I wanted to run around the city alone at night wearing a dark blue jacket, mumbling in French, looking pensive and conflicted. Thankfully, the Terre d’Hermès Eau Très Fraïche flanker pulled me back from the edge. But it was rough sledding for a while there. I even thought about selling my collection. I only needed one fragrance.
Madness. Utter madness.
when Bleu de Chanel almost became my signature scent
Please be warned of some (OK – a lot of) “Tom Ford” linguistic moments in this post. To go further, I think it must be stressed that Bleu de Chanel, like all fragrances, acquires a unique and distinctive character when worn by any particular individual – myself included. Some of us just add a little skank. Some of us add a lot. This is a feature, not a bug. It is simply one of the many beauties of perfume.
May you all have a wonderfully happy and fragrant 2018.
I felt something welling up inside me the other day – a kind of fragrant guilt – that I ultimately acted upon. It was like a last-minute Christmas gift – after Christmas – or one final change to a story. It caused me to rush out to the mall and sniff dozens of fragrances, searching for some answer to a question I didn’t understand.
What was it? I still don’t fully understand it – but I do know this – it’s beautiful.
Ultimately, I think it was the idea that, even though I had turned in my Best Fragrance of 2017 nomination to Basenotes – the one that I absolutely love and that most are going to disagree with – there was something missing – some overlooked wonder of fragrance – that I simply had to go out and find.
So here you go, you FUCKERS. You GLORIOUS BASTERDS who infected me with this wonderful love for FRAGRANCE – something so ultimately STUPID that it’s beautiful and amazing and GRRRRRR – why did you do this to me? It’s ALL YOUR FAULT!!!
Yes. You assholes – through your enabling love of fragrance – made me run out and look for a bottle with a FUCKING HAT to come to peace with the universe.
And every day I thank GOD I live in this universe, and FUCK YOU, I LOVE YOU ALL.
So here goes.
Yeah. This is what I was looking for. I needed to smell this thing. Oh, I’d smelled it before, one too few times, but that was before YOU PEOPLE made me give it another chance. And now I love tuberose like – well – let’s skip that part – but CURSES.
Anyway, it took me a while to get there, and the rest of the story IS the story.
So I walk into a store that may or may not have been VON MAUR and OMG the woman walking out who laughed just a bit at me – pulling on my black Ralph Lauren gloves that don’t match my worn brown Aldo shoes that don’t match my badly fitting Levis that don’t match my olive-and-black Izod parka but OH YEAH I was wearing my dark dark Bleu-de-Chanel dark blue knit Oscar de la Renta pullover zip-up sweater-top that makes all the women talk to me about fragrance and when it made her snicker I was like OH YEAH BABY it made you laugh and this is gonna be a GOOD DAY in
The mayor of Perfume City, Redneck Perfumisto, is a bastard, but he gives me a wide berth and plenty of respect because he had an affair with my aunt, Eau Première, and he knows I know. This is how things are done here. So when I run around the city at night looking pensive and conflicted, you can be sure there is a hell of a story behind it, but maybe that’s for another time.
Anyway, he sent me out on a job – another dirty job – just like all the other dirty jobs. So underneath my dark blue jacket, I put on my Oscar de la Renta pullover that smells like the last woman, if you know what I mean, and out I went, into the cold night.
Von Maur. I love it. The woman smiled at me as I opened the door for her, and in I went.
I needed to get some information about Twilly d’Hermès, but I got waylaid by a beautiful African woman who I’m sure is working for somebody mysterious but I never ask. I told her I needed to talk to some people privately, and she just smiled and left me alone to drift into the crowd. She’s a Muslim and I respect her by not coming on too strong, but she’s very beautiful and I love it when she’s there.
Gucci Guilty Absolute. I should have known it would be him first. He’s the new guy, but there is something about him. He’s very retro, and right now, retro is very hip. He’s Old Tom Ford, if you know what I mean. Brown leather but clean, tough, smells like a cross between shopping at Guerlain and fixing your car. But he’s not an old fart like Fahrenheit. He’s very disruptive. Not a citizen of Perfume City yet, but the mayor may grant him.
Now I should say something. I play very cool about my ties to the mayor. I could be an asshole and tell people I have a word with the mayor, but I don’t. It’s not my style. I hate corruption, and just the fact that the mayor is the one who finally grants citizenship here is as much corruption as I can stand, but that’s the way Perfume City has always been, so I just shut up and accept it. Some things never change.
Anyway, Absolute very nearly could have been Fragrance of the Year. He’s that cool. But he’s not a citizen, so his chances were not that great. Still, he’s on the mayor’s good side. That counts around here.
Next, I struck up a chat with D&G the one EDP. His older brother EDT is a long-time resident of Perfume City. That old boy doesn’t get out much, but the mayor’s wife had her eye on him badly, years ago, and the rumor is that she talked the mayor into a ménage à trois on several nights. Hilarious. EDP didn’t really know anything new, but he’s a good guy, just like EDT. Gave him a pat on the back and moved on.
Next, I ran into John Varvatos Artisan Blu. Fucking beach bum, but he’s very cool. He wears this blue fishnet top that looks absolutely ridiculous and absolutely cool. As soon as I smelled him, I knew he was connected to “Rodrigo”, a.k.a. “Flower Boss”, who goes way back in town politics. Blu’s old man Artisan was one of Rodrigo’s boys, and he got in HUGE trouble with the Powers That Be for passing off synthetics as naturals. A friend of the mayor’s who knows a lot of dirty secrets ratted him out and that was that. The mayor was wise. Artisan almost never gets contracts any more. But that’s OK. He’s a beach bum, too, and lives for summer. Good guy, but watch out. I’ll bet Blu is a chip off that old block. Don’t trust him – I’m sure when the heat is on, he’ll turn on you like a sunburn.
Now THIS is when I run into some redneck guy who is every bit the country bumpkin as the mayor – and I mean wearing his hunting clothes into Von Maur – absolutely hilarious. So I get talking to him, and he tells me that Armani Mania is leaving town for good, and getting on a train to Disco. So if I want to get a word in with him, do it now. See what I said? It’s my fucking Oscar de la Renta pull-over – kiss the damn thing – people just drop the hot tips like I’m a priest and it’s Judgment Day.
Anyway, Mania is OK – kinda fresh – but no – nothing for me. Code Colonia – now that guy is a new natural. He has way better stuff. THAT guy has a future in Perfume City, and I will bet he’s a citizen by summer.
But I get talking to this redneck – awesome guy – and he tells me that he and Mania go back. Way back – before all this beautiful Code crap. One time, they were in this café, and the waitress just walks up and runs her nose up Mania’s neck like she wants to jump him right there. YEAH, BABY. And THAT, my friends, is Perfume City. Oh, we may bitch about this or that, but that right there is why we never leave.
So while I’m laughing at this story, Mania, the redneck and the African beauty head off to do some deal, and I’m back on the job. And THAT is when my pullover does IT’S job and this beautiful little kinda Latina comes up and starts giving me the scoop on ALL these fuckers.
For starters, Azzaro Wanted. I had written this guy off earlier, but something had been bugging me – I thought he might have good stuff. So right then I start talking him up again – trying not to laugh at this ridiculous revolver he carries in his waistband – and it hit me. Gabrielle. He knows Gabrielle. I KNEW there was something about him.
Maybe they worked on that pear farm that nobody knows about and Brielle never talks about. Maybe he was dealing her orange blossom. I don’t know, but he knows my cousin – I’m sure of it. There is something there – I’m positive. But there is NO WAY I’m going to tell the mayor about it.
At this point I have to digress. I will never forgive the mayor for inviting Gabrielle to come to Perfume City and then not having the guts to honor her with Fragrance of the Year. He wanted to do it, but politics – fucking politics – got in the way, and the bastard was afraid to do it. So who does he name? Creed Viking.
God, I just wanted to scream. I have a source in Basenotes University who is connected to all these people, and he told me all about it – how the mayor invited her and then got scared that every female faculty member in BNU was opposed. What the fuck – why does he care what these people think? But no – I dug for the truth behind that one, and it’s actually worse. It’s Creed Viking. The mayor has some deal with people about Viking. He doesn’t even KNOW Viking – has never even MET him – has no idea what he even SMELLS like – but the fix was totally in.
Why? Citizenship. The mayor wants him in town. Big money will be changing hands, but NOT until it passes through certain Russian hands. That’s why the mayor refuses to meet Viking publicly, but is planning to name him “due to public demand”. Fucker. He KNOWS Gabrielle, loves her sister L’Eau like life itself, and yet he stabs Brielle in the back.
Sorry. I’m very passionate about my cousin. She’s a good girl. Very misunderstood. She’s new to the city and has very few friends, but she has a future. I want to look out for her, but I have to be careful. You can’t seem weak in this city. She has to make it on her own. Just like I did.
So back to Wanted. This lady says she loves Wanted. We start exchanging information, and BAM – I know this woman has the good stuff. She’s a bit innocent – she doesn’t know the technical things, but she knows people – and that’s what counts. Wanted is her absolute favorite, and it’s everything on my list, too. And you know what? Just like Gabrielle. I’m sure the male faculty hates Wanted just like the women hate Gabrielle.
Wanted is gonna get citizenship. Mark my words. It’s too late to even get a nomination this year, but he’s getting in. And not on influence, either. He has the same stuff as Brielle. He’s gonna make it in Perfume City.
Anyway, this lady takes me around, and I meet a bunch of people. It was awesome. This is what I love to do.
Chrome and Chrome Pure. Chrome I know, but Chrome Pure is new in the city, and he has a real future. Kinda funny how much alike and yet how different they are. They’re both innocents to me. Pure seems pure as hell, but he’s not nearly as transparent as Chrome. Have you ever met people like that? Very private, with their secrets, but their secrets are pure stuff that just makes a wise guy want to laugh. Not dark secrets. Stuff that might as well be right out there in the open. Fresh, Clean. We need more people like that in Perfume City. He’s got a future here.
And then I ran into Polo and Polo Red Extreme. Hilarious. Polo is a frigging institution around here, he’s so old school. Hasn’t changed a bit. Still smokes, for God’s sake. One of the founders. Did I ever tell you that I met Polo’s old man Carlos through the mayor? I’m not above bragging about that one. Carlos is a saint. I’ll just say it right here. Anything he’s connected to is good. Take it to the bank.
Now, Polo Red is a buddy of mine, not the least reason being that he’s another me, but not as good at it. Everybody needs a backup. Well, Red’s my backup. He’s in with the mayor, but not like me. So any friend of Red is a friend of mine, and Extreme is no exception.
Is Red Extreme gonna get citizenship? Not sure. Not really sure he wants it. Good guy. But there’s a lot of places to live out there – and lots of places that want him. He’ll find something. He doesn’t have to live where Red does. Enough Reds for one town.
Got introduced to that new “man in black” – Coach For Men. Smooth, smooth, smooth. There is something totally unique about him. He has a beautiful hairstyle – I’m like – what the hell – that’s just sharp. Totally stylin’.
He’s in. Won’t happen right away, but you don’t look like that, act like that, smell like that, and don’t get in.
And Coach just made that girl smile, too. A smile on a beautiful girl is something you take with you to the next life. You know what I’m sayin’? Perfume City is great because we make it happen, and it doesn’t happen without fragrances like this guy Coach.
Saw an old buddy with a solid rep – Valentino Uomo. Introduced me to his brother Intense. Just passing through. He ain’t stickin’ around. My new lady friend loves his sister Donna. That totally figures. Donna is simply amazing. The mayor thinks Donna is absolutely HOT, and did his usual wheedle and whine job to try to talk his wife into letting her move in, but his wife wants nothing to do with her. Donna is just opulent. I said OPULENT. The mayor married class, but not that kind of class – the showy kind. Make your bed and live in it, you bastard. Serves you right. Pine over her luscious until you ride off in that pine box with your bottle of Terre d’Hermès, boss-man.
And right then – RIGHT then – who passes by? Gabrielle. Oh, yes – there is a God.
I winked at Brielle, and smelled her wonderful bouquet, but said nothing. Walked right by her. No, you damn mayor. She’s gonna make it on her own, and you’re gonna respect her like you should have when you had the chance. Speaking of which.
Chance and her sisters were right there, too, so we struck up a lively conversation. It was good. Old times. I knew Chance back in the day, when she was working for a Russian defector. Don’t ask. But Chance was awesome back then, and mad props.
So I met Chance’s little half-sister Eau Vive, who has this same je ne sais quoi as L’Eau and Brielle. It’s beautiful. These ladies are friggin’ muses. I could listen to them talk all day and all night.
And yes. Eau Vive is a long-time resident, thanks to the mayor’s son’s girlfriend. Yeah, I admit – it’s pretty corrupt, but still – she totally deserved to get in. Totally. Although she’s a bit of a wild card. Some story about the music industry – fashion groupies – stories about deejays and all-night events – you know what I’m sayin’. Young people having fun, but you don’t ask too many questions.
With that, it was time to move on. But I’d made a new friend, and that’s what counts. Me and Oscar de la Renta, God bless him. MMMMMWWWWAAAAAHHH!
So I’m standing in front of Abercrombie & Fitch, and I don’t know whether to curse America for what they did to an absolute institution of traditional gentlemen’s sports, which we French would have known how to preserve, or walk in and slink up to their AMAZING perfume counter, thereby offering some kind of forgiveness.
I forgave. And not just for fragrance. A&F hired one of the mayor’s friends when she was down and needed a job. She was one of the good ones. They clearly know quality.
OK. So there are some other reasons, that aren’t so noble. One of the mayor’s friends – one who’s a bit more like me – had some interesting stories about some person named Ellwood, who’s some new face at Abercrombie & Fitch. I had promised the mayor that I would check this person out, because the mayor had promised his friend that he would get the goods on Ellwood and see if he – she – whatever – was worth an offer.
Now – I have to say this right here – I have nothing against fragrances of ambiguous gender. Ambiguity is not for me, because I’m openly pour homme, but that doesn’t mean I disrespect those who have decided gender isn’t for them. Maybe it’s even rather cool that unisex and pour mermaid are a thing. But I don’t play games with the politics of this stuff. If you smell one way and you’re calling yourself some other, live with it. Gender may just be a “thing”, but it’s still a thing, and it’s not going away. People make mistakes. Deal with it. Feminine. Masculine. Whatever. People have impressions. They’re not insults.
Anyway, I walk in and I see this trio of whatever and oh fuck they look sharp. The mayor told me all about this shit. He told me about this one woman who was so fucking beautiful, that she cut her hair, dressed like a logger, and still every guy and every girl wanted her just the way she was. She just wanted people to be real, but she was cursed with such beauty that people wanted to love her beauty but not her. Tragic beauty. Yeah. And Perfume City is filled with stories like that.
Ellwood was the one that stuck out like a sore thumb. Very natural, but not hippie. Hippie – THAT was Hempstead. I’m calling Hempstead a dude, but others are free to think whatever they want. And then there’s Ryder, and that one’s a definite WTF. Somewhere between Miley Cyrus and Billy Idol on the silver-haired boygirl scale.
I wish I had Beavis and Butthead with me to snicker at “Elle-wood”, because the jokers at A&F deserve a wee bit of credit for coming up with that nom de ‘fume. Still, she’s a star. Allegedly bergamot meets musk – well, I’m saying musk won big. There’s a touch of smoke and spice to her – like she’s been up to something – but still very clean.
TOO clean. BAM. This is what the mayor pays me to do. Spot this stuff.
I can see why the mayor’s American friend thinks she’s hot, but no – I need MORE if I’m taking this one back to the mayor. Keep a chick like that away from a shower for a week and she’s gonna need to call her therapist. She’s PLAYING guy. No way the mayor gives her citizenship. When the mayor met his wife, he judged her by the age of her climbing helmet. It was more beat-up and old-school than his. THAT’S how you play with the boys in Perfume City. The Mayor is gonna hear an earful about his chick. POSER. Totally. He doesn’t need this bullshit. Leave her for his buddy. Win-win. That’s how you get ahead in Perfume City.
Now Hempstead – THAT’s what we’re talking about. I almost made an offer right there. I told you I was tight with the mayor. Under a certain number – no problem. Sign ’em up right there. But I figured hey – be careful. I’ve been burned before.
Hempstead is remarkably classy for some hipster druggie bullshit hippie motherfucker bicycle-ass fixie throw that goddamn paper and it lands right in front of the fucking Wall Street motherfucker another day in the city but it’s all magic and too much winning means even the dude on the bicycle in front of the Starbucks who got a raise and he’s gonna get some kick-ass threads from OH FUCK ABERCOMBIE & FITCH that used to actually be something and maybe it still is and I LOVE YOU AMERICA even though sometimes I wish I was back in France.
Definitely some good shit. But who thought up that name? Laughing my ass off. Hempstead don’t give a damn. So what if he looks like some Woodstock chick from the back? Whatever. DEAL.
Ryder? I hate Ryder like I hate Sauvage in between loving Sauvage. Ryder is like Sauvage with some Guerlain girly-glitter-face-perfume thrown in. You know this chick is never, ever, in a million years going to be faithful and you can’t help yourself – just GET IN TROUBLE and GET OVER IT. Yeah. I could fall in love with this shit – on and off – and so could the mayor. But one Sauvage is enough trouble for that old cuss. Not sure he needs another. Gonna have to think really hard about recommending this one. We are talking one loud risky bitch. Hempstead is sitting there in full STFU mode and Ellwood is starting to pout and DAMN Ryder – it’s gotta be all about you, doesn’t it? I told you – Miley Friggin’ Cyrus.
Right there I decided – sign all three up for some paid samples and move on. Too much drama. The mayor is gonna have to sort this shit out on his own.
So I turn around, and BOOM – right there – three Ouds. Essence, Amour, and Nuit. Now the mayor isn’t so keen on ouds, but he always wants them checked out, so just doing my job. And these ones are good.
Essence is the classic old man oud – woody, strong, scratchy and real. Frankly, I’ve smelled it a thousand times and I’m not into it, but if it’s your bag, Oud Essence is a good one. I can tell you right now, this one doesn’t get in if it’s not some kind of deal with the others, too, but hey – that is WAY too often how it works around here.
Amour – diagnosis: girly. But if oudy girls are your thing, go for it. Sometimes the mayor is into that stuff, so gotta make a full report. The contrast of girly fruit and lipstick and oud is just mmmwwwaaahhh. You know what I mean?
Nuit – same thing. French noir meets Eastern oud. A little less girly, a little more boy. Definitely more interesting than Essence. So two out of three’s not bad.
I wished I could have signed them up for samples, but it wasn’t possible. But thanks for the memories. Good stuff, and very unexpected at Abercrombie & Fitch.
Before signing the papers, I ran into two more old boys – Batch No. 46 and Endeavor. They were pretty damn interesting, but I have to admit – guys like that are a dime a dozen in Perfume City. Being good’s no crime, but being great and in demand is the only way you make citizenship. So – hey – have a nice day, and hope you make wardrobe, but it won’t be with my guy.
Not sure if you’ve ever been to Bath and Body Works, but it’s basically a discotheque of body products with a bit of perfume thrown in. It’s a fun place. If some chick ain’t shoving your fat ass out of the way with her fine one, you ain’t on the dance floor.
Not every guy there looks like he’s having fun, but it’s their loss, buddy, because BBW is one place where I absolutely love to get my girl on.
The mayor explained it this way. A guy in BBW is like a girl at the range. You’re in the minority, but that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that you’re either having fun or you’re not. Don’t be one of the chumps not having fun. Have a good time and GET INTO IT.
So trust me, I was digging through that bargain bin with the best of the chicks. 75% off! Holy mother of coconut milk. Where’s my basket? Do I have time to grab a basket, or are the prize items gonna get picked out of here before I’m back with one? THESE are the important things.
The mayor’s Basenotes buddy atrac – as in 8-TRACK – yeah, try telling a difference with THAT one – he told the mayor there was some niche BBW frag called Botanical Blend Batch No. 24 in a very nice cubish bottle going for 75% off, and sure as hell, I get the job of finding it. AND YES!!! THERE IT IS!!! No cap but – no, no, no – I know this game. You GRAB that sucker and stake a claim before it’s G – O – N – E – gone. Into the basket it goes.
NOW, get that basket up in front so nobody grabs something out from it without my seeing, and then reposition for a deep dive and BACK FOR THE CAP. Six or eight inches down – BAM – floating most unnaturally in a sea of somewhat sensually rounded plastic bottles (oh, man, does BBW know their stuff) and there it is – that quaintly labeled squarish metal cap, and voila – I have a complete bottle. At that very moment, I found another one, WITH the cap, but decided to leave it for some other lucky guy. Gotta spread the love, baby.
There was a tester and papers on top of the display, somewhat out of reach. Hmmm. Only accessible from the FRONT. So I scrooched my ass around the display, almost out of the store, in such a way that they wouldn’t think I was shoplifting, and sprayed a test paper.
Interesting. And then I got to thinking.
So I pull this old dude Botanotes up onto the rocks of Sireen Island, somewhere in Merica, as beautiful laughing women cast nets into the ocean all around us.
“Bless you, young man! I should have perished in this foamy grave, had your charity not found me! May the goddess Botanica herself shower you with her favors!”
“No problem, old man. You look familiar. Do I know you?”
“I fought with Odysseusm, Aramis, and Garrigue in the Colognial Wars of old. We returned from battle to find ourselves forgotten and shunned – assumed to have died on the battlefields of yore. Treated like all veterans – cast aside as a sad reminder of the needlessness and inevitability of conflict, we had nothing in this world to call our own. Seeking a new home, we were brought here, to the unknown lands and seas of Flyoveria.”
“You have come by the hand of fate to the right place, old man. Come – let me take you to my master, Perfumisto, who will give you proper and due honor.”
“You speak my language now, and I am humbled. If this is true, I will give thanks right here. I would sacrifice my own head that my shipmates be rescued.”
“They are saved already, my friend. You may keep your head, and your très cool helmet which I found as well. But we must go quickly, as we take up precious shore that these women need to make themselves beautiful.”
“Who are these women? They seem to have come from every part of the world!”
“You must keep the secret of our sirens, old man. The world thinks this place a most terrible region – endlessly hot and cold – backwards and filled with strife. They rumour us populated with ugly and Fierce women, all of one type, fattened on corn – their dirty men ill-employed and engorged with beer. In truth, the women you see before you are the treasure of this island, collected from the four corners of the world and made beautiful by our local Wexnerian wizards. Their menfolk you sometimes see among them – warriors, athletes and scholars. We choose not to disabuse distant minds of their errors, thus keeping our island safe from a wicked clan of wandering troublemakers known as Cultural Marxists.”
“Your secrets are safe with me, good rescuer of neo-classics!”
I mean, seriously – you can’t even see a re-screening of 300 for 8 bucks any more!
With the rescued veteran in tow, we made for the island of Sephora, some distance away. We reckoned wrongly that the young maiden Twilly of Hermès, for whom I searched, would be there. Alas, the local Sephorian priestess of my long acquaintance informed me that Twilly had never even set foot on the island.
With time thus on our hands, as we awaited a message from Queen Perfumisto, I began seeking out the locals for more information on their situation. Under pretense of shopping for perfume, we queried the islanders in all ways that we could.
First, we chanced upon a rather manly type in strange, shiny black armor. Noir Anthracite was his name. His smell was intense and immediately pleasing – the kind favored by the teachers and scholars of my birth home, Basenotesia. And yet there was something off-putting about him, that I could not put my finger on. I turned to the old man I had rescued, and asked his opinion.
“All things must peak. There is ebb and flow. This great warrior may be the very peak of his kind.” The old man then offered a salute, throwing a fist to his breastplate in as a show of respect.
Moving on, we encountered a recent immigrant to Sephora – his symbol was the Greek I sidewise. His smell was nondescript, yet somehow intriguing and disturbing. I asked the priestess what she thought of him. She tried to say good things, but it was clear that she favored my kind over his. I feared that she knew but hid from me various ill omens of weak fragrances from her higher oracles, and this gave me a sense of foreboding.
Again, I turned to the old man, who had seen much. I begged him say what he thought.
“I have traveled the seas to fight for others my entire life. That I have lived has served no purpose except to speak of battles in which better men died. But I have seen other things, too – the kindness of men – the beauty of women. It is what I didn’t do, and didn’t understand, that has always been more important to the gods.”
The old man held his tongue, but I urged him to say more.
“I know nothing more with certainty, but I feel the future lies in this man and his type, and not merely ourselves. I have dreamed of a great wave from afar, such as I have seen towering over the sea in my most distant voyages. I feel the same dread and excitement now. We must learn to find beauty in different smells – in smaller intricacies and more subtle arts of perfume. The future is not in any one answer, but in all of them together, creating new answers again and again. By this very nature, the new beauties must often be small and strange, that eternity contain its own sum.”
I nodded at the wisdom of this traveled old man, who by his life showed the strength of youth, but now the gentleness of age. Recalling my own cousin Gabrielle and her small and quiet beauty, which impressed certain philosophers but not the majority of Basenotesians, I felt a kind of relief, knowing that this man spoke of things which may already have begun to pass.
I bade the traveler Y farewell, knowing that we would meet again, one day.
We met one who called himself La Nuit de L’Homme L’Intense, who I recognized immediately. His smell was nearly identical to the fabled youthful scent of his father, La Nuit de L’Homme, who I had indeed known in his youth, when he was much beloved by the young men of Perfumopolis. My friend, the old soldier, swore that this was proof that the gods of perfume, who he claimed lived in a distant land called Gaul, had heard and answered the prayers of those young men, who had loved the older fragrance, only to have it taken from them by a terrible monster called Ifra. I scoffed at such legends, but was indeed quite astounded at the resemblance to fragrance lost, thinking that perhaps this new fragrance was even stronger and more vigorous than La Nuit in his youth.
I met an old enemy – Gucci Made to Measure – and offered my hand in friendship, our battles long over, as my allies in the Niche League had won the Gucci Fragrance Wars, after many years of air-fisted rule by Queen Frida of Giannini. Sometimes we only smell the wisdom of our enemies in their defeat, and thus I was inclined to bend a nostril toward a valiant fighter who armored in the style of an old ally, Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme. Beyond this, I had been given a vision which led me to believe that this particular fragrance had special meaning. Thus, I swore to give him entrance to Perfumopolis should the chance ever arise.
I met a group of others – some I had known from Perfumopolis, others who were strangers to me. Mr. Burberry EDT introduced me to Mr. Burberry EDP. For the life of me, I could not tell them apart. As an opponent of automatic chain migration except in special cases such as my own, I felt no need to tell EDT, who was a citizen of Perfumopolis, that citizenship papers for EDP were on sale at Marshall’s for a mere 35 perfumos.
The irony of this was not lost upon me, for next I met a beachcomber relative of my own – Allure Homme Sport Eau Extreme – who had himself by chain migration become a rather non-productive citizen of Perfumopolis. I contented myself with the pronouncement of a prior king that the world needed more poets, despite the fact that I knew “poets” was code for shiftless artistes and communist mentors. Still, my half-brother looked well, and he assured me that he was a better man, now that he had his EDP from Reformulation State University. That I failed to inform him of the equivalence of his new degree to his old EDTC, can be forgiven as half-brotherly kindness, or brotherly half-kindness – take your pick. The priestess assured me in any case that my dear half-brother was still much beloved by the women-folk of Sephora, who pretended to be impressed by his brain and not his muscular, tonka-encrusted torso.
We ran into a traveler named Code Colonia, who I at once recognized from prior journeys to a distant land called Phonmauer. His presence was the same simple pleasure as always, smelling of bergamot, lavandin, and tonka. I bid him adieu, and looked forward to making his acquaintance yet again in warmer climes.
Lastly, we ran into a good friend, Eau Sauvage Parfum. He apparently has an almost identical twin, born mere seconds after him in perfume industry time, and thus I very literally could not tell which one we had met, other than the one at hand obviously costing more. But whatever the case, this one seemed like the same one I had always known.
Suddenly, we were awakened from our various perfumed musings by the cries of an annoying messenger called Apple Watch, who read aloud some nattering nabobism of negativity from Queen Perfumisto. We silenced the messenger, bid the priestess of Sephora good evening, and made haste for the shoreline, thus to depart from Sephora for Perfumopolis.
So ends this historical recounting, which we hope may survive to some future time.
Skunked by my usual sources at Sephora, which was LVMHingly light on fragrances from Hermès, I decided I had to rescue my job with the mayor by making one last stop in search of Twilly d’Hermès – in a place called Saks Fifth Avenue.
Voila! There she was. Wearing her beautiful, idiotic, beautiful hat, hanging out with 24 Faubourg, Kelly Calèche, and all the other classic Hermès ladies. A brief introduction, two sprays, two sniffs, and…..
Normally I can’t stand tuberose, which is like some kind of Antichrist to one running pensive and conflicted through the Flyover Parisian night – more so should one be wearing dark blue discounted Oscar de la Renta. But this tuberose – it was FRESH and PEPPERY and had a kind of utterly unstoppable smile that could not fail to put a smile on one’s face.
In the stupid yet brilliant innocence of this fragrance – a kind of French Girl version of Quiksilver’s unapologetically juvenile aquatic Australian sandalwood – I had found the girls will be girls equivalent of boys will be boys.
Christine Nagel – that BAD BAD GIRL – had gone around the world to find pepper that can never be accused of being pepper, and snuck it into tuberose like an infusion through the ground itself. The best of ginger and the best wrongness of the wrong kind of sandalwood – both with almost the exact same spicy frequency in multiple dimensions – exploding out through the IDIOCY of my hated girly-girl tuberose.
In even further irony, this work of Nagel felt very Ellena – like one of his best Hermèssence scents in both its style and its internal trimeric simplicity. Thus, Christine Nagel had kept the Hermès promise, both to Hermès itself, and to her lovably oudophobic and intermittently cardomommunist mentor.
Not knowing how the mayor’s wife would react to this strong, secretly spicy, naturally narcotic floral, which she was bound to hate, I double-sprayed a test paper and threw it in my BBW bag.
I half-suspected Madame Perfumisto would take one whiff, gag, say “NO WAY”, and throw the damn thing back at her useless husband, but I also knew that the mayor, my idiot boss, would love it, and maybe even wrap it and save it in the same aluminum foil that he uses for his
tinfoil hat reheated pizza when he listens to reads Alex Jones Drudge Report in the basement dining room.
And maybe listening to country music, writing about perfume, and hearing a song that swears everything’s going to be alright.
But no matter what, I had done my job, earned my keep, and upheld the reputation of the Chanel family name. Perhaps not in the same ways as my good cousins, L’Eau, Gabrielle, and Eau Vive, but then again, we can’t all be saints.
So as I ran out into the night, holding the door open for three young but stylish guys who don’t even know who the hell the immortal Oscar de la Renta is, I said a prayer of thanks that, of all the places in the world I could have ended up running around in the night, poignantly pensive and beautifully conflicted, I ended up in Perfume City.