I am quicksilver, the fox in the night, emotional about the poetry, love & desire in scent, read me.
Sunday, 8 January 2012
Chocolate Essay I – Edible Skin: Amour de Cacao by Comptoir Sud Pacifique
Oh I love
these delicious canned concoctions from Comptoir Sud Pacifique, they make me
want to smile, lick and eat myself. I discovered them in France, in Galeries Lafayettes in Paris to be
precise on a meandering drift through the miasma of scent and shopping
don’t even really look like fragrances, presented as they are in brushed aluminum
casings and foodie style ambience. They are not for the faint-hearted, they
ooze sweetness: coconut, vanilla, apricot, milk, chocolate, praline, caramel…….
But I find them so addictive. They smell beautiful on the skin, smiling like
sunshine. They melt, drip, sprinkle, frost, smear…. Explosions of heightened
patisserie memories mingle with tropical fantasies. You always smell amazing. I
love mixing them, like cocktails. A dash of coconut, some condensed milk,
topped off with more coconut……maybe some banana…..dusted with cocoa and flaked
to be in the right frame of mind to wear them. The perfume community is rather
dismissive, considering them no better than mere body sprays rather like Lynx
(Axe in the US). But then I must confess to a guilty love of Lnyx Dark Temptation. Again a synthetic dry blast of chocolate. I know
it’s a cheap hit, rammed with chemicals, but it smells great on my skin. For
some reason my brain buckles with desire and I get so many
comments about how good I smell. Many of these turn to horror when I mention
Lynx. It’s almost worth it for that to be smirkingly honest. But as I’ve said
before, if it smells good, wear it.
sweet things. Clever sweet things, sweet things with structure and imagination.
I have always loved Angel’s twisted Veltol note; Mugler’s perfumed search for
the elusive fairgrounds of his childhood. So much more than just ‘that chocolate
fragrance’, it doesn’t even smell of chocolate to me. It radiates burnt sugar,
toffee apples and engine oil, patchouli and a weird and wonderful madcap shrieking
vanilla that smells like purple tar.
always on the lookout for new sweet things. I have tried so many. Omnia by Bulgari, lovely white chocolate
and mandarin, Eau de Charlotte by
Annick Goutal, soft whispering chocolate and jammy and compulsive, Giandjuia by Missoni, nutella in a
bottle, Greedy Chocolate by Montale,
rich and subversive with a dirty violent flourish.
recently sampled the new intensely gourmand tweakings of the Mugler family of
scents, a collaboration with Hélène Darroze, the Michelin starred chef and
Parfums Thierry Mugler. Womanity, Angel, A*men and Alien have all
had food notes or ‘flavour enhancers’ added to their formulas to heighten the
original structures. Fig chutney to Womanity.
Salted butter caramel to Alien. Red chilli
(pimento berry) to A*men and bitter
cocoa to Angel. The Alien/Caramel marriage is slick and
golden with a beautifully unsettling and surprisingly sensual nutty drydown,
the sambac jasmine enrobed in smooth golden warmth. The Angel/Cocoa mix is
divine, truffly and so dirty/dark. Almost like compost. The depth out of the
bottle is staggering. This incredible first impression softens away and leaves
a sensual warm and brown woody finish dusted across the skin like dredged
bitter cocoa powder.
scents are undeniably French. They have a nostalgic patisserie and gateaux
pedigree to them, creamy and indulgent. The brand was created in 1974 by Joseé
Fournier. The ideé fixe was to create
fantasy fragrances inspired by the concept of paradise, the voyage, a word that conjures up more
than just flights and airports, but a world of exploration and experiences. The
implied exoticism is expressed in the dominant themes of coconut, vanilla,
sugar, spices, exotic woods, fig, almonds, milk etc. Very much a reflection too
of an ideal French colonial island paradise; the laid back white-sand life and
idyllic island fantasies of Bora Bora, Papeete and Tahiti.
bottled holidays are unctuous and comforting scents, not particularly
groundbreaking, but pushing the gourmand palette to a swooning toffee tinted
extreme. Joseé Fournier was one of the earliest advocates of fragrance
combining, recommending the layering of the eaux
de voyages, experimenting to create a personalised coating of delicious
sweetness and lickable wonder.
a dreamy, soft focus quality to the fragrances, almost beyond powdery. I have
worn quite a few over the years and loved the cutesy and strangely sexy way
they interact with the skin. I am sucker for coconut and love the Coco Extrème with vanilla, hot milk
notes, powdered coconut, almond, candy sugar and dried coconut. Yes I smell
like a Bounty bar…… but I think Bounty bars are all kinds of sexy chocolate….. as
do the boys I’ve rolled in sheets with.
The Vanille Amande, (soothing nutty white
vanilla) and the Coco Figue (moreish
fig and ice-creamy coconut) are both sensational. You could argue they are
regressive nursery style scents, the perfume equivalent of baby food, whizzed
up simplicity, but I find them charming and elegant. Like a clean executed
classic magnolia wall after a surfeit of fussy paint effects and nonsense
artworks, simplicity can be gratifying and very soothing.
The Amour de Cacao has always been my
favourite. It’s like being dusted in the softest sprinkling of milk chocolate.
It has orange zest notes, cocoa bean and vanilla pod. It smells to me of
chestnuts too, marrons glacés, or Mont
Blanc, that peculiar dessert made with chestnut paste and cream. The
‘cooked’ milk note, like caramelised condensed milk or dulce de leche is a
ghost note in many of the CSP fragrances. It drops onto the skin with a
sunburnt quality and dries down to a comforting and moreish baked aroma. I love
this smell. It makes me smile inside. Reminds me of holidays in Togo in West
Africa as a child on wind scoured hotel promenades and equally of eating hot
chestnuts out of twists of paper in Paris at New Year.
I wear it
a lot as a base with rose scents, especially my beloved Nahéma. The chocolately orange notes play wistfully under the
petrolic bower of Nahéma’s dazzling roses. I marry it to Matin Calin too, another sweet overdose of nostalgia by CSP. This
is just condensed milk in a bottle. There is a burnt, off edge to it that unsettles some people. A lot of people just
loathe it. Too milky, lactose aversion. But the toffee, vanilla and strange
sandalwood notes love my skin and mixed with the Amour de Cacao, it has a soft and delightful private aroma. I don’t
wear it out much. Like Lost Marc’h’s Lann
Ael, and Lush’s Vanillary, some
fragrances are for private lullabies and safety.
If you can find the
Comptoir Sud Pacifique fragrances it is worth sampling their sweetness. They
are excessively gourmand, but the commitment to a creamy dessert-like exoticism
is both perverse and extraordinary. For those of us that crave vanilla and
cream, coconut and spices, rum, fig and chocolate on our skins, they are the
perfect brand. They make us edible. We become delicious. All we need now is
someone to come and eat us.