The genius of the first Escentric Molecules perfume, Vol 01 from 2006, was the word-of —mouth/wildfire supposition that even though most people couldn’t actually smell this synthetic molecule on themselves – ISO E SUPER -elusive, translucent- it smelled quite amazing and irresistible to everybody else, mutating with your own personal skin chemistry to create an authentic aroma all your own. Compliments all around from strangers following you down the street. A dream from Patrick Suskind.

Like many, I go from not being able to smell anything at all with this base note to an uneasy relationship with its synthetic insistence – which can be sexy, in an athletic, animalic, mint gum chewing fresh ironed sort of way : clean, yet dirty, fleetingly intriguing, even if I am unlikely to be sufficiently seduced by such perfumes for my own use.

Cloaking the emperor’s new clothes is a clever idea though : the original molecules ‘masked’ with an ingredient from nature, and all three of these new releases are commercially viable hits : the iris a mid octave mellow and bright affair with the general tenor of a Prada Infusion or a Hermessence Vetiver Tonka, nice and approachable although in my case I JUST WANT THE AERATED IRIS AND NOT THE MOLECULE UNDERNEATH (——that said, for the full alchemical after-effect with this brand, it should go without saying that you probably need to smell the scent on another entity…….)

I am a mandarin lover, and the beginning of the ether musked fusion in Molecule 01 + Mandarin is classic ‘mandarin flavour’ in the mode of Diptyque’s Oyedo or my preferred Il Profumo’s Mandarine – all the architecture of an essentialized mandarin without any of the pulp. For me, I am hypersensitive to the lurk that is coming beneath ( which to many smells like an erotic cedar , but to me is more like an artificial castoreum note that tinges the rind with something unholy). This may be part of the perfume’s appeal though – all these are all just very superficial observations —they appeared in the postbox this morning – and I would like to try this one on again – tomorrow’s forecast is sun.

Surprisingly- given my general non keenness on the current treatment of the note -the husky patchouli was the perfume in the trio of small bottles I liked the best – tawny and aromatic with some memories of Lutens Borneo. D sprayed some on his sweater for a day off at home and I can imagine a good linger :possibly ceding into severity, later, I don’t know – I will find out when I get home tonight. The natural darkness of fermented patchouli leaves, though, melding more instinctively with the already woody ‘molecule’ it is girded to is to me a more naturally ‘altered state’ :: fused. Lessuncomfortable : less like dressing the invisible.

a PS / 11 hour later edit:::

d, meeting me in the kitchen just now had a real ‘wow you smell lovely ‘ general vibe : fresh, effortless-

I sniffed the two boxes of the mandarin and the iris and they smelled practically EXQUISITE.

I am confused.


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There is no doubt, obvious thought it may sound, that it is the perfumer who puts his or her stamp on a fragrance in the way an auteur film director infuses a movie with their distinct personality and vision. All perfumistas have their preferred olfactory auteurs : there are some I personally feel are vastly overrated, or at the very least who make perfumes that I can’t relate to (scent equivalents of directors like Christopher Nolan, Guillermo Del Toro, and dare I say it, even Martin Scorcese), while others that are lesser known perhaps but who have their own particular pedigree.

The other day I found myself unexpectedly craving R de Capucci, created by Takasago’s Francoise Caron for Italian couturier Roberto Capucci in 1985. Although any research into an 80’s men’s fougère basically brings up almost exactly the same complex set of notes, the enjoyment for me all depends on the particular concentration of certain ingredients and thematic emphases. The same perfumer, for example, was responsible for Caron’s Le Troisième Homme, a darkly magnetizing masculine which debuted the same year (I hesitated over a bottle of the current version of that ‘dastardly bastard’ aromatic fougère not long ago for Duncan but then decided it might just be too hairy smooth guy – albeit mysterious and somewhat undefinable – the cloying animalics in the base for me too much, if certainly intriguing).

R de Capucci is much more refined and restrained; green, with a distinctive patchouli facet laid beautifully with mosses, petitgrain and green notes that are more like the reminiscences of a forest that the actual coniferous reality. All the usual suspects are present: vetiver, leather, clary sage, some floral underfootings, but the sillage has an excellent gravitas to it, different from some of the more leathery sleazebags and their unwanted spice-breath feeling you up at the bar; you would feel this one coming and look round voluntarily.

Strangely, I had been recently having urgings for some more Hermès Eau D’Orange Verte (also a Francoise Caron creation, and of similar mood to the Capucci) , despite the fact that it is winter. At work, though, I basically wear citrus all year round, usually in the form of bergamot essential oil held upside down in my pockets (the evaporating volatiles emanate subtly from your person in this way), as well as my citrus infused hand rubs, but sometimes I will also wear some scent – Racine, or Eau Captivante , or a little of the classic Hermès bitter green orange (now down to its last dregs). I have been looking to get some more. Fortuitously, the other day at one of my usual lunch time hang outs I saw a cheap vintage bottle of Hermès Eau De Cologne, which I had never heard of before, but assumed might be an earlier form of Orange Verte – or more mysteriously, something else. Either outcome was fine with me. But one whiff from the splash-on bottle (‘yes! I can adulterate it ! immediately think I) – and I knew it was obviously the former, slightly tired in the top notes of green bitter orange, mint and the always unusual hint of papaya, but still beautiful in the delicate, chypric patchouli finish (which lovers of the original cologne prefer to the later ‘green orange’ version – there are apparently subtle differences).

Before you could say Adam, I had been and gone to one of the many aromatherapy shops that abound in Fujisawa and got myself a special bergamot oil and yuzu blend, which on first inhalation, though risky, I knew would be perfect to revitalize this slightly fatigued cologne. With blood orange, bitter orange, lemon, bergamot and yuzu: somehow it already smelled a little bit like the Hermès and the thing is: although I do love those secretive drier chypre endings à la Diorella or the exquisite Ô de Lancome, that emotionally tense, shadowy duplicity between life and death that is also found in perfumes like Eau de Rochas and Caron’s Alpona, it is ultimately the freshness and joy of the citrus top notes that I go for in these scents: and now having added a little patchouli as well, this newly birthed Eau D’Orange Verte is smelling delightful. The only question is whether to start using it now, or let it macerate until early summer.

As for Francoise Caron, I wasn’t aware of the link between these two dark green delights of mine until I looked up on Fragrantica who had made them, even though this perfumer’s name has certainly come up occasionally before in relation to other stylish perfumes that I like. It is nice to make the connection though. Ms Caron is obviously very versatile and very thorough ( her perfumes feel properly ‘finished’) : from a cult modern leather such as Helmut Lang’s beloved Cuiron, to the impressive mimosa soliflore that is Astier Villatte’s recent Grand Chalet, Ms Caron is also a dab hand at creating very deep and affecting powdery, inchoate floral canvases, from the melancholically powdered classic Ombre Rose by Brousseau to the ghostly death of disco coconut tuberose that is Balenziaga’s Michelle, via more warm bodied tuberoses such as Kenzo de Kenzo, the original Giò by Armani (yes, it was loud and proud, but I always rather liked that nineties powerhouse myself – it never descended into vulgarity), or the sunbeams on neroli perfume that is the more unadorned Fleur d’Oranger by Le Labo.

Quite an impressive olfactory résumé.


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My parents’ garden, taken one hour or so ago on FaceTime.

To me it is a marvel that you can be so far apart, and yet capture the snow as it is falling.


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LE LION de CHANEL (2020)

There are very few Leos in my flesh and blood life.

While I may have worshipped at the altar of pop icons under the sign – Madonna; and Lionheart herself, Kate Bush – I have only half a handful of friends who are astrological lions. Powerful, expansive, fiercely intelligent, demanding, and with a need for attention and an addiction to exhilaration, sometimes, too many divas spoil the broth : it can get explosive.

It’s always exciting to review a Chanel, though. And I quite like this new release – the sense of optimism, a fuller flavour – even just the lettering on the bottle. Le Lion de Chanel – Gabrielle/ Coco’s own horoscope, of course – is the latest in the Exclusifs collection – Boy; Misia, etc, all based on the autobiographical elements of the couturier’s life and adventures, and it makes an enjoyable addendum.

As for the smell of the perfume itself, it is a fine, lucent, patchouli amber labdanum with a perceivable citrus note – nothing particularly out of the ordinary (the frequent comparisons to Mitzah, Coromandel and Shalimar by the fashion hordes foaming at the lion’s mouth on social media are entirely apt) – but of very fine quality – and I should hope so at this price. Undoubtedly destined for success – it is just out in the shops here in Japan, and piqued my interest yesterday when I saw it in the window of Lumine Department store in Yokohama – I also wouldn’t mind if it spurred a fashion for the immaculate, pedicured amber. Some warmth for all the misery.

Sometimes, the glint of an luxuriant patchoulambra, can be just the ticket to beat away the winter blues (and the consciousness of the plague outside your window). Le Lion has precisely such facets. It has that powdered and pressed, exquisitely controlled Polge behaviour : immediately familiar, but with a 4D tintillation of pristine, Chanel fashion newness, enamelled underneath. Thumbs up from me overall, even if I don’t think I would personally ever wear Le Lion on my own skin. I prefer something wilder.


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80’s Coty Chypre

the 1980’s edition of Coty’s legendary Chypre

It is very nice to have the bath back. And to try new perfumes on clean skin. Having received a sumptuous set of spray vials from the lovely Tora I am working my way through them : the encouraging apricot peach shampoo honey of Sonoma Scent Studio’s Bee’s Bliss – an original take on miel; some Caron extrait of Muguet De Bonheur – so different in the parfum version, so much greener and more multifaceted, among others, and most intriguingly, some 1980’s re-edition Coty Chypre decanted from the above pictured bottle.

It is lovely. Involving. Difficult to de-chypre ( a pun on decipher ). Like golden light witnessed through yellow green leaves, despite the fact that my skin keeps snagging mid-section on a slightly uriny white musk (which might just be the age of the perfume, I don’t know), and that the whole is slightly more bouffant and blue jeans than I would have expected, there is still something here that makes me yearn again for that bottle I once saw in a antique shop in Shinjuku.


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the cure


January 19, 2021 · 12:01 pm


It has been an appallingly stressful week for me. I do hope yours was better. I can’t go into it all now, but I may tomorrow – so either tune out, or prepare for the biggest rant you have ever read.

Suffice it to say that it was nice to meet Duncan after the six days of purgatory were over, and go to the Ofuna Flower Center for the first time; a modest, municipal park that had the first flowering and densely perfumed white and pink plum blossom trees that I have smelled this year.

Arriving home, I went upstairs to get changed and then (eventually) heard extremely agitated shouting from downstairs – Duncan in a panic.

Rushing down, my eyes were met with a scene of chaos and dismay: great gushes of freezing cold water blasting out from a tap that Duncan had tried to change – the pipe spraying huge swathes of water all over the room as he tried in vain to stem the great flow with various towels; screaming. The Niagara that was pulsating forth from the open pipe had pushed off his glasses which had fallen down his face, so he was stanching the river blindly; shouting Neil Neil, help me (neither of us had any clue how to turn it off from the mains); instead I just ran out of the house in my thermal underwear and rushed to our landlords, who as I barged into their house unannounced were just sitting down to have dinner – my eyes saw Mr Mitomi take a delicious looking pork chop and place it on a plate of salad, but I was already out the door exclaiming EMERGENCY, EMERGENCY – getting back to find things unchanged but the room about to flood, water all over the floor, the computer, (my incense~); poor D, who hates water to begin with – can barely swim, and must wash his hair separately in the shower rather than have water streaming down his face – this was HELL for him, I can tell you; beyond drenched, being beaten in the face with water as we used up every towel in the house until our eighty year old Japanese father with common sense managed to turn off the water from outside and we commenced the tedious, cold, sodden clean up operation.

It is interesting how people deal differently psychologically with stressful situations. With me, the hysteria spirals up into a cyclone, feeding into itself, my taut nerve endings strung like tight violins until I burst (and this actually happened several times during the fuckfest of mind-busting stress clusterfucks that happened last week). D on the other hand, once the place had been mopped, sank into a sleep, or at least an eye-closed withdrawal, on the sofa for a few hours, covered in blanket, immobile, like a cat that plunges into the deepest of slumbers, dead to the world, after a trauma, until it regains some equanimity and can bear to go again about its feline daily doings. We barely spoke again until this morning, when they came back again (in truth, there have been several domestic problems, including a blocked bath, which is one of the reasons I damaged my arm, lifting potfuls of skank hair and soap water from the disgusting mildewy tub every time a shower caused the undertile hellpool to gurgle back up greyly through the plug hole).

So not even one’s haven is safe from the deluge now. Workmen will be coming in whenever, also to fix the dangerous holes in the floorboards upstairs (we are becoming like the characters in Grey Gardens, but without the coloured silk headscarves). Out there, Civil War seems to be about to break out in America, inspired by that person who I hate more than words can express, and whose every utterance and the crimes he has committed against the world I detest with every fibre in my body; my homeland is in the grip of a terrifying disease that is spreading like wildfire, and the place where I live, while safer, is so exasperatingly ostrich-like in many regards – the hospitals are also filling up here – that it is getting increasingly hard to keep it together.

Anyway, fuck this week.


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It seems both recently and another age entirely that David Bowie died.

I really enjoyed this article in the New York Times I got here today.

The Black Narcissus

can it really have been three years ?



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January 12, 2021 · 11:06 am