I am quicksilver, the fox in the night, emotional about the poetry, love & desire in scent, read me.
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Poetry & Perfume IV – 'A Marriage' by RS Thomas & 'Cuir de Nacre' by Parfums Ann Gerard
byR S Thomas
a world in
kissed with my eyes
on her wrinkles.
her as his
last dance, and she,
a bird's grace,
her bill now
one sigh no
than a feather.
For my evening of poetry & perfume I
chose seven poems and complimented them with seven fragrances. However in two
cases I had fragrances I knew I wanted to use and it was a case of searching
for the right words to do them justice.
Pierre Guillaume’s snowy desolate skin-sugared Poudre de Riz(from his Huitième Art line) was one, the other was Cuir de Nacre, created for Ann Gerard the Parisian jeweller by
Bertrand Duchaufour. I have already
quite posted quite recently on this exquisite scent and so some of you will
already know of my heartfelt passion for this remarkable fragrance; a poignant
and subliminal marriage of haunting iris and the softest and most white of
Inspired by the ghostly accretions of nacreous lustre, Cuir de Nacre was originally created
exclusively for Ann’s boutique clientele and then recently expanded into a
triptych of scents with Ciel d’Opale
and Perle de Mousse which recently
picked up an award from Olfactorama in the ‘Virtuosité’ category for its intricate and glowing work with muguet-blanc
(lily of the valley). I would never in
my wildest dreams have imagined anyone could have re-invented the muguet, but
this obsessive ball of cashmere green, nestling on a bed of tactile almost
moist alien curls of moss is very startling and made me radically rethink my
opinion of a floral note I have admired, but not particularly appreciated.
Iris & leather. One of the most perfect
olfactory arrangements. An affinity, a craving almost for skin, heat and
sensuality. Yet on paper they seem like opposites- chilled mournful iris, pulled from the ground
and hung for months for the root/bulb to mature like powdered game. And
leather, notes that echo hide and flesh, hot, warm, liquid and animalic. But in
fragrance, it becomes a question of texture, the imagining of our anointed
skin. Good iris fragrances smell like the touch of leather rubbed softly
between fingertips. And leather is skin, close to us, we often yearn for it,
for sex, for comfort, to remind ourselves we are alive. The two notes together
bind and coat, cocoon and set us on fire.
The leather accord in Cuir de Nacre smells pearlescent, reflective of light, catching tones
of grey, silver and mauve. Like the edges of beautiful bruises. Bedded down in
white musks, sandalwood and an icy blast of styrax, momentarily, the
composition resembles a watercolor sky, bleeding out across bone white paper.
Then the leather and iris spread like a lighter flame eased gently under the
page and assert themselves, softly, but with enough pyrexial passion as to
cause the skin to shudder a whispered prayer of thanks.
Wearing the scent one snowy day in the New
Year, I was sitting at the window looking out at ashen Scottish skies. I could
smell the creamy sensuality of the leather and the sadness of the iris. I knew
suddenly which poem I wanted: ‘A Marriage’ by R.S. Thomas, addressed to his
dead wife and one of the most moving evocations of love, life together and
Everything is about lightness, the light of
release, the delicacy of years in love passing to the point of goodbye. It is a
painful poem on many levels - remaining behind as a loved one moves on - the
simple celebration of grace is almost unbearable. So many of us search for love, never really
understanding the true simplicity of true devotion. The poem captures the
transient and shimmering beauty of lives lived and loved. I cannot read it
without feeling tears threaten my day. As a olfactory expression of the perfumer’s
art, Cuir de Nacre is no heavier than
a feather, a fragrance of degrees, of lightness echoing the slow accretion of
exquisite layers that the oyster builds to showcase its pearl. The skill in great perfumery as in great
poetry is often creating the simplest of emotions using the neatest and most
emotive ingredients, be they Ambrette seed, lexicography, leather accords, iris
or metaphorical echoes.
Thomas pinpoints a sense I associate in
perfumery with magic and suspension of time. That rare stumbling upon a scent
that transports and moves you. When I wear Cuir
de Nacre, it is like living and breathing very carefully within the
delicate shifting strata of effects and emotions that Bertrand Duchaufour has
woven into this ethereal, shimmering jewel. Try reading this poem, inhale the
iris, feel the leather between your
fingertips, breathe the aerial aldehydes, sense the room is not quite as empty as your thought…and try
not to weep.
For more information on Ann Gerard Bijoux et Parfums, please follow the link below