As I work my way prodigiously through Z’s vintage perfume collection I discover new (but old) things. One such essence is Elizabeth Taylor’s legendary White Diamonds, which I smelled in vintage extrait for the first time last night, pouched in its little black felt coochy bag, resplendent as a Fabergé egg. My eyes widened with desire as I carefully
unstoppered the bottle to smell a scintillating liquid containing everything : as though Ysatis were a minted American tourist travelling in Versailles.
The thing is gorgeous.
Full, rounded (‘Egyptian tuberose’, narcissus, jasmine, all the flowers, you name them, over woods and musks and aldehydes and violets and sandalwood and amber and musks),
‘ the fragrance dreams are made of’.
At least initially.
Soon, though still beautifully constructed by Carlos Benaim (Carolina Herrera, Red Door, Flowerbomb); a familiarly smug and soignée presence emerges: that of the self-satisfied woman of a certain age without a glimmer of doubt, not a hair’s breadth, of who she will be voting for come November’s election. You hear her slam her SUV shut; lock the big white gate behind her. Lights out.
AT THIS POINT WHITE DIAMONDS MAKES ME WANT TO SCREAM.
I cannot hear the word Possession and not think of the electrifying film by Andrzej Żuławski from 1981 in which Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill brilliantly out-Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton themselves as a married couple plummeting into psychosis in Cold War Berlin, an extended allegory on the fury of love; an apotheosis. It is a film once seen, never forgotten, the pivotal scene where Adjani torments into full throttled hysteria in a train tunnel jaw-dropping to behold, the conclusion agonizing.
The very idea of possession is terrifying. Not only demonic, but also romantic. Being ‘possessed’ by someone. I always find songs about lovers not wanting to breathe or sleep, or be away from their beloveds for even one second extraordinarily creepy – Aerosmith’s Don’t Want To Miss A Thing being the worst contender : “I Don’t want to close my eyes…….”; the idea of another person staying up all night watching you; people ‘making love’ all night long, wearing each other out, it could almost make you yearn for a Gwyneth unconscious uncoupling (and let’s not begin a conversation about her erotic candle).
Fortunately, Possession the perfume is not excessively possessive nor will require you to dial up the local exorcist, but is rather a very clingy floral aldehyde in the manner of all of those perfumes like Lanvin’s My Sin and any other Ernst Beaux doppelgängers that inherit the earth like zombies somnambulating across the perfumed landscape wide-eyed in search of the original Chanel No 5, which this is quite obviously emulating. Sweet, precious, this perfume is very heartfelt and lovely; musky and floral, but
SORRY I NEED SOME FRESH AIR
21 responses to “THE JOY, THE HORROR : : WHITE DIAMONDS PURE PARFUM by ELIZABETH TAYLOR (1991) + POSSESSION by CORDAY (1937)”
Truly magnificent vintage Black Narcissus.
My hair almost could feel the sway of Elizabeth Taylors passing in a glitter of diamonds and white fur … with those glaring black rimmed emerald eyes.
Talking of Possesion: do you recall Catherine Deneuve in Repulsion? The other side of madness.
And those incredible photographs to steer me to a cataclysmic climax!
What a way to wake up on a rainy sunday morning next to a cup of Earl Grey!
I just had my first glaucoma operation and wow what a whopper for eye and imagination.
Your friend Z is blessed indeed!
I am so glad my own madness could grace your recipient eyes
And yes : REPULSION
So interesting. If my projector weren’t broken , we would watch that DVD – naturally in my POSSESSION – ce soir
Brilliant. I remember White Diamonds.
And how was She for you ?
Last night this perfume felt REAL
TBH, I think White Diamonds was ok, I don’t recall the smell that well, but I certainly remember the hype.
I stopped of searching vintage perfumes at recycle shops after my father passed away one year ago. The final beats of my heart is also stopped with that. No more pulse even for perfumes . Otherwise, believe or not I can say that I got call from every beatiful piece of my collection. We were like magnets. It was mysterious game. The whole city, hidden ,thrown perfumes and me !
It is real treasure, Z.
memory lingers too; but it stays with time and finally rests within you.
Love and grief both have a season of their own
My sympathy with your loss
Thank you very much for your kind words.
Isabelle Adjani does a great madwoman. Did you see her in Camille Claudel? I loved Ysatis but not White Diamonds and nowadays would not wear either as my tastes have changed.
I have never seen Camille Claudel – it sounds up my street!
You leave My Sin ALONE!!!! She ain’t searching for nobody!!
But otherwise, highly enjoyable post. I especially love Liz’s Martha photo. She pulled out ALL the stops.
And BUtterfield 8. That iconic slip. Nobody wore one like she did. I wonder what perfume Gloria would have worn?
I have never seen it!
You tell me…. ( I know you know….)
I haven’t had the pleasure of smelling the vintage White Diamonds, but I love the EDT. I’ll try my damndest not to think of your SUV woman the next time I wear it. Great read Neil.
Lovely and exquisite White Diamonds my Mother loved. So do I. Chanel #5 soft and wonderful. Love it. Bellogia by Guerlain how I loved the scent of carnations. But that scent of Youth Dew brings back so many memories. Thank you for the photo’s and comments. I love vintage perfumes and bottles. Lynda
Me too : big time. Thanks for commenting thr Black Narcissus is full of this kind of thing !