Halloween is almost here, and in the grand tradition of Jersey which takes Halloween quite seriously, I am thinking about the very darkest fragrances and how well they play with the public these days? Or whether, and I’d lay odds on this, they simply spook them?
Darkness was in once. People wore extremely strong and heavy fragrances and no one thought twice about it, Cabochard for instance, or Guerlain’s old heavy hitter Djedi, or the original Ungaro which I recall had a very dark sillage, sort of like a black hole altering the time space continuum as it came down the street, sucking in every other fragrance for yards around into its impossibly dense core. Come to think of it, the original Must de Cartier did that too. But then, once upon a time, it was the eighties and nineties.
You get a lot of perfumes called black or noir now, but the reality is often a tame backing off from animalic musks or woods, or Heaven preserve us! Oakmoss!!
For instance just how noir is Coco Noir? Not very noir eh? Not even as noir as a Raymond Chandler novel, but apparently it’s popular though the amber/patchouli/geranium accord is a sort of melding or back-breeding of Coco and Coco Mademoiselle. The name seems a good deal darker than the reality.
How about animalics? Well Musc Tonkin has joined the Parfum d’Empire line now and in edp form is still wowing people by its rather frank references to carnality. But of course this is nothing new in perfume, people have been putting on musk and musky compositions for thousands of years. I bet the same folks who find Musc Tonkin daring would run screaming from a good spritz of vintage Bandit.
In fact if you want to have a good time at Halloween the animalic chypres are rather fun to break out. They are essentially “Boo!” in a bottle. Things like Parfum d’Elle or Lanvin’s Scandal read as impossibly heavy and black now, smelling them blind you might guess that they would stain skin like squid ink. These days their equivalents are not much in evidence, well you might try Juliette Has a Gun Midnight Oud, or possibly Francis
Kurdijian’s Absolue Pour le Soir but that’s an oriental rather than a chypre.
Darkness is currently out of fashion. It might come back but my guess is- not any time soon. For Halloween I’ll just have to scare up a decant of Bandit.