Resolutions come and go.This year it´s not about the big stuff.This year it´s about the quirky stuff. Among other things, I´m working on losing my techno fears.I´m doing more philosophical reading.I´m counting smaller, odder blessings.I´m discarding various baggage and shifting some priorities.I´m trying to be more careful and kind in some places, and more reckless in others. But I can´t break my longtime resolution not to buy Clive Christian X for Men.
Clive Christian X for Men is a picture-perfect example of many things I hate about snob perfumery.First there´s the faux “exclusivity” – it´s expensive, sure, but it´s hardly in short supply.It´s probably as close as your nearest Saks.
Clive Christian has exposed me to more sales-counter folderol than your average fragrance line.Check in with your local SA selling Clive Christian and you will hear it has the most expensive fragrance (No. 1), the most exclusive, their scents are made with the rarest blah blah blah — it might as well be extracted from the droppings of civet cats.From their ersatz-royal packaging to their stuffed-shirt marketing, they work my last nerve.
None of which erases the fact that Clive Christian X for Men smells amazing.Don´t tell anyone, but you know what I do? I cheat on my loyal, stay-at-home fragrances with Clive Christian X for Men.If I´m in Saks and I walk by the bottle, I can´t resist spraying it on.(Ignore the ladies trying to hand you the Clive Christian X for Women.I don´t care if you are a woman.I think you have to check the label on the back, because if I recall correctly the men’s and women’s bottles look pretty much identical.Also, if you luck into a particularly dim SA, s/he will tell you there is only one version.)
The Saks website lists Clive Christian X for Men notes as: bergamot, spices cardamom, ginger, pink pepper, sambac oil, jasmine hedione, pimento oil, orris, amber, styrax, labdanum, vetiver oil, cedarwood, cinnamon, vanilla.
What I get is the briefest appearance of bergamot in the history of perfumery, followed by a fusillade of orris-rich spicy notes, enveloped in a warm, violet-woody incense.Reading the notes I can pick the different bits out – the cinnamon and pepper against the jasmine, the bite of ginger and the rasp of wood – but on the back of my hand all I smell is a seamless, powerful display of beauty.I was flipping through the Armani jackets in the Saks men´s store recently, reeking of my in-store assignation with Clive.Have you looked closely at Armani merch?What interests me is the texture of the fabric.Move past the flashy gigolo stuff and spend some time looking at a plain black suit coat; the closer you look, the more beautiful it is, maybe a mid-weight wool crepe with a subtle herringbone, shown with slacks where the pattern is smaller and flipped on the diagonal.From a distance you can see the elegance of its cut, but that beauty doesnt diminish when you move in close — rather, you gain even more appreciation for the detail. Clive Christian X for Men is like that for me.
I left the store with some great sillage (although not an Armani jacket); Clive Christian X for Men lasts all day on me.At home I put on my favorite Christmas gift — a giant pink mohair sweater from my sister-in-law Kate.She got it in a consignment store, and it´s handknit, with one of those sew-in labels that says Made Especially For You by Mom-Mom.It leaves telltale pink tufts in the car, on the floor, on the sofa.I look like a refugee from The Muppet Show.
It´s a gift from the heart, because Kate and I are two people who appreciate the intrinsic beauty of an XXL pink mohair sweater knit by Mom-Mom, even if it´s not our Mom-Mom.It´s the visible manifestation of my own personal New Year´s Revolution.What if I treated every day like that mohair sweater?Like a quirky gift?One that clearly wasn´t crafted with me in mind, but still something I can greet with joy?A gift that´s a little bit scratchy yet makes me feel warm and loved.I enjoy the public reaction I get to that sweater. It´s hard not to smile when you see it.That’s part of the gift, I guess. (That’s me outdoors yesterday in the howling wind, I think it was 10 degrees with the windchill).
Here´s hoping you get your gift of a joyful 2008, knit more or less the way you want it.If it´s overstretched, frayed or a little off-kilter, try tilting your head and squinting.