoolf

      I so agree!

  12. emmawoolf

    So happy for you, dear friend. I can’t help thinking back to your student room and those torn-out pages adorning the walls. Three decades later (can this be true?) the circle is complete. Look forward to reading more very soon. PS I got a teaching job today! (And the owner of the school is Japanese, incidentally.). I start in January. Three days a week initially. Which suits me fine. Time to do other projects too, I hope. The circle really is complete?

    • Delighted you got the job, E – perhaps 2020 will be something of a banner year. Yes, the pages on the walls……people used to like how my room looked I remember. Vogue wallpaper practically. It does seem splendiferously unreal I must say…

  13. carole

    I’m so happy for you! Except that now they will all be haunting the vintage stalls…. 🙂 couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. Enjoy every minute of it!

    • Thanks Carole.

      Hardly any vintage left these days to be honest….those bountiful days of yore are practically gone (the first time I ever went to the flea market was easily the best when I got a whole bagful of vintage Caron and Guerlain extraits and was having a cranial

  14. Absolutely wonderful news!! I feel this was meant to be, your destiny if you will.
    I can hardly wait to read your articles and be able to smile to myself knowing this is the perfect next chapter in your progression towards fame and fortune. You do deserve fame and fortune with your amazing talent.
    Well deserved my friend, well deserved.

  15. Louise

    OMG Neil , congratulations ! You and your evocative writing deserve this. You and Done-can create magic all around you xxxxx hugs from Lou Lou Lamour

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