“Is it morally wrong to want home grown pineapples on tap all the year round?”
They were used to the eccentricities of men with too much money and too little taste, inexhaustible budgets and a fetish for as many European architectural styles in a single building as the whole state of Idaho could boast.
But she: She was something else.
“I want to create an Earthly paradise” she declared to the two Californian architects newly in her employ, “It is my desire that the whole affair should have a decidedly prelapsarian air.”
“You understand, of course?”
They smiled, blushed, nodded and patently did not understand.
As it turned out what she wanted was as incongruous as her voluminous desires would have been in the garden of innocence itself.
One was to enter the house through a conservatory constructed of cedar, the pillars of which would be sculpted, at her instruction, in the manner of “pineapple palms”…
“But pineapples grow on plants…” architect A began.
“Great pineapple palms as they have in the Caribbean.” she continued over him without hesitating over a syllable.
Once inside the glasshouse all would be replete with planting of citruses, a pair of ‘melon palms’, a large aquatic feature: she was thinking “The Hanging Water Gardens of Babylon”, with a pond lily floating somewhere to announce “classical symmetry”.
There must be flowers too, “all the time”, tuberose, mimosa blossoms (“do they hang from a tree?”), jasmine, roses and something for an “an Oriental twist”… lotus.
“But mainly tuberose and mimosa”, she impressed.
Of course, she didn’t really mind if it was all “really, real”, no “just real enough” would do.
So they set about their task, building her a botanical garden to rival Kew, all as vestibule to house that was, as of yet, little more than a shell.
Taking her at her word, they took liberties with fact.
Home grown pineapples were flown in from Hawaii to ‘grow’ on cedar palm trees where they were placed by the staff daily.
Plastic cantaloupe melons hung like coconuts from their sandalwood arboreal sisters around a Thai style pool with a fake porcelain floating flower at its centre.
Ah yes, the ‘lily’: it doubled as a fountain pouring fourth liquid scented with genuine imitation Eqyptian lotus oil from a store back East, no one, not even she, remembered why.
The tuberose at least were real, though not really growing as they were pre-cut and sat in vases of water concealed in the wood flake ‘not-soil’: they were refreshed twice weekly by a contract florist from Downtown.
The Mimosa trees (truly they were acacias, but by this point who was to worry) were “really real”, even so they needed a little help and were dusted with scented yellow confetti out of season so that they remained forever in bloom.
Only poor patchouli, lurking around the shady corners, concealing the machinery of this ‘natural’ wonder needed no assistance.
With space and moisture enough to expand, it reverted to family type and grew mint-like: extravagant and everywhere.
The whole effect was a Technicolor triumph: an unreal vision of Eden worthy of the Fox back lot.
But she loved it.
Loved it and lavished on it the thousands it cost to keep the whole unholy show on the road.
And what if the rest of the house never got finished? What if she was banished to play endless comeback shows to pay for whole charade?
Hell, it was worth it for pineapple palm trees and ever flowering mimosa.
Cacharel’s Eden is to perfumery as Carmen Miranda’s headgear was to millinery.
It is a triumph of structural engineering and sheer chutzpah over anything so petty and awful as good taste.
It is a vibrant, vulgar, un-beautifully brash affair and utterly brilliant with it.
The briefest opening of mandarin, peach and citrus is busied out of the way by a giant over ripe pineapple aroma that will see the composition through.
This is no mean achievement for this prince among fruits is joined by practically every other note that the nose can think of… acacia blossom in abundance, tuberose on top, some water lily, which, whatever it may have been intended to smell of, has the effect of adding sweetness.
There is a determined jasmine to keep the whole confection from toppling over, more blossom, a pyramid of melon balls, a little rose and a definitely discernible lily of the valley.
All of them fake.
All self-conscious olfactory effigies, designed to smell enough like but not just like the things they resemble.
All for magnificent effect.
Rumbling underneath keeping things just green and strange enough is an actually not too artificial patchouli that will assist with the segue into a wood-effect finish.
This fragrance has as much to do with that first garden as Henri Rousseau’s primitive Parisian pictures have with the actual jungle.
But like those fantastical visual musings that are in paint what this is in perfume, taken as a whole this Eden is seriously unsettling, disarmingly whimsical, magical even, and utterly unlike anything else.
Unique and strangely splendid.
Like jungles in Paris.
Of course men and women can live in Parisian jungles, but they will need to be advised that their experiences may well be with them for a long time into the future.
This is a fragrance with a half life seemingly longer than uranium…
The Perfumed Dandy.