On December 19th I will be doing an in-store book reading at the pop up Miller Harris store in Yokohama’s swanky newest department store, CIAL NeWoman. I have therefore been getting reacquainted with the house’s full range of fragrances : as with any company with an extensive catalogue of scents, I like some more than others – but it was interesting yesterday to re-experience Tender, a perfume by Bertrand Duchaufour that I had somehow overlooked.
Based on the final novel by F Scott Fitzgerald, a story of schizophrenia, decadence, lost love, and chronic alcoholism, the author apparently considered it to be his best, although it took several decades before it was recognised as being one of the Great American Novels and he died without being fully aware of its future literary and social significance.
A poignant quote from the book (which I adore for some reason, as it strikes me as getting to the very essence of things) :
” I ask you to remember. Somewhere inside me there will always be the person I am tonight”
– is written on the back of perfume’s box, and was the entire inspiration for the perfume. Miller Harris CEO Sarah Rotherham presented the idea and the brief to perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, who immediately came up with the olfactory concept of blending the green scent of fresh tulips (very French riviera of the period) and the scent of the black ink of the immortal words that were printed on the page.
The scent itself is eccentric: complex, obstinately avant-garde, as you expect with the creations of this perfumer, for whom innovation and a strong desire not to repeat himself are some of his strongest artistic motivations: in perfumes such as Déliria for L’Artisan Parfumeur, or the cute oddball that was Tralala for Penhaligon’s, Duchaufour’s palette is always experimental (“ Strange children should smile at each other and say, “Let’s play.” , one of the famous lines from the book that also seems very applicable here).
make up Tender, a sweet, charming, and gently symphonic perfume that immediately struck D and I yesterday as being simultaneously both truly nostalgic in some unplaceable way, and yet very modernist/contemporary (and we couldn’t put a finger on what it was that it reminded us of exactly: those dry spongey banana sweets you used to get in paper bags at the confectioners? Pink carnations? Some perfume we had known in the past?)
Piquant and emotive, both scintillating and soft ; sueded, this perfume strikes a nerve.
“Later she remembered all the hours of the afternoon as happy — one of those uneventful times that seem at the moment only a link between past and future pleasure, but turn out to have been the pleasure itself.”
– from Tender Is The Night by F Scott Fitzgerald.