The weather is a psycho. It has been sunny, even humid; people picnicking in the parks. We woke up this morning thinking there might be burglars downstairs or a poltergeist, but were too tired and snug under our duvets to be bothered to go downstairs and check (the cat kept restlessly going in and out across the balcony during the night in the cold rain keeping us from getting a proper night’s sleep, and we were completely out of it in the a.m). When I opened the shutters this morning I gasped out loud: there had been a bout of heavy snowfall , dropping from the roof in great clods, and the roofs of the houses next door and all along the street. Soft thuds. This strange happening apparently only last occurred over two hundred years ago during cherry blossom season: yesterday, in the bruising winds it was raining sakura petals; the temperature dropping clearly as we cycled along an avenue of cherry trees, the sky darkening, the flowers pattering down being blown by brooding gusts. Our friends will be getting married in falling snowflakes today, in a silent plague of epidemic: but I know the strictly monochrome theme will making perfect, shivering photos of the black and white attendees (I was just about to write ‘huddling’) – standing six feet apart from each other in the snow.
Yesterday, with all the gloom I found myself yearning for something solar and brain tight; nothing too drowsy or doleful or earthy – a perfume with no strings attached, and the beauty that is the extrait de parfum of Romeo by Romeo Gigli, was the perfect accompaniment for the evening on the back of my hand. I have two or three bottles of this: a 30ml parfum and two 5ml miniatures that I was lucky to once find in a Fujisawa antique shop: it is a perfume I use only for such occasions. This really is true sunniness though : orange blossom and neroli are always fundamentally happiness-inducing main ingredients in perfumery, and yet much as I love them, fragrances featuring these flowers as their main theme are often very flush and bucolic; blowsy; rasping: all nuptials in Normandy, fresh air and white dresses: the pleasures of spring, indolic orange buds on new sheets and mattresses : joyous.
Romeo Di Romeo Gigli, particularly in the extract, which is the version I would definitely recommend of this extremely crisp and glinting perfume, is also centred on neroli and orange blossom but tautens the whole beautifully with a very galvanising and wind shorn orchestration of fresh top notes that clasp the orange flowers tightly in an almost fluorescent white room of eighties and nineties urban chic: to me I am always reminded me of glass tables and ginger lilies next to a leather sofa in a room of Robert Mapplethorpe.
Vivid, fresh green top notes of lime, basil, marigold, various citruses, and, unusually, the sulphuric Indian herb asafoetida alongside a hint of mango bind and pressurize the neroli top note into a shining realness that can stop me in my tracks; a lure of other flowers (freesia, jasmine, lily of the valley, possibly tuberose) keeps the bouquet buoyant and lively. The whole is vaguely redolent in some ways of some of the other florals from the era such as Cabotine, Red Door, Tendre Poison, et al, but is beyond, more timeless: (Tora, if you are reading this, I assumed you wore this back in the day or still do now – if not it would be a perfect addition to your orange blossom collection, worn discreetly with a white Gianfranco Ferre tailored shirt); the end notes of benzoin, orris root, incense and a discreet sandalwood serving as a gentle denouement.
The perfume’s tagline in the original advertisements for the initial release was ‘a perfume that reminds you of a woman that reminds you of a perfume’ – an intriguing idea, and one that I think makes sense in the context of how the fragrances smells. There is an abstraction to this scent that makes it difficult to immediately decode: this is not the flowers in your garden, but neither is it artificial. More, it is the kind of perfume you can walk into an empty room, make your presence felt, and leave an artful trace.