Saturday, July 23, 2011
More Tassels, Please: Things I'm Liking Lately
1. Please, please, please, put more tassels on perfume. Put all kinds of dangly things - but tassels, if you can swing it. Nothing feels better on a perfume bottle. Nothing makes a perfume feel more like a perfume to me. And don't skimp. I like a nice, fat tassel. Something you can really run your grubby little fingers through. I have dozens of hundreds of fragrances. Less than one percent have tassels, which really saddens me. I realized this yesterday, when I saw the new Shalimar flanker, Parfum Initial. I'm so tassel-deprived, it turns out, that it didn't matter what Parfum Initial smelled like (the verdict is still out on that). I had to have it. The Parfum Initial tassel is a little short for my taste but it has just the right heft. It completes the bottle, and the fantasy, whatever that fantasy is (verdict still out on this too). I look at almost every other bottle I have, however much I love the fragrance, and wish it had a tassel now. They all seem slightly incomplete to me. I get a little sad about it. Another great tassel - the perfect tassel in every way - is the one on my bottle of Armani Onde Vertige. Burnt cinnamon in color, attached to a longer cord with a pretty bead, it's just the right length, extending to the bottom of the bottle. It's just the right thickness. The bead makes a nice, delicate sound when it strikes the glass. You want everything to go quiet so you can hear it better. I suspect, seeing a well tasseled fragrance, that I would pay as much as thirty dollars more than I might normally. Something comes over me. I go into a fugue.
2. Chunky bottles get me every time, too. The right kind of chunk, I guess. Mona di Orio got chunk down better than possibly anyone has. That big block of a bottle speaks my language. I feel like I'm having a conversation with it. Delicate things, those fragile, perilous case studies a la Lutens, get on my nerves. I feel like I'm babysitting them. I feel responsible for them in a way I resent. What if they topple? They're so anorexic, so kind of coy and anemic. Oh aren't you pretty, you feel you're supposed to say. Oh aren't you precious. I want to slap these bottles. I want to snap them out of their narcissism. A blocky bottle holds its own and needs no such assistance. It says, I deserve to be here and I'm sitting myself right down. I like the Chanel bottles, for the most part, which are temperamental in transit but once arrived cannot be fazed. Those taller Chanel bottles, the older things with the sturdy black caps, are even better. Noting like Coco standing tall on your dresser, a miniature wall of scent. The Mona di Orio bottles sit well anywhere, including your hand. They could be used as a weapon. While I can't imagine a scenario in which I'd need to wield a fragrance like a weapon, I enjoy knowing I could.
3. A blocky bottle needs the right cap, and again, Mona di Orio is doing this best. Please try to tell me there is a better cap than this on the market. I'd like to see you try. Save yourself the trouble and admit defeat. Worst are the gimmick caps. Oh, I'm a butterfly. Hey, I'm a bouquet of big vinyl flowers. Who in Justin Bieber's camp thought this was a good idea, and how did they miss Marc Jacob's Lola, which would have deftly proven them wrong? Many caps don't sit well on their bottles. As much as I adore Parfumerie Generale, those black caps are a real issue. They slide right off. Often, the plastic ring meant to secure a cap to the neck doesn't secure a thing. Histoires de Parfums realized the oversight of their earlier bottles, with those bizarrely ill-fitting gold plated caps, and redesigned a lot more intelligently. Thank you. A trendy little capricious cap mans nothing if it constantly falls off, as Tocade does for me. Because of all these accident prone caps, maybe, I've really come to appreciate a good snap or click. The Mona caps are solid, which is great, and unique, and there's a sound of finality to them. Don't worry, they say, we've got this. Go about your business. A cap like the one on Natori constantly needs your help. Beautiful stone cap, nice bottle, but a disastrous match. The cap is too heavy. It needs some kind of neck brace. Other bad caps: Parfums Delrae, Keiko Mecheri, Cartier. Other good caps: Byredo, Chanel, Etat Libre d'Orange, L'Artisan, Heeley, Malle, Diptyque, Cartier.
4. Guys who know a lot about perfume are my preferred sales associate. It's just something I like. The guys at Barneys have a little too much attitude for me, and seem rather bitter. Recently, the one I dealt with actually rolled his eyes. He couldn't be bothered with my questions. He couldn't be bothered with the prospect of me. Maybe I'm just that annoying. The guys at Luckyscent Scent Bar are pretty dreamy and I'm glad I don't live in LA, because I think I'd probably stalk them. I won't name them, in case some of you know them. I don't want to embarrass them. They're knowledgable, which is always a plus. Okay, it's always freaky. You can't believe a sales associate actually knows what he's talking about. For the most part, they're patient, but I don't really care much about patience. It's their obvious love of perfume that slays me. I'm like a puppy. They're not just trying to sell you. They have opinions, and favorites, and once you get them going it's like you're shopping with them. I've found a few really good female sales associates - the local Estee Lauder SA is fantastic - but for me, finding a good guy sales associate is kind of special. As a guy, I feel a little more understood dealing with them. It's like being a Star Trek geek and finding a fellow Trekkie. And if they bring out a tuberose fragrance they really love I just about go into a pleasure coma.
5. Perfumes that people hate or think are just a bit much always, when I finally smell them, seem like a dream come true. I'd heard about Byredo M/Mink for months. I'd read that it was stinky, strange, or conversely brilliant. I was shocked when I got my hands on some. Really? All that fuss over honey and aquatics? Somehow, rather than disappointment, I feel relief. I feel, mind you, no less estranged from the currents of popular opinion than normally, but I'm glad to find something unusual and wearable and relieved that the hype is once again really just that, without the fragrance being a total letdown. Absolue Pour Le Soir was another one. Oh the cumin, people said. Oh the horror, the stealth, the unbearable tenacity. Whatevs. Pour Le Soir is gorgeous. Yes, plenty of cumin, but magnificently blended, and curiously strong without being overpowering. The only fragrance I can think of which really does live up to its reputation is Etat's Secretions Magnifiques. I won't wear it, though I appreciate it. In fact, what I appreciate most is its hostility. SM is unique among fragrances in its insistence on being difficult. I know, I've heard many people say it smells just delightful on them, that they don't get anything foul, or challenging out of it. And I think they're lying. It's meant to be challenging and it is a challenge and whether or not you can withstand the challenge is an entirely different issue. I'm liking M/Mink so much that it hurts. Of course, everyone who hates Byredo said that they'd finally gotten it right. Often I wish those people would shut it. Everyone, even Guerlain, gets it wrong, all the time if not frequently. I truly gorgeous fragrance is a freakish exception.