Monday, 27 April 2020
"She and Salv": two train-themed perfume mini-stories with a surreal soapy twist
And the email made me think back to the glorious era of train travel - or any travel indeed - and to a couple of perfume-related incidents which happened this year, one on a train in fact. In the first case I found myself sitting next to a lady of my own age give or take, when she suddenly fished a canister of YSL Rive Gauche out of her handbag, upended it, and proceeded to use the shiny metal base as a compact mirror to apply lipstick. The resourcefulness and nonchalance behind this gesture impressed me in equal measure, and I couldn't help but strike up a conversation with her, starting with a comment to the effect that you don't often come across people wearing Rive Gauche these days. My fellow passenger, who introduced herself as 'She' (you can readily guess what Christian name that was short for), was fulsome in her praise of Rive Gauche, which was no less than her signature scent. She was so worried that it might be discontinued that she had recently bought a back up bottle at Manchester airport, so we chatted a bit about that dismal phenomenon (discontinuing perfumes, I mean, not the airport, of which I have nothing but fond memories). I learnt that she was recently retired and off to see her sister, 'Mad' (you can guess her name too with relative ease!). There was a third sister, also with an amusing contraction, but it has slipped my mind now. Anyway, I had great fun shooting the fragrant breeze with She for as long as our journeys coincided. And no, Vanessa, it's not "shooting the fragrant breeze with Her", even if that is your understandable instinct.
The same weekend, I was given a present by a fellow fan of The Monochrome Set of a vintage set of Salvador Dali miniatures. I didn't inspect the contents of the box till the following day (on another train!), and it afforded that special kind of delight associated with small, secret things, somewhere between a doll's house, a shape sorting toy, and an advent calendar.
There were two perfumes from the 80s: a daytime diva-ish floral, and an evening diva-ish oriental, plus a tiny bar of soap, perfumed bath oil, and body cream - all of them shaped like Dali's trademark lips. That should perhaps be 'mouth of soap' then. The perfumed body cream container had a dear little swivelly lid like a sugar bowl that only fits snugly in one position, while the other three had pull off tops like the spikes atop a wrought iron gate.
At a guess the body cream is past its best, but still smells rich and opulent, as does the bath oil. You can hear a little bit swishing about if you shake it.
Thanks to Basenotes, I have found the notes for the perfumes, both by Alberto Morillas and launched in 1983:
Parfum (the orange coloured one):
Frankincense, bergamot, clove, rose, jasmine, mimosa, sandalwood, patchouli, oakmoss, musk
Parfum de toilette (the pale yellow coloured one):
Top notes: aldehydes, basil, bergamot, fruits, green notes, mandarin
Heart notes: orris root, jasmine, lily, lily-of-the-valley, orange blossom, rose, tuberose
Base notes: amber, benzoin, musk, myrrh, sandalwood, vanilla, cedar
You can readily tell from those notes how retro and big production the two perfumes smell - definitely of their time. But remarkably well preserved. If I am feeling bold one day - and let's face it, lockdown is the ideal occasion - I might give them an outing. Or the indoor equivalent, obviously. ;)
And I am getting through a lot of soap at the moment, however, I reckon that with it being so distinctive I'd have to be on my very last sliver before I broached the cute little lips bar...