If anyone had taken a moment to truly observe that hat they mistook for a jester’s, they might have entered an entirely other world.
For the old woman who wore sharply tailored pin striped suits in city banker navy blue and was never without a red carnation for her buttonhole was anything other than the bum they assumed her to be.
She knew her make up was too white, her lips and rouge too red, her auburn hair dyed too bright.
She didn’t care, far from it, that is what she intended them to be.
A statement of intent.
To live apart and differently from other people, to be who and exactly what she wanted to be.
If they asked her, and no one ever did, she would tell them everything.
Of the life she had led among the elite, the fashionable, the artists, the artistes, the stars and singers, politicians and public figures.
How she had been the face of a generation that everyone had forgotten.
How she had gone from front page news to ‘saveloy and chips’ wrappers and tool drawer linings in just a few short years.
Too many nights on the tiles, too many boyfriends, too many rumours of girlfriends.
Once being named as a co-respondent in a divorce in the decade before it was nearly respectable.
Now she goes about her business, revelling in anonymity and the money she was given to keep quiet.
A little mountain of money to keep her in clove cigarettes, spiced coffee in the Turkish style and fine tailoring still smelling of the cooking of the immaculate Indian born women who run things up for her these days.
Cash that has grown into a small fortune.
Wealth enough, in fact, to allow her to talk now, if only there was anyone around to listen.
But she is reconciled to allowing the rest of her time on Earth to evaporate away silently in understated sweetly scented luxury, until all of her is gone into the air.
A man, pink socks and plus fours, silk chemise and fair isle tank top stops her as she makes her way along Mount Street,
“Isn’t that a Schiaparelli?”
“It is” she smiles “And you may buy me coffee.”
Vintage Poivre by Caron is an eccentric grand dame of a scent.
An immaculate once fashionable living memorial to an age of elegance, self-assurance and discreet debauchery.
The fiery start, which is what everyone remembers, is as much carnation as bell or black pepper. A floral flame to set the nostrils alight delightfully.
We are escorted through this ring of fire by cloves, who shall be our unceasing companion throughout, and taken to a floral core where roses, ylang ylang and feint tuberose come and go.
Here the perfume settles finally and begins a long wistful decay into a whisper, though the word on its lips very much remains ‘clove’.
Beyond this lies the familiar oppoponax, animalic silk powder and slight green of the distinctive Caron base, made more like makeup by a carrot tone that might be unlisted iris.
Poivre is a passionately hot affair of the heart that cannot possibly last.
It is a weekend away at the British seaside for a man and wife who are most definitely not married to each other.
It is elicit and exciting, knowing and nubile and splendidly not as young as it once was and not as well behaved as it should be.
In short it’s a naughty, dirty, fiery but ever so fanciable fragrance.
Unfortunately, this ‘little bit of what you fancy that does you good’ is in short supply, having been sadly discontinued in recent times.
Luckily, The Dandy does know where one can try, and more importantly buy, the most recent, and really pretty pleasant version. Of which more to come later in the week.
In the meantime… a bientot.
The Perfumed Dandy.