Some perfumes change name. Yves Saint Laurent’s Champagne famously turned into Yvresse due to the fury and chagrin of French grape farmers. Heeley’s white flower orgy and extrait de parfum Bubblegum Chic is now Jasmine OD; veteran rock gods Metallica forced Guerlain in court to change their marvellously mellifluous orange blossom carnation to the name of Metalys – but then Guerlain probably wouldn’t have minded too much in the first place as they have always had a field day discombobulating Guerlainistas by pouring the same perfume into different bottles (often at twice or three times the price to add insult to injury): Lui is now Oeillet Pourpre (!); Mahora – an unsellable name to begin with – became the weaker and attenuated Mayotte; Chamade Pour Homme the more macho-acceptable Soul Of A Hero (L’Âme d’un Heros), Guet Apens became Attrape-Coeur became Vol de Nuit Evasion became Royal Extract (sometimes the formula are slightly tweaked but the perfumes are still basically the same); Figue-Iris became Promenade Anglais – and I think Baiser de Russie (Russian Fuck) was once something else as well – but I can’t quite remember what it was.
If I were at The Different Company, I am sure I would also probably try and change the rather outdated and generically titled Oriental Lounge, which, rather like Creed’s ‘Asian Green Tea’, is both sweeping and staid in one stale breath – even offensive, in a climate where ‘oriental’ as a fragrance category has been replaced by ‘amber’ even at the highest echelons of perfume stratification à la Michael Edwards due to its colonialist overtones (while still not quite capturing perhaps the full range of the former scent genus with its preponderance also of flowers, spices, earth tones and resins, the new classification is less racially stereotypical and does feel much more in keeping with the times).
Despite its ungainly name, I have had brief, cursory sniffs of The Different Company’s OL in the past, having quite liked a few perfumes in their extensive range including their other ‘exotic’ offerings, Adjatay and Al Sahra, and thought that at least it had olfactory potential, in an Obsession or original Moschino kind of way. Sometimes I like the full-on, balsamic erotica, and what better time to try this one finally, albeit semi-ironically, properly on the back my hand and wrist for the first time than yesterday, at a department store in Fujisawa after finally leaping into the darkness and booking a flight with Etihad Airlines of the United Arab Emirates from Tokyo to London via Abu Dhabi in August at a fifth floor travel agency (which felt so weird and overwhelming and exhausting it is hard to explain, as though we were virgin travellers going to terra incognita, never having been anywhere abroad before). All the rigmarole and viral precautions and necessary apps and vaccination checks and new passport and alien registration card checks – we were roiled, avidly eating our delicious Chinese lunch afterwards in virtual silence.
The journey from Kamakura will be unbearably long – and in a mask all the way I can’t even quite even imagine it. Nor how utterly foul and grotty I am going to feel by the time we finally get to my parents’ house in Birmingham, months later. But direct flights were howlingly expensive ($3300 per person for economy class?!!!! – we laughed out loud ) and somehow, we both felt irrationally slightly safer going the ‘sub-continent’ route than going even ANYWHERE near the north of the world or the Baltic region where that rubber-faced and botoxed, grim-lipped dickhedski could press any missile button he felt like at probably any moment he liked and take out commercial air liners just for the fun of it (if he takes ours out, though, so be it – at least I will be with Duncan, drunk, and thoroughly enjoying a film on the in-flight service as I soar my way down crashing into flames in the scorching desert sands); if not, and we make it, I will be in simple human ecstacy perusing all the Arab hair creams and body products at Abu Dhabi airport as I did, once, many years ago in Dubai, where I picked up nice soaps and deodorants and some cheap, almond and saffron-tastic fragrance masterpieces that I still use to this day. A new location – even a stopover somewhere – is always exciting (I will never forget the utter thrill of the jolt of a freshly squeezed pomegranate juice in Istanbul airport I once drank that electrified me with health before the final leg of the journey back to Blighty) – for me there is always something intriguing and stimulating to try; an unexperienced ambience, even just the mesmerizing excitement of International People watching, as you wait nervously near the gate for the announcement of the next endless stage of your airless, compressed, flying odyssey.
One perfume I know I definitely won’t be wearing on this mega-haul flight from hell is Oriental Lounge. Yesterday, in the moist humidity of a sunny/cloudy day I found it clammy, sweet and suffocating, even if at the same time it was obvious to me that this is a very well made perfume with ingredients that work from start to finish : the proper, amber musked vanilla base that one expects from a fragrance of this ilk, long-lasting; ogle- eyed; and sensual. The fresh and alluring top notes of curry leaf, bergamot and other citruses over rose and labdanum and robust tonka bean suitably create the required come-into-my-parlour-and-rub-my-genie-lamp ambience, but for me, the sandalwood and ‘satinwood’ of the scent, smudged up against the petals of white flowers lurking in the backdrop create a somewhat sickly tension that I have never liked in comparable perfumes of this type such as Ormonde Jayne’s Tolu;, Christian Dior’s Addict, and particularly Jean Louis Scherrer’s Nuits Indiennes, which this reminds me of the most; but all are similarly sultry. These perfumes – full bodied, lusty – can be genuinely seductive on the right adult woman, even if this slightly obvious and vulgar seduction does tend to involve certain unavoidable clichés in the process, such as speaking in low voiced and whispering, warm husk-breathed sentences, letting the hand and lacquered talons linger just slightly too long on said-target’s shoulder; gold and dangled, heavy jewellery, gently clanking down deliberately and caressing the back of hair; meaningful, kohl-lidded glances……………..and all the other predictable, traditional, yawnsome trappings of the sloe-eyed, occidental beguilement.