General Disclaimer: I’m trying to blog from Thailand. Given the limitations on time, bandwidth, attention span, air conditioning, sleep and sobriety, you get what you get for the duration. My checking of spelling and facts will be even more cursory than usual. Also, I’m not sure what the deal is, but some of these computers are not at all interested in loading the comments section of the Posse site, so if I don’t reply it’s not for lack of trying.
Anyway, I’ve fallen in love. It’s no huge surprise, I guess. Bangkok stole my heart. I know, I know — Bangkok’s fickle. We’re in the honeymoon period. I’m sure a long-term relationship would be filled with a lot of mixed feelings. Friday (? I am no longer sure what day it is) I smelled a fragrance at the Givaudan show called Magic Mushroom, and that would pretty much sum up the Bangkok experience for me. Bangkok has that New-York level of insanity that is pretty much everything I want in a city — only more so. From the street vendors to the over-the-top malls and the roadside shrines, it’s all happening, 24 hours a day.
Noy and I met up to smell the Givaudan show — a collaboration between 13 in-house Givaudan perfumers, 13 artists who designed the fragrance flacons, and as it turned out various Thai clothing designers who did matching dresses. I wish like hell I had photos to show you, but by the time I got all the technology together it’d be 2008, and so you’re just going to have to Use Your Imagination.
We started off our get-together with an excellent lunch (which included the Big Cheese), during which we ate one of the best meals I have eaten in recent memory — five (six?) different dishes selected by Noy to allow us to sample a range of flavors. Heaven. Then across the street, where I, addled by lack of sleep, too much stimulation, etc. was reduced to taking notes on the perfumes on the back of our tickets to the Grand Palace — which in its own way is just perfect.
Givaudan-specific Disclaimer: I am winging this entirely, with no listed notes and no further information, based entirely on our own biases and opinions. We rated each fragrance on wearability (W) and artistic merit (AM), and I provide the averaged results below. As you’ll see, we found most of these extremely interesting to smell, even if they smelled revolting — they were clearly not designed to appeal to the broadest possible spectrum of sniffers. All typos, incorrect spelling, poor reportage, omitted information and general idiocy are my sole responsibility. Enjoy.
The show was in the first floor of Gaysorn, a typical Siam-Square mall, by which I mean every store was a designer store (Chanel, Dior, etc.) along with, for example, a Ferrari dealership or a 1,500-person theatre or Sea World in the basement, and enough air-conditioning to refrigerate meat. To the best of my knowledge, there’s no mall equivalent in the U.S. It makes the Galleria (Tysons or Houston) look like the strip mall with a dying K-Mart as an anchor store.
In no particular order, we sampled:
Entre Chien et Loup (Between Dog and Wolf) — Twilight: Noy captured this perfectly with the phrase “between the dryer sheet and the laundry detergent.” About as far from the wolf-dog as you could possibly get, unless you’re sniffing the wolf-dog in the stuffed toy section of the Disney Store. Fresh and fake. Wearability: 2.25 (out of 10). Artistic merit: 2.
Parfum de Brume — I need to look that word up, unless it’s “brune”?, one of you French speakers chime in — burnt, smoked, with a lapsang/tea thing going on and Noy was getting a licorice-like note she wasn’t loving. W=2. AM=6.5
Lumiere/Light — this was fascinating. Started off with a tame citrus note and became boozier over time, with a tobacco note. Ultimately it … glowed. The name’s perfect. W=9. AM=6. perfumer: Gilles Romey.
Voiture A-9 — Noy says “car cheese.” A very chemical smell, including car parts and exterior pollution. We were simultaneously fascinated and disgusted. I would never want to wear this; it’s like sniffing new carpet, you can feel your brain cells dying. W=1.75. AM=6.5 perfumer: Pierre Nuyens.
Syn — smells like static and hot ozone. Dryer sheet. Dead ringer for “Clean Laundry” in my recollection. Meh. W=2, AM=1.
Odure de Femmina. Heh. You bet your undies. Ladyparts par excellence — a surprisingly fresh rose dries down to what I think Voilette de Madame should have smelled like. Matching fabulous rose-covered torso sculpture. W=3.75, AM=8.5
Magic Mushroom. This was just the most amazing fragrance. Noy and I spent the entire time we were there trying to decide if it was attractive or repulsive, and if that’s not a hallmark of a fun sniff, I don’t know what is. A weird “fresh” top note dries down rapidly into a coriander/pepper spice mix with the mushroom-y dirt smell you’d expect. perfumer: Michel Girard. W=6.5, AM=8.
Sakura — cherry blossom and incense, the sort of thing you’d expect from Kenzo, actually, with a stunning glass flower cherry-blossom flacon. And I’d kill for a photo of the dress to put in here — it was all pleated with the blossom part framing the face. Grassy and delicate. W=6.5, AM=4.
Parfum de Larmes (tears) — seemed completely wrong for the name and flacon, which was a lovely abstract tear in a glass inkwell-type design. Grassy and meh. perfumer: Louise Turner. W=7, AM=5.
Eightball — the knockout of the show. I am still kicking myself for not having an empty vial to spray into. Are you ready? A metallic orris smell reminiscent of Andy Tauer’s Orris, an Armani Cuir-Amethyste-like violet leather, powder, sandalwood, drying down several hours later (when I sniffed) into Sacred-Tears-of-Thebes incense, only stronger. If they sold it, I’d be in. perfumer: Sebastien Lienhart. UFB. W=9, AM=9.
Entre Toi et Moi — if only I could read my handwriting. Herby duck? Herby cheese? No, herby dude. Mainstream, stop by Sephora and you’ve smelled it. W=5 (snooze!), AM=4.5
Nuit Blanche — Null. Totally generic man “fresh” cologne. W=5, AM=2.
Rose Bouquet for the Princess (written in French) — A grape-fruit rose, fresh squeezed and extremely appealing to this non-rose-lover, sorta Rosine-ish, dries down into an animalic rose over several hours. You rose fetish people would be into it. W=7.75, AM=6.75
Have I mentioned how much fun Noy was? She’s a riot. I love perfumery — here I come, halfway around the world, and I’m chatting her up like my best girlfriend in 15 minutes while we giggle and sniff. She was a doll. I’m hoping to wangle some more time with her on the way to Siem Reap. Maybe she’ll get me to eat that durian after all.