Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Piano Teacher… Iris Poudre by Frederic Malle The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

He looked up with wide, wide open dark brown eyes.

“Eyes as deep and dark as coal mine shafts” his grandfather said.

Surrounded by childish lashes so long it seemed as though he had been made up in kohl.

So the Indian doctor in the village, immaculate in his pink turban, told him.

Her hair was grey, and white and black, like the ash from the hearth at home.

The room smelt clinical, almost chemical at first.

He knew she doused the keys with an anti-sceptic solution before each tutee.

She still feared the flu that took her husband forty years before, just after he had survived the first war.

And now there had been another one and a winter so cold it carried off almost as many.

“I’m sprinkling the talcum powder on the piano now.”

She spoke in her serious staccato way, understanding the need to rouse him from his reveries as she must do every time if anything were to be achieved.

From a height as high as her elegant slender arms were long she sprang a cascade of white flecks, drew an opalescent curtain across the air between the dark wood panelled walls and them.

“To think…” she reflected out loud and not for the first time, “…this room was once a public house, a cheap piano on this very spot rang out with even cheaper tunes.”

Through the temporary drapes of dust he saw irises on a side table made almost pale and indistinct, their deep rich purple turned a dusky pink.

“Powder on the fingers only. I shall be checking that there are no white marks on your palms or wrists.”

“Elevation. Remember to keep everything aloft.”

“Let’s begin.”

First scales, certain and assertive, then arpeggios, chords and familiar sequences.

Fifteen minutes or so passed, his fingers should be warm by now, but in the cold and amidst the soot and lint and ash he still felt frigid.

She took his frosty hands in hers and turned them over to examine for traces of powder.

She was colder even than him and up close smelt of the same ethereal cleanliness as the piano keys.

Some of the talc had come to rest on the black shawl that shrouded her tiny shoulders, he smelt it now and knew it was a desiccated version of the flowers in the vase by the table against the wall.

“Very good. Nothing on the palms or wrists at all.”

“Even for an eleven year old your hands are small, but your extension is wonderful.”

She thought, but did not say, “Perhaps it is because you have to fight for every note that you play so beautifully.”

Now she spoke, “Brahms today. The waltzes.”

“How to make happy dances sound sad”, he thought.

“Oh but they’re not sad,” she said “…they are wistful, which as you will discover is something altogether different.”

“The waltzes.” He repeated in a whisper.

Composed for four hands originally then rearranged for two.

The single pianist’s pieces came in difficult and simplified versions.

He, of course, would play the harder solo part.

As did she.

Iris Poudre by Pierre Bourdon for Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle is perhaps the greatest contemporary interpretation of an Iris perfume in the grand mid-Century manner.

Stern and stylish, neo-classical and well-informed it is an intellectual as well as sensual event.

None of which cleverness takes anything away from its angular, fine-boned beauty, which, with age fleshes out to a softer more approachable attractiveness.

Despite what official notes may claim, the opening, in line with convention is aldehydic.

A spry, strict accord that continues structurally well into the perfume, providing an olfactory cantilever for what is to come.

It holds the less concrete notes aloft, a firm adult wrist attached to a juvenile pianist’s malleable young hands.

And what is to come is exactly as the name suggests: iris and powder.

The former less vegetal, less abundantly floral than we may all have become accustomed too. More reserved, modest perhaps, seeking to form part of a composition rather than to stand alone as a singular star.

The powder, supplied by musk, is pure best grade talcum, not so rich nor sweet as makeup.

As such it will divide opinion and have some squeamishly protest ‘old lady’.

Pshaw.

Grande Dame’ captures it much better.

This is unapologetically not a modern perfume, it is an older style of great, but restrained, yet utterly romantic scent.

It is a love affair conducted by lengthy letter not a series of speed dates set up on anonymous websites.

In time those letters smell will be transmuted by age and fondness into the same dry down of soft hay-toned paper and light vanilla as the perfume, then a moment later demi-sec dust again, then hay once more.

Like memories of a grand amour twinkling across a universe of time.

Iris Poudre is, in the truest sense, a fine fragrance.

I have heard it remarked that this scent is about as ungentlemanly as one can get.

No doubt that is on account of the associations of aldehydes and musk with the great ‘feminines’ of the past.

For any man unable to break these bounds it will be impossible to wear.

I have no trouble with any of the great irises of olfactory history and quite loved this.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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The Boss… Azuree by Estee Lauder The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

Pop the champagne corks people the prima donna power woman has been promoted to the top.

She enters as always in a graphite pencil skirt sharpened to a point and beautifully tailored jacket tucked at the nearly-not-there waist then angularly out to fill full broad shoulders.

One significant piece of jewellery.

She snaps a greeting to the crowd then an invitation to the few: her office, vintage fizz on ice…

“Now!”

This crazy French  rush her only concession to her elevation.

Yes it has been hard work. 

There were others in the field.

Too right, they fell by the wayside.

Too bad.

Not the women they used to be.

She’s twice the woman she’s ever been.

The party over before it begins. She throws her Barda bag onto a glass and chrome coffee table where today as every day a fresh bunch of red carnations dressed with green grey moss buys time in a clear cube.

A feeble nod to a futile idea of femininity in a room that is a temple to the tanner’s art.

In the vestibule cringeing would-be colleagues cower on Barcelona chairs awaiting an audience with this new crowned empress of commerce.

Ushered in they sit on couches by le Corbusier, sipping too hot, too strong herb tea from constructivist espresso coffee cups while waiting to explain themselves.

It turns out their copy is, well, just not good enough.

The men leave. They are, if not fired, not hired either.

Appointments continue throughout the day, no let up in her manner no diminution of her power.

She departs in private elevator to chauffeur driven car to private elevator and finally top floor apartment.

Only the cheap take Penthouses, and then only for the articles.

At home and undressed, alone except for powder, she is poise and self possession personified.

An ornament of amber glows warmth across her expansive inner space.

Do they like her?

She laughs.

Does she care?

She doesn’t want love, affection, gratitude, infatuation, respect or even adoration.

She simply demands that they worship and obey her.

Azuree by Estee Lauder is to the power chypre what the Apollo moon rocket is to long haul air travel.

In these days of reductive reformulation she is a monument to ambition, quality of construction, projection and longevity, in every sense of that word.

Opening in a vertical trajectory, fueled by aldehyde and super charged bergamot, this scent is heading for the stars.

The interior of USS Azuree is pure leather, no PVC and hard plastics here.

In order to retain a sense of space age decorum, the more animalic elements are banished by a good strong bunch of synthesized herbs and a modest bouquet of boiled up blooms.

The pace is maintained a million miles or more, then, arriving at it’s destination our spacecraft scent slows almost to a stop, allows the softest of amber landings.

Mission accomplished.

Can a man wear it?

Azuree could be in a crowd of super heavyweight boxing champions and still be the butchest one in the room.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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All tomorrow’s parties… Shalimar by Guerlain The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

“Really, I don’t understand why some people have such a problem with parties.”

“I do believe I was born to the sound of a champagne cork and I tell you I am determined to spend what little time I have on this Earth having the best possible time this planet can provide.”

A certain slyness in her eyes says there’s more to it.

Darkness flashes beneath the surface like a sea serpent in shallow water.

There’s danger here.

Best appreciated on her own, away from her set, she’s an incredible jewel of a thing.

Intricate and simple, worldy and naïve, sexy but oh so straight laced.

Happy, happy, happy all the time, but oh so inconsolably sad.

You see her at parties across the room, sipping fizz or gem stone cocktails, making small talk with big men, opening her eyes a little too wide when she smiles, throwing her head back a little too far, too fast when she laughs too wildly at another “too funny” unfunny joke.

And in the daylight?

Mostly her make up is too heavy, too sweet.

Her leather boots too high and her dresses too low on top, too short down below.

She looks always like an actress between scenes.

She smokes frankincense cigarettes through a filter three feet long, pours vanilla syrup in her coffee and always takes cream when everyone else settles for milk.

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She insists on irises all year round to fill the rooms she shares with no one.

She’s too, too much for the real world.

For the real world was too, too much for her once.

She rolled in honey harvest time hay with a swell in uniform smelling of polished army boots and wood smoke cologne.

He promised her they were only “going across The Pond to finish things off”.

And they were, except he got finished off first.

The Roman Catholic funeral mass helped, but not much.

Not as much as a brace of Manhattan’s made with Canadian whiskey.

So now she settles for this life of extremes, for a pot bellied pig on a lead for a pet, for singing in Speakeasies for fun and smoking hashish for the giggles.

For flirting with everyone and sleeping with some. For forgetting half the time and never loving, no one except “the one”.

For staying out of the sunlight and hogging the limelight.

For being a star not a woman, though that’s all she ever wanted to be.

Except, occasionally, on a Winter’s day, when the light is thin and she can wrap up in furs without being the first thing they see.

Then she’ll go out without the makeup, the filter, the fans and even the pig.

And then she really is a woman, living in a real world, just one who really can’t help but be a star.

A lone star.

To talk of Shalimar merely as a party perfume is a little like dismissing Proust as a man who wrote about miniature cakes.

The original of the modern Oriental, it is both the most magnificent of going out scents and so much more besides.

Like those other great Guerlain’s of the period Mitsouko and l’Heure Bleue it is impossible to divorce from history.

If they are the perfumes of remembrance and contemplation respectively then this is fragrance of forced forgetfulness.

To understand the 1920s, the wild parties and wilful self-destruction it is perhaps necessary to consider the mass destruction and wide, seemingly endless pain of The Great War.

To comprehend Shalimar one must be aware of all the memories this ray of glamour sought to bleach out of millions of minds.

Yet at the same time it is new found wealth and extravagance, it is fresh pressed myths and the magic of the movies.

It is the olfactory equivalent of a Busby Berkeley Broadway show or the silent movie spectacle of Ben Hur.

It seeks to entice, amuse, enthral and amaze.

It seeks to be the ultimate diversion.

In all of this it is very nearly succeeds, for it is a joyous explosion of the senses, a smell synonymous with dressing up and going off down town.

But at once, in the thick saving face maquilage of powdery iris, the soothing crème-brulee-of-the-soul vanilla, in the taught leather gloves of motor sport drivers’ victory waves and army officers’ good bye salutes, in the high mass smoke and balsam of incense and bezoin, in all of this it is a record of all that has gone before.

Shalimar is darkness and light, pleasure and pain, hope and despair.

Shalimar is legend.

Forgive me for not talking too specifically of notes so far as Shalimar is concerned… it seems superfluous, there are so many and blended much as they might be in a symphony.

And like a symphony, or perhaps more aptly an opera, Shalimar is a work of art not a collection of crotchets and minims, A and B flats.

Needless to say The Dandy wears Shalimar as much as any other single perfume in his collection.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Memories of my grandfather… Wild Tobacco by Iluminum The Perfumed Dandy’s Sunday Scent

A sitting room filled with swirling blue smoke.

The great green glass ashtray as heavy as a coal scuttle by the side of the settee.

On the bookshelf a wooden rack of pipes, some long, some short, the curved shanks, the straight ones, the eleborate shapes, the giant bowls, the tiny ones.

Some ever so fancy pipes, most of them quite plain.

All rich with the burnt residues of the ritual: dense, acrid, deathly, black, intriguing as the grave.

But better still, next to them, the golden packets of the dried but still moist, amber-coloured, hay-honey-smelling raw material.

Best pipe tobacco named after a holy man and a giant canine.

Saint Bruno.

Bought in flakes like giant woody sticks of chewing gum, never ever ready rubbed, so that I, the anointed assistant, could enjoy the privilege of crumbling the precious supply into portions about one good smoke in size.

The sweetness in the stuff itself and the moments shared by the glowing fire engaged in chess or politics, flights of fancy or the singular pleasure when an advert for the smoke came on the television flickering from its second hearth in the corner of the room.

His great, sack-shaped, grandmother-knitted woollen jumpers in fawns and browns, moss greens and leafy rusts.

Stay press trousers, pock marked with holes burned by the sprite-like stray strands alight at their moment of transformation from tobacco to ash.

His warm human smell given extra glow by the constant stream of clove flavoured, ruby-resembling, boiled sweets he consumed.

Only one in every five offered to me lest I should follow him down the path to dentures.

Then a call from the kitchen.

There is sweet milky tea on offer, but I know it is a bribe, for homework and rubber topped and ready sharpened pencils await me too.

Reluctantly, dragging feet across the shag pile carpet and wafting faux weary arms through the pewter puffs of smoke, I leave.

Wild Tobacco by Illuminum is a precise moment from The Dandy‘s past, repeated over in fact and remembrance many times.

I can’t promise that anyone else would ever like it as a perfume, to me it is much more personal and precious.

A memory distilled, preserved and bottled.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Caught in the net… La Chasse aux Papillons by l’Artisan Parfumeur The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

The disappointment stung like an angry bee.

Yes, they were butterflies, but they were not alive.

Pale and just askew of beautiful, dusty, sun-bleached and dead.

The chase had been for next to nothing.

He uncovered and opened a skylight to allow first sunshine and then air into the attic.

The rays lit the room in bright angular beams cutting swathes through the particle thick atmosphere.

Then the breeze lifted the drift of dust slightly to show the full extent of the collection.

He had seen photographs of museums of natural history as they once were, they looked just like this.

Half a dozen mahogany chests with lids that appeared corrugated from a distance, but up close revealed themselves to be a sea of metal handles curved like gentle waves. Each pair of handles when pulled, with every effort his twelve year old’s arms could afford, drew forth a great glazed frame.

Each frame contained a piece of thick cushion-like card and to either side of the card was attached a score, sometimes more, of the delicate deceased insects.

A pin through every butterfly’s heart so he felt, held them all in place.

He read the names ‘Pale Clouded Yellow’, ‘Black-veined White’, ‘Orange-tip’, ‘Purple-shot Copper’, ‘Common Blue’ and realised that once they must have been arranged according to their extravagant colours.

How much damage death and time and constant examination had done them, for now they all were sad shades of off white.

The smell of decades of indeterminate floral furniture polish mixed with the fine powdery dust to form a cloud that should have been asphyxiating were it not so anaemic.

This etiolated empty place seemed to want to draw the blood from him too, to rest him of his youthful enthusiasms, to calm him into being merely a collector.

Rain spat at the skylight, the wind rose and unsettled it from its catch causing it to slam shut.

The cool moist body of air struck him and in so doing awoke the child again.

A new urgency in his legs he ran to the ladder and began to descend, half way down he paused and let his eyes rest for a final time on the old man’s pride and joy.

He resolved then never to return to this place,

It smelt of the funeral parlour where they had laid grandpa out.

From below, like a lower school Hercules lifting the world upon his shoulders, he pushed the hatch shut.

La Chasse Aux Papilions by L’Artisan Parfumeur is a sad let down of a scent.

For clarity, in this case one doesn’t mean melancholy, but cheerless and a little pathetic.

It starts hopefully enough with a citrus floral burst that must be orange blossom.

However that floral note quickly becomes thin, irritatingly dusty and strangely pervasive.

There is a vague and short lived attempt at an airy, high pitched tuberose that seems to implode leaving only a flat, dull and utterly lifeless white floral non entity in its place.

I imagine the overall effect is intended to be ‘fresh’, I’ve always read that as a byword for the kind of laundry-like fragrance that people who don’t like perfume adore.

That being the case ‘fresh’ is the perfect adjective for this dreary detergent affair.

Anyone could where this, though I can’t see why they’d bother.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Come into the garden… Diorama by Dior The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

She thought herself, quite correctly as it happened, to be too sophisticated for the shapeless, tasteless floral shifts that the other undergraduates wore.

Had she wanted to be dressed in curtain fabric, she reflected, she would have auditioned for that term’s amateur production of the “Sound of Music”.

And that was something she emphatically did not want to do.

No lonely goatherds or do re mi for her.

It would hardly be becoming of a proto intellectual.

So instead she set about assembling an altogether more academically inclined wardrobe. Sharp, slightly military lines in innumerable shades of grey, from ice off white through silver to dove and pewter then charcoal.

She even thought at one point of cutting her hair like the post war Princess Elizabeth, just out of volunteering as a motor mechanic in the great effort. Or perhaps Simone de Beauvoir would be a more appropriate starting point for style?

No, neither, after all she was broadly republican and decidedly unkeen on polo necks, plus black was a little too much even for her at the height of hippiedom.

Instead she settled on putting up her hair, which she kept shoulder length long, with pencils or chopsticks, depending on whether she felt more artistic or cosmopolitan that day.

The effect was electric: revealing her long slender neck, highlighting her serious, slightly Roman profile, creating a dramatic tension between the self-consciously fusty clothes and her natural, sensual demeanour.

It drove the men almost as wild as her inescapably articulate arguments did.

Whilst she annihilated them on American involvement in Vietnam, nuclear disarmament and the manmade catastrophe impending for the environment, they struggled to keep up and keep their minds off getting her into bed, and what might happen when, if, they ever did.

Not that she was disinclined to sex.

Quite the contrary, she was more than happy to be wooed by men who could be bothered to make the effort.

The best and most successful were the ones who stuck by the desperately out of date idea of proper dates, or ‘stepping out’ as she loved to tease them…

“Are you asking me to step out with you, James?”

She asked the most handsome and together of them, a neat, fair haired young man from a grammar school who wore tweed suits and had set his heart on a career at the Foreign Office.

Unfazed, in a way which she couldn’t help but feel boded well for his putative career, he replied

“Yes, I’d rather like to mark your dance card if I might.”

That he suggested something other than the obligatory rock concert, some cheap cider, a few spliffs and the customary uncomfortable carnal squeeze back at cramped student digs impressed her even more.

“Have you ever to been to Kew?” he asked.

“The Gardens?” she enquired.

A Londoner with a botanically-minded mother who loved to sketch from life, she had spent half her childhood lolling around the pagodas, taking shade beneath the cedar trees and studying oriental flowers up close.

She replied that she had “been many times” but “would love to go again” and she meant it, sincerely.

On the train from Waterloo they exchanged fire on post-Imperial guilt and the role of coercion in the creation of the true proletariat state.

Satisfyingly she found him her political polar opposite but intellectual equal.

He excited her mind and something altogether more atavistic within her.

He had extraordinarily long eyelashes she noticed.

They headed at once for the hothouses and the tropical flowers.

Orchids bored her, too “commodified”, “rich capitalists’ playthings” she hissed.

But jasmine, its scent here steely yet at once soft, vertiginous and sweaty in this immense glass enclosed humidity, was transfixing, mesmerizing.

The place itself seemed to perspire with the effort of keeping warm in the midst of an English Winter, of keeping alive the beautiful and out of place Plant World curiosities it housed.

And in the air, beneath the flowers’ fragile scents, the unavoidable smell of decay and rebirth could be detected.

She turned away from the delicate ylang ylang, looked toward him and saw tiny beads of moisture forming on his forehead, his bright blonde hair turning brown with damp at the collar.

“Let’s go and have some tea!”

She exclaimed brightly, before blushing at sounding so much like an Edwardian debutante, perhaps they really were ‘stepping out’ after all.

In the near empty refreshment room an elderly learned couple in the fashions of four decades ago and a group of unruly boys, a sixth form biology class without their teacher they speculated, were their only company.

They ate plum and seed cake and drank Earl Grey.

“Is this the point at which I offer to slip gin in your tea and propose we go and smoke marijuana in the arboretum?” He looked deadly serious for a moment then cracked a knowing smile.

“You’re not entirely unaware of the form then?” She kept her straight face a moment longer than he had, just long enough for him to fret that he had misjudged the situation.

Then in an excruciating attempt at a Southern Belle she said “You can keep your liquor mister, and your herbal cigarettes too, but I wouldn’t mind seeing me some great big trees”.

“Come along then Miss O’Hara, your plantation awaits.”

That he knew his Hollywood films and that she should feel relaxed enough to reveal she enjoyed such schlock too would perhaps have been that afternoon’s greatest surprise.

If, that is, what happened in an intemperate moment behind The Temperate House had not.

The reinterpretation ‘Les Creations de Monsieur Dior: Diorama’ by Dior is a defiantly adult floral.

It forgoes the over-prettiness and saccharine femininity of current fashion to offer a confident, sexual, alluring, high-minded and utterly irresistible scent.

It is a vision of cleverness, subtle chic and self-possession in olfactory motion.

It is also an homage to the work of the perfumery genius Edmond Roudnitska, though it is not by any means his original perfume of the same name.

The determining characteristic of this scent, and the theme it shares most emphatically with its namesake, is an unfussy, uncluttered, handsomeness.

This is a floral without any of the silly fuss.

Here Jasmine lives up to its epithet as the ‘king of notes’. It is assertive, powerful, muscular even.

A forceful intervention into the floral scheme by caraway with its carnal, almost bodily, connotations is extraordinarily effective.

The following slow segue into wonderfully woody off-key mellowness is sublime. The fragrant equivalent of a love song all in minor chords.

Jasmine, rose and ylang ylang blend into one and other and then the background, the spice continues whilst a herbal patchouli plays off a savoury early-picked plum before yielding up to a wintry cedar, softened and spiked in equal measure by what has gone before.

The greatest gift is that this transformation is played out in what, by today’s standards, seems like slow motion.

This perfume is therefore truly epic.

And worth every effort to track it down.

Really, The Dandy can see no objection to anyone wearing this savoury floral feast, though I can imagine that to many reared on the olfactory equivalent of high fructose corn syrup it would be deeply undelightful.

What a shame for them and all the better for us!

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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The last day of freedom… Jour d’Hermes by Hermes The Perfume Dandy’s Scent Today

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“Music is the space between the notes.”

So, they say, Claude Debussy said.

Scent is perhaps the art closest to music, sharing as it does the qualities of abstraction and the ephemeral.

The two forms existing as much, more, in fact, in the air and the senses than in the bottle or on the bow.

No perfume expresses this sentiment more precisely than Jean Claude Ellena’s Jour d’Hermes.

Weightless, amorphous, transparent, luminous and above all quite, quite beautiful.

Jour is a refined fragrance in the same sense that a passage of the finest poetry has the sensation of the best prose distilled.

Its sparseness is that of the poet’s words upon a page, the length and conclusion of each line the result of deliberation, the start and end of every stanza as concious an artistic act as a painter’s brush stroke pulled across canvas.

Poetry, perhaps, is the places between the words.

In a world where so much perfume is mere cheaply drawn literal prose: scents called ‘Candy’ that smell of sweets, endles gourmands that succeed only in smelling exactly like confectioners’ kitchens, Jour is writ in verse.

Jour is poetry.

Elusive, sly, metaphorical, mischievous and quite, quite beautiful.

The words, the ideas, the notes seem so simple: citric, floral, dry.

Lemon, lily of the valley, orange flower.

It is in their deployment that the artistry lies.

Some people have termed the perfume ’empty’, I find it to be expansive.

An uncontained scent large enough to accept one’s own interpretation.

A fragrance of freedom.

“Loneliness clarifies. Here silence stands
Like heat. Here leaves unnoticed thicken,
Hidden weeds flower, neglected waters quicken,
Luminously-peopled air ascends;
And past the poppies bluish neutral distance
Ends the land suddenly beyond a beach
Of shapes and shingle. Here is unfenced existence:
Facing the sun, untalkative, out of reach.”

from ‘Here’ by Philip Larkin

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Jour d’Hermes was The Dandy‘s final self-picked weekday scent for a while.

Tomorrow, after a Summer turned “Indian Summer” of laid-back liberty, The Hit Parade returns, and The Dandy will once more be your ever faithful servant, taking his scented commands from you… why not choose what perfume I will wear next and join in the vote.

Please be gentle with me…

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Aide de camp… Cuir de Russie by Chanel The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

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He is an angular officer of the Tsar’s cavalry mounted on the back of a black thoroughbred horse.

Worldy, sensual, rough and exotic.

Yet at once, so you like to imagine, he has his vulnerabilities.

Imperceptible to others, he offers you, you fancy, glimpses of tenderness, hints at a struggle within vast and unending as the Russian Steppes themselves.

He is hide: black, burnished, animal and unclean.

He is not the polite, precise, bridled up leather of French equipage: a decorative saddle or bag fit only for fops on manicured ponies.

He is military leather, hardened by battle and burned birch.

A boot of a man, impervious to the elements and sentiment, unyielding and unconscious of compromise.

But wait, something does indeed reside beneath that apparently impenetrable surface.

With St Petersburg and the unconquerable splendour of Empire so too must come the soft underbelly. The Caucuses, the conquered kingdoms of Mohammedans, Cossacks and Stans.

A stolen kiss deposited at the back of his neck finds it redolent of the souk: cardamom, the charcoal burner of the water pipe and its sweet and flavoured tobacco, a slow cooking stew of meats and fruits and spices.

Retrace his steps. In your mind retrace his steps.

Travel through the bazaar of boots and belts and bags, cured to disguise from whence they came. Beyond the army supplier’s oleaginous smiles and eternal deals, without the Medina’s walls: here resides the truth.

The Tannery.

It’s filth, it’s excretia, it’s putrefaction. Its peerless beauty.

The inevitable and unbearable pain that brings forth such beauty.

And it is all too much amongst the stink of the skins.

He raises a pomade of flowers and bergamot to his nose, hoping hopelessly to ward off the evil.

Spinning on sculpted heal, turning his back on what actually is, he lights an old pipe with Spanish tobacco and departs in search of solace, anonymous sex and narcotic amnesia.

He will be yours for a moment, an hour, a day perhaps.

Then the next he will be another woman’s, another man’s and then another’s.

And so it goes on, inevitably, the decline into dust.

He is the angular officer of the Tsar’s cavalry mounted on the back of a black thoroughbred horse that every man and every woman wants to be or be with.

Cuir de Russie, even in its current, tamed, “dressage” form is an epic among the cuir class of scents.

Smoky, spicy, dirty, animal, burnt, hurt, floral, haunting.

This is perhaps the most anthropomorphic fragrance ever created.

A portrait in perfume of a leather-clad lover from the last days of imperial Russia.

A hopeless, joyous, pyrrhic but not-at-all pointless passion.

Perverse passion.

As with every aristocrat of a declining Empire, this officer is open to offers from anyone… at the right price.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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