Sciaparelli’s Mr Satan at her front door
The story goes that the designer Schiaparelli had two Venetian carved figures on either side of her front door in Paris in the thirties. They were human scale but carved out of wood and had cloven hooves, so some wag on his way in to a Schiaparelli party dubbed them Mr and Mrs Satan.
Schiaparelli had a distinctive taste, but when it comes to red hot and devilish fun, I can understand it. My own fondness is for any kind of red hot scent. I really will go out of my way for peppers, or cinnamon, or carnation (provided it’s good and spicy) and cloves, so it can’t be any surprise that one of my long term loves in the perfume world is Caron’s Poivre. Continue reading
Then there is the perfume in which the whole spicy carnation floweriness I have been writing about sinks in a morass of heavier, hotter materials like a bouquet in a lava flow. The one time floral composition becomes an oriental and a heated one at that. This is what happens in Caron’s Poivre from 1954. The perfume belongs to that group of Caron compositions done after the death of the house’s founder Ernest Daltroff in 1940. Daltroff’s companion and business partner Felicie Vanpouille was still in charge at Caron and she employed the perfumer Michel Morsetti as in- house talent( he had been Daltroff’s assistant.)
You may not think of carnation as being an aggressive kind of a flower. I don’t certainly, but the fact is that Caron, the Parisian perfume house founded in 1904, seems to have meditated on the many ways to make carnation grow sharp long claws and an attitude to go with them.
One way was to make the carnation incredibly chic and competent. Those – like me – who could not aspire to the heights of chic could at least get their chores done in style, and so carnation (or its chemical doppelganger eugenol) was made to keep company with a lot of sequentially charming florals, and voila! Bellodgia.
Another stratagem for toughening up carnation, seems to have been a transformation into a floral oriental. That is what happened with 1954’s Coup de Fouet, which translates literally as “Whip Crack” or, as the charming Caron SA in New York more loosely put it: Crack of the Whip. (My own even looser translation is When the Whip Comes Down. We all have our little preferences.) Continue reading
Is certainly blood, in whatever form, followed by certain flowers. While living in Vermont, I once grew a hybrid tea called Precious Platinum that, despite the name, was anything but silver. Platinum was a saturated scarlet, so intensely red that a local boy stopped by the garden one day and successfully petitioned for a rose to take to his girl with whom he’d had a fight.
I never heard if they made it up, but he couldn’t have found a redder rose if he’d trekked from one end of the state to the other. That rose, that particular rose, was the epitome of redness.