One Thousand Scents

Thursday, September 01, 2011

A New Angle: Breath of God by Gorilla Perfume

I was reading an article a couple of weeks ago about how men and women speak differently and what this means for transsexuals, who have to basically learn how to be a different sex:

...in a loud Starbucks, a man will just speak with greater volume—so he’ll speak louder—and a woman will tend to speak higher, tend to raise her pitch higher to be heard over the din.

This creates the arresting image of a pre-show Mary Kay seminar full of women pitching their voices up and up and up until they're all squeaking like bats, but regardless of the strategy people use in large groups to make themselves heard, the quotation made me think of the batch of Lush scents I was going to review (in alphabetical order, because I have to have some sort of structure).

Have you ever been in a Lush store, or just walked by one, or even been within twenty feet of one? Because it is loud, olfactorily speaking. A huge din of fragrances, not especially pleasant: I don't know how people work there without a lot of Imitrex. Creams and soaps and bath bombs and shampoos and such, all intensely scented and all competing for a shot at your nostrils. How could you possibly sell a perfume in such an environment? How would people be able to smell it among the racket?

There's only one way: you have to make the fragrances at least as loud as their surroundings, and the Gorilla line at Lush is every bit as loud as the store itself. I have a set of samples which, in case I needed a quick fix on the road, I was lugging around in my knitting bag (actually a MEC travel bag

which I use to lug around my current pair of socks or whatever I'm working on when I'm on the go: it's small enough to be unobtrusive but big enough to hold a small project plus the usual electronics — Kindle, phone, iPod — and a few other things as well, so it's perfect for travel), and the box itself was so radioactively fragrant that the project I started yesterday, and which was in a separate compartment from the scents, already smells like jasmine and patchouli.

You would think that a fragrance called Breath of God...well, what would you think of it, knowing nothing about it beforehand? I think of this exchange from The Simpsons:

Bart: So, Homer, you saw the big cheese? What'd he look like?
Homer: Perfect teeth, nice smell, a class act all the way.


And obviously something called Breath of God should evoke perfect teeth and a nice smell. The perfumer's intention was a scent that was neither masculine nor feminine, or both, something that combined a light freshness with a darker smoky wood-incense. It starts with a cucumbery-aquatic brightness but then the smoky-resin note starts to drift in, and I swear that for the next while, Breath of God strongly resembles this:

Yeah, smoked fish. We used to eat these all the time when I was a kid: I haven't had them in years, but I still remember the agreeable briny-smoky smell of them. It seems like an odd thing to put into a perfume, though, because among other things it calls to mind an exchange from the movie Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (I have it on DVD and I like it, and DON'T JUDGE):

Patty: Seems to me it's all this cheap little tart's fault.
Elvira: Cheap. Who are you callin' cheap? What's that perfume you're wearing, catch of the day?


It doesn't smell exactly or only like smoked fish (there's a sort of floralcy in the middle), but that is what I think of every time I smell it. If that's the breath of God, then God needs to find a better toothpaste.

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2 Comments:

  • I've soured on this one - I sorta thought it was interesting at first but now it just seems like two mediocre fragrances smashed together.

    By Blogger Brian, at 3:29 PM  

  • If you read the perfumer's description of it, it IS two fragrances smashed together. And he makes much of the fact that Luca Turin gave it a rave review, which I'm sure would thrill me if I were a nose, but Turin's personal tastes, however refined and educated, are still just opinions, and sometimes he really throws himself behind things that are indefensible: I cannot understand his adoration for Gucci Rush, which I think is so much glittery trash, or Lauder's Beyond Paradise for Men, to name but two.

    But all critics do that. I still remember Pauline Kael's unhinged love for a nothing little comedy called Club Paradise: I loved Kael but I'd seen the movie and on reading the review I thought, "She's kidding, right?" She wasn't.

    I don't think Breath of God is a complete atrocity, because it has some intellectual power behind it, however strange the execution turned out to be, but it's really not very good at all.

    By Blogger pyramus, at 10:59 PM  

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