Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Insults

Anyone with a perfume habit in America in the twenty-first century knows that awful people will reduce every complex, stunning, fascinating work of art to "baby powder" and "old lady" every day of your life. Here are just a few of the comments I've gotten over the years.

Youth-Dew: "Old lady" "Baby powder" "It smells like incense in here"

Amouage Gold Man: "It smells like baby powder and diapers" "It smells like incense"

Anything with patchouli: "Who's wearing patchouli?" in furious tone

Poison: "Glade" "Old lady"

Aromatics Elixir: "It smells like bug spray" "Someone smells like weed" "Barbecue sauce"

Patou 1000: "Something smells horrible in here. Like baby shit."

Magie Noire: "What is that hamster cage smell?"

Yatagan: "Someone smells like weed"

Carnal Flower: young father furiously insisting his baby has pooped her diaper while wife insists she has not

Habanita: Baby powder

Rive Gauche: Baby powder, old lady

Une Rose: "Barbecue sauce"

Secretions Magnifiques: "You smell so good, like sandalwood!"

Joy: "It smells like a perfume counter in here"

Aramis: Baby powder

Comme des Garcons: Yankee Candle, Christmas potpourri

Le Labo Oud 27: Old lady

Paco Rabanne La Nuit: coworker insisting there was animal poop in the room

Angel: grandma, old lady

all Santa Maria Novellas: "WHAT is that SMELL?" in furious tone


Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Rage and the Pride and the Patou


Perhaps the most important media event of 2015 for me was witnessing the fall of Gawker, who were instrumental in popularizing the brand of shallow, sarcastic, morally demonstrative witch-hunt leftism that has, barring a paradigm shift of massive proportions, spelled the death of my generation. They received intense backlash from the mainstream media earlier this year for outing a CFO of Conde Nast without first thinking through how the story fit into the leftist agenda.
What eventually resulted was that Gawker laid off many employees, drastically increased the amount and pervasiveness of advertising on the site, and shifted focus from pop culture to politics exclusively. By politics, I mean becoming so openly partisan, irresponsible, and mean-spirited that coverage of mass murders is rendered in an excess of Garofalo-sarcastic scare quotes if the perpetrators are Muslim, and anyone that has concerns for national security or their own well-being, anyone disturbed, anyone grieving too openly, is mocked and derided as a wimpy, sentimental Islamophobe.
To Gawker, even mentioning that the perpetrators of the San Bernardino shooting were Muslim is utterly irrelevant, though they love prizing out and displaying any links to Confederate flags, pro-life politics, the NRA, American Sniper, or Rush Limbaugh in white criminals.
In the slow, secretive process of my total divorce from liberalism, the most unsolvable mystery of millennial liberal orthodoxy was the rapturous, ubiquitous multicultural defense of Islam, the Religion of Peace, a far-right totalitarian religious ideology that, among other things, requires the legal subjugation and imprisonment of women and punishes homosexuality with prison sentences and death. This paradox, even more than the virulent campaigning against free speech, the censorship, the anti-man anti-white sneering, the 19th century teetotaler campaigns against a phantasmagoric made-up rape culture, was what made me realize that liberalism was a self-defeating, masochistic, and authoritarian ourobouros eating its own tail.
How anyone can still think of Democrats as the benevolent saviors of mankind in the current climate is beyond me. Liberal orthodoxy dictates that those who insult Islam deserve to die, that they are asking for it. You think I'm kidding? The liberal take on the Charlie Hebdo shooting was that they were asking for it because they did not insult "white people"--I put "white people" in scare quotes because I so detest the way this term is contemptuously bandied around by them--and Christians exclusively. The liberal take on the later Paris shootings was who cares, it was "white people," the same thing happened in Beirut and didn't get enough attention. The liberal take on the San Bernardino shooting is who cares, we have to shelter the precious Muslim community that, every time this happens, does absolutely fucking nothing to condemn it.
There is some mechanism in the liberal brain that latches onto manufactured, patently fake controversies that make Christians look absurd like the alleged Starbucks holiday cup controversy or the various gay wedding cake debacles of earlier this year, yet remains willfully oblivious of homosexuals getting thrown off buildings by Islamic extremists,female genital mutilation, and the realities of Sharia law. Anti-Christian blasphemy is so ubiquitous that it looks dated and out of fashion; Austin is overrun with uncreative post-Drag Race queens that adorn themselves with inverted crosses and pentagrams, and American Horror Story (which was, I'll admit, pretty brilliant for two seasons when it had no redemptive message) seems to exist solely to propagate trendy occultism and exact teenage revenge on square Christian parents. Liberals will scoff condescendingly about creationism and maintain that they are atheists and everything should be secular, but they run for cover when faced with inconvenient truths about any of their beloved It's A Small World of "POCs" (pronounced "pock") and "WOCs" (pronounced "wok"). In short, they have no principles, and will crumble and regenerate according to trends. Their bourgeois anti-white ethno-masochism has reached dangerous levels.
Mull this over as you read Oriana Fallaci's The Rage and the Pride and The Force of Reason. She was a brazen, ballsy figure who embodied a particular kind of 20th century journalistic boldness that we won't likely see again. She was willing to make herself an international scourge by sticking to her principles. She was also extremely stylish, and wore Patou 1000, a dry, bitter, and opulent 70s chypre.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Serge Lutens La Religieuse


La Religieuse is ironically the perfume that made me finally "get" Serge Lutens, though it is widely disparaged as dull and underwhelming. I fell in love with the name, concept, and the extra nihilistic and alienating interviews Lutens has given to promote it that incorporate abusive nuns, snow, and purple vestements of pederastic priests. I enjoy how Lutens's inscrutable, un-PC interviews unfailingly embarrass and disturb the mannered, leftist perfume blogger cognoscenti that worship his fragrances. Combined with how the perfume itself is a gentle, beautiful jasmine and not the type of gothic pornographic incense bomb that bloggers want and expect from Lutens, the whole endeavor seems designed to troll its audience and I cant help but love it.
I don't know how anyone could find this cheap or common. It does indeed smell like a pure expanse of snow in the manner of Estee Lauder's great Pleasures, buffered by a sweet smoky green rasp that hovers in the background. It doesn't smell like a department store fragrance at all; women don't smell like this anymore. No one wears perfume and if they do it is something garbagey-foody-vanillic. Its name is perfect because I can imagine the wayward nun from Black Narcissus dabbing it on in secret from a tiny bottle labeled "Jessamine Cologne" in kitschy Evening in Paris script. I've been looking for the perfect jasmine and this just might be it.


Enchanted Forest by The Vagabond Prince


I won an Editor's Choice Award at Fragrantica! This is the first time in awhile anything has come of my perfume writing. They kindly sent me a bottle of Enchanted Forest.

My first thought on spraying Enchanted Forest was that it smells like Enya. Winter Enya, specifically the "On My Way Home" video where she is Anna Karen-Enya on a snowbound train wrapped in white furs and turban, reliving sepia-toned holiday memories of pine forests and paper lantern Christmas ornaments. Enya is one of my favorite pop artists ever, so the fact that Enchanted Forest conjured the Enya world so effortlessly and effectively pleased me immensely.
There is a wonderfully dirty castoreum-pine effect at the beginning that is like Yatagan. The rest of the perfume is built on a contrast of sour blackcurrant, my favorite perfume fruit, and misty, bitter pine and moss effects. Something I find impressive is how it makes fruit and holiday trappings smell so staid and masculine.
I'd like if the woodsy elements were bolder--more patchouli, more castoreum, more grass--but this is a beautiful and unique perfume for those like me who enjoy bitter blackcurrant of the type found in Magie Noire and L'Ombre dans L'Eau, truly an Eau d'Enya.

Serge Lutens Borneo 1834



Borneo is designed for perfume bloggers with graduate degrees who need Angel repackaged for them and sold at three times the price in order to be freed of associations with loud, ditzy women they've known. The average gun-totin' Walmart-shoppin' blonde Jesus freak might stumble across Angel, but no, they'll never find out about Borneo, or be able to afford it. It smells great, but this sort of precious dainty snob phenomenon is what made me avoid Serge Lutens for years.

Friday, November 27, 2015

FRUIT DIET; or ANGEL Rewarded





















FRUIT DIET;
or
ANGEL Rewarded

In a Series of
Familiar Internet Postings
from a
Handsome Young Man
to Fellow Perfumistas

The last seven months have been the first time I've not had Angel since I was introduced to it years ago. My partner became transfixed with it after I told him to smell it in the store; he found it revolting, then fascinating, then wanted some, over the course of several months. He said it smelled like the butt crack of a rich guy with good taste. I sprayed a bunch on from the tester and he said it smelled good on me, and that we had to get some.

Wait, what? Was I dreaming?

After six years of marinating myself in Angel against the wishes of everyone else in my life, I have found a man that actually *requests* that I wear it? Previous boyfriends were forced to tolerate it while quietly wishing I wore either nothing or some modern ISO-E thing so they could better project their drab fantasies of faceless, conformist liberal hipster blandness onto me without distraction. Angel was practically a third person in the relationship, and I insisted on wearing it out of artistic allegiance to it but also out of contempt for the expected dilution of personality in the homosexual hipster dating scene. When I took a seven-month break from it, it was something of a depressed resignation to conformity.

After the happy event I wasted no time in getting another bottle. My Angel situation is perhaps too symbolically perfect to be believable. I clung to my Angel in the face of adversity like Samuel Richardson's Pamela clings to her virtue. Like Pamela, I was rewarded in the end with a man who loves me for it.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Bogue Maai


Maai smells expensive and like something produced before allergen regulations. How the oakmoss and civet smell (are?) so real and are used in such quantities, I do not know. The problem to me is that it smells like an imitation of old fragrances rather than a new one. Perhaps I am too susceptible to marketing, image, and stories attached to perfume but wearing this is not nearly as pleasing as wearing actual La Nuit, Montana, Kouros or what have you. It feels incomplete. It has no history. ELDO Rien is a similar old-style opulent chypre but it is its own entity, and its cast of rubber and tar over aldehydic floral make it feel modern rather than a dogmatic imitation of the past. My first thought on smelling Maai was not that it was incredible, but that it smelled uncannily like Marilyn Miglin Pheromone or Charlie. Actually, my first thought was "Aviance Night Musk!" I have never smelled Aviance Night Musk, but Maai smelled like my mental image of Aviance Night Musk, if that makes any sense, something from 1980 that would've been advertised with an image of Dressed to Kill pantyhose legs in heels. It almost has a feminine bowling alley dowdiness to it. It feels bizarre to pay $300 for Marilyn Miglin Pheromone. In ten years if they still make this and all the real chypres are gone, we'll see how I feel. On another note, the perfumer himself, Antonio Gardoni, is very nice to look at. Perhaps if I smelled Maai emanating from his chest hair it would not make me think of Sally Struthers in Five Easy Pieces so much.

Throwback interviews

Here's an old interview I did with Brian Pera from I Smell Therefore I Am. My Working Girl obsession has recently resurfaced.

Here also is a blog he wrote around that time about my various perfume-related Facebook statuses and witticisms.

Where has the time gone? Now I'm busy rebuying all of the perfumes I used to have, reclaiming my past. Several years ago I enacted a big purge of the alleged "old lady" scents and streamlined my collection in a bid for maturity. One of the primary delights of capitalism is endlessly repurchasing what one has bought and gotten rid of many times before. My wallet may be empty but my heart is full, once again having an exhaustive library of scents. It's been long enough that each perfume I've been apart from for several years is redolent of old memories and simpler times.

Estee Lauder Knowing


Knowing is one of the few fragrances I wear where straight men stop and ask what wonderful "cologne" I'm wearing. It is highly unusual for heterosexual men to stop a 6'4" male stranger and tell him he smells good, so it must really pique their curiosity. The current formula is more streamlined, bitter, and dry than before--fine with me--which causes it to edge more toward Bandit and perhaps more suitable for masculine wear. It's an intelligent scent that conveys a degree of sexiness while remaining nicely aloof. Additionally, it's one of the few remaining real French (though parodoxically American in origin) chypres still on department store shelves. Like Aromatics, it seems to have a devoted cult following and still sells well, as evidenced by the fact that Lauder didn't relegate it to the "House of Lauder" collection recently as it did all its other older scents. The original ad with Paulina Porizkova, arms crossed in a tuxedo, is one of my favorites. The fact that it's a ripoff of the Deneuve No. 5 ads from the 70s doesn't detract one bit. There aren't smart ads for smart perfumes for smart women in tuxedos anymore.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Perfume of Contempt: Dior Poison


Poison is a proto-Lutensian medicinal purple tuberose apothecary syrup, at once radiantly whorey and ascetically anti-food anti-joy anti-sex antisocial. I have come to prefer the current EDT to the old Esprit de Parfum because it is drier and gets to the resinous-sticky incense musk drydown a little faster. For me, sometimes nothing but Poison will do when I am feeling prickly, edgy, unapproachable. I am young enough not to have formed downmarket associations with Poison because of its popularity in the 80s, so it is more austere, medieval, cruel and anticipatory of Serge Lutens to me than it is shoulder pads and Dynasty. Some facet of the tuberose smells strongly of blood at the opening. A disturbing favorite.

Perfume of Contempt: Gucci Rush

Of course I love this. It's an 80s powerhouse throwback named after poppers that smells like poppers. Electric youth indeed!

Old man on bus, with tone that is not necessarily complimentary: "Excuse me. Whatever that is you have on..."

Me: "Oh, thank you! It's Gucci Rush."

Old man on bus, shaking head: "Whatever that is you have on..."


May it always be in production-- this is all Gucci still have going for them on the perfume end. Tom Ford's perfumes were so interesting before he started his pretentious eponymous line.

If you wear Rush, make sure to wear a lot. This is a statement scent that is meant to be big and opaque. Transmogrify into an electric red rectangle; the instructions are there in the bottle design. I am dismayed when I smell a stale little whisper of Rush, a stale little whisper of Alien, a stale little whisper of Angel, a stale little whisper of Coco Mlle, on women. Oh, what it will take to undo the damage that modern American beauty magazine editorials on the alleged proper way to wear fragrance have wrought--spray and walk through, one spray, others must only be able to smell you when they lean in close, all that prim 50s etiquette guide bullshit. Above all, don't listen to Goody Onespritz when she admonishes you that it is better to risk underapplying than to be "perfume lady" or "cologne guy."

"A woman who wears too little fragrance instead of too much has no future" -me

Jean Patou Colony

I bought some some of this years ago and didn't hold on to it long, though it did come packaged with a lovely silk scarf. It was a light old-style feminine leather (is "Patouaide" a thing?) overlaid with a metallic canned pineapple note-- nothing earth-shattering but historically interesting and perfect for 30s French ladies en vacances. The un-PC French colonial concept is delightful; very Marlene Dietrich "Hot Voodoo" or Josephine Baker banana dance. Colony serves in a pinch as a more affordable alternative to my sadly discontinued signature scent, Vigny Le Golliwogg.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit


As a lover of animalic rose chypres, I had high hopes for this; I was already fantasizing about it becoming my mysterious and elegant signature scent, how I would pretend it was Nombre Noir. While it is beautiful, it is simply too quiet to be worth its $300 price tag. Perhaps if I could purchase it in Paris where Lutens bell jars are about $150 I would spring for it, but the import cost is obscene.
The reputed strangeness of Rose de Nuit is dependent on the wearer never having smelled an 80s rose chypre. If you are familiar with Montana, Coriandre, La Perla, La Nuit, Magie Noire, Paloma Picasso, Aromatics Elixir, Knowing, Aramis 900, even Agent Provocateur, Rose de Nuit will seem like a disappointingly quiet and short-lived version of those with an admittedly gorgeous silky texture and top-notch raw materials. If you are not, it will probably blow your mind as rose chypre accords did when I first smelled them. It is an exotic odor often termed "old lady" but framed with cool Lutens opulence and exclusivity that make it palatable and mysterious. It's like how someone who has never seen a truly out-there inscrutable art movie (Andrei Rublev, Persona, Melancholie der Engel) would have their minds blown by, say, It Follows. Rose chypres are shocking to modern noses because millennials, having grown up with no fragrance except the occasional calone or Iso E, simply can't comprehend someone choosing to smell like that.

Still, if I make my way to Paris, I may buy a bottle. The prospect of dumping it on copiously from a bell jar is appealing.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Reformulations of Contempt


KOUROS:

Kouros is still my favorite masculine on the market and, along with Yatagan, the best deal. If you love the smell, it becomes truly addictive, and the clean-dirty dichotomy present in all my favorites--Angel, Amouage Gold, Yatagan--is key to my continued fascination. 

After coming to terms with how excellent the "new" Opium actually is, I felt compelled to purchase a fresh bottle of Kouros. I was familiar with a post-2010 version from an ex-boyfriend who had it. It smelled like Kouros, sure, but had an almost bubblegum sweet quality to it and less complexity. I remember the bottle being plastic and cheap-looking. 
Maybe I'm crazy, but the new bottle I received from Amazon (dated 2014) seems leagues better than what I smelled last year. The packaging has changed, I assume to coincide with the launch of Kouros Silver. Regardless of the ho-humness of that flanker, I'm glad that they're giving more attention and a new advertising campaign to Kouros. This new bottle is white glass without silver shoulders, and it looks expensive and well designed, not like a cost-cutting measure as the first L'Oreal ones did. The logo has been slightly modernized and "Eau de Toilette" is gone. The box it came in is shiny navy and silver foil, different from the brighter blue ones I've purchased in the past. 
Most importantly, it smells excellent and lasts forever! The thin sweetness I detected with the plastic bottle my ex had is gone. It's not as strong as my first bottle, but it's gorgeous and smells exactly as Kouros should. It lasts through an entire work day, fading into a nice clean floral musk at the end. The shocking trademark Kouros sensation of a musky man wearing a soapy floral perfume is there--at times I was even reminded (positively) of Giorgio, like a dirty man had sprayed on Giorgio. 
I think YSL took customer complaints seriously and improved the formula for the launch of the flanker. Kouros Silver may have been a blessing in disguise.
OPIUM:

I can't say enough good things about post-2010 Opium. Yes, I went through bottles of the vintage, but the fact is this just smells wonderful on men and women, lasts forever, and retains the character of the original. When you smell it, there is no doubt it is Opium. If it were marketed under a different name it would be hailed as a glorious, baroque throwback oriental. You can achieve the effect of the original by just wearing more. My dirty laundry all smells of sandalwood incense weeks later. I get told I smell like leather and incense.The powder effect that got "old lady" comments is reduced and the myrrh and incense amped up. This is more wearable in 2015 but still strange enough that you will stand out from the aquatic and Iso E cedar crowd and people with dull minds and uninteresting taste will wish you wore something else. I actually admire YSL's honesty in changing the bottle, making it easier to discern between new and old. Treasure this while we have it.


POISON:

The drydown of the latest reformulation of Poison now smells like L'Air du Desert Marocain, and it's lovely--that same incense/wood/musk. The first few hours it is unmistakably Poison, but the 80s synth-fruit recedes more than it used to. Tania Sanchez noted this as an improvement in one of the updates to The Guide. As for tenacity--when you spray it on, you expect that it will be fleeting as modern reformulations of powerhouses go, but it just keeps coming back and sticks to everything. It can be headachey--strong florals all go headachey on me--but Poison is one of the best reformulations on the market. I love Poison and used to make myself sick with the Esprit de Parfum, which fans must experience for the full story, but I am really liking how this new one fades down. Additionally, it can be had for $45 at Walmart.


Edit 7/28: That headache! It smells wonderful but dutifully gives me a headache every time so I can't wear it. The same thing happened with a new bottle of Knowing.
DRAKKAR NOIR:

Drakkar Noir is wonderful! I used up a bottle without even thinking about it, cause it's just such a versatile fragrance, good for day, night, winter, summer, anytime. People always compliment it without recognizing it. No one wears it anymore since it's been a meme for try-hard male sleaziness via jokes on various television shows for 20+ years. I first smelled it on a gorgeous, smartly dressed young guy and couldn't believe it when he told me it was Drakkar Noir. It smells a lot like Paloma Picasso, with a dry mossy patchouli leather and a soapy character. There is a fun gourmand movie popcorn accord in there too. People will pay so much for these allegedly daring niche animalic leather chypres when this is around, everywhere, for no money and in great shape. Would be especially good on a woman.

PALOMA PICASSO:

Current formulation is fantastic and you basically can't get anything else like this, of this quality, for so little money. Don't bother hunting after the old stuff unless you just happen upon it, it's not necessary. As with the current Magie Noire, if this were packaged with a Serge Lutens label it would be acclaimed as a stunning animalic throwback. Paloma smells very much like itself and nothing else--sour soapy floral chypre over woody honeyed animalic base. Great on a guy, great sillage, great longevity. Go to TJ Maxx and get it.


ANGEL:

You don't want to know what's in the attractive new 3-D bottle. It's dark Windex blue and it smells like a thin, ambery body spray. No patchouli, just wan, faint, cheap, and thin, not to mention priced more expensively than ever. I've worn Angel since 2008 and this was truly shocking. I guess the latest wave of EU restrictions on vanilla killed it for good. I smelled what was in the bottle, baffled, for 20 minutes and then drove back to Ulta to return it. Though it's been getting progressively worse the last five years, I rationalized that Angel was so popular and expensive that it would be maintained in recognizable form. My first several bottles got me endless compliments, and it just got thinner and thinner over the years and ceased to amaze. Unless they fix this--and I don't know how they could--the bottles I have now will be my last. If perfume is really dead because of allergen restrictions, I guess I'll just go back to wearing patchouli oil. That was the best part of Angel, and it hasn't been there for half a decade. I'm surprised I haven't seen anything about this anywhere but in a customer review on the Mugler website. One of the greats is gone.


Apocalypse Culture 2015


I'm sure you're dying to know my take on certain recent events. Here are a few:

Mad Max: I avoided this as soon as I saw that "FEMINISM" a la Beyonce was the chosen marketing angle and that doughy mealymouthed beta males without effective father figures were working themselves into a lather over its socially responsible greatness. I knew my boyfriend was a keeper when he said it was awful.

Confederate flags: My love of Confederate flags and Gone with the Wind is well documented. The left-wing moral panic over them was on par with the Satanic ritual abuse panic of the 1980s and the post-Columbine Marilyn Manson/Doom panic of the 1990s in terms of arbitrarily blaming symbols and pop culture elements for murder. Erasure of Southern identity by sneering nanny-state carpetbaggers isn't funny. Because Millennials on whole are the brainless, castrated end result of the self-esteem experiments of the 90s, free speech is seen as a dated, unattractive value, code for "hate speech." Why would you need free speech if you're doing the right thing, which is being an obedient Democrat voter that keeps up with the latest rules of PC? You can bury me clutching my copy of GWTW with the rebel flag on the spine, thanks.

Trump: Trump swooped in and broke all the rules. I've watched in delight as the media pronounces him finished over and over and it does nothing to his popularity. It's like watching a stuttering, awkward Eula Sharp school matron utterly fail to discipline an unruly class clown. The 1980s are my favorite decade so I'd be thrilled beyond measure at an 80s-style Trump presidency that reverses the smug, ineffective nightmare of Obama. Even if you hate Trump, wouldn't it be refreshing to see the media be honest or (gasp) negative about the president again rather than rolling him out like the latest starlet?

Planned Parenthood: The left-wing media refusal to report on this was astonishing. It was a total blackout. It's a curious feeling to be scolded by news articles for finding dismembered humans and organ harvesting unsettling. "Nothing to see here! Perfectly normal! Clumps of gestational tissue!" Abortion should be safe and legal but its proponents should acknowledge that it's murder. See: director's cut of Nymphomaniac.

Gay marriage: Cool! I want my boyfriend legally bound to me because he's perfect. A quick perusal of Tumblr on the date of the Supreme Court ruling reveals that socialist Tumblr trannies are all against gay marriage for some reason, which is only slightly less puzzling than a few weeks ago when celebrity feminists were all revealed to be against the legalization of sex work. Who writes these people's opinions for them? Remember four years ago when Obama and Hillary were totes against gay marriage cause of their Christian beliefs? Is that just, like, something you're supposed to ignore? I saw some meme with some fat fag comedian going "My black president turned the White House rainbow, that's how drunk I got" and wanted to die.

Caitlyn Jenner: I love Caitlyn Jenner.

Downfall of Gawker: This was, to me, a bigger deal than gay marriage. Gawker Media (along with Jon Stewart) is in large part responsible for the popularization of the mean-spirited snarky Stalinist Ellsworth Toohey leftism that has afflicted my generation like a plague. My delight when they were excoriated and ruined for doing exactly what they've done all along was immeasurable. They're destroyed. No one reads them. Their new posts don't even make any sense. 45% of their content is 500 Days of Kristen. Good riddance.

The Lena Dunham piece is now at Thought Catalog.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Perfume of Contempt: Calvin Klein Eternity


When I was a child in the 90s, women all smelled like this--towering authority figures in denim vests with stiff pixies cuts a la Enya and Patty from My So-Called Life. If you were to go in any elementary school classroom in 1995, it would likely smell of Eternity. It instilled a kind of fear and respect in me even as it made me sick. It was fascinating and I miss women having this kind of presence; 2015 is all drab Soviet seriousness and scentless sourness and strident politics. Everyone has a castrated academic boyfriend/husband that prefers "the natural look" and hates perfume. If I smell perfume on a woman it's such a rare treat that no matter what it is, I love her. I love any woman wearing any fragrance that I can actually smell--that's how starved for it I am in liberal dystopian Austin.

Just thinking of Eternity makes my stomach drop. It's a sour green floral with a huge heap of cloves and a pre-calone aquatic overlay. If women at that time were not wearing this, they were wearing one of the other Grojsman blockbusters that had the same signature stomach-drop shock value. Here's a great quote about my idol, Camille Paglia, and Eternity from someone named Marnieworld on a forum that has nothing to do with perfume:

"My favorite Paglia memory has nothing to do with her teaching though. I have always had allergies and a bad sense of smell because of it. I mistakenly spilled a bit of perfume on my typing paper and handed in a paper to her right before Christmas break. When we returned I received my paper in a plastic bag. She said that she had to isolate all of the papers on her porch until she could determine which was the offending paper and it took her a few weeks to pinpoint me as the culprit. In addition to the comments about the writing she told me not to use so much perfume and compared me to Belle Watling of Gone With the Wind. Some students in another class that didn't like her, organized themselves to all wearing that perfume(Calvin Klein's Eternity) one cold day and it drove her absolutely insane. Not a far trip of course!"

Perfume of Contempt: Thierry Mugler Womanity


Five years after its release, I feel Womanity's time has come. When it came out, everyone was either underwhelmed that it wasn't as weird as the brief made it sound or thought it was fishy and repellent. I love the bizarre, humorous marketing and bottle that no one knew what to make of; in the 80s Mugler's (and Claude Montana's) designs were considered misogynous and unwearable, classic cases of homosexuals using the fashion industry to bind and enslave women, therefore it's a scream that he rolled out this fragrance with a satirical marketing campaign that parodies modern body-positive feminist self-help rhetoric. Remember the kooky website where women were supposed to connect with women and talk about the unshakable threads of Womanity stretching across the world? On top of this, the juice is pink (symbol of frou frou conventional femininity), evokes vagina stank with a nice salty oily Secretions-lite accord, and is topped with a terrifying metallic Geiger mask that brings to mind the cover of Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth, held on with a chain. The fragrance itself is sporty and fresh and highly wearable while also being ashy and gray and somewhat staid. This is high art; this is satire; this is a true transgressive statement done in the capitalist mainstream.