04 marzo 2012

The Masters of Perfume: Jean Carles (1892–1966) (2)

Parfums Lucien Lelong by Gruau (1944)
How many fragrances do you know made by Jean Carles? I'm sure even if you don't remember them, you already smelled at least one or perhaps some containing bases created by him and you didn't know about that. I've chosen four among his most famous ones I'm lucky I smelled them in original formulation: Tabu, Shocking, Ma Griffe and Miss Dior.
Jean Carles composed many fragrances both in France and Spain for Carven, Lucien Lelong, Schiaparelli, Dior and others. His style is structured with a classic top-heart-bottom pyramid. The balance is given by a contrast of strong notes and accords creating a tension that's spun out by a lighter context, fresh and aromatic or gently floral. His olfactory footprint can be read for sure by the mastery in daring with his beloved patchouli that according to him is able to make them literally "explode" from top to bottom.

Dana Tabu (1931) - I discovered it thanks to a french friend that sent me some time ago a vintage version, despite being an eau de cologne it still keeps going on its savage beauty and its original erotic load. This oriental fragrance was the worth reply to Serra who asked for "un perfume de puta". In fact Tabu aimed to be something scandalous and sexy one step from vulgarity: if you never had the chance to smell it, to have an idea just think of a kind of Poison ante litteram, not as for the notes but for the effect. It'd decidedly dense and fills the space around who wears it, it's a jewel to be shown with confidence rather than melting with you as a second skin. Appearently Tabu glances at you with her innocent eyes all about fresh topnotes, bergamot and orange flower, but right after she shows her breast's warm skin with an intoxicating carnation floral heart beating under it. The base spreads her smooth, generous tights of vanilla and benzoin letting see through the moist shade of overdosed patchouli. You can't see it but the sex is there, rough and plain, drenched in animal musks and civet with leathery facets. Unfortunately as the beauty fades with the time, reformulations have been merciless with this perfume that should have been so daring as never seen before in Spain.

Mae West Room by Dalì (1974)
Schiaparelli Shocking (1936) - The Schiap as her parisian friends used to call Elsa Schiaparelli, was on top of her success when she decided to launch this fragrance. As for all other her creations, it comes from the contamination with dadaist and surrealist art. In 1936 "The italian artist who makes garnments" as defined her her rival Coco Chanel, brought to the catwalks her fetish colour, a shade of electric pink so shocking that Elsa will name it precisely Shocking. The colour was so excentric that artist Leonor Fini wanted to use it to package the perfume. The idea for the bottle instead will come from the manniquin reproducing Mae West body used by her to tailor the costumes for the movie Every day's a holiday (1937) together with Dalì's woman with flower head.
As for the fragrance, do you have in mind Dalì's Mae West Room? Here we go, it's just like that. If you get closer with your nose and try picking the single notes they seem bulky: heavy curtains, a big nose as fireplace, big scarlet lips as couch, but as you ger it far you get the beauty of the whole, that scent of a woman is crystal clear. The "puta" of Tabu here becomes mischievousm, glamour and sophisticated: together with the feminine animal touch that wraps you since the beginning there are aldehydes for the hairspray fixing hair combed in waves and lively look of bergamot contrasted by aromatic estragon. The florals, rose, jasmin and honeysuckle are gentle, soapy and slightly cosmetic like a veil of face powder on the clean cheeks. The base though is patchouly smoothed by the warm breath of honey bringing you again to the shocking paradox of the single parts to the whole, of outer (where you can see a woman's face) opposed to inner where you're drenched in the potent carnality of civet.

Very soon I'll tell you about Ma Griffe and last but not least, Miss Dior.

<Part 1> <Part 3>

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