One Thousand Scents

Friday, March 01, 2013

Just Desserts: Cuir Velours by Naomi Goodsir

How about a couple of stories?

In 1980, when I was 17 and would see just about every movie that showed in the local two-screen cinema, I went to some cruddy horror movie so obscure and awful that I can't even remember what it was.* (It was the heyday of splatter movies and there were a lot of them out in the theatres.) The show I'd gone to see was a matinee: there weren't many people in the theatre, and so I noticed when an older woman, certainly in her late fifties and probably more than that, came in and sat down. I naturally assumed that she'd entered the wrong theatre and would leave as soon as she realized her mistake, but no: she stayed for the whole thing. And did I learn my lesson, that age is no indicator of a person's likes and dislikes? Oh, probably. Or possibly not.

Today at work, a young co-worker (Twenty? Maybe a bit younger?) asked me about my trip to Japan: since she is a fan of anime and manga and the like, she wanted to know if Harajuku was everything she'd read (it is). I mentioned Shibuya, and she said, "Oh! That's in a video game I play!"

"Yeah, The World Ends With You, right?'"

"You know about that?"

"Yeah, I used to have it for my Nintendo DS, and at Christmas I bought it for my iPad."

Boggled incomprehension.

"It's a great game!" I said. "Did you just think I was an old fogey or something?"

She didn't even pause. "Yeah, kinda."

So. Not even fifty, and I'm the old person that young people think is in the wrong cinema. I seem to give the impression of being stolid, conservative, set in my ways: it's not how I see myself, but it's how other people apparently see me. People are always shocked when they learn how many tattoos I have (four), because I evidently come across as the kind of person who could not possibly have even one.

Older people, it's fair to say, are often set in their ways. The young are willing to try anything because everything is still new to them, but older folks have already, if there's any adventure in their souls, tried countless things over the years: they've gradually discovered what they like, what works for them. When it comes to perfumery, I certainly know what I like, but I'm always willing to try something that seems like it might have a chance of being half decent, though one thing I do know: the fruity floral for women and the aquatic scent for men are done to death and nothing can ever make them new or fresh. Also oud.

Naomi Goodsir is an Australian milliner. No particular reason you should have heard of her if you're not Australian or a hat fan, I guess, but she launched two fragrances this past fall, so maybe you've heard of her if you're a perfume fan.

Cuir Velours, the name tells you, is a leather scent, and all I can say is, is it ever. I've worn a lot of leather scents over the years and if I've ever said that nothing new could be done with the genre, I take it back. Cuir Velours is marvellously new because it reads as two scents running in parallel: one is a soft suedey leather with suggestions of tobacco, incense, and rum — so masculine! — and the other is a dessert-sweet gourmand which starts out playfully fruity and gradually deepens through a creamy vanillic warmth and finally a chocolatey depth and richness. (There's immortelle in there, but it doesn't come across as floral, just edible.) It's a perfectly unisex leather, it lasts for twelve hours without hesitation, and it is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Not in love with that bottle, though, I have to say. Even if it weren't utterly boring, the scale is off. If you didn't know that was a 50-mL bottle in the photo, you'd think it was a miniature, with that big galumphing bottle topped off by a teeny little cap. Ironically for a milliner's perfume, it looks like the bottle is wearing one of those wee top hats

which may be amusing on a person (or may once have been — it's kind of played out by now) but is just stupid on a perfume bottle. I can't get on board with that. Good thing Cuir Velours the fragrance is so attractive.

*What I do remember is that the trailer for "The Shining"

showed before the feature, and at 17 I was not prepared for it at all: a boring title crawl, a static shot of an elevator, and some disturbing music of a sort I had never heard before may not seem like much, but when the elevator door opened fifty-odd seconds in and that thing happened, I was utterly horrified. It slammed me to the back of my seat. It stuck with me for a long time. What mere movie could compare to that?

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