This week my brother is attending a conference in Toronto on "Earthquake Engineering" (I take it that that means building structures which withstand earthquakes, as opposed to trying to "engineer" their occurrence. I am quietly but fervently hoping that he will find time to pick up a bottle of Chanel's "must have" nail polish colour, Paradoxal, at The Bay, a very fine department store within striking distance of the conference venue. Mind you, an epically bearded seismologist might cut an incongruous dash amongst the make up and perfume counters; plus he runs the very real risk of being plonked on a stool and "made over" with something like Lancaster's Light Enhancing Adaptive Sublime Fluid Foundation SPF 6.
So why my feverish interest in this latest Chanel nail varnish? I am a chronic and seemingly incorrigible nail biter, and hardly ever wear the stuff. But Paradoxal is such a sublimely wearable shade - and would coordinate so nicely with a number of garments I own in offbeat shades of heather and plum - that I am prepared to sacrifice my anti-social habit at the altar of digital accessorising.
Some of the other recent Chanel nail colours left me cold, mind: the likes of Jade, Tendresse or Inattendu (mint green, pale pink and peach respectively). These ice cream colours are pretty enough, but exert no visceral attraction. Particuliere, on the other hand, would have been a different matter - a sludgy mushroom / taupe number now sadly changing hands for upwards of £30 on Ebay. So I am hoping that my brother will be able to surf the crest of this particular nail colour wave, and secure a bottle of Paradoxal across the pond before it even reaches a stockist near me, never mind before said stockist runs out of the darn thing in the blink of an eye.
And my mounting enthusiasm for Paradoxal also got me thinking of plum-themed scents that might offer a further "finishing touch" to my upcoming autumnal ensembles. For I doubt I will be in much of a plum mood before September, you see.
I should, however, mention that plum notes and I hsve a bit of an ambivalent relationship. I remain deeply scarred by accidental whiffs of Poison in the 80s. Les Liaisons Dangereuses, a newish release, is nothing more than "a Poison-lite" for the Noughties to my nose, complete with that proprietary By Kilian headache-inducing accord.
And yet...a couple of plum scents have wormed their way into my affections, and either one would top off my plum nails and sundry purplish garments. They are Indult Isvaraya and Natori by Natori.
I find them rather similar in vibe, with Isvaraya a slightly more masculine "bass" version and Natori the more girly "soprano". They are both woody, slightly powdery, comforting and dreamy scents. (A special word of thanks to Lovethescents for introducing me to Natori!)
Notes: patchouli, plum tree, jasmine
NATORI BY NATORI
Notes: sparkling aldehydes, rose, plum, ylang-ylang, purple peony, night-blooming jasmine, patchouli, amber and satin musk accord.
Well, well, both have patchouli, plum and jasmine - this is the first time I have scrutinized the two scents properly - and while Natori has a bunch of other things as well, it appears that my nose is genuinely on to something in detecting a resemblance!
I would liken this pair a little to Shiseido Féminité du Bois, if you lost the pencil shaving note, the overt dustiness and the spices. Okay, not much like Fém du Bois at all, really, and yet these three scents are calming in a similar way.
FEMININITE DU BOIS
Top notes: cedarwood, orange blossom, peach, honey, plum, and beeswax
Middle notes: cedarwood, clove, cardamom, and cinnamon
Base notes: cedarwood, clove, cardamom, and cinnamon
Yes, you did read right... it is cedarwood for breakfast, lunch and supper - those notes are from The Perfumed Court, so they're good enough for me. Pencil shaving frenzy, as I say. There is, crucially, also some plum in there.... I mention FdB only because people cite it as a meditative scent, which I feel Isvaraya and Natori are up to a point. "Poignant" and "earthy", the Perfumed Court description goes on to say, which is spot on. I am sure someone somewhere likened Natori to the scent equivalent of a silk teddy, and that is a pretty nifty simile too.
So I am all set, bar the nail polish. If my brother manages to score me a pot, I hope he remembers to put it in his hold luggage, otherwise it will languish in a perspex tower at Toronto airport, along with umpteen pairs of confiscated scissors, penknives and other weapons of putative destruction - till long after its fashion moment has passed. I guess the authorities are right to be cautious - I am not sure how easy it would be to keep a 747 airborne while being forcibly made to have a manicure by a bearded scientist who knows all there is to know about engineering disasters, natural or otherwise...
Photo of Chanel Paradoxal from Flickr, Indult Isvaraya from Luckyscent, Natori from Fragrantica. Photo of Vivienne Westwood dress from Fashion Beans. Photo of sharp items from Bullworks.