International Woman of Mystery

Another in my series of scents that are outrageously priced, I’m considering one of the limited edition Guerlains: Elixir Charnel Oriental Brulant.  It was in the neighborhood of 255.00 per 75 mls.  On Ebay the last price I saw listed was on the order of 355.00 which is an even pricier neighborhood. Is it worth it?

Well, no.  Briefly put there are other fragrances out there that do this same thing at a fraction of the cost.  On average they may have more synthetics in their formulae but not enough to knock them out of competition.

You see, Oriental Brulant is a vanilla amber perfume like Obsession (Calvin Klein) and Anne Pliska (Anne Pliska) and Fifi Chachnil (Fifi Chachnil) and that’s only to list a few of  its rivals in a crowded market.  It is very nice and has a natural smelling cedarwood drydown but I’m just not sure that justifies such a dizzying price hike.  This is an example of a relatively inexpensive formula that has been re-organized along lavish lines in order to please the luxury market.

It puts me in mind of Gloria Guinness.  She was another one of those mid-century beauties friendly with Truman Capote. She was also the cherished frenemy of Babe Paley and the center of a hurricane of rumor spiraling around her origins.

The only undisputed fact about her was that she was originally Mexican.  As for her parentage, early life, education, just about anything could be inferred and sometimes was.  She was married to three other men before she married Guinness, including a von Furstenberg and a grandson of Egypt’s King Fuad (on whom she cheated with Duff Cooper).  She may, or may not, have spent much of WWII being a spy (whether Axis or Allied – who knows?)

You get the picture. Gloria Guinness was an international woman of mystery for purely practical reasons. Oriental Brulant strikes me as resembling her, very attractive, quite sexy, chic, but also rather a vulgarian on occasion. Consider Gloria’s avowed objection (made to Noel Coward) to sharing a bed with her Guinness husband:  “He farts too much.”

But Gloria herself was uncomfortably full of hot air, as anyone who trades on chic and charm alone usually is, and so, alas, is Oriental Brulant.

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