I decided today (Sunday) was close enough to December to haul my Christmas decorations out and get my holiday mojo working. We went to church first for some prayers and a dose of Christmas carols, then ransacked the attic for the balance of the day, with Rudolph in the background and a break to bake sugar cookies. If you are looking for a quiet, tasteful display of elegant ornamentation, conveying the true, simple spirit of the holiday, then by all means don’t come to my house. (Don’t go to Patty’s house either — I wonder how her butt-shaking motorized Santa survived the winter snows?) I’ve gotten the Cheese to come around on this, sort of. His mother was the kind of woman who thought putting a single string of white lights on the tree was gilding the lily. In my house growing up we decorated the tree until I couldn’t find another square inch of artificial branch to dangle a seahorse or a handmade cyclops Rudolph from.
Today, in addition to setting out my parents’ ratty and beloved 1950s cardboard village (remember those?) replete with trees and one-armed, scary-looking elf revelers, we have a huge wooden, German-made, candle-powered spinning Christmas pyramid that fascinates my kids as much as it did me at their age. We arranged my mother’s mantel nativity scene to which my children have thoughtfully added nativity elephants, snowmen, Chinese figurines, lions, a llama, a dinosaur, a Lego pirate and Kuan Yin, the goddess of compassion.
Tonight I snuck out to see a flamenco performance, which fed the only parts of my soul that hadn’t been fed by a day of shameless holiday revelry with my kids. The result is a quickie perfume post. Let’s tackle Byredo Pulp.
When I first smelled Pulp, I thought immediately of Roald Dahl’s wonderfully lurid children’s book James and the Giant Peach, and the scene where the peach breaks loose from the tree, hurtles downhill and smashes those hateful aunts Sponge and Spiker — thereby introducing millions of young readers to the guilty pleasure of schadenfreude. Pulp is something like that giant peach in terms of aim and effect. It has no steering wheel, no breaks, no catalytic converter, no emissions control, no airbags. Consider carefully whether you want to throw yourself in front of it.
Pulp’s notes are bergamot, fig, blackcurrant, apple, tiare, peach flower, cedar and praline, combined to make “a sweet, green fragrance.” I know, I know, that sounds disgusting. But on Louise and on me, it’s much more tart than it sounds — on Louise it’s almost pure grapefruit with some sap notes, and on me it’s more a tart berry – lingonberry jam, maybe, or homemade cranberry sauce with very little sugar. If it were a taste, your mouth would pucker and your eyes would water. It gets a little sweeter as it dries down, but not much, so don’t let the word “praline” frighten you. The fig is very green, more leaves/bark than fruit.
Honestly? I cannot imagine wearing this. It’s huge — insane sillage and longevity, and no volume control whatsoever. It’s the sort of fragrance that would have me chewing my own arm off after a few hours just to get away from it. But I admit it smelled divine on Louise’s wimpy-fragrance-killing skin. I can’t think of anything really like it; if you like big green galbanum-laced meanies (Louise also mentioned Miller et Bertaux’ Green Green Green and Green, although Pulp is much more aggressive) this might be your sort of thing. It’s got that in-your-face attitude.
As far as I know, Byredo Pulp is available in the US only at Barney’s, for $190, and I think a bottle would last you forever.
image, Alexandria’s library: the extraordinary illustrations of the original volume of James and the Giant Peach, which I’ve enjoyed inflicting on my own children; German Christmas pyramid much like ours, christmas-treasures.com