Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Paloma Picasso

Many years ago, I got myself a miniature bottle of this extremely opulent and confident power '80s superperfume, not knowing it was a Chypre (I didn't know perfume terminology back then), never in a million years thinking that a boy I liked would tell me it was a nasty, perfumey smell. I was disheartened but I figured I liked the perfume more than I liked him anyway, and kept on wearing it. Funnily enough, he eventually praised the perfume saying his mother absolutely, wildly loved the scent. Go figure! Mama's boy aside (I don't mean that as a pejorative; I love Mama's boys), I've always regarded Paloma Picasso as my favorite perfume in this fragrance family, one I could wear as a signature if I had to choose just one nasty Chypre to call my own. It's spicy, boozy, decadent, dry as a desert and yet glamorous, dazzling, sophisticated and mysterious with a complex, daring blend of classical, animalic Dry Woods/Chypre notes (honey-oatchouli-jasmine, or the "leather" accord), spicy and sweet Oriental tones and lush florals. Granted it's a funky animalic scent, not for everyone. The hyacinth top notes add to the somewhat gasoline-like, urbane character of this sublimely avant garde work of olfactive art by Paloma Picasso, fashion & jewellery designer and daughter of Surrealist artist Pablo Picasso.

I don't know why many Chypre lovers don't like this particular Chypre, because in the end, it's all about woods, woods, mossy woods and more woods, but I suspect it's the sensual, intoxicating, almost Floral Oriental aspect of it, reminiscent of Panthère de Cartier, another gorgeous perfume of its time. It's not a kitschy scent at all, devoid of shock value or obviously unmainstream elements; it's a classical composition with crossover potential, making it a more easily accessible Chypre than most (Chypre being the divisive genre that it is). Most of all, it's a memorable, unique creation with a loyal following. To say Paloma Picasso has influenced my idea of the standard of a great perfume (a mighty perfumey one at that) would be an understatement. As the designer herself, this is a perfume with great style and presence, with a bold and uncompromising, free-spirited and independent attitude.

According to Basenotes:
Paloma Picasso (1984)
Top Notes: Hyancinth, Citrus
Middle Notes: Rose, Mimosa, Coriander
Base Notes: Patchouli, Honey

My Perfume source lists these notes:
Top Notes: bergamot, neroli, jasmine
Middle Notes: rose, ylang-ylang, coriander
Base Notes: patchouli, vetiver, amber