Friday, 1 February 2013

Love At Chapter One: Perfumes For Valentine's Day 2013

You won't be surprised to learn that I think my book would make an ideal present for Valentine's Day: it's pretty, it's entertaining and it might lead the scentusiast (or would-be scentusiast) in your life to all sorts of interesting scented discoveries. But today's post will go beyond mere self-promotion. To mark the time of year devoted to cupids, heart-shaped chocolates and overpriced flowers, how about a spot of geeky self-indulgence: a list of 5 of my favourite fictional couples, linked up with appropriate perfumes. Let's begin in Denmark...

Hamlet & Ophelia from Hamlet
For him: Elsinore's ill-fated prince would have to wear a scent riddled with conflicts and contrasts. In fact, he'd probably throw sanity to the wind and choose a creation aimed at women. Jacques Cavallier's Nu (YSL), with its unfathomable, compelling heart of wood and incense has his name written all over its complex personality.
For her: Guerlain's Après L'Ondée is often called the Ophelia of fragrances, and it would certainly have been my first choice here. But in the interests of originality, I'll suggest Amouage's Opus III as another suitable candidate. It's bleak, haunted and gauze-like, and yet it also carries hints of the power which Ophelia reveals in her final moments.

Newland Archer & Ellen Olenska from The Age Of Innocence
For him: Many perfumes strive for effortless nobility, yet few achieve the fine balance between authority and unobtrusiveness. Jean-Paul Guerlain's Derby is one of that rare breed: a refined, aristocratic blend of woods and balsams which seems to grow more complex and more fascinating with each wearing.
For her: The object of Newland's thwarted affections is alluring partly because she represents the exoticism of foreign lands and partly because she's imperfect. Cue: Maurice Roucel's Dans Tes Bras for Frederic Malle. Its floral aspect is reassuring, but its patchouli facet suggests mystery. And finally, the overdose of synthetic musk in its base feels both unpolished and irrefutably right, much like Olenska herself.

Count Almasy & Katherine Clifton from The English Patient
For him: Michael Ondaatje's insatiable explorer cuts straight to the heart, so he'd dispense with redundant top notes and reach for a creation that is all base. Lalique's Encre Noire would fit the bill very well: composed of little more than vetivert and musks, it is heavy, dense and it accepts no compromise.
For her: Katherine's scent would avoid ruffling the sensitive feathers of 1930s England, but it would also hint at an unexpressed desire for a life beyond the Channel. Guerlain's Vetiver Pour Elle - accessible, polite and quietly evocative - would suit her well... not least because she would recognise its more potent cousin in the scent worn by her Hungarian count.

Mr Stevens & Miss Kenton from The Remains Of The Day
For him: It goes without saying that Stevens wouldn't wear a fragrance whilst on duty. But in his private moments, before reaching for the romance novels into which he escapes, he may well dab a few drops of Hermès' Eau D'Orange Verte on his skin. Simple, joyous and fleeting, it would lift his soul and then disappear, keeping his modesty intact.
For her: Miss Kenton would probably see perfume as an unnecessary luxury, although she'd treasure the few bottles she'd receive as gifts. Every now and then, she'd cast her mind to the past, open her treasured flacon of Chanel's Bois Des Iles and breathe in the all-consuming sophistication of rose and sandalwood... a promise of what might once have been.

Han Solo & Princess Leia from Star Wars
For him: It's got to be a beast of a scent for a man who responds to the words "I love you" with "I know." Of course, Kouros, Jules, Antaeus et al come to mind, but as he's a fighter, I'll go for Yatagan, Caron's über-aromatic cocktail of woods, herbs and, if certain reports are to be believed, oud. Plus I'm sure Chewbacca wouldn't mind pinching some for himself.
For her: Leia would have to select a scent that would stand up to Han's, reflect her royal status and also convey the spiritual bent of her ancestry. An excellent choice would be Andy Tauer's Incense Rosé: gutsy, sensuous, deeply contemplative... and possessed of the power to make her ditch the dodgy hair dos.

A very happy Valentine's Day to you and your special someone.


PS Final reminder: the deadline for entering the draw for a sample of Chanel's brand new 1932 is Monday night (UK time).


  1. This was fun to read, thanks. I recently reread The Age of Innocence and those choices are perfect; glad to see Star Wars thrown into the mix :-)

    1. Rosarita, thank you :-) I really ought to re-read Innocence too. Have you read The House Of Mirth?

  2. excellent one indeed, how about L'Air du Desert Marocain for Gróf Almássy (at least this is what the Hungarian in me would suggest...

    1. Magnus, I did wonder about L'Air... but I thought it might be a bit too obvious ;-) I suppose Ambre Sultan would've been good too, right?

  3. Chanel's Egoïste, Pour Monsieur & Antaeus are among the best in men's perfumes... and would also smell great on a woman...

    1. Kal, yes, I'm sure Antaeus would make a great feminine.

  4. Hi, I'm new here... and I logged on to tell kal that I completely agree!

    I used to wear Antaeus and especially Kouros in my late teens in the 80s. When Egoiste came out, I bought a bottle for my boyfriend's birthday just so I could use it myself. 15 years later I bought another bottle of Kouros on a whim, and only then did it dawn on me that it may not have been the most obvious choice for a 16-year-old.

    These days I'm a bit more conventional and use Kouros mostly on smelling strips, as page markers. Love the drydown on books! And I do in fact wear Pour Monsieur from time to time ;)

    1. Mickimicki, thanks very much indeed for stopping by.

      I should imagine Kouros must be very interesting on a woman. And as for scented bookmarks... I thought I was the only one who did that... :-)

    2. My pleasure entirely, I really enjoy your blog!

      Kouros though... it's hard to pull off now that I'm a grown-up. Especially the first hour or so! Some years ago I popped out for some shopping shortly after spraying me with it, and in the store I thought people were looking at me as if I'd stepped into something... and I wasn't even sure it wasn't only in my head! So it seems I don't have the stones for that anymore! While as a "rebellious" teenager who probably smelled of weed, people were staring anyway so I wouldn't even have noticed, much less cared!

      However, 1 or 2 hours into Kouros, I think it does become wearable for a woman, if she has the nerve to get through the opening chapters. I'm going to give it a try when the spirit moves me.
      Much easier though to let some Kouros blow my mind a little every time I open my calendar/notebook ;)

      This bookmarker thing? I'm surprised more people aren't doing it! And anyway, whatever became of perfumed letters?
      And what makes me think that you are really good at matching the perfume to the book? Oh, it's the original post of course ;)

    3. Hi again Mickimicki. Maybe I should try to persuade my wife to wear Kouros. She likes it on me sometimes, but I doubt she'll spray any on herself...

      Perhaps I should do a post about objects used as bookmarks. High on my list would be blotters (of course) and airplane boarding pass stubs :-)


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