Category Archives: JAPAN PHOTOGRAPHY

MARRY ME ! by LANVIN (2010)

 

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As I wandered to the corner where the bridesmaids, and nuns, and various eccentric wedding guests were gathered, I encountered a wondrous, heart-hancing smell: a disarming swirl of lip balms and coconut scented, pomading hair products coming together as participants put last touches to their makeup before parading in front of the cameraman’s green screen; a very romantic, girlie rosey modern floral, daringly sweet-pitched and penetrating – but momentarily quite discombobulating :  …………………yielding, YES, I WILL MARRY YOU : the only obvious reply.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(preparing for the wedding scene ‘Burning Bouquet’ with prosthetics…… SPOILER ALERT!)

 

 

 

 

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Tracing the scent to the source, I found very quickly that it was the pink lady top left –  whose name I didn’t catch – but who was wearing her very well-suited perfume layered with the oil of Lush Goddess, and then brought out the perfume from her bag to tell me what it was ….…………..’It’s Marry Me, By Lanvin.’ Complimenting her on her perfume (a giddy, rose-peach-jasmine-musky heart fluttering pink scent of the kind that is consistently popular here among young women), I realized once again that context with perfumery is everything: I would have undoubtedly sniffed this one at a fragrance counter and dismissed it with cynical, adult derision; meh! Another floral! Synthetic! Green tea and ‘freesias’! ‘Magnolia‘. Ha! On a person, though, especially at a wedding (we were filming one of the key, culminative scenes in Duncan’s hilarious art-trash comedy Spoiled Identity: had she brought along this perfume deliberately for its name, or was it just an opportune coincidence?) ……it was lovely, at least for a while, before going a little bit Lancôme Miracle ( one of my personal top 5 bȇte noires, I just can’t abide it) ;’ although for all I know, what I was smelling could have been coming from any number of sources as various people of all kinds and persuasions were coming and going from the municipal building in Tokyo we were filming in to take part as drunks, soothsayers, paparazzi, eye candy, priests (where does he get all these people from, this international smorgasbord? ).

 

 

 

 

 

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All in all, it was all a colour-saturated gorgeous relief from all the virus-ridden doom and gloom we have been over immersed in these last few weeks (and it’s only just begun!) : probably, we should have been quarantined in our abode, knitting in gas masks, weeping, but cancelling this was simply not an option. Instead, we were out in one of the most heavily populated urban areas in the world, maskless, and I loved every last minute of it; perfume gladdening the circumstances  – – –  pleasingly beyond. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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9 Comments

Filed under Flowers, incomplete perfume reviews, inexplicable happenings, JAPAN PHOTOGRAPHY, JOUISSANCE

THE SKY IS INFUSED WITH THE STRANGE SMELL OF PLUM BLOSSOM

 

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After the wild drunkenness and Soft Cell hilarity of Saturday night in Roppongi with my friends ( ‘out in clubland having fun..and now I’m hiding from the sun..’), we had a much more conventional, curled up home cooking-with-locally-grown-vegetables,  Netflix-in-the-rain type Sunday yesterday in with the cat.

 

 

 

Today it is warm and the sun is out. Flowers everywhere.

 

 

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The smell of the plum blossoms is palpable, tinting the blue air

 

 

 

 

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24 Comments

Filed under Flowers, JAPAN PHOTOGRAPHY, JOUISSANCE

HEARTLESS HELEN by PENHALIGONS (2019)

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I had promised myself I wouldn’t write anything today as I am feeling mind-wiped, but seeing this just-out-in-Nippon release in Takashimaya ( a take no prisoners, self confidently fresh and sharp mandarin tuberose neroli that she would never wear in a million years though I might ),  I am simply putting this up to pique the amusement of my best friend Helen – who is anything but heartless

 

 

 

 

 

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– though she can be severe and cut to the core and tell it like it is because she seems to understand me better than possibly anybody else: a soul twin, telepathic understanding that, though we speak far too little ( as we are both lazy and crap ) we know, as long as we remain intact, we will always have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

( the picture above is H giving me a pep talk before my Perfume Lovers London talk of 2014 ….. god how time so quickly flies……)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helen has talked me through many a difficult situation: like my mother (in the earthquake, my operation, both were amazing ) they tell me just the right combination of reality and boost. A hotwire to my sensibility;  fraternal umbilical straight to my fevered, potholed  brain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We are also both hypochondriacs. So god knows how she would feel being here where I am today, in Yokohama,; the biggest China Town in all of Asia, where a cruise ship is quarantined off shore walking distance from where I have lessons with passengers coming down like flies with the coronavirus, and where, as you can see, masks are selling out and there is a very uneasy feel in the air – as there is globally – as people are wondering what to believe, and whether they are over or underreacting; where being on packed trains feels unpleasant and dangerous, and where tempers get frayed —

 

 

 

 

– —- my ragged own, especially ( I had an argument with my closest Japanese male friend on the bus earlier this afternoon. about a common colleague who was espousing theories the other day about only the ‘weak’ being in danger of contracting the virus and being very arrogantly ‘unconcerned’ about the illness –  —- so would that include me, then?  having had very serious pneumonia in my left lung twice before ; I didn’t like the almost Nietzschean Ubermensch implications of what he was saying (and what of the immune stressed sleep deprived students, just before the most important exams of their lives ?); my friend said it was a linguistic misunderstanding: I responded with something below the belt about the man’s appearance…., oh when I get on the defensive I can be very venomous ; bile slips from my tongue with slippered ease.,..  …. never mind Heartless Helen; it is more like Noxious Neil (so should I wear the partner in the set, then  : the devilish and dastardly woody tobacco scent, Terrible Ted? )

 

 

 

 

 

No : I think Helen would suit me much better : we need proud nosegays in these pestilential times; bright flowers (Penhaligons calls this a ‘fearless conquistador’), and everybody knows that I love oranges.  don’t think about it, H would say, rationalize, hone in to the very best perspective; reverse or brake my hysteria  —-   ———- or at the very least, just try and  steer me towards a more pacified lucidity

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under art and politics, autobiography, B0RN TO BE TROPICAL, Bitch, Flowers, FUCK EVERYTHING, I really do have a bad feeling about all of this, incomplete perfume reviews, inexplicable happenings, Japan, JAPAN PHOTOGRAPHY, LUXURIANCE, Neroli, neurotic meltdowns, occasionally sickening scents, PERFUME AND PERFORMANCE, postcards from the edge, pretentious aesthetes, Psychodrama, Rare, religious hatred and death, SCANDAL, SELF-OBSESSION, this is not a perfume review, Tuberose, Uncategorized, Urine, Vietnam travelogue, when an artist spins in his grave, Writing

2 0 2 0

 

 

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A very happy, fulfilling, healthy, stimulating and beautiful new year to everyone. Last night we went to our local temple, Engakuji, to a precinct we had never been to before, and where we rang the sacred bell. It felt purifying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A wonderful 2020 to all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Antidotes to the banality of modern times, JAPAN PHOTOGRAPHY

a cup of tea on a sunday

 

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Filed under Flowers, Japan, JAPAN PHOTOGRAPHY, Last Sunday in Tokyo

sleep

 

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11 Comments

Filed under Japan, JAPAN PHOTOGRAPHY, Masculines

AN ALIEN TOUCHED DOWN IN SHINJUKU :: OPIUM VINTAGE PARFUM by YVES SAINT LAURENT (1977, in 2019)

 

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Michael Judd is a brilliant photographer, filmmaker and performance artist from Australia who lives in Nagoya and Osaka : like us, he has something of a double life, teaching in the week for four days or so then indulging in his imagination on extended weekends, where he absorbs the neon ghosts and soul of the city into his eerie, velours celluloid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Belgium Solanas, the mesmerizing alter ego that often has cabaret audiences ( myself included ) in tears – there is often something overwhelmingly dreamlike and touching in the distilled cinematic melancholy of the performances :  Michael  appeared in Duncan and Yukiro Dravarious’s hilarious comedy horror film Girl Goned from two years ago and is going to edit their new opus, ‘Spoiled Identity’, the first scene of which we filmed in Golden Week ; analytical, sincere and unflinching – his is a towering, formidable presence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Space Witches, an art performance event held in the bowels of deepest Shinjuku, Belgium came on stage, an hour or so after midnight, like an alien air hostess meets Judy Garland meets Sean Young replicant from Bladerunner, holding a copy of Bowie’s Heroes, to a medley of songs glitch-edited over Laurie heartbreaking Anderson’s O Superman, a spellbinding staging that culminated in a spontaneous hugging of my friend in the audience,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Laurie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A male and female pro-wrestling couple, jostling  in the throng of the most packed together electric honeycombs of Shinjuku had earlier spotted D and I  ( and smelled me) in Giorgio Red; the girl had apparently said to her boyfriend ‘Follow That Hair!  : they then jumped in the cab with us, and the man was soon in emotional floods of tears at the end of Solanas’ performance, which in its lack of tack and its deadly, heart rending earnestness left a black hole of emptiness and longing in the pit of your heart ( in a good way ).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An alien being emitting much needed empathy for this world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was standing next to Laurie when they embraced, and could smell commingled sweat (from all our dancing ), and traces of Van Cleef & Arpels’ Gem coming off from the silver dress, an elegant, spiced and long discontinued floriental from the late 80’s I had given Michael in lieu of a flacon of vintage YSL Opium parfum, which for some reason I had always thought he should wear on stage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opium, an almost mythical monolith of a perfume, stills smells sexy, and so FAMILIAR – almost too much so –  as though it were imprinted in our collective DNA, but inevitably the current formula is vastly thinner and less complicated than the original distilled tiger cordial of resins, spices, vanilla, flowers, mandarin oranges, and seemingly a million other ingredients doused in balsams and patchouli that for me is the very essence of late 70’s and early 80’s glamour. Scoring a sealed bottle of the extrait recently, I decided to send it to Michael. He won’t be able to wear it in the classroom ( where he usually is to be found in Gorilla Perfume’s Breath Of God), but as Belgium, I am excited to sense that opiate of Studio 54 excess drifting from the stage…….  perfume, in this context, can consolidate, re or de-emphasize an art piece, or simply take you to an added dimension.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off stage, as guests and performers chatted and drank together in the interval before the next act ( a hypnotic, bald, female Buddhist stripper covered from head to toe in exquisite calligraphy), Michael took my hand and said we had to go and take some photos up on the streets outside. Handing me his camera, I snapped away outside ramen bars and coin lockers, and felt, for a few minutes, that we had actually gone back in time,  almost as though we were Jerry Hall and Helmut Newton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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, like ripping through the fabric of time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 'Orientals', Antidotes to the banality of modern times, cinema + perfume, JAPAN PHOTOGRAPHY, LUXURIANCE, PERFUME AND PERFORMANCE, Spice