Monthly Archives: February 2013

The past perfect… Jicky by Guerlain The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

He was the odd boy out, all the men new that.

But what he lacked in bravado and swagger he made up for in bravery.

“Put that boy on a horse, doesn’t matter how big or fat or fast or fearsome and he’ll hang on for dear life and the win”.

Another difference: the small, silken haired, slightly lop-sided youth with the winning streak was always sweetly scented and well presented.

The other lads smelt of horse and sweat and horse sweat.

He smelt of hay, meadow hay with stray lavender and wild rosemary and yellow irises wrapped up in it.

His scent was not of the horses themselves, but of their tack.

Of leather saddles and reigns, breastplates and martingales, highly sheened stirrups and bits, gentle hackamores and the work horses’ harnesses.

Of the equipage too: of orange aroma polishes and spicy resins of all descriptions for hyde and hooves and brass. Of the vanilla custard powder for manes and the wood varnish gloss for coats. Of curry combs, and dandy brushes, shedding blades and bot bricks.

The other riders left the grooms to tend their mounts he always took special care to see his ride was radiant. He even gave them basil to chew on so as to beautify their breath.

So it was that this polite, soft and well spoken, immaculately turned out slip of a man of twenty four was picked to ride his majesty’s horse.

The Derby of the year thirteen would crown his and the King Emperor’s achievements.

But the Sovereign’s horse though stunning was sickly and too slow, and as Anmer ambled behind the pack the suffragette stole her chance and sealed their fates.

Had she meant to die?

No matter, she did, four days later in a cottage hospital.

And history, and his life, changed.

Whenever he smelt that scent, that Derby Day aroma, he saw a woman’s face about to fall under horse’s feet.

The horse had ridden on riderless, but the rider could race no more.

*************

At Mrs Pankhurst’s funeral some fifteen years later a slight woman called Bertha laid a wreath ‘to honour the memory’ of Emily Davidson.

The same soul, at this time called Herbert, would die in a kitchen full of gas in 1951.

The kitchen it was said was immaculate.

The surfaces polished to a citrus sheen, the mise en place pure perfection.

The meal remains uncooked.

*********

Jicky is the perfume of the point in history at which all things changed.

It is the step forward in scent that could never be untaken – a thrusting out in front of the speeding clamour of fate.

From here on in nothing could ever be the same again.

From here on in perfume had the option of a beginning, a middle and an end.

Jicky’s beginning is now as familiar to us as the subtle hiss of the atomiser’s spray, both sharply citrus and soothingly aromatic in almost equal measure.

In its middle it becomes more animal than botanical it gains horses’ leather and something a lot like civet that goes unlisted. But these are not wild animals and the dark resins and perfumes of grooming and petting are in place too. And if some of those polishes have a slight paraffin base? Then so much the better.

The dry down has become leitmotif too, it is vanilla and earth and wood and a certain sweetness that seems made for fragrance.

To wear Jicky is to wear a piece of history.

The first modern perfume is no longer a modern perfume.

Long may this part of the past persist in our present.

*************

On the question of sex?

Jicky is the olfactory Orlando.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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The eternal dance… Narcisse Noir by Caron The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

Powdered and primped, feeling awkward and almost pimped, a life lived perpetually on point.

How happily she had left the stage for the last time, accepting the applause, the acclaim and the one final bouquet. Daffodils for her mother’s St David, African Orange Blossom in lieu of Papa’s Happy Valley crew who couldn’t make in time from Kenya to see her.

She curtseyed in pain as she always had, but this time despite bleeding feet, this time her smile broke free of its normal circuit of restraint and coursed right across her face.

No more Cinderellas and Nutcrackers, no more Swans, no more elegance on the surface and turmoil below the water line.

She breathes in deeply, drinks in freedom and drunk on air throws caution and her flowers to the wind.

Running for the wings she neglects to stop, fails to return, lets down her audience by succeeding in pleasing herself and declining to accept their umpteenth forced-upon-her curtain call.

Without missing a beat she is out of the building, her driver, soon to be dispensed with, and her lover, the one she means to keep, wait outside in a car already ticking over.

On the back seat under furs she harbours dreams of swapping pas de deux for secateurs, of leaving behind fifth position for the placing of plants in a landscape of her own choreography.

She sips strong always forbidden gin and orange from a flask, and once out of the city winds down windows to take in the scent of the season’s first hay sleeping off the day in the night’s fields.

And she is happy, for she feels that in the autumn of her life spring has finally come.

*************

Narcisse Noir is the smell of a small liberation.

It is the ecstatic unfurling of a muscle too long held in tension, the stretching out of long limbs too long constrained and now allowed at last to be lucid.

It is a perfume of performance not entirely suitable for rehearsals.

Opening with an entire corps de ballet of daffodils and orange blossoms this production has ambition from the start.

These first performers quickly cede centre stage to new stars: a robust if not downright rotund orange with its two partners a somewhat jagged and playful jasmine and a decidedly medicinal tincture of rose.

The narcissi never leave the scene though, and can be called upon at any point to lend force to every heavily choreographed and highly sexed set piece.

Our third act finds us in expansive territory, an imagined landscape of the Russian Steppes as they once were: wild grasses with antelope and feral cats here and there.

It is an animal world, the only trace of men the incense of unseen churches of the old religion.

Against this endless wilderness our drama plays out towards an enigmatic ending that hints at the eternal.

Narcisse Noir is by turns a joyous evocation of youth, an erotic dance of courtship and a meditation on the meaning of the final curtain.

It is classical ballet made scent.

Like all great dance it calls on dancers of every sex.

*************

The Perfumed Dandy was fortunate enough to sample the current extrait and an older eau de toilette formulation in a white spotted box and the traditional Caron flacon.

However, though lighter, he finds the current toilette to be a perfectly sensuous scent, much derided for no good reason.

Rumours abound that the eau de toilette is to be entirely discontinued if this has not indeed already happened.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.
The Perfumed Dandy

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Petroleum and peach schnapps… Mitsouko by Guerlain The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

Half her world, or so it seemed, came to give their lives at Verdun.

But what she got, was given or perhaps took was freedom.

So if she chooses now to smell of petroleum and peach schnapps and drive cars and boats too fast, surely we can all understand a little why.

She parties hard, lives each day, they say as though it were her last on account of lives that did not fly, men who died in trenches to move lines on maps and bleed angry armies white.

Yesterday, ambulant driver, she scuttled back and forth through filth ferrying human shrapnel to medical ward ammunition dumps.

Today, she presses her foot down hard on every kind of accelerator, sprays on every sort of new scent, tries on every type of new sex, but nothing brings erasure.

About her person she still smells iodine and the moss that grew everywhere no matter how cold or wet or hot and dry or lonely it became.

Others fancy that the War will pass from memory, its greatness given up to greater sadnesses yet to come.

Its sorrow so it follows will be surrendered to gentler Orientals, when in desperate-to-forget dancehalls grass makes way for hay, bitter oranges for sweet ones and lilacs for irises.

But for her, with her name that recalls the other side of the world and its war, that future happiness will never happen.

Tomorrow will be as today is and yesterday was: a machine age tragedy in three acts played out over petroleum gas and peach schnapps.

Mitsouko is peerless.

It was the perfume to end all perfume.

And though it could not hope to be that, it remains the greatest of them all.

Some sniff it smells of automobile gas, others pretend to perceive only peaches.

Truthfully both parties are in part true. There is an essence of petrol in the stronger concentrations, but this is a kerosene to carry away souls not some dirty old diesel.

And the peach is the antithesis of soft, sugared, supermarket-sparkling clean soft fruit: it is an ageing momento mori too fleshy, flabby and fast on its way to mould to be too long of this world.

Then there is the moss, which is at once warm woodland floor and dank winter tree bark, which pervades every part of the composition giving lie to the idea of a flat Earth in fragrance.

The grass here is not green but dry and yellowing, the spices subtle yet, in the cinnamon especially, sometimes deceivingly strong: seeming to come and go from the scene.

Flowers play a very second fiddle, only lilacs catching the melody upon occasion to give mournful orchestration too the whole piece.

And quite a piece Mitsouko is: perfume’s first unquestionable masterpiece.

Talking of male and female here seems silly and frankly insulting.

Does Guernica have a gender?

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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That certain place in Paris… Fath Pour L’Homme by Jacques Fath The Special Guest Review by Lanier Smith of Scents Memory

The brisk wind came up the Avenue Montaigne from the Seine blowing the first falling leaves of autumn past the elegant boutiques of Louis Vuitton, Dior, Bulgari and all the houses of style.

The dancing leaves unceremoniously slapped up against my shins and announced that fall was an impending affair. The early cold snap sent me scuttling into the Plaza Athénée at number 25.

This beautiful hotel has always embraced me with its legendary warmth.

The wonderful smells from its many restaurants and the geraniums in the courtyard, with its signature red awnings over every window, began the familiar old welcome.

There is that one special part of the hotel, my little respite from the glamour and hubbub of Pairs and for that matter the world.

The little corner table in La Galerie des Gobelins, that wonderful little gem of a restaurant in the heart of the hotel.

Once seated by the Maitre’D I ordered my favorite afternoon snack: Coeur de saumon fumé d’écosse, pain Poilâne toasté with a bouteille of 2006 Margaux Segla.

As I waited for the delights to come I was subtly nudged by the most wonderful pipe tobacco, and vanilla interlaced with mint and citrus from the bar.

Musky amber invaded the blend and met in a harmonious orgasmic rush with flowers from the courtyard and spices of every imaginable description that floated on the air from the kitchens.

All these wonderful aromas are the scent of rich, elegant, aloof yet so accessible Paris.

They recalled my most romantic nights in the city when I was a little younger, a little more carefree.

*************

This then is the impression I get in the experience of wearing the very wonderful and truly unique fragrance that is Jacques Fath Pour L’Homme.

The first thing that made me sit up and take notice of this perfume, that was introduced by the Parisian house of Jacques Fath back in 1998, was the classical presentation and elegance of the wonderful flacon.

It is very reminiscent of the old pharmacy bottle design for Chanel No.5. The small understated label in gold with the unicorn and scissors coat of arms, topped with a hearty metal cap with the embossed coat of arms. It’s all encompassing beauty is rich and arresting in its simplicity.

Then there is the fragrance.

A gloriously classical 90’s powerhouse that is only for the most discerning, smart, chic and confident of men.

It is not for boys to bathe in before a night out in a sweaty overheated club.

No, it is for something more refined. It is eternally masculine, bold and seductive and not in an obvious ‘you can’t take your eyes off of me I am so handsome’ way.

This is for grownups whose allure is not cultivated but engrained.

A man who’s self-assuredness ignites his natural sexiness. Nothing is more alluring than someone who is unaware of their appeal.

It lasts eight to nine hours and elicits complements through out the day.

It opens not with a shout but with a song of vanilla, tobacco and lavender, in the heart is an aria of sublime blending of its notes of woods mint and citrus.

The dry down is incredibly warm and sensuous with musk and amber dominating and ending the experience.

Jacques Fath Pour L’homme is a real find.

It is sublime.

20th Century Presents LANIER2

This sublime slice of Paris was brought to you by The Perfumed Dandy’s very special guest star Mr Lanier Smith of the truly impeccable blog Scents Memory.

I wholeheartedly recommend a visit to Scents Memory at the earliest possible opportunity to experience more of Mr Smith’s wonderful reviews.

For any of you that haven’t yet had the chance to catch it, Mr Smith was the subject of last weeks The Sunday Supplement Interview.

Do have a look won’t you!

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy

The Perfumed Dandy

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We will always have Paris, and… Chanel No. 5 by Chanel The Perfumed Dandy’s Classic Collection

She is a woman.

To many men, and some women, born at a certain point in history she is all women.

But what sort is she?

Some simpletons say with disdain ‘She is a Dowager’.

They despise her as a decrepit moth-eaten long gone debutante in too old tweed two pieces. Her earrings are too large for them, her lipstick too rouge.

She is an ancient relic of another age.

No.

But neither is she now that ingénue of the little low cut black dress, all barely concealed cleavage and scarcely restrained sexuality.

She is alive and still stylish but in a navy trouser suit, cut razor sharp by Saint Laurent.

Her views still as pointed as her tailored lines, she remains intellectual, forceful, political, opinionated, passionate.

She has become her own woman.

Every encounter with her starts with that legendary fizz.

But it is not the bone dry champagne sparkle some mistake it for.

It is an alkaline effervescence.

The plink plink fizz of of two Alka Selzer tablets thrown into a glass and spritzed with soda water from a syphon to stave off the effects of another night before.

Stay with her long enough and allow the inevitable ardours of the morning to evaporate and you will discover her heart is floral.

But she is no bridesmaid’s corsage aiming to please potential suitors. Her flowers, wrapped in plain paper, were bought on an impulse by an old, still helpless admirer.

There’s fur too? Yes.

Something decided and animal nestling around her neck, ready to strike should you get too close.

Though it is, perhaps, not as prone to bite as it once was: yes, still fur, but much less claw now.

Her day moves on.

At Allard, an endless endlessly rehearsed, amiably argumentative lunch with dear friends.

Fingers are snapped, voices are raised, old battles re-fought and older friendships reaffirmed.

Afterwards, the suit is readjusted, the hair put back in place and powder reapplied.

Fear not, if she needs to re-establish her authority at any moment, the plink, plink fizz can be called upon. No woman should ever leave home without a vial in her handbag.

As she glides into late afternoon at her publishers’ and dinner with a young actor, who will play her Russian lover of forty years ago on the stage shortly, she is both savvy and admirable.

Yes, she is admired and respected, though less desired than before.

Is she loved?

Yes. Most especially by men, and women, who remember her in her prime.

But even those with no liking for her can concede she is necessary: an exemplar in elegance, an exercise in growing old and gaining power gracefully.

And this man?

I adore her.

*************

Approaching Chanel No. 5 is like nearing the Eiffel Tower.

It is a monument. An icon. A piece of history.

As Monsieur Eiffel’s construction – only in its thirties when Coco and Ernest Beaux unleashed No. 5 on the world – occupies every vista in Paris, so this scent glowers over the world of perfume.

It is ever-present, in the background, watching as the city beneath takes shape.

And as surely as Gustave’s Tour is male so Madame Chanel’s fragrance is female.

To women of two, perhaps three, generations, and maybe more to men of a certain era Chanel No. 5 is perfume.

Chanel No. 5 is woman.

To speak of notes and accords is superfluous. There are books on No. 5.

It both transcends and defies description.

It has become itself. No. 5 smells of No. 5.

And this towering, monumental achievement is also the fragrance’s downfall. It is perhaps too much itself, too unmistakable, too associated with whatever we wish to associate it with, and with that it has become peculiarly diminished.

All of this is in our minds.

None of this is in the scent itself, this is, and always has been, divine.

*************

Ay, there’s the rub dear friends The Perfumed Dandy is a mere man, so can he ever hope to spray and go on his way with any confidence?

To a degree: there’s no earthly reason why the soft rich fragrance that No. 5 melts into shouldn’t sit confidently on a suitably self possessed gent’s skin.

But No. 5 was never of this Earth.

For a man to be at ease he must appreciate and accept that to wear No. 5 as a man is not merely to put on perfume. It is to make a statement in scent.

Other people always recognise No. 5, other people know what you are doing, your number’s up.

I’ll take my chances.

Spin the wheel croupier.

Number five. Black.

Yours ever, in Paris,

The Perfumed Dandy
The Perfumed Dandy

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A lost world and the little riddle of The Ballet Russes: The Perfumed Dandy’s Parisian Puzzle

The Ballet Russes needs no introduction from The Perfumed Dandy.

It was quite simply at the heart of the artistic maelstrom that made the twentieth century.

It is now just two years almost to the day since this remarkable footage, discovered in the archives of British Pathe News, was made public.

They remain the only moving images we have of the dance troupe that shifted the sensibilities of the modern world.

Yet, such is the power of perfume, that it can transport us back to the Paris, the London, the Europe of the heady days at the start of the last one hundred years.

How? I hear you ask! Well, Dear Friends, that would be telling….

A puzzle or puzzles awaits you at The Perfumed Dandy’s Facebook Page that may reveal the answers.

Submitting the correct answers will admit you to the travelling circus that was the world of Diaghilev, Nijinsky, Markova and many, many more.

Simply pass your en pointe cursor over the logo above to be transported to the place of mystery.

If for any reason you find yourself losing touch with The Perfumed Dandy, which I’m sure we can all agree would be a darned shame, then he is often to be found at the twitter club. Once more, a mere click on the bird is your guide to finding The Dandy at his home away from home..

Happy dancing

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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The Perfumed Dandy’s Perfect Weekend Away

Now where did Hobson (that’s my valet you know – have you met?), where did Hobson put those cases?

Oh there they are!!

Phew!! Should have been a terrible kerfuffle without those, they’re just the bare essentials – everything except the perfume travels separately.

Travels? I hear you ask.

But doesn’t The Perfumed Dandy wander abroad all week for our delectation in the land of women’s perfume? You demand gravely.

Well, yes, but this time The Dandy is headed properly abroad.

Off for the weekend to the City of Light, the Prefecture of Perfume the Arrondissement of aroma. Why yes!!

Paris.

Lucky devil ain’t I?

But before I can spend…

(cue visual pun)...

I thought I’d let you know that this is also the start of The Perfumed Dandy’s French Fortnight.

A petite celebration of all things Parisian to be more precise, including a host of retro reviews of classic scents voted by you that have been patiently waiting their turn in the wings (as those of you who knew my in my previous abode will be all too well aware).

As a result of this and my travels the weekend changes a little.

Tonight, we have The Perfumed Dandy’s Puzzle.

Friday, an icon from The Perfume Dandy’s Classic Collection.

Saturday 20 French Scents One Never Knew A Gent Could Wear.

And Sunday, following his intriguing interview last week Mr Lanier Smith of Scents Memory will be here with his very own tale of a tremendous trip to Paris in The Perfumed Dandy’s Special Guest Review.

Wowza! That should keep you all going while I’m away…

Speaking of which – I must be off, my destination awaits.

Mind that riddle…

A bientot.

Bonjour Paris!

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Frozen… Ma Griffe by Carven The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

That first thaw was nothing but a false promise of Spring.

A few days of green, smelling almost chemically fresh after a winter’s absence, and then the ice re-descended.

In heavy boots she makes her way across frosted grass its bright coloured hope still visible through translucent water now made glass.

Through dawn’s shivering shimmering light she sees a foolhardy wild lawn, bleached mosses, snowdrops, the odd unfortunate purple crocus, miniature iris pushing up against a cold ceiling. Beneath the frozen pane white primulas pretend being gardenia, their pastel cousins ape tulips.

And though they are already deceased and just deep freeze preservatives of their former selves, she minds her step, careful not to carelessly crush scarce beauty.

At the lake’s edge its solid expanse deceives with a pledge of permanence. She knows a few weeks hence and it will be ebbs and flows, freeform and fluid again.

‘Ice Woman’, ‘Snow Queen’, ‘Bird Lady’.

The children who come, some affectionate, some angry, some reigned in and some indulged , they know her by many names.

All except the one she keeps for herself.

Spring Bringer.

For with her metal spade, it’s trusted still true blade, two thermos flasks of hot water and steely will she will recover one portion of the lake.

In her corner, the season changes for an hour or as long as she cares to make it linger.

At first sight of a rippling surface bewildered birds swarm and then swoop to slake parched palettes and bathe. Brave sharp toothed mammals kitted out in winter furs and woken too soon from an hibernating slumber saunter sleepily forth eager for refreshment.

All, suddenly, is life again.

She hears the ice some way off creak and crack and in its low groan makes out his words:

‘We are continents you and I’ he said Our plate tectonic wills erupt when they collide’.

She puts that irrevocable breach to one side and concentrates on her small foreshadowing of the inevitable coming of warm weather.

*************

Ma Griffe is a sorrowfully optimistic scent.

It seems to know that despite its pure white floral heart it is destined to lead a cold life.

It makes a fair fist of a bright opening all aledhyde and aromatic, then transforms effortlessly into a clean and becoming bouquet of freeze dried flowers.

Though somehow these notes of gardenia, iris, orange blossom, jasmine, muguet and rose are too brittle. One senses they would break if touched.

It is this fragility, as if the whole fragrance’s slight composition where stretched out to too tight over an oakmoss structure too big and forceful for it, that is the scent’s haunting charm.

If it were not for a slight powdery sweetness that arrives midway through, this perfume would be the very epitome of sparseness.

As it is Ma Griffe is entirely sympathetic and strangely attractive in a solitary way.

It should be noted that loneliness afflicts both men and women equally, this being the appropriate accompaniment for such an unfortunate emotion I see no reason why all should not feel free to use it.


Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.
The Perfumed Dandy

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Birds flying high…L’Essence Cristobal Balenciaga by Balenciaga The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter


Sitting in her apartment in a pale purple ball gown she eats marmalade on honey coloured toast and has time to contemplate that quote.

“I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
after four I’m under my host.”

And a ghost of the night before, incipient as winter dawn sunshine, appears for a moment before her mind wills it away.

She was never under the host, per se.

Sure after a cocktail or two they had their proverbial roll in the hay, but it was, she impresses on herself, purely proverbial, or so she thinks. Not at all carnal, as she remembers things, clutching at memories like stray white feathers in stormy weather.

‘Yes’, she gasps, grasping at a flash of the past through time and gin and tonics, they returned from the garden and sat with other guests, holding hands just by the band playing old time jazz at the edge of the lawn, a woman singing, doing a so-so Sarah Vaughn.

Was it ‘Summertime’? No. A number by Cole Porter.

An April breeze, a dawn that agrees, daffodils… ‘As once more she sees’ his face again in front of her again, his mouth moving to the music:

‘It’s Spring again
And birds on the wing again
Start to sing again’

Then her lips start to mirror his as they had the night before, as she joins him in ‘The old melody’:

‘I love you
That’s the song of songs
And it belongs
To you and me.’

And suddenly all the violets still in their soil that surround her make sense.

He had ordered them dug up from the very spot next where they had exchanged vows.

She remembers now.

They came delivered by Cadillac and his driver in the darkness immediately before morning broke.

In inside garden air, warding off that growing, falling sense of despair, she turns her mind to how to break it all off.

*************

L’Essence de Cristobal Balenciaga is a light airy perfume resembling the half remembered memories of an evening perilously misspent.

Opening with an unexpected and unmentioned citrus jam note, the fragrance is soon subsumed into a vast array of flowers, all violets.

One could be deceived for thinking this the scent of a simple and straightforward young woman. That would be a mistake.

An internal accord of complexity and steely determination manifests itself in a vetiver, lawn grass and cedar tree background that gives the whole package genuine staying power and silage, whilst remaining defiantly unsweet and uncute.

This silk ball gown contains a young woman with a past that stretches back long before last night.

And as for men? They will come and go and some of them will smell, for a time at least, of violets too.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.
The Perfumed Dandy

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Oh what a night…. Fracas by Robert Piguet The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

They hadn’t intended to drink so much and no one, but no one, had gone out looking for a fight.

But it had all began badly with nectarine bellinis at a quarter to four.

Champagne and fruit sugar syrup served in green clear stemmed flutes to kick off an ‘evening out’ is rarely a recipe for refinement and style.

Neither was it in this case.

Barreling out of the top floor bar an hour, two mandarin vodka chillers and a Long Island Iced Oolong Orange Blossom Tea later, our girls, ladies of a certain age to be precise, have the express lift in their increasingly blurred sights.

Puzzled to find an ‘elevator man’ inside, the Leader barks ‘Florists please’, the even more puzzled fellow passenger timidly replies ‘I don’t think we go to that floor’ knowing the store has no actual flower department. A stranger in the increasingly cramped descending room, a clean-starched lily of the valley type, remarks with disdain ‘You’ll have to get out at the bottom and try to clamber back up’.

With an art deco bell the doors open and all thoughts of elegant floral arrangements evaporate.

What palace is this in which our heroines find themselves?

Who knows, but this room is certainly its perfume hall.

The Perfume Hall

Remembering their lost blooms they scatter hither and thither in search of a perfect scent for the next stage of their adventure.

Without discrimination or discernment they try every faux flower chemists have conjured for their delight.

At the concession by the stairs some carnation, at the one in the corner iris, here an over made up assistant offers hyacinth, there her male, even more made up colleague jollily proffers jasmine. Gardenia are everywhere and our gang are not sure whether the last cocktail is repeating but orange blossom lurks ominously always.

Then ‘This is it!’ our Leader of the lift, our elevator Amazon exclaims loudly and proudly enough to alarm the manager in the attic. ‘I’ve found it’.

She grasps a flacon in her meticulously manicured fist and thrusts it first aloft and then across the pushed out sacrificial pulse points of her hoard, spraying all with her scent.

‘Tuberose!’.

Some swoon with sublime joy, others with impending sickness.

Whether it was that most particular of perfumes or the proximity of linens and furnishing that did it, but a little little lay down suddenly seemed the most preferable position to take.

And here they were, our ladies turned girls of a certain age, draped over demonstration divans and corpsed on country chintz covered canapes when the officers of the law arrived, called no doubt by that alarmed manager from his office in the attic.

Repelled by the aromatic altercation that arrested them upon arrival our law enforcers still sought to intervene, to negotiate a retreat by our over-scented sleeping sirens.

One went to wake the Leader.

She expressly had not meant to hit a policeman.

Her meticulously manicured fist was not designed for that sorry purpose.

And as for the melee that followed…

*************

That Fracas has a lot to answer for.

Arriving like a steam train punch in 1948, Germaine Cellier’s southpaw to the jaw still has force enough to dislocate sixty years later, despite a 1998 reissue.

This over-ripe fruit and floral explosion, an apotheosis of glittering and splendid tack, must have been ‘call an officer’ alarming at the time of it’s release.

One can imagine men asking men at their clubs whether they thought it fit for wives or servants to catch the merest whiff of it for fear of corruption.

Indeed, there is something both corrupted and frankly contemptible in a self consciously scientific fruit bowl punch opening, whose saccharine sweetness never really leaves the party. Quite an accomplishment when one considers that the next guests are a whole bouquet of every type of flower except for a shrinking violet.

Most prominent and ghoulishly got up of all a formidable drag artiste of a tuberose.

And what this lady lacks in authenticity she more than makes up for staying power. Many hours after the guests have departed and when the hosts are in their pyjamas gazing bleary-eyed at watches, this old bloom is still hitting out renditions of ‘We’ll meet again’.

Most likely we will: in the morning, because this Fracas goes on and on and on…

Excuse me if I sound churlish, but this is an aroma best experienced in anecdote.

As for the idea of men wanting to wear it?

To be frank, I would rather endure the original than the death by a thousand and one echoes (though generally without the tuberose and therefore the point) that currently assail the feminine fragrance market.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy

The Perfumed Dandy

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