I am quicksilver, the fox in the night, emotional about the poetry, love & desire in scent, read me.

Friday 16 August 2013

Let the Stone Weep Around Me: ‘Violette Fumée’ by Mona Di Orio

The 19th of July was Mona di Orio’s birthday and bloggers and writers across the electronic ether again reminded us that the perfumed world is a far less interesting place since Mona’s premature death at the end of 2011.

I am the same age and feel the loss oddly. Sitting here in my sun-flooded Edinburgh kitchen, I simply cannot imagine not being here, doing this, creating, writing and I have nowhere near the talent and artistic power that flowed from Mona. The more I wear her creations, the more I realise how close to genius she was in her instinctual understanding of olfactive chiaroscuro.

Her perfumes oscillate between light and dark, illuminating the shadows but at the same time masking and veiling, keeping certain things hidden from us. This tilting of the light away from the face or main theme, of allowing us to see the edges and hinterlands of compositions; this is her legacy. No one understood the nuances of light and shade like Mona, you can smell the tonal shifts, feel the luminescence on your skin and the bruises of night. There are times when we all need drama, majesty and true luxury in our fragrances. This is when we turn to Mona de Orio.

I worry it is early to say this, and you must forgive any offence, but her premature death has also I think deepened an already very powerful sense of connection to Mona’s work. There is an aura of ownership and enhanced familiarity. The people around the world who have worn her scents feel her absence keenly and draw her creations around themselves like protective charms. I am aware of her loss each time I wear one of her beautiful creations. I am sure she would have been troubled by this sense of melancholia as her work was a celebration of life and nature it all its glory. But we sense what we sense. The poems of Plath, Lowell and Brooke, the films of Monroe, Dean and Jean Vigo, the music of Buckley and Morrison, the art of Basquiat and Schiele, the lives of Princesses Diana and Grace – we imbue these with a different colour of memory. Tragedy bestows nostalgia and absence reinforcing our connections to those that have gone before their time.

It is always bittersweet. At the peak or on the cusp of artistic or creative greatness, we can never really know how much was to come, how much glory was to follow. In the case of Mona, a parfumeuse operating at the peak of her powers, the loss is incomparable. Only those closest to her know what she was preparing to do. Jeroen Oude Sogtoen was left not only with the painful task of coping with the loss of a beloved friend and business partner but also the looming issue of continuance. How to carry on with the perfumed work with Mona gone? However he has managed very successfully to keep Mona’s memory alive while at the same time necessitating movement forward. Transition is painful and forces introspection and change, but it is necessary in order to survive.

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Delirious Velveteen Rhubarb: ‘Miss Dior Le Parfum’ by Dior

Popcorn dusted in shattered fraise de bois…with a powdery crunch of pavlova. An amber note trailing like peach coloured sun across an evening floor. Roses drifting across honeyed skin. And then a hint of something more louche and trashy - the drift of rolling tobacco in a summer night street; patchouli rolling in bed with vanilla, laughing at the evening stars. These are memories I have of Miss Dior Cherie a twisted sugar-bomb wonder that Dior dropped into the market in 2005.

Now we have Miss Dior Le Parfum. Rhubarb and custard candies… pink and beige. Echoes of the original messed –up shattered wonder but with added grown-up knowingness. And I’m in love again. This is just a delirious, velveteen scent, plush and so indulgent. I go through phases of constantly spraying it over my skin, inhaling and sighing. It’s a sighing kind of scent. Generally, it’s private juice, for that just me time. Dimmed lights, a good book, some writing, rose-streaked night sky just starting to chill down. Silence and the cats roaming the rooms like bored naughty panthers.

I’m kinda late to this I guess. I wore the original Nagel scent and adored the riff on Parisian chic meets bubblegum trash aesthetic. The original was the perfumed personification of that gorgeous French teen girl you see on a bus or metro and think, does she just roll out bed like that? Tough and soft pieces of Lou Doillon, Ludovine Sagnier and Clemence Poesy thrown together with arrogance and youthful ease. Then she blows a fuck-off bubble, cracks up and gives you the finger. That was Miss Dior Cherie. Sweet sexy vulgarity that made you feel alive.