Atami, aside its natural geographical beauty, is something of a trash town. And that is exactly why we love it. Faded chintz, decaying net curtains, and broken neon signs, it is a ghost town of the past that believes the future is 1982.
On my birthday we strayed after dinner into what we had believed was a saucy burlesque show. To spare your virtue, I will gently euphemise the details of what it was in reality, save to say that the lady in question, ‘Fire Yoko’, had particular abilities pertaining to her Venus; could bend spoons within like Yuri Geller, and indeed, spray flames of fire without, all while getting the eager, if strangely castrated, all male audience to shout along with her the word “FIRE!” in what eventually (a)mounted to a most hilarious – if genuinely – truly, shocking – and properly educational, ‘divertimento’. We stumbled out onto the street afterwards, speechless, and were still laughing about it (while earnestly discussing its myriad of implications), yet chuckling to ourselves, intermittently, throughout the rest of the next ambling, sun-filled, lazy seaside day.
At the almost tragically old fashioned, dusty, doll-infested ‘shopping arcade’ on the Sunday, also, Duncan, miraculously, among the sequin-affixed dreck and shiny, frilled, becheapery, patiently rummaging through, to my surprised delight, found me a bottle of Serge Lutens Nuit De Cellophane, seven eighths or so full, for a mere 1000 yen (or six pounds fifty): a scent I haven’t had for quite a while (as I drained two bottles of the stuff when it first came out) and a smell I am quite in the mood for exactly right now, in this brilliant December Japanese sunshine, despite, or even because of, its negative reputation among the perfumistas.
For me, despite the flatness in the latter notes which I do concede are a tad unexciting (a beige coloured sandalwood/almond/musk accord that is pleasantish but at best unobtrusive), I was always wild, myself, for the gorgeous, plasticky sheen of those untouchable, glimmering top notes – a mandarin-shone, apricot-fused elixir of shampoo fresh osmanthus and jasmine that went perfectly with the provocative name of a perfume that in itself reminds me of the aesthetic perfectionism, but also the sadistic, ultra mannequined artifice, of the very best Helmut Newton photographs: feminine but too objectified; archly fashionista, on point, cool, yet dead-eyed, coked-up; manipulated; a duality of perfume that is very pleasing and beautiful up to a point, but like the very apex of fashion itself, has a shallow, nihilistic nothing at its heart