Thursday, December 15, 2005

Joy To The World

I am supposed to be deep in the study of The Thirty Years war, immersing myself in human misery and vagaries, and killing scads of paper people.

Instead? I have found myself listlessly wandering the internet, blog hopping on such diverse and trivial matters as the history of dance, metal forging, and perfume.

Do you remember far back? When there was "The One Perfume"? and it's name was Joy. The advertisements were in the Vogue we read at the public library: we who splashed on a little of our mom's Jean Nate' for lack of better. Joy's message was clear: "You don't have the money to even think of affording me." And so it was.

And we perhaps, hoped for the day when we would be old enough, and careered or married well enough, to move to a city that had a swank department store that carried Joy. And maybe we'd get some on Christmas from our husband or boyfriend who always in our fantasies looked like Donald from "That Girl". It was a bottle of dreams and we knew that Joy was the most perfect perfume...even without smelling it.(this was before scented strips in magazines and before the anti-scent backlash against the same that removed them from magazines) It was the magical and touted $100 an ounce price point. It meant something, talismanic. That was luxury, perfection in the rounded off 100. No 99.95 shenanigans with Joy.

A friend at work told me about her aunt who had a bottle of Joy, a gift from her husband. The aunt kept her Joy boxed and wrapped and in the refrigerator.

So back to now. I am wandering the internets and stumble upon the modern perfume monolith stretching from such established houses as Guerlain to the oddly named "Dinner by Bobo". And behold, the iconic has been surpassed, the talismanic sent to the ranks of the "very good but old-fashoned".

The House of Creed has not a "Singular and Iconic" scent pricing about $100 but at least 20 such scents! All at $150.00 and above retail. Molinard has poured old perfume into new perfume flasks and the dowager Habanita that you could find on close out shelves a couple of years back is resurrected at $295 a 3.3 ounce bottle. The ranks of the $75+ are legion. Are they all beautiful? Worthy? Hardly. I am close enough to places to sample upon occasion. There is some delightful work out there. There is also stuff that smells like nothing more than burning rubber or a Yankee Candle shop. This holds even at the sky-high price points.

Fashion is all but dead. The speed of the wired world demands a new novelty by the minute, a new lure, and it is becoming the "artisanal" or "niche" perfumes or "scents" as they might properly be called. I tried one that was lovely, simply lovely if I wanted to call back the smell of being in church at Pascha on midnight. Pure Russian incense vibe. I don't care to go around all day smelling like I should be at confession. But it is lovely for the exercise that it is. It's not wearable except to evoke memory, like bonfires in autumn evoke the desire to wear wool and start back to school. It's the preciousness of impossible to wear haute couture, but sold to the masses for $75.00 eau de toilette strength 1.7 ounces.

And it is no longer about having ones "signature" scent that renders one memorable. Perfume has become the province of collectors for whom nothing but having one of everything will do. This should be a book, I think. An amusing if cautionary fiction of smell wars and credit-card counts and countesses. I'd tell you where they hang out on line, but then I'd have to kill me.

Feel free to pop over to my side bar and pay Luca Truin a visit on his blog. He's an amusing eccentric, a bio-physicist and smell guru. He's also snide and writes fairly well if with the soupcon of hyperbole himself. His emperor may or may not be wearing clothes. I'll leave you to judge that if you feel you need a break from the endless writing.

Then there is the interesting case of the "haute" on and off line perfumieries touting my favorite Bandit at something around $50.00+ for 1.7 oz. It's an old leathery chanteuse of a perfume, going back to 1944 and enjoying a popular revival of sorts. So it is mythified by the shills. The hyperbolic writing would mean an automatic reject to the trash-can if one tried to pass it as serious writing:

Bandit: Piguet launched the spirit and scent of Bandit, his first fragrance (and, incidentally or not, the first chypre) on the couture runway in 1944. Intent on evoking the aura of the outlaw, he dressed his models in Zorro masks and staged them brandishing toy revolvers and knives. The fragrance is a mischievous and seductive statement accessory - not for every woman, but perfect for a certain woman...and, it should be noted, for a certain man as well. (fair use I hope)

Hint to the CAN buy Bandit for $16.00 elsewhere without the flourishes.

And as for the lady who wore Joy? She likely had better things to do than blog about it online. Like a charity opera ball to organize, or a New England Christmas to orchestrate.


At 9:54 AM, Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

This should be a book, I think. An amusing if cautionary fiction of smell wars and credit-card counts and countesses.

So write it.

Perfume has fallen out of favor in my industry. Too allergic for people. I don't know why. Can't where fragrance in hospitals or medical facilities because of that. Even scented soap is looked down on.

What are they sticking in the stuff these days that makes everybody sneeze?

At 5:37 PM, Blogger Dana Y. T. Lin said...

I'm allergic to everything, except Chanel No.5. It's what my mom wears - the ONLY perfume she wears. I think I may have developed an immunity to it since I've been smelling it since childhood - but everything else makes me sick.

But I do remember Joy, from when I was a kid. I know what you mean. And I totally hear ya about the Yankee Candle shop comment.

And I also agree with M.G. - go write the book. I would definitely read it since I have a very picky nose.

At 10:22 AM, Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

I'd read it because Lisa is funny as hell.

At 5:51 PM, Blogger E. Ann Bardawill said...

I can see it now...
Scents and Affordability
By Jane Austentacious

At 7:54 PM, Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

Poke. Poke.

Just making sure you aren't dead.

At 8:52 PM, Blogger Lisa S. said...

I'm alive...and actually posted again..

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