I read an online comment recently expressing surprise that when I talked about ‘layering’ in the introductory passages of my book, I didn’t mean it literally: ie. actually spraying one scent physically on top of another. This can work, if you have a particular inspiration, but it is a little like listening to two songs at the same time: they cancel each other out. It had thus never occurred to me to wear fragrance that way. Rather, although on the whole I usually tend to wear only one perfume at a time, for compare and contrast and interesting synergies in the air around me and in my brain, I will sometimes wear two complementary or thematically linked perfumes on different parts of the body, or even just one on each wrist, in order to get a plusher, more interesting effect.
What about wearing a dipytch or tripych of perfumes with the same family DNA? I find that Guerlains can work very well in this regard. I have a bottle of Shalimar Parfum Initial that I quite like but will never love (it is just ……..less intelligent), but I do like the base: I thus sprayed some Japanese jinbe pyjama trousers I float about in with copious amounts of this scent and the base accord lingered for days; it worked very well with either the vintage Shalimar edt I have, some very precious extrait of Vol De Nuit I discovered recently and also, just for the hell of it, some vintage Jardins De Bagatelles for some tuberose lift (gorgeously given full colour camera close ups by the soft powder surrounding me in the air : doing this allows you to really focus in on a scent, see hitherto unseen facets, create individualistic sillages).
Of course, this will not work in the vast majority of cases. Try mixing up all the Dior Poisons and you will have a dog’s dinner of indigestible incompatibles (or, my god, Miss Dior and ‘Miss Dior’! -). I think the Muglers can work : Angels and A*Mens and Aliens of various varieties can be combined quite happily if you want that bombastic burnt sugar bombshell quality that can be quite intoxicating on the committed: I can also imagine the Chanel Nº5s being effective worn together. A spray of L’Eau or Première after a day of working the original, in vintage or otherwise, would undoubtedly be accumulatively pleasing.
Yesterday was one of the best layering experiences I have had: one of those combining of scents where the fusing of two fragrances undoubtedly flatters both and creates a new illusion. D has unfortunately gone back to work (a two week, rather than the usual five week summer break – on Monday he looked like a ghost when he came home after the first day); I have been by myself, either just at home, or at the beach, though I am still not yet convinced of how much fun it is going there by myself. It has been nice, though, meeting for dinner in the evening in Kamakura. The other night I surprised myself by wearing Sisley Eau Du Soir, in the original black bottled version to go to a Spanish restaurant : it was dark and sparkly and Iberian and elevating, if a tad insistent (as always). Yesterday I felt like something softer, muskier. Caron Pour Homme Un Homme fits the bill nicely for this mood, although it is sometimes a bit too old school, too powder puff lavender/vanilla: I feel like an ancient Pomeranian being taken for a walk on the promenade despite the perfume’s supposed Gallic masculinity. Jump from 1934, when this classic was released, to 2015, and we have the bizarre Caron Pour Un Homme Sport, a beautifully blue green flanker/reiteration that D got last year, August B.C, and wore to Neneh Cherry at Billboard Tokyo. It is like nothing else: taking the original lavender vanilla DNA of Ernst Daltroff’s deceptively simple creation, it adds a ton of grapefruit and mint, some mandarin, cedar and verbena, to create an entirely different scent that somehow, wears perfectly with the original (and, strangely, smells a little bit like pineapple) . Spraying on the Sport yesterday – D has moved on to other scents now and hasn’t taken to this as much as I hoped – I found that the more peculiar aspects of the newer version were immediately neutralized by equal amounts of 1934, which in turn was made more robust and stimulating by its much younger and leaner descendant. The amalgamated effect was brilliant – I had scent sensations that reminded me of when D and I would both wear Jean Paul Gaultier’s lavender vanilla Le Mâle back in the nineties – fresh, rich, full; new; alive.