Friday, June 14, 2013

Wrath In A Bottle - Seven Sinfully Angry Perfumes


This time, I seriously considered throwing in the towel. When Carrie asked us to pick one of the seven deadly sins for our next joint-list project, I immediately claimed 'wrath' for myself - thinking it might yield more interesting results than the overtly perfume-oriented 'lust' - but as the weeks passed, I wondered if I'd made the right choice. I could think of plenty of fragrances which induce boiling anger within me (Taj Sunset, Pink Friday, most things by Creed...) but very few which, in themselves, convey vexation. Of course, this isn't exactly surprising. When they're trying to balance artistic expression with commercial viability, perfumers tend to reach for those emotional states which are often labelled 'positive': love, joy, happiness, liberation, optimism et al. Wrath would probably be seen as a PR nightmare by marketing departments, hence the fact that it's conspicuous by its absence on department store shelves.

Nevertheless, I decided to keep going and give the exercise my best shot. As it happens, the list I've come up with is quite thought-provoking: it seems to indicate that 'angry' perfumes are those which we currently perceive as being difficult or challenging (dare I say: avant garde?) in some way. Perhaps, in years to come, our tastes will change and these temper-filled terrors will turn into cuddly teddies.

Interlude Woman - Karine Vinchon Spehner (Amouage)
Designed at least in part to convey chaotic destructiveness, Interlude Woman uses kiwi, grapefruit, leather and honey to whip up a storm of fury. It does eventually calm down, but its fuse is never anything more than minuscule.

Synthetic Series: Tar - perfumer unknown (Comme Des Garçons)
Burning smells seem to connote anger, which explains why Tar comes across as particularly irate. Melting plastic, scorched metal and noxious gas feature prominently in this bizarre creation which somehow manages the feat of being both inaccessible and compelling.

Archives 69 - Christine Nagel (Etat Libre D'Orange)
This one's an example of cold, calculating anger. Using an overload of chilly aldehydes, Nagel has produced a scent which the Snow Queen would have been pleased to spray upon herself whilst she plotted to freeze the soul of the entire world.

Lord Of Goathorn - Simon Constantine & Mark Constantine (Gorilla Perfume)
The combination of herbs with metal is as hate-filled as it sounds. I'm still not entirely clear what the Constantines were hoping to achieve with this conceptual oddity, but they certainly managed to convince me that a perfume can be as rancorous as a fifteen-year-old on a Monday morning.

Rêverie Au Jardin - Andy Tauer (Tauer Perfumes)
Lavender is by no means an ingredient normally associated with bubbling blood, but Andy has altered its personality here to create a strange, discomfiting walk through a garden which seems to glare with resentment even as it shows off the pretty hues of its summer blooms.

Black Orchid - perfumer unknown (Tom Ford)
It may open with a chocolate note, but Mr Ford's nocturnal orchid just gets more and more moithered as it goes along, before finally deciding that everyone around will be treated to a hissy fit complete with watery fruit, cheap gummy sweets and a bellowing amber.

Womanity - Fabrice Pellegrin (Thierry Mugler)
Not the most obvious choice for this list - it is pretty sweet, after all - but I'd assert that one of the reasons Womanity wasn't an instant hit with buyers is that its leathery, fishy, fig-like oddness conveys a sense of outrage at odds with its more approachable facets. Hell hath no fury...?

For more lists brimming with sinful intent, please be sure to visit Eyeliner On A Cat, Candy Perfume Boy, Fragrant Moments and Olfactoria's Travels.

Persolaise

14 comments:

  1. I indeed feel lots of anger every morning in the tube when assaulted with a wave of Womanity which is inexplicably popular with schoolgirls in my area. I guess it could be worse... ?!
    Great list, P.

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    1. Yayy! You were able to leave a comment. I'm really pleased :-)

      And as for schoolgirls wearing Womanity... I am at a loss for words!

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  2. Womanity is an inspired choice. If the odd fishy fig lasted a little longer I would like to explore it further, but that truckload of sugar and fruit is irritating indeed.

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    1. Rosarita, thank you. And yes, it's certainly an emotionally volatile scent. You never know quite where it's coming from.

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  3. I'd have gone with Angel, which assails me with wrathful intent, bent on enslaving the entire world to its monstrous candy-chocolate-patchouli stench!

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    1. Smelly Vagabond, I did wonder about Angel, but I decided I don't really see it as angry... just very, very annoying.

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  4. Angry,wrathful perfumes? You missed off my beloved Poison! Wrathful because her assertiveness came fully dressed in big shouldered power suit and sharp stilettos which she used to push her way to the front without apology. Of course today Poison is much better mannered, gracefully aged if you will but in her prime she was an angry vixen

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    1. Alityke, thanks for the suggestion. I'm much too fond of Poison to have included it here. I've always read it as powerful, confident and uncompromising, rather than angry. But yes, I can easily see how one might detect wrath in its heart.

      You've inspired me to dig out my old bottle :-)

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  5. I didn't envy (no pun intended) the task you had of putting a selection of wrath fragrances together - I'd have been totally stumped for ideas, but you've come up with some excellent, and not at all obvious selections. Bravo!

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    1. Candy, thanks very much. I did find it difficult, I must say.

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  6. I really, really like you're writing. The summer in New York City can sometimes get really hot. And God help us if the streets are being repaved. The oppressive heat, the smell of the burning asphalt really evokes anger. I totally get the Tar reference. I'll have to go through my bottles and resniff Rêverie Au Jardin and Black Orchid to see what emotion arises.

    Good stuff as always.

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    1. Barney, thank you, that's very sweet of you. As for the Tar, yes, there's something genuinely irate about certain chemical smells, isn't there. Maybe, as you suggest, it's because we equate some of them with noisy, disruptive, unpleasant processes.

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  7. Very intriguing choices! It's funny, I see CdG Tar as a sweet, rather delicate chemical romance. To me, it's well-mannered and plays well with others. I've got a bottle of it that I'm being very stingy with- it's one of my all-time faves from CdG. :)

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    1. Carrie, I confess I don't read Tar as sweet... but there is an odd cleanliness to it which might share some facets with sweetness. I really like it too... shame about the impractical bottle, though!

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