Like blood, sweat, sperm, saliva, Sécrétions Magnifiques is as real as an olfactory coitus that sends one into raptures, to the pinnacle of sensual pleasure, that extraordinary and unique moment when desire triumphs over reason. Masculine tenseness frees a rush of adrenalin in a cascade of high-pitched aldehydic notes. The sensation of freshness is gripping. Then the fragrance reveals a metallic side, precise and as sharp as unappeased desire. We are on a razor-edge... skin and sweat mingle, and tastes of musk and sandalwood. The slightly salty marine effect stirs, arouses, and sets your mouth watering. Tongues and sexes find one another, pleasure explodes and all goes wild. Confusion reigns supreme. A subversive, disturbing perfume. It’s love or hate at first sight. Sensuous jousting is rarely satisfied with half- measures... In between Don Juan and the woman who offers herself, arms are laid down... Who will be the first to surrender?
With almost a cult of love or hate, Sécrétions Magnifiques shook up the perfume world when it was launched, and it still does. A work of conceptual perfumery designed to speak to all the senses at once. One rule: attraction and repulsion.
In One Thousand and One Nights, there is this wonderful expression for addressing a loved one: to say “soul of my soul,” signifying the emptiness of living without one's love.
I remember Aladdin's warm voice - crackling out of a record player on a 45 rpm - speaking to Badroulboudour. He calls her "my princess, soul of my soul." I was 7 years old at the time, and I asked my mother for the meaning of soul.
She replied, "There is no single definition. It is an invisible presence that links us to the divine, a little like the Vanilla trail of the perfume that you want to follow. The soul travels to infinity in space and time and connects us to the whole. It is a fragment of that which is beautiful and perfect in each of us, that returns us to heaven and remains on earth when we disappear. Perfume continues the presence of this fragment, and the soul proceeds in the same way."
A few years later, through the sustained reading of One Thousand and One Nights, I learned that the relationship to the body is nothing without a relationship to the soul, though for some, sensuality seemed to be an excellent substitute for the soul. To embrace each other could be an innovative way of instilling in each other a drop of the white and cosmic soul that flowed into the primordial ocean before the world came into being.
We have here a perfume that speaks of the fire-god of Persia and the gods of India, the worship of offerings, Mesopotamia, milk and clarified butter to honor the gods. And to remember, by a wake in the air, the foaming whiteness of the soul that comes from everything. Here, perfume is soul, soul is perfume. A creamy explosion, where musk intermingles with iris butter and transmits the powerful balm of vanilla, followed by the friction of Tonka against benzoin.
The curtain rises on a state at the corner of 69 rue des Archives, in the Marais, Paris. A place that is like a frontier, where the old world ends and the new world begins. The pale moon can be seen lowering over the towers of Notre Dame in the distance. A man and a woman are in a perfumery, surrounded by bottles. He has yielded in submission to a fallen sovereign and is condemned to the ultimate fate. She is the new soul, the new role, she is desirable and she has conquered. She is the denunciation, a touch condescending. The fluttering of her eyelashes declares she is the one whose hour of glory has arrived, a scent testing blotter in hand.
The date is November 16, 2019.
"- EXIT THE KING, a perfume to dream of entropy? Etienne, you're rambling, you have finally lost your mind. Entropy has nothing to do with perfume.
- Yes Lola, you heard correctly. EXIT THE KING, a perfume to dream about entropy. Don’t you think entropy is nice?
- Perched on the scaffold before the guillotine, you speak these three words like a farewell to the troubled world.
- There's nothing for you to understand, innocent child. This is about making a perfume like a Loire castle, a perfume that could rise higher than the castle of Blois, higher than the terrace where the last Valois watched the sun set in its glory. And then disappear, die, as if by magic before the fall. With the whisper of a kiss at the moment of its glory, and then a humble return to something else. A perfume of magnificence, love and goodness for the new world, and of forgetting the old and overwhelming powers. Resolutely chypre.
- Welcome to the new world, you mean?
- Yes Lola, provided it's modern and eternally chypre like this perfume."
We all have shadows, even at night in the dark forest. You may call yours by another name: your invisible friend. Your conscience, your soul, maybe even your complementary ego. Your shadow could have a name, like Hermann. Or your shadow could be your perfume. This is your companion. You can argue with your companion, you can challenge your companion, you can test the boundaries of your own attitudes. You can debate the finer points of existence. But you cannot lose this companion, not ever. This is your alternative self. As you move through life and contemplate its meaning, you ask unanswerable questions. When you're overwhelmed with uncertainties, look to your shadow. Maybe you'll get a response. Maybe not. But at least you'll have an interesting conversation.
The night was so black and the forest very dark. By my side, Hermann seemed to me like a shadow. Our horses were galloping. Guardians of god! The clouds in the sky looked like marble. The stars flew through the branches of the trees Like a swarm of firebirds.
I am full of regrets. Broken by suffering, Hermann's deep spirit is empty of hope. I am full of regrets. Oh my loves, sleep! Yet, while traveling through the green solitude, Hermann says to me: “I am thinking about half-opened graves. ”And I say to him:“ I think of closed tombs. ”
He looks ahead: I Iook back, Our horses gallop across the clearing; The wind brings to us from far away the sound of the angelus bell; he says: “I think of those who are afflicted by existence, Of those who are, those who live”. “Me,” I say to him, “I think of those who are no longer! ”
The fountains are singing. What do the fountains say? The oaks are murmuring. What do the oaks murmur? The bushes are whispering like old friends. Hermann says to me, “The living never doze. At this moment, some eyes cry, other eyes are awake. ”And I say to him,“ Alas! Other eyes are asleep! ”
Hermann then continue. “Misfortune, that's life. The dead no longer suffer. They are happy! I envy Their graves where grass grows, where trees shed their leaves. Because the night caresses them with soft flames; Because the sky beams peace upon all their souls In all the tombs at the same time!
And I say to him, “Be quiet! Respect the black mystery! The dead are lying in the ground under our feet. The dead, these are the hearts that once loved you This is your expired angel! This is your father and your mother! Do not dismay them through bitter irony. As in a dream, they hear our voices. ”
In On the Road, Jack Kerouac wrote, “LA is the loneliest and most brutal of American cities.” It’s the city described by Woody Allen’s character in Annie Hall as the city where “the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light.”
But they come, the dreamers, for the sunshine and the possibilities, to this land of opportunity, where hope springs eternal. Whatever they’re searching for — happiness, love, money, fame — the temptations lure them deeper and deeper into this concrete paradise.
Does Los Angeles have a scent? It’s impossible to say. But Chandler Burr knows Los Angeles. And Chandler Burr knows perfume. So we decided to collaborate on a fragrance that an LA woman might wear. And we gave it the name of Chandler’s novel, set in Los Angeles.
And you dreamers, with your dreams — you might flourish, you might wither, but you don’t give up. You keep coming, or you think about coming, and sometimes you stay.
Because someday, someone just might be looking for you, pointing at you, wanting you. Or someone like you.
“A few years ago I wrote a novel called You Or Someone Like You set in Los Angeles. Its central character is a woman, Anne Rosenbaum, who lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband, Howard, a movie studio executive. Like so many of the homes up the fantastical curves and canyons of the Hills they look down on LA’s Downtown skyscrapers and the concrete ribbon of the 101 freeway, across Mid-Wilshire and Robertson, the glass towers of Century City, and, on clear days, over the 405 to Santa Monica and the placid, blue Pacific. And always the palm trees, imported and planted in LA in the early 20th century, ‘just as I am an import,’ Anne observes, ‘now indigenous.’ Anne is English, born in Hammersmith, London.
“As many have observed, Los Angeles is not a city. It is a state of mind. A strange amalgam of places and languages. Los Angeles is rivers of cement highways and infinite strips of asphalt, traffic, and despite or because of it all one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on earth, a natural beauty made by nature and molded by people, cobalt sky and the greens and tans of the desert parks, ocean fog, the white and delicate pale yellow jasmine and honeysuckle flowers that grow up parking signs reading ‘Permit Parking Only Violators Will Be Towed.’
“This scent is very specific. When Etienne de Swardt approached me about creative directing a fragrance whose name would be the title of my novel, I told my perfumer, Caroline Sabas, that we were creating the fragrance Anne would wear. She is also very specific. Coolly crisply English, covered in but untouched by the silver, materialistic movie industry, literary, somewhat removed.
“You Or Someone Like You is not the ‘scent of LA’ or ‘the smell of the Hollywood Hills captured.’ It is not one of those olfactory synecdoches. It is, on the other hand, stylistically and in its technical construction what a Los Angeles woman would wear in my view. Caroline and I discussed this at each step during the creation process. It is contemporary, 21st century. It is LA, whatever that means, though in part it means the norms a scent would follow in a meeting at one of the agencies near Wilshire, at a studio, at a lunch in Bel Air or dinner off Beverly Drive. (The raw materials are completely irrelevant. The work is the work. If you need to know what it’s made of, don’t wear it; You is not for you.)
“My fictional Anne wears it; so presumably do thousands of other women. It represents her only in the way all such choices represent us. What it will be to you is for you to decide, obviously.”
— Chandler Burr
You or Someone Like You is a welcoming fragrance: neither off-putting nor strange. It is a contemporary creation built around timeless materials.
It embodies the women of LA — someone like Anne Rosenbaum: cool and crisp; once foreign but now indigenous; very exposed to Hollywood’s silver screen dreams yet untouched by its materialistic machinery. Anne finds comfort in literature, and the garden of her home, which nestles in the hills overlooking downtown LA.
The scent represents her only in the way all such choices represent us. It can be concrete, like a beautiful green rose. Yet, it can be abstract, just like an Erik Satie composition for it is a puzzle so mysterious that it is difficult to unravel.
The perfume invigorates the senses with its fresh, inviting appeal. One feels good wearing it.