Tag Archives: Ungaro

MITT, now you GIT on down to New Orleans right NOW and take out that MAN!!!!! I MEAN it!!!!!! (Senso, by Ungaro, 1991)

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Today I expect there will be a good few Republican vixens despairing across America with something like the facial expressions above. Tearing their teased, well-groomed hair in their master suites at the mere mention of their taxes being increased, their wealth being siphoned off by those hordes, now with health care and no longer dying in the streets, edging ever closer, and blacker, to their white-gated paradises….

 

 

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The first time I ever smelled Senso, I thought ‘Marietta’. Marietta: screeching, taloned harridan in her Texas satin dress, Lula’s hit-man devouring mother in Wild at Heart – David Lynch’s kaleidoscopic mash up of The Wizard of Oz and the classic road movie that mythologized the beauties and horrors of America,  all captured brilliantly in Diane Ladd’s interpretation of the gorgon, man-chewing  blonde: a matriarch who’d slit your throat at the flick of a switch, yet would be horrified at the mess. Come to think of it, this she wouldn’t do herself but instead would hire one of her ‘gentleman friends’ to do the job. The men love her; this dolly, come-thither old belle with her flaxen, Rapunzelesque hair; an uncurbed, materialistic witch who purses her rouge-caked mouth, smacks her lipsticked lips and immediately gets what she wants.

 

 

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You might be wondering what the connection could possibly be between evil ‘Tea Party’ crones, a wicked old witch of the west, and a long discontinued perfume by Ungaro. Well, leaving aside the fact that senso means ‘war’ in Japanese – Marietta Fortune’s war against Sailor (Nicolas Cage), the man who rejects her at some fundraiser in a public toilet – a humiliation that can only end in his death – there is the bottle, which is the most  exquisitely kitsch bottle I own, draped like a real Ungaro dress in the brightest shocking pink and hard enamelled baby blue. So belle of the ball, so…..Reagan.

 

To me it is a great flacon, and wouldn’t look out of place in Southfork, the poison dwarf weeping uncontrollably at her dresser, impetuously shattering her bottle of Senso against the mirror in some love and dollar-drenched tantrum.

 

 

And then you smell it – hit, blown away by the sheer voluptuous sweetness of the thing, a precarious tightrope balancing act of the glorious and the sickening; a perfume that aggregates rich domestic propriety with sex, just like Marietta, in her dream home: crawling, like a writhing, curvaceous beast under that glass coffee table; pursing and cooing and seducing the dumb, witless Johnnie Farragut.

 

We smell the newly washed carpets; the curtained, pink silken bedroom, the polish on the floor. And, especially, the laundry room, where the maid, off for the day, has left everything as a warm, puffed up refuge.

 

 

In Senso there’s a very comforting aura: the powerful sanctity of the washer and dryer –  the blithe reassurance of Downy – but, like Marietta, who ends up drooling, her face caked in blood-red lipstick, also an almost insanely sugared, libidinally ruinous bouquet of hysterical flowers, as though she has just fallen down and, watching her cocktail glass fall slowly to the shimmering tiles, wet herself desperately down among her tumble-dried whites: powderly, dirtily pink.

 

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Filed under Floriental, Perfume Reviews, Republican

THE DEEP, HAIRY ARMPIT OF LOVE : UNGARO POUR HOMME by UNGARO (1991)

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The first time I encountered it I was twenty and not quite ready. And neither was the public apparently, as Ungaro came and went very quickly, becoming just another discontinued, but highly sought after, cult scent. Yet even back then I knew. Something murky, and sweatily, dangerously seductive smouldered on that department store counter. It was almost too obviously manly, an attempt to combine a seventies barechested medallion aesthetic with the new decade. So macho.  So not of the times, yet also not quite like anything I had ever smelled before, with its dark-pitched, absinthe, underarm intensity. I remember shrinking back – but then returning – to this rich stew of scent that touched some primal sex nerve yet also seemed so hopelessly outdated when the world of CK-depilated sport-skinniness was just around the corner.

There was never anything androgynous – or slender for that matter – about Ungaro.

This is a middle-aged, well-built businessman, after a long day at work; his smell beneath his suit; coiled, taut – waiting to emerge. He has neglected to apply his deodorant, many hours earlier, (out of forgetfulness or fetish we don’t know), but the blend is emphatically not fresh:  it is a scent that harnesses a certain brute and rough, even dirty, masculinity.Yet it also fuses this frank eroticism with style and an attractive elegance in a manner only the French could master: we are not talking here about a clichéd, covertly aggressive chat-up line by Hugo Boss.

Essentially based on brooding patchouli; dark, bitter wormwood, and lavender, this trio of ingredients is freshened with greener notes of geranium, pine and bergamot, drying down to honey-tinged, musky animalics.  Rough, and very Italo-French in its womanizing, boozy, and measured self-confidence, it may seem to skirt with parody to the contemporary nose, but to me the perfume feels lovingly drawn by its creator, not just a throwaway commission, as it exhibits a sense of laid-back intelligence and humour beyond its core message of overt sexual prowess.

For me, Ungaro I is perhaps the ultimate masculine fougère.

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A Japanese dressmaker friend, Rumi, came to my house one evening. We drank red wine, watched Almodovar, had dinner, and then got to the perfume collection.

Once I had realized her tastes, I went in a patchouli direction (Givenchy Gentleman, Paloma Picasso, Magie Noire), all of which had her coiled like a cat with pleasure.

The pièce de resistance, however, was Ungaro Pour Homme, which I saved til last, but which she said was like sexual torture.

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Filed under Fougère, Masculines