Just look at it.
In the mail the other day came a most extravagant package. Embarrassed to open it, yet seething with pleasure at the contents – which I shall not reveal in all their entirety right now – the most thrilling creature inside this wrapped up, beautifully thought out, and entirely uncalled for box, was surely Shalimar Hair Gel.
Yes, Shalimar Hair Gel. You did in fact read that correctly. And look at the bottle! Like some nubile Egyptian amphor by way of Alphonse Mucha, the blue, exquisite container surely makes the Shalimar lover quake in his slippers: begin to doubt the beauty of the perfume and eau de toilette bottles themselves…………………………surely this blue, hypnotic, elegantly tall creation should have, instead, been the bottle? (this is never leaving my permanent collection).
The Oxford Dictionary defines the word ‘luxury’ as being
“The state of great comfort, and extravagant living”
“An inessential, desirable item that is expensive, or difficult, to obtain.”
Both these descriptions aptly seem, surely, to apply to this elegant ‘bath product’ that seems entirely extravagant, luxuriant, and, to the everyday, workaday, mortal, completely inessential.
Where perfume itself often seems so very profligate; so pure indulgence: auxiliaries: those body creams, and talcs, and bath oils, and powders and shower gels and deodorants and body mists seem surely more so: so excessive; so damn delectably superfluous, guilt-ridden, even.
You will not be even remotely surprised to know though that I spent half my student loans at university on such sweet nourishing trifles. The amount of money that I gave out in order to maintain my Calvin Klein Obsession For Men body product obsession was quite honestly mindblowing: I was a living, barely breathing bonbon: my first true perfumed love as I rocked my oriental in deliberately provocative excess – pouring them down over my young body like an emperor, reeking out the stairwells; creating quite a reputation, smelling, and I know I did: gorgeous.
This is the first time I have ever owned, or even owned a perfumed hair gel, mind you. I have seen Chanel N°5 hair perfuming sprays before, those brumes that must adorn the horse-kept, ribboned locks of kept, unquestioning, fine Parisians, but this is the first time for sure that I have seen a perfumed gel.
Gels, I have been using since I was a teenager. And they always come in tubes; cheap tubes of pliable soft plastic, with names on them written squarely across them like L’Oréal; or Schwarzkopf; or Boots. Squeezy tubes you add to your strands at the end as a touch-up, to lock things in place ( not that I have all so much thickened foliage up there these days to worry about maning and taming…….)
Still, that a hair gel should smell so delicious; and be housed in such a glass bottle; and that it should wing its way to my house here in Japan all the way from America, strikes me as very glorious.
How has this product been kept under wraps all this time? It smells like pure Shalimar blue-tinged perfection: all that you love about that scent without the weird leather-bergamot harsh contradictions of some recent batches. Just the soft vanillic-ness: the heart you knew all along from vintage, the classic Shalimar smell essentially, yet there dripping; fresh; unguently, waiting to just be manipulated there, right onto your head.
It is to be applied with an applicator, a top; a graze against your freshly washed locks to soften, and then beautifiully perfume them. I wore it on Sunday, in Shinjuku, and just taking up that bottle, and applying it to my finished person, with its lovely, lovely scent, I have to say, was absolute, and pure, wastrel luxury.
Thank you Rafael.
I miss it already.