mercredi 2 juillet 2008

Bulgari Black: Shalimar for Replicants

The budding Parisian heatwave has turned to rain, but the asphalt has swallowed up enough heat to give off the smell of burnt rubber and steam…
The smell of Bulgari Black.

The great Annick Ménardo’s hugely odd composition, launched in 1998, is a UFO in the world of perfumery. With its hockey puck shaped rubber bottle designed by Thierry de Baschmakoff, it looks like the butchest of masculine colognes, but it was apparently meant for men and women. According to Osmoz, which doesn’t give out any notes except for black tea, this is a fragrance “without an olfactive pyramid”, as “monolithic” as the big black stone that drove apes wild in Kubrick’s 2001, A Space Odyssey. Robin from Now Smell This spills the beans: black tea, rosewood, bergamot, cedar wood, oak moss, vanilla, amber, sandalwood and musk. I can also detect a whiff of licorice which might be a facet of isobutylquinolin (the compound that produces the leather smell in Bandit) and it seems to me that the sweet, rounded, hay-tobacco smell of coumarin is more predominant than the vanilla… There may also be a touch of heliotropin (the dominant note in L’Heure Bleue).

Ménardo has since done other smoky orientals – Guerlain Bois d’Arménie, Le Labo Patchouli 24 – but in my opinion, she’s never done anything better in that style than this BDSM-style urban mist. It’s enough to give you a rubber fetish…

I could compare Bulgari Black to a series of mishaps or unusual practices.

One: I’ve just dropped my licorice macaroon in my cup of Lapsang Souchong.

Two: I’ve powdered my butt with fancy talcum and slipped on my rubber bondage skirt.

Three: I’m crossing a tough neighbourhood where someone’s been burning tires in a cab that’s got one of those vanilla-scented little tree things dangling from the rear-view mirror.

Four: I’ve been guzzling the world’s peatiest pure-malt whisky and I’ve gargled with Shalimar to hide the fact.

Shalimar: there you go. I’ve only got the vintage version – so I can’t comment on the current one – but it’s definitely got that tarry, leathery note filtering through the bergamot and vanilla coumarin base. Bulgari Black could be its postmodern rewrite, which would put it in the Oriental family. Less of a hit over the head than Bandit, but definitely in the same class of great, ballsy androgynes. Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez place it among the 10 best feminine fragrances, and I’ll go along with that: this science-fiction juice is one of the most original in history. Worthy of the most esoteric niche house, but available online for a song.

Image: Rutger Hauer as Batty in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982)

10 commentaires:

  1. The new cut of Blade Runner was in our large-screen theatre last month for just a couple of days -- I dragged my daughter and some of her friends along. This was the director's cut, darker and more faithful to the book (I hear the original happier movie ending infuriated Ridley Scott).

    It was every bit as glorious as I remember, elevated rather than reduced by the passage of time. Some of the bits amused the kids (no cel phones) but I think even they were impressed by the cinematography. Great choice for a great fragrance.

  2. What a review, Denyse! You rock. And, March and Denyse: I now must go review the director's cut. What an unbeatable movie. The only thing to match it in its class is the recent release WALL-E!
    I think WALL-E! needs a perfume of robot love. Ideas anyone?

  3. Amazing review. I've always been meaning to try this one, but I think you just pushed me over the edge.

  4. March, I saw the director's cut too (which means I must have seen the movie about ten times now). In fact, the moment it came out, I remember my friend and I telling ourselves before the credits had stopped rolling, "This will be a classic". Visually, it's influenced the way the movies see the future.
    And now, thanks to Black, we can smell it.

  5. Cait, haven't seen WALL-E, I think it just came out in France. Perfume of robot love, hmm... Will have to think of it!

  6. Sadie, I'm glad I did, and you definitely should. It's one of the modern classics.

  7. Great review. I love the four descriptions of Black. Can't say that's what I would like to smell like, but I am intrigued!

  8. E., Black's not for everyone, but it should definitely be experienced!

  9. I'm so glad I snapped this one up at Winners when I had the chance. I smelled it *before* I smelled Shalimar, and when I finally tried the latter I was surprised by the similarity - I'm glad someone else gets it.

  10. Kopah, congratulations on the good deal! No, you're not the only one. I put the idea to a highly esteemed perfume critic and he quite agreed!