Sunday, 29 June 2014
This post is for D. an Aussie lass with bite, wit & a passion for scent & jewellery. She bought me Diorling as a gift; the kindness of the gesture overwhelmed me.
I am dank with Diorling this evening. It is spiky, vintage and weird, aristocratic and leathered. It smells ancient and cosmic, of powdered aircraft fuel and Miss Haversham’s bridal bouquet. I can never remember if I love it or loathe it; all I know is that it smells damn sexy on me and I am fast becoming besotted with its wanton Belle de Jour atmospherics.
The original tweed and riding boots feel has been unstitched and restructured by Dior’s in-house perfumer François Demachy. He has avoided facsimile and pastiche, instead producing a scent of vintage reference and enormous modern wearability. I imagine him cracking the notes apart with an old, heirloom crop and then carefully reassembling the pieces, layering and varnishing, burnishing the notes with the olfactory equivalent of worn chamois cloths. Every time I wear it I feel the air around me thick with sepia desire. One of the reasons I am rather partial to this new Diorling is Demachy’s perverse and reverential translation of the sixties clash of tradition and modernity into a modern perfume idiom. I would rather this than the continued and blatant (& often denied) reformulation of beloved classics until barely a shadow of the original remains.
Controversy swirls in the air when it comes to the reformulation of classic perfumes. Bloggers, reviewers and critics bemoan the death of olfactory creation, the demise of beauty. I am not sure it is quite so cut and dried. Extinction is part of the way we live. Time moves on. I personally like the idea of imagining how beautiful things once were, it allows me the chance to dream, to speculate scent into a historical context with fashion, manners and language. All of these are constantly reinterpreted, reinvented and thrown out into the world.
Fragrance is no different, themes come and go, dipping in and out of lifetimes. I know purists will always argue the case for retaining original formulae or leaving well alone. I can understand this, perfume is deeply personal but re-interpretation, done with reverence and intelligence by talented perfumers can yield interesting and illuminating results.
Thursday, 12 June 2014
‘Millinery, I think is closer to fragrance than fashion. A hat, like a perfume, is an evocation of something nebulous, ephemeral, other-worldly’.
This revealing quote from Stephen Jones, one of the most skilled and irreverent milliners of our time demonstrates the often-neglected abstractions of hats and scent. Both are frequently perceived as frivolous and unnecessary adornment, but to those that obsess over them they are the lace, plume, felt, tweed, lacquer, gold leaf, juice, Perspex and je ne sais quoi that completes an ensemble. While a hat is more visual and obvious in its intent, fragrance adorns and subconsciously manipulates just as much in its own passionate and purposeful way.
Stephen’s influence on the world of couture is far-reaching. You can see the influence of his eccentric attention to detail and radial deconstruction of conventional form in things as varied as spectacles patisserie, the adornment of shoes and book design. He has landscaped the head. The asymmetry, elegant whooshes, skeletal construct and use of masking have filtered into countless high street department store millinery departments. Even the fluttering froufrou touches at the necks of so many perfume flacons echo the singular eccentricity of his hat making.
Sadly, we have fallen out of the way of wearing hats. Arguably as our lives have become less formal, there are fewer opportunities to showcase proper millinery. It has become something associated with Lambrini-swilling race goers, the faded aristocracy, red carpet soap stars and the feather and lace-exploded horror of fascinators decorating staggering hens on the drunken mean streets of our late night city centres. I love hats, they gild and mask, augment and mystify. I’m admit I’m not the best hat wearer, I prefer to bleach or silver my hair and beard instead, twirl my moustache. But I admire those that rock headgear and I mean really serious millinery, not just nasty beanies and hipster fedoras or cheap tiaras and scraps of feathers.
Tuesday, 3 June 2014
Sometimes I find myself wondering if the honeyed, aurous caramel note is something of a kitch holy grail in fragrance. I know it gets dissed as a rather frivolous effect; a note for neon scents, Starbucks lattes and Angel clones. But increasingly, more and more niche houses are picking up this warm enveloping gourmand note and weaving it into sophisticated, adult fragrances that enhance and sensualise the skin whilst avoiding the more traditional garish glow and heady residues associated with mainstream foodie fragrances.
Toffee, caramel, cocoa, milk chocolate, popcorn, coconut, candyfloss, brown sugar, milk, coffee, loukhoum, marshmallow, dulce de leche, nougat, praline, marzipan, vanilla, crème caramel and honey – all of these things sweeten our lives and delight our palates. Just reading that list makes me weak. I rarely indulge in desserts and apart from chocolate and (very good) Turkish delight I rarely go on sugar rampages, but when these things are woven into scent for me to lavish on my skin… oh lordy.. then I become wild and sweetly out of control.
My collection of fragrances is ambrosial, with a largish amount of candied, toothsome gourmands. I have a HUGE weakness for them. I’m not really sure why. One rather slutty friend once suggested it was a desire to reek of sugared skin, inviting sexual consumption… sniffing, licking and nuzzling. In retrospect this was just a little wishful thinking on his part. All I really know is how much I adore the effect these strange and contentious notes smell on my body and how people react to my aura and sillage when I wear them. I say contentious as many people loathe gourmand fragrances, arguing that foodie notes are not natural perfume smells and lack subtlety or profundity in application and creation.
But as much as you can’t control who you fall in love with, the same applies to perfume; we love what our skin desires. We are slaves to molecules and our primal cerebral reactions. I can’t remember not liking this family of moreish dainties and delectable addictions.