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….
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.
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.