You might think that it is a bit of a risky undertaking to even not review a perfume I haven't sniffed in a while. I have to say though that such are the indeterminate impressions formed by my nasal receptors even with the perfume actually present(!) that 'an emotion triggered by a scent and recollected in tranquillity', to adapt Wordsworth only slightly, is arguably enough of a basis and certainly as much as there is ever likely to be. Then I was going to call this post something like a 'Fearless Fandango of Filth', but the 'f' word has been well and truly harnessed by my fellow bloggers in their stellar reviews of Salome, and no one but no one can top The Candy Perfume Boy's masterly coinage in his review of the fragrance of a 'trifecta of filth', in reference to the three animalic notes in Salome of castoreum, hyraceum and a rather louche 'tobacco-like facet' .
|Source: Papillon Perfumery|
What I remember of my several testings of Salome is broadly as follows: a bright, verging on sparkling opening with a citrus and floral bouquet of some kind, which segues within a very short space of time into a phantasmagorical wallop of f***h. Said wallop starts out like the pornolfactory equivalent of a heavy velvet door curtain, but gradually dies down to the texture of shimmying satin camisoles - those very wispy ones whose straps are forever falling down, by no means always by design. Salome is a big production animalic chypre that reminded me of YSL Y and Jean Desprez's Bal a Versailles, yet Salome feels smoother, creamier, more seamlessly blended, and more classically timeless than either of those somewhat dated scents in my view, just as Joy feels 'wrong' to me nowadays. On my skin there's jasmine and there's civet in Joy, and never the twain shall meet, whereas the notes in Salome are impeccably choreographed. Bal a Versailles is also a soprano to Salome's purring alto register, and it feels less substantial, more tinny and watery. Well, in fairness I do have the EDC concentration so it is hardly a fair comparison!
I must point out, however, that on me Salome is markedly more f***hy than on my friend Lizzie and her two children. They all said that I should categorically not wear it. Then on Lizzie's son Salome smelt completely different - it had more of a citrus-sandalwood-leather vibe which reminded him right off the bat of Geo F Trumper's Spanish Leather. I must say I was impressed that a young man just turned 18 would even have heard of Geo F Trumper! Then on Lizzie and her daughter I detected a much expurgated version of Salome compared to on me. Even so, there was the inevitable moue of distaste from her daughter, with comments like: 'Oh no, it reminds me of the dreaded halibut eye!' - a reference to the legendary coldness of her grandmother's gaze, who apparently wore the formidable vintage Miss Dior (as it would have been at the time), so go figure. There were further associations of Salome with fur coats and old people's homes, not all of them printable. So yes, Lizzie and her daughter also pegged Salome as vintage, but not in a way that they cared for, whereas I think Salome is an example of the floral animalic chypre genre which nods towards the past, is firmly rooted in the present, and yet will still feel relevant in decades to come, assuming you like that sort of thing. Judging by the deferred gratification being barely contained on the blogs, I'd say that Salome will most definitely 'hit the spot' (no, I did not say 'G-'!) of many a fumehead who's a fan of f***h.
|A hyrax predictably coming over all unnecessary ~ Source: walkthewilderness.net|
Now I didn't love Salome, but I could appreciate it as the finest example of its kind I have smelt. Also on the plus side, I didn't run a mile, even if Lizzie's daughter made a bolt for her bedroom rather sharpish. I doubt very much that I would wear it outside the home - much like Bogue Profumo's Maai in that regard - but I could see myself enjoying the far drydown in crafty lascivious huffs at my desk, say. If I still had my sample, obviously. And coming from someone whose Basenotes handle was once 'VM I hate civet' - nay, still is, though I no longer go on there - that is praise indeed. Not that there is civet in Salome, but I could equally well have called myself 'VM I hate f***h in all its manifestations' back in the day. And now I am much more open-minded - and open-legged you might say, but I really hope you won't - to the notion. Salome is a cornucopia of carnality, a pot-pourri of pudenda odour, and on that lewdly alliterative note I am going to park this non-review right there.
As it happens, I lost my sample of Salome not once but twice - for I left it behind at Lizzie's house following that group testing session, prompting mild alarm in the family. She agreed to put it in the porch in a flower pot for me to collect at my convenience. Readers may notice a car key in the foreground, which annoyed the heck out of me when I first looked at the photo, until images of 'car keys in bowls' made me think it might in fact have been a photographic Freudian slip.
|Salome sample in organza bag partially obscured by phallic key|
And maybe the fact that I feel unfreaked out by Salome's raunchy underbelly - well, I use the term advisedly as the underbelly reaches all the way up to the be-tasselled nipples of my feverish imaginings - is partly due to the fact that the name Salome is very much in the family. No, really. I was the first generation not to be called Salome, at least as a middle name. The belly dancing, head on platter-toting buck stopped (figuratively) with my aunt Rowena Salome, now aged 95. But the Salomes on my father's side stretch back several centuries. And while we are on this earthy theme, I can also reveal that the Salome pictured at the top of the post had a mother who rejoiced in the name of Susan Cock, whose mother in turn was Martha Prickman. You couldn't make it up. None of the Salomes of whom there are extant photos look particularly 'unbuttoned', if you know what I mean, but you never know. They do say the quiet ones are the worst.
And finally, what of 'nasal literacy'? By that I mean that my inability to parse individual notes in scents - or even sometimes to tell you what it makes me think of in the most loosely conjured metaphorical terms - intermittently troubles me. It did so with a vengeance in the case of Salome, because after the initial nuanced but unknown flurry of floral and citrus notes, I was left with a chypre-esque construct that I could evoke in textural terms, but otherwise had nary a clue what I was smelling beyond the catch-all term of a wall of 'f***h'. I mention it here because there are a number of perfumes I have tested lately that I really like, but my inarticulacy with those, should I attempt to feature them on Bonkers, would be even more marked. I would have recourse to the lamest statements about 'a very nice floral blend' or 'kind of masculine leaning, but I like it'. And yet I am so taken with these perfumes that I would like to commend them to you. Maybe I could do a post full of tiny 'unreviews' of unprecedented vacuousness. Because - paradoxically perhaps - it seems a shame not to write about them at all because I am stuck for words.
Then I can't help recalling jtd's comment in his post on Scenthurdle, 'Against Opinion', and tending to agree with him, at least in part:
"I am all for knowing yourself and trusting your gut, but the opinion-judgement two-step doesn't aid the discussion of perfume. 'I love this! (therefore) It's the greatest perfume ever!' and 'I hate this! (therefore) It's terrible!' are equally unhelpful starting points for a meaningful exchange."
Well, I don't think I would judge the perfumes I might review in quite such black and white terms, but I can see myself not coming up with much beyond: 'I really like this - and I have no idea what I am actually smelling!' And I know that the alchemy of perfume - as with cooking - is such that a fragrance becomes 'something else' that is greater than the sum of its parts, but as well as enjoying food, I can usually tell if a soup has ginger in it, or whether a cake has hundreds and thousands...um...on top.
Anyway, I mention this issue of nasal literacy because I think my nose is getting worse in this regard and I am not sure it is acceptable to write a post along the lines indicated above. And I haven't even got the excuse that I have had my nostrils cauterised, like a good friend of mine. She had a special knack of making her nose bleed on demand to get out of Maths class, and didn't have the bottle to explain that there was really nothing wrong with it.
|Spot the Salomes - two more above!|