That day, late spring, she wore a satin trenchcoat in a shade just north of turquoise blue.
Indigo jeans and silver shoes, and, under her heavy fringe, those same steely grey eyes that can see straight through a glassy lens to you.
When she looks in your direction, be it across a room, or out from a magazine, she breaks the rules: she watches you.
The observed becomes the observer: the unmoving girl in the photograph who holds your gaze no matter how you wriggle; the clotheshorse on the catwalk who stares you down every time you eye her hemline.
She won’t blink first. She’s frozen. Crystalline.
“She’s not a model, she’s a work of art.” Andy said, or would have done if he wasn’t already good as dead.
The hyacinths were past their prime when they came to take her away, the flowers’ scent, almost fermented, was at its strongest: sharp, high, piercing as one imagined her scream might be, except of course, she would never scream.
They rapped the door three times and hollered, got ready to barge it in: a show of strength for assembled tv crews no doubt.
But no one seizes her moment.
They pull back to charge and just then in full maquillage she opens up the entrance way and steps out into the day, a feint smile on her plush flesh-toned lips, her horse-hair mane of chemical blond glistening in the newly golden sunshine, its rays dappled through the lilac tree to form a pool of light that serves as her spot, a pale pink rose in her buttonhole, a purple patent Kelly bag thrown across her arm.
She has been surveying them all the while on security, waiting to steal the scene with her entry.
The plan was always to become famous first, then notorious, to use cool and stardom as a cover for as long as possible and then make infamy the tool to spread the message.
The Officer in Charge isn’t.
Porcine and perspiring, his efforts after dishevelled police inspector chic wilt in her shade.
Confronted with his prey – beautiful, implacable, perfectly presented – he panics just a little, mumbles his way through the statement of arrest, wishing the media would melt.
She meets each camera’s gaze as she has a thousand times before. Showing no more emotion than if she were selling a Saint Laurent or parading a Prada.
She has no problem with hollowed out: devoid of care, devoid of remorse… emptiness is all the same. She does it electrically.
And, besides, she’s waiting.
A shot, muffled only by the proximity of the body it enters.
A thump, said body hitting the floor. Andy. Upstairs.
Confusion. Journalists and cameramen on the deck too. Some police begin to go inside, then hesitate, withdraw: waiting for his word.
“Hadn’t you better go up, there’s a man dying in there.” Her marquise diamond cut voice.
No concern at all. The practised, callous warmth of a thousand interviews. Pleasant, carefree, casual and deadly.
He gives the order to go inside.
He screams: urgency and saliva ejaculating at all at once.
A hail of bullets like a drumroll ricochets through the house.
Andy’s jam now. That was always part of the plan too. That nothing should remain of the cold hand that created the scheme.
She’s all that’s left. Upright, flawless, ready for a close up, chaos all around her.
She could be here to sell you soap flakes or sell your country down the stream.
Everyone wonders if she’s wired, fears more surprises: death, an explosion, carnage.
She’s a swan. Gliding across the surface of their pond she’s just made choppy. Underneath she’s working overtime, her heart beats like a machine gun. This is how she imagines love must feel.
Head high, back straight: sense the invisible thread pulling the body into the vertical: that’s what they said in ballet school. She assumes her position, her poise, her pose.
She’s already ready, in the dock of public opinion and awaiting trial.
Only one possible verdict.
Chamade by Guerlain is a scent of international espionage.
The perfume of a spy: at turns sophisticated, razor sharp, ice cold, sensual, faux shy, sly and insinuating.
This is a fragrance never to be fobbed off or thought lightly of, it is an odour that means business, serious business: affairs of state and matters of import.
This is not a Bond Girl’s bombshell, it is a complex, subtle and strategic scent as impressive for its structure as it is awe-inspiring for its intelligence.
The opening accord of aldehyde, galbanum and green is one of the most seriously cool and alluringly aloof in all perfumery.
It is froideur made fragrant.
Soon hyacinths, at that moment when they can no longer be tamed, intrude.
Their smell is overpowering, glamorous and artificially natural, lent kerosene power by the lingering chemical taint of that sparkling opening rocket blast burst.
There is a slow segue into softer florals: rose touched with lilac and muguet, yet the sharpness of the start, the hard-headedness of the hyacinth, the rasp of galbanum does not dissipate until we are well through the main part of the perfume’s heart.
Then a wonderful coup de theatre: everything turns from surface and sheen, steel and violent style to manicured, almost polite seduction: with a reveal the Guerlainade appears as if from nowhere, the wings perhaps.
Slowly at first and then onto centre stage, a more balsamic than usual take on the house’s ‘superior crème brulee made aromatic genius’, treads the boards.
It’s as though the perfume knows that to win hearts as well as minds it must show a gentler side, some feather down cushions to mellow the angular geometry that has gone before.
A sympathetic appearance in the witness box and an appealing back story to get the remorseless criminal off the hook.
Though if this perfume were to be charged with ruthless, electric, sublime beauty then the answer must be guilty, guilty, guilty.
Chamade is that rare thing: a shimmering, transcendent scent of enduring, yet somehow untouchable, pleasure.
Sometimes dismissed as a perfume of the middle rank, perhaps because it deceives simpler minds with its intended duplicities, this is a fragrance of the first order, an enigma within a mystery wrapped up in a miasma.
Glory in it before it gets too hot.
It’s good to be back.
The Perfumed Dandy.