When I was in my late teens I fell in love with the 1940s version of Pride and Prejudice. Of course, I was Elizabeth Bennet … of course. Late teens.
I’m now at A Certain Age. And, with age, identifications have changed, as well. Elizabeth Bennet is still fabulous – but now I am completely in thrall to the interesting supporting characters of both the novel and the resulting films. In the 1940 version, Edna May Oliver, as Lady Catherine (whom I have lauded here before) is such a HOOT! chomping every scene she’s in – 1000 years old and still, you cannot take your eyes off her!
Pat Carroll in Lesley Ann Warren’s ‘Cinderella‘ is magnificent!!! Hysterical – and as Prunella, happy as hell to steal the show(actually it’s a toss-up between her and the incredible JoVanFleet (Stepmother), both are fabulous!)It is quickly becoming thus with perfume as well. I still like my light citrus lovelies but, as Prunella sings in the above scene ‘why can’t a fellow ever once prefer a solid girl like me?’……… well, I love the Solid Girls! Part of it might be age – as much as I love a fresh lemon I feel a bit weird sashaying around in one – and I’m not one of those who gives a damb about what others might think, either; they’re just starting to feel…odd? ..on me – as if they’re floating just above me, rather that being part of my psyche – as if I am trying to reacquire my youth. The Solid Girls/Characters, by comparison, feel more..comfortable ..and quietly steal the show from their younger, prettier Cinderellas and Elizabeths. Maybe it’s Pretty v. Interesting? Scents like Jubilation 25 (v. Gold which, gorgeous as it is, is defined by that ethereal, pretty aura), I won’t even mention No5 because No5, right? Ditto Mitsouko. Gorgeous Godzillas. Those go without saying. Other Solid Girls are a bit more open to interpretation, where they straddle the line between themselves and Characters (not that Solid Girls are not beautiful, or full of character. I’m cocking this whole thing up, aren’t I? I am just going to have to trust that you know what I’m saying and that it’s all complimentary – to all parties). I consider Niki de Saint Phalle to be a Character – that bitter chypre goes on almost too quietly but… all of a sudden, I’m sniffing around like a beagle, trying to figure out what that really intriguing scent is (oh, la! it’s moi! ) I’m trying to decide if Portia’s recommendation Divine fulfills the Solid Girl/Character brief – it’s stunning but it lasts better on fabric than on my skin and the drydown has a gorgeous soapiness that skirts close to almost too frilly. Here’s one I’ll bet you weren’t expecting me to mention: Joy (the original Patou). You might think it would be too straightforwardly pretty to make it onto the Solid Girls list but… wear it to bed. Then…maybe. You’ll slide under the duvet, feeling all lighthearted and gay… next thing you know she’s waking you up at 2am with an olfactory takedown! I was going to include Beloved – but I have finally figured out who Beloved is! She’s Gene Tierney in Laura, the melancholic beauty defying class, age and time. Greer Garson in Random Harvest is Patou ‘Joy’ (the part where she becomes Margaret and marries Charles Rainier and if I’ve spoiled it for you, boo-hoo! You should’ve seen it by now – it’s only 77 years old ;-). and neither of those gorgeous actresses were Solid Girls, nor Characters. Neither are those two scents.
However, there is another Type, those Gene Tierneys and Greer Garsons…. Beautifully Interesting, age-defying (n.b. Garson played Elizabeth Bennet in the 1940 Pride and Prejudice. She was 36 and a more sparkling, vivacious Lizzie you won’t find). Gene Tierney got even more beautifully interesting as she aged, if that was even possible (omg. SO gorgeous). I think ‘Interesting’ is where I would put those stunning women – and also put gorgeous (but not Solid Girl) scents like the abovementioned Divine and Joy. In a later post I will be talking about Romance heroines and how they are evolving ( this came about when I was reading Jessica Luther‘s amazing Atlantic article about contemporary Romance novels and feminism – I’ll yap on about that later but it’s a fascinating read and has opened my eyes to a new looky-lou at the genre (which used to give me hives back in the Harlequin 70s but now….lots of changes (still a lot of Fabio covers, alas, but that, too, is for another day but! if you’re interested in how the genre has expanded, click on the title links in Luther’s article. I thought it would be all about the sex – but wow, have some writers turned the genre on its ear (A Lady Awakened starts All About Sex and ends up in a whole ‘nother, way more interesting place, confirming what my friend Mike H used to say: ‘f*ckin’ ain’t nothin’ but somethin’ to do‘). And the best-written of these have recurring Characters (especially Lisa Kleypas, who writes ongoing series on various families and Sarah MacLean who…. well… I think I owe her money or something;-) who are interesting, droll, delightful! But… back to Random Harvest (such a lovely film) – both women in that film (including Charles Rainier’s very young fiancee’, Kitty) are feminists of a sort (and this is 1942) – they know what they want – and what they don’t want. And they’re willing to walk away, rather than settle. Subversive feminism in a 1940s romance drama! Gotta love it.
March’s true love Mandragore might fit into the Characters/Lady Catherine slot. It’s a sly devil, just waiting for that quick camera moment, so it can snatch the spotlight off the sparkly Hadrien with a Speaking Look!
I do so love a Speaking Look.
So. what do you think of this ramble? Have I toppled completely over the cliff or am I still hanging on by a thread? Do you assign a ‘type’ to certain/any/all perfumes? What are your Character perfumes?
And do you want to hear me yarp on about Romance novels? Lmk. I haz thoughts (mostly the Psychology Of Why rather than reviews of books).