Tuesday, February 12, 2008

L'Artisan Parfumeur - Dzongkha

Inspired conflicting feelings in my friend O. and I. Frightening and unsettling on the paper strip, I could not decipher any of the notes in this feral, unearthly scent. Freshly sprayed, it's vile. Baffling. Like having your eyes clawed out. It's not perfume, it's magick (yes, spelled the Genesis P-Orridge way), blood and spew, black-headed pins stuck through wax poppets. I simply was aghast at first, I had never smelled anything remotely resembling Dzongkha before. O. was equally flabbergasted - "You smell like Off!, like mosquito repellent, like DEET. It has a bite." But yet I was curious to see how this perfume would develop on my skin. It's certainly unusual - O. asked me what I want my ideal perfume to do, and I said, "Provoke, unsettle." This perfume does everything and more - it repels. It makes me want to throttle someone. When my mother smelled it she fairly screeched, "You smell like a Chinese medicine stall," and my dad pushed my hand away from his nose when I held it up for a sniff. However, I can't stop smelling my wrist - the monstrous fanged creature spitting out venom has softened (just barely) to a musty, medicinal, dry, definitely unsweet scent of cardamom, leather, church incense, damp soil, smoky tea and roots, and the most uncloying, un-icinglike vanilla.

The more I learn about scent the more deadened department store fragrances appear to me. I hate the cliched, pink blossoms/pink grapefruit/pink sugar/iced lychee/blackberry martini simple-syrups tossed out daily - I hate the simpering virgins (did I steal that phrase from someone?) or the paradoxically passionless femmes fatales in the ads. I've become to resent perfume being used as a mask, when really it should be a mirror to every aspect of our personalities, no matter how angry, silly, quiet, peculiar, or even rancorous. That's why I admire Dzongkha and its creator Bertrand Duchaufour - beautiful and brave artists like him are really expanding the world of scent, not for the fantasy sleek-limbed models in fairytale gardens or on Seychelles beaches, but for real, imperfect, unglamorous, unsexy people who laugh and cry too much.

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