Category Archives: occasionally sickening scents

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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20 Comments

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THE JOY, THE HORROR : : WHITE DIAMONDS PURE PARFUM by ELIZABETH TAYLOR (1991) + POSSESSION by CORDAY (1937)

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As I work my way prodigiously through Z’s vintage perfume collection I discover new (but old) things.  One such essence is Elizabeth Taylor’s legendary White Diamonds, which I smelled in vintage extrait for the first time last night, pouched in its little black felt coochy bag, resplendent as a Fabergé egg. My eyes widened with desire as I carefully

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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unstoppered the bottle to smell a scintillating liquid containing everything : as though Ysatis were a minted American tourist travelling  in Versailles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The thing is gorgeous.

Full, rounded (‘Egyptian tuberose’, narcissus, jasmine, all the flowers, you name them, over woods and musks and aldehydes and violets and sandalwood and amber and musks),

 

 

 

 

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‘ the fragrance dreams are made of’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At least initially.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Soon, though still beautifully constructed by Carlos Benaim (Carolina Herrera, Red Door, Flowerbomb); a familiarly smug and soignée presence emerges: that of the self-satisfied woman of a certain age without a glimmer of doubt, not a hair’s breadth, of who she will be voting for come November’s election. You hear her slam her SUV shut; lock the big white gate behind her. Lights out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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AT THIS POINT WHITE DIAMONDS  MAKES ME WANT TO SCREAM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I cannot hear the word Possession and not think of the electrifying film by Andrzej Żuławski from 1981 in which Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill brilliantly out-Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton themselves as a married couple plummeting into psychosis in Cold War Berlin, an extended allegory on the fury of love; an apotheosis. It is a film once seen, never forgotten, the pivotal scene where Adjani torments into full throttled hysteria in a train tunnel jaw-dropping to behold, the conclusion agonizing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The very idea of possession is terrifying. Not only demonic, but also romantic. Being ‘possessed’ by someone. I always find songs about lovers not wanting to breathe or sleep, or be away from their beloveds for even one second extraordinarily creepy – Aerosmith’s Don’t Want To Miss A Thing being the worst contender :  “I Don’t want to close my eyes…….”; the idea of another person staying up all night watching you; people ‘making love’ all night long, wearing each other out, it could almost make you yearn for a Gwyneth unconscious uncoupling (and let’s not begin a conversation about her erotic candle).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fortunately, Possession the perfume is not excessively possessive nor will require you to dial up the local exorcist, but is rather a very clingy floral aldehyde in the manner of all of those perfumes like Lanvin’s My Sin and any other Ernst Beaux doppelgängers that inherit the earth like zombies somnambulating across the perfumed landscape wide-eyed in search of the original Chanel No 5, which this is quite obviously emulating. Sweet, precious, this perfume is very heartfelt and lovely; musky and floral, but

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SORRY I NEED SOME FRESH AIR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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19 Comments

Filed under CLAUSTROPHOBIA, Floral Aldehydes, Floriental, occasionally sickening scents, operatic

ALL OVER MYSELF ::::::::: CRISTAL Pour Homme by AMOUAGE

 

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On Monday morning at Strawberry Fields in Kamakura I had a naughtyish splurge on a cache : for sixty pounds sterling, a vintage 30ml Opium parfum, a No 19, a Caron Fleurs De Rocaille extrait, but these were kind of thrown in, really, because the real purchase, and prize, was this vintage edition of Amouage Cristal for men ( or possibly Gold? Experts please weigh in ) that was roaring to me silently from the top of the glass shelf.

 

 

 

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The bottom of the bottle says Cristal, apparently a rare perfume on eBay that sells for around 1,000 dollars  – the Japanese internet has one for half that

 

 

 

 

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but the notes do seem to match those of Gold, an intense ( though this word doesn’t do it justice, not remotely ; I have never known anything like it ), aldehydically animalic, musky soapy floral that smells just like a pristine extract of Madame Rochas parfum on United Arab Emirates steroids and cristillated to spectacularly nuclear strength.

 

 

 

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The second I sprayed this oily, golden slick of perfume on the back of my hand I experienced a delirium tremens of being enveloped, head to toe, in regal downiness and flowers; rose, jasmine, but most specifically a powdery sandalwood and overall smell that reminded me very specifically of Imperial Leather soap – which I have always loved, and can use up a whole bar of in one long sitting…………….despite the swirl of richness gradually coalescing into one skin smell, the overall feeling is definitely that familiar scent; I use the talc and the deodorant spray, and having this too as the main event after all that initial background pampering will be orgiastically pleasurable for me. I was practically WRITHING on the train back home in olfactory arousal: tending and loosening like a cat in heat ……  perhaps the sublimated civet, that I experience without consciously sensing it: some secret code of sensuality immersed in the blend that makes it just so horny yet so MAJESTIQUE.

 

 

 

 

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To me, anyway.

 

 

 

 

D was having none of it.

 

 

 

 

 

“it smells……. pissy, or something” he said when we met in Ofuna : “I don’t like it”.

 

 

 

 

 

“UGH”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And on Basenotes :

 

 

 

 

“Musky, soapy floral, like taking a bath in the clawfoot tub of my gtandmother’s house in the seventies “

 

 

 

says one reviewer.

 

 

 

“I got through the initial blast of granny’s partially soiled bloomers, tiptoeing around the house trying to avoid my wife”,

 

 

 

 

says another.

 

 

 

 

Most other reviewers spin variations on this ‘old lady’ incontinence theme ( WHICH I DON’T GET AT ALL ::: I JUST SMELL SWOONWORTHY ARAB PRINCES IN WHITE ROBES )

 

 

 

– an (ageist, sexist ?), scaredy-cat reaction to a man’s scent that veers from the usual, ‘masculine’ brutality? Or maybe Duncan is right after all and I am just blind : though he does like the beginning, which is glorious: derailingly erotic for me personally, there is something in the base he can’t abide. A grimacing recoil.  It almost makes me fearful, like some dreaded halitosis I am unaware of, that my olfactory apparatus has gone awry. Why does it smell like that to him ??????

 

 

 

 

As another reviewer of the perfume says,    (as I mentioned I think this perfume must be Gold, (though please correct me if I am wrong) / could the ‘cristal’ on the glass be just referring to the material of which the bottle is made? It does feel ludicrously expensive]]

 

 

 

 

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Yes. That was what I was wanting to say.

 

 

 

 

Wow is precisely the word I would use to describe this extravagant creation.

 

 

 

Which obviously I am only going to be able to wear indulgently alone, doors locked and bolted ,at home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

37 Comments

Filed under amber floral musks, Antidotes to the banality of modern times, Civet, Classics, Floral Aldehydes, FUCK EVERYTHING, Hairy Masculines, LUXURIANCE, Masculines, Musk, New Beginnings, occasionally sickening scents, PERFUME AND PERFORMANCE, pigs, postcards from the edge, Powder, Psychodrama, Urine

THE PROMENADE OF THE DAMNED: : : : : :: :WHEN YOU WEAR A PERFUME YOU HATE

 

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I woke up through a tunnel of nightmares on Saturday morning and opened my eyes. Duncan had gone in to work for the opening ceremony of the school year; I had to get myself together for the evening’s performance.

 

 

 

 

Meeting Lona in a park to practice our moves, described with great precision by D in his notes (almost impossible for a person like me, who possibly has dyspraxia – a horrific clumsiness, as any of my friends or family members would vouch: a virtual lack of coordination and spatial awareness (which is why I would never drive – it would lead to death))     ……….I can’t even remember one part of dance choreography, nor get left and right correctly)) We nevertheless went through the instructions, like Japanese junior high school students doing their hip hop routines unselfconsciously in municipal areas for hours, to get them right

 

 

 

 

 

 

D then eventually turned up, reeking of, and drenched in, Rose Jam by Lush, a perfume I know he hates, passionately (when he hates a perfume there is always a visceral revulsion and rejection which begs the question why on earth he was wearing this sticky, Turkish rose, geranium and honey perfume that is like plunging your tongue into dollops of sickly sweet Russian rose jam in rice pudding smeared on somebody’s body)………………….well, the piece, based on an inscrutable poem called The  Promenade Of The Damned, had we, the handmaidens – though I felt somewhat more Anglo-Saxon than ancient Greek, more like a disrobed courtier from Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite – burning candle wax onto his laurelled head, and rose petals (drenched in Nahema); blowing glitter (he is still sparkling this morning); we came on bearing a pictorial representation of the sun, and a hand (Icarus), and rakes on either side, a bit grim reaper::  you could feel a slight hush and murmur in the audience as the first bit of visual stimulation of the night changed the sphere; ;;;;D coming in in a chameleon’s head and doing a slow motion flight towards being burned (and he had wanted a literal rose scent to augment the feeling in the room, seen a perfume with rose in the name back home as he panickedly tried to get his things together in the suitcase and come up to Tokyo, having forgotten, somehow (I never would have) that this was a perfume, that for him (and me, actually – just too potent and cloying), is very, very wrong. 

 

 

 

 

 

In England I had secretly scented his coat with two perfumes: on the collar, too much 1899 by Histoires De Parfums, an aromatic spice very redolent of fresh tobacco (in homage to Ernest Hemingway), one of a few perfumes I bought there, for D, as he loves tobacco perfumes, the other being a lavender for my mother, and a full bottle of Fragonard’s delectably lascivious amber, Reve Indien, which out shalimars Shalimar in its civety richness (gorgeous); I had also borrowed Daphne’s Santa Maria Novella Patchouli for radio interviews and surreptitiously lined his coat with it, at the base, at the back.  Now this is a classic patchouli, brilliant, tightly made, but it did, on this woollen coat, smell pungent as hell, and still continues to do so; right now, the earthy, musky scent of the entrails of patchouli in its driest death throes trails him like a long unwashed hippie, the balsams of the 1899 still lingering like sex on dirty sheets; the cloying erotica of his detested rose jam almost making me quite embarrassed last night, post performance, as we tried to find somewhere to eat : nowhere would have been suitable, I knew this: people in restaurants would have been repelled by how strong we smelled – – – – I had also rather overdone the Nahema – we smelled like an orgy of roses and dirt musk, most definitely enigmatic and troubling; but also, quite possibly, quite disgusting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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21 Comments

Filed under occasionally sickening scents, postcards from the edge, Rose perfumes

COVFEFE PARFUM POUR IDIOT (2017)

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18 Comments

Filed under Catastrophe, Celebrity Scents, groping motherfuckers, I really do have a bad feeling about all of this, occasionally sickening scents, pigs, religious hatred and death, Republican, Uncategorized

DUMBO DUMBO : L’ELEPHANT by KENZO (1996)

 

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We have been  talking recently about signature scents, whether of Hollywood stars or just ourselves, and this excessive treat by Kenzo, which is still going strong, was definitely one of mine.

 

It is a milestone of sorts: the first ‘women’s’ scent I wore with pride, and also a marker of the first years of my time in Japan, when everything was new, exciting and disorientating and I would return to England periodically laden with incense and stories of my experiences, reeking (no, reeking, really) of L’Eléphant. If there is any scent my friends associate with me, it is probably this flamboyant creation, which somehow, for a while,  suited me perfectly.

 

I even wore it to work all the time, unaware at that point of the suffering I was probably causing……

 

 

One of my nicknames growing up, which I never liked, was Nelly The Elephant (along with Neil, Neil orange peel, or lemon peel, or whatever peel you like, any chantable derivative of my name) : yet, ironically, for a time I then eventually end up being synonymous with a perfume actually called elephant, a scent I would wear in unbearably huge amounts, and even deliberately spray on people’s walls when I was staying for the night at their houses, taking the perfume association thing to ludicrous levels of self-importance (you WILL smell me and remember me even when I am not there: I will haunt you with the presence of my long, vanilla-kissed trunk…..)

 

 

 

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It was always hilarious, though, I must say, to be asked

 

‘Wow, what perfume are you wearing?’

 

and be able to answer

 

 

‘Elephant!’

 

 

…a perfume so intense it actually burns human skin (mine in any case……I always had red patches from the absurd concentration of sensitizing spices and ylang.. and Japanese Parisian aroma chemicals…….maybe it would suit the skin of the great pachyderm itself better: : : : : : : : great runs of cardamom-scented elephants charging across the savannahs and plains, scaring off the yelping cheetahs and lions with gigantic clouds of ylang ylang and patchouli

 

 

 

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….a  perfume that, quite understandably, still has a small posse of enthusiasts across the world who keep it in production (Le tigre, which I also loved, is now unfortunately extinct)…..

 

 

No. The Elephanters truly love its plummy, Christmas cake excesses: its spiced, inspiriting intensity, but more importantly the fact that it elicits such positive, even wild reactions from others (especially in its closing stages). I have practically caused stampedes, wearing this perfume;  I distinctly remember the first time I debuted the perfume in a bar in Yokohama, and people were all over me, women especially, sniffing my neck wantonly, excited by its effluvium of everything in the poacher’s kitchen sink.

 

 

 

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With a great, bellowing, fanfare, the sweetest ylang ylang flowers; cumin, cardamom and mandarins trumpet savagely from the skin, a perilous stage you have to endure before you begin to wade through the massive, uninhabitable jungle to reach that delicious main theme, which is a rich, buttery accord of vanilla, patchouli and a huge dollop of liquorice.

 

 

 

Gorgeous and grotesque in equal measure, this really is a fun scent to wear out once in a while, but only in cold weather lest you be cloyed to death.

 

 

On the wrong, sweaty, hot and greasy day, Elephant is nothing short of an atrocity.

 

 

 

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I have had friends who have absolutely loved the scent on me (the closing stages) and then tried it on themselves, only to screech in distress at the initial toxic shock and run like crazy to the nearest source of water and soap. My current big bottle comes from a friend who bought it based on how I smelled, was appalled when he tried it on himself, and immediately handed it over to my willing, grabbing hands.

 

 

 

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53 Comments

Filed under Liquorice, occasionally sickening scents, Orientals, Patchouli, Perfume Reviews, Spice Orientals, Vanilla, Ylang Ylang