Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Intense Fumes

What kind of perfume would you think appeals to someone under great stress in a merciless keep-up-with-the-Joneses dog eat dog world? Based on being in a constant "fight or flight" state, with "chill out" hormones rushing through her veins to try to keep it all together, would you say it would have to be intense? I know that during strenuous times, when I've undergone the greatest amount of emotional/psychological pressure, I've chosen the most intense perfumes to wear. There are perfumes I don't reach for on a regular basis but when I'm feeling challenged by life, until I find a real solution, it's good to have perfumes on hand that can be like a friend and vibe with the intensity I feel, to help me find some kind of balance.

It occurs to me that in my mind they're not "sexy" perfumes, yet often the ones I'd call sexy are my most intense ones. Calvin Klein Obsession (especially in pure parfum for Women--pictured at left is the Men's version), Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque, Boucheron, L'Artisan Parfumeur Ambre Extreme: These are some of those perfumes--like warm, secure, comforting hugs and at the same time flexing strength through the dominance of bold, definitive woods. Sweet, musky amber with sharp, assertive spices lead the dance with the soft, seductive, sensual, beautiful floral hearts and together raise these profound, distinctive perfumes to divine status. Sounds exciting? The combination of such extremes might be said to smell powerful and sexy, smouldering, maybe even smell "dangerous". Is it because the strong, traditionally masculine foundation overrides the traditionally female lighter floral notes, giving us a mental picture of the balance between the sexes in a state of "passion"? Or, maybe from a Westernized perspective, the notes involved are Oriental and therefore "savage" or "otherworldly"? "Devorame otra vez" sang the unknown salsera that I had been once. To devour or be devoured...how many songs have been written about such a competitive form of human "love"? Perhaps the language (or the art, or creation) of Romance has married all of these concepts together since the beginning of its incarnation.

If those perfumes I listed are too heavy and spicy, for a similar theme but tamer, I'd recommend Guerlain L'Instant, Gucci Rush, Burberry London (the original is my preference) and the beautiful and strange Guerlain L'Heure Bleue, like a grown up whisper of sugar and spice and everything nice. It's never "too much"; the legendary oh-so-French creation is true to its classical form--hot 'n sexy as controlled and disciplined as it's permitted to be, and somehow never quite losing its innocent, nostalgic, beguiling natural charm. Oh, and it's plenty weird and musty but I like it. I also find certain Florals assertive, powerful and intense, although they are comparatively softer than the woody sisters, and these rebellious beauties break the rules by letting the lush, emotional floral hearts take center stage: Givenchy Amarige, Gale Hayman Delicious, Giorgio Beverly Hills, Estee Lauder Beautiful, Perry Ellis Woman, Robert Piguet Fracas and Schiaparelli Shocking. I would add to the list an unforgettably intense Chypre named Balenciaga Talisman--it's hard to imagine anything more intense than that sometimes, and it's quite gorgeous if you can handle a fair amount of leather.