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."
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.