Kintsugi is a centuries old Japanese artisanal tradition of fixing broken cups, plates, and other pottery and ceramics by putting the pieces back together with lacquered powdered gold. In not attempting to hide the process but by emphasizing the imperfections themselves, this ancient craft is fascinating not only aesthetically, but philosophically. You can be damaged, but also more experienced, weathered – beautiful – as a result.
Flawed perfume Kintsugi, by Italian niche house Masque Milano, a rich vanilla Siam Benzoin with patchouli, amber, and a magnetic heart of violet leaf and suede, is a melange of warm, aromatic melancholy – a little too heavy and tangy perhaps- a full dose or big bottle might prove a little wearing – but I enjoy the scent’s general atmosphere, and will use it. Binding, and surrounding, If Zoologist’s Nightingale is Plum, this is coffee: soothing and invigorating. (Unfortunately, ‘magnolia’ is the ‘gilded glint’ in the broken pottery here – one of my very least favourite notes in perfumery : I am not overly fond even of the scent of the unreplicable flowers to begin with: in Kintsugi, the floral note is a creamy citric ‘brightness’ that is mercifully shortlived, until the main, habit-formingly accord comes into fruition.)
Strangely, and completely coincidentally (I was going to write something about this perfume yesterday but got swept up in the significance of the day), a piece in this morning’s international edition of The New York Times also discusses kintsugi, its metaphor very relevant to the current time we are going through. Writer Emily Esfahani Smith has some very interesting points to make about how we can reshape ourselves following this last year, whether by falling into negativity and ‘contamination’ – a path I have been in danger of following myself – or a more positive one of redemption. She also discusses psychology studies on the value of writing, on self-expression, even of our darkest experiences, as a tool to ‘opening up’ ourselves – and moving forward.