Melancholy Baby

Florals tend to have something inherently optimistic about them;  as Catherine Donzel writes in her book Le Parfum, “Floral bouquets (composed of several floral essences) have in common a certain idea of happiness.”

For the most part this is true, but sometimes you come across one or other of them which breaks ranks and has an air of melancholy about it.

You must be something of a romantic to wear them. They do not work on the hale, or the hearty, or the talkative.  You cannot pull off a pallid pose under a weeping willow if you are constantly fidgeting, or asking if someone has taken that damn picture yet? You have to be the embodiment of patience and placidity and pallor, and having long delicate fingers helps as well.  Then you can wear the melancholy floral without feeling an utter fraud. 

What reminded me of this kind of atypical floral was Eaudemoiselle, Givenchy’s new perfume, samples of which were being given away at Neiman Marcus.  It’s a moody rose with a fine contemporary beginning of rosy alcohols, and then a moody musky heart.  The ad copy  showed a brooding brunette by a riverside, and for once was appropriate.

The best aspect of Eaudemoiselle is its wearability, and the fact that it is pleasant in its dry down, instead of making the usual strident grab for your wallet before the perfumer’s ambition and the accountant’s budget run out.  This little number is civilized and even somewhat elegant all the way through to the end, which is only about an hour or two at most on me.

Here is what Eaudemoiselle is not: a laugh riot.  This one could be worn at a funeral without raising an eyebrow, and quite frankly, I wouldn’t wear it to a club or a bar. Eaudemoiselle should help you maintain as much personal space as you want.  It reminds me of those wreaths of human hair the Victorians used to create and that you sometimes come across in museums devoted to 19th century doodads.  Large wreaths made up of flowers spun and crocheted from black, brown, blonde, and faded red strands mounted in deep wall cases. They’re the work of patient hands, no doubt, and all harvested from heads long deceased.  You wonder at it, you shudder slightly, and you move on.

Yet another floral for funerals, is Romea d’Ameor’s Grandes Imperatrices Japonaises.  The whole line seems discontinued though you can still find them on discount sites, and none of them  seem to have been a success, this one is the dark floral of the bunch, a bit aldehydic, a bit iris-y, maybe a tad violet-y, with something that reminds me of wax candles in the last whiffs of it, possibly incense. Imperatrices was composed by Pierre Bourdon and it smells to me like Iris Poudre and also like Ferre de Ferre both of which he also did.  Imperatrices refines the formula of those even further to a limited spectrum of shades, those viewed by Lady Murasaki when she was out admiring the iris beds in spring; every shade of iris petal, from white to mauve to lavender to purple and back again, pausing briefly at periwinkle blue.

The perfume is sedate in the extreme, and like brocade and black lace overlays, apt to add years to the wearer’s age. I admire Imperatrices, but the composition is somewhat lifeless, Imperatrices might possibly possess something that circulates blood, but it would be an overstatement to call it a heart. This perfume is proof positive that you can take aplomb a step too far.

Maybe death becomes you.  As for me, I like a tan.

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