Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I Wore This: Chanel Egoiste

You can tell a lot about a gay guy's ex boyfriends by the colognes he wears. They get passed along, or stolen. A guy smells something on his boyfriend, is reminded of him, wants to be like him, lifts the scent as a way to project the same ineffable qualities. To get closer or to swallow the object of affection whole. Isn't that what we essentially seek to do with those whose appeal we want to absorb?

I guess there was a time when everyone was wearing Egoiste. Women, too, as it has that kind of no brainer crossover appeal. There was a time but I don't remember it much. I was a little all over the place in 1990, when the fragrance came out. Even so; somehow, it brings back memories. It's instantly recognizable but I don't remember where the memories come from.

A few years ago I met a guy who'd stolen it from his ex. He wore it as I think fragrances should be worn - in abundance. It smelled amazing, and looked great too, if that's possible. Some fragrances are so distinct and such a part of the culture that they conjure some kind of hazy but emphatic image in your mind.

The first time I remember smelling it on him he was wearing a navy and white striped boat neck T-shirt, long sleeved. It seemed the perfect compliment to the scent. A navy and white striped shirt seems very femme and Parisian to me - "I know this is how sailors dressed but I'm not a sailor; I'm just attracted to them." The blue and white striped shirt is acquired as a style the same way your ex's fragrance was, as a way of assuming or inching toward a persona you wish to assert your right to.

Egoiste is for me a cousin to Caron's Third Man. It's a pretty boy scent. The guy who wears this theoretically and theatrically crosses his legs ("like they do in Europe," as I've heard southerners say, as if they wish to believe this femme-identifying posture was imported from other ostensibly less masculine lands). Both remind me of long-locked Tadzio in the film adaptation of Death in Venice. He wears a striped blue and white shirt so maybe that's where I'm getting all this from. Also because of him, possibly, I see this as a blonde haired scent, which might be saying Aryan? Dunno. In any case, if I'm being honest, I wear this and feel fair skinned and blonde and the center of some distant admirer's gaze. Because Tadzio's allure is, however unwittingly, remorseless, even cruel, I see Egoiste as having a practically brutal elegance. It's the scent of not having to worry as much about things as the people who wish they were you.

Egoiste is a blonde wood scent - so there's that, too. This really buttery sandalwood and tobacco with rose. And it's best worn by people who aren't blonde at all, as a way of screwing with your head and flipping the finger to traditional concepts of beauty. Says me. It's scent in the best possible way - fantasy enacted through drag and/or impersonation.

1 comment:

Mark Chan said...

Brian,
I've been following your ISTIA writings for a while (even emailed you my thoughts on one of my / our favourites: Eau Lente about a year back (?) but no reply).
Not an issue :)
You've done Egoiste as well (another personal 10 bottle-down favourite).. I do miss the glorious sandalwood that used to be the raison d'etre of that beautiful beautiful scent.
Somewhere along the way of IRFA regulations and the decimation of Indian sandalwood it lost that clout but it was replaced most cleverly by a gauzy reorchestration of tangerine and ambrette that is still sufficiently gauche yet dandy enough to sail against the wind.
Today I popped in again and read your Amouage Interlude Man piece.
I absoloutely adore it.
And have gotten quite the response as well.
There is a fragrant amalgam of notes used in both the Interludes (Man & Woman) which is inspired by a very South-East Asian culinary ingredient.
In Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia we call it "assam" (nothing to do with the part of India famous for its chocolotey dark tea).
Spoke with Christopher Chong (CD of Amouage) and he was tickled pink that I noticed it.
Don't you think it's wonderful how different parts of the world cross-fertilise?
Have a good one,
Mark
www.markchan.com