One Thousand Scents

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Kiss of Death: Salvador Dali Rubylips and Eau de Rubylips

I read a bunch of fragrance blogs--I suppose we all do--but there are three in particular that I go to every day, and it struck me just now that they're all very different, which is presumably why I read them all. Now Smell This is mostly all about the very newest releases, the place to go when you want to know what's next. Perfume Posse reads like a bunch of chatty friends: here's where we went, here's what we smelled, do you want some of it? And Perfume Shrine is marvellously deep, a place where you would not be surprised to find a ten-part dissertation on vetiver.

Me, I'll write about anything that happens to land on my skin: smell it, think about it, find a hook, get writing. If I have a fifty-year-old vintage scent, I'll write about that. If I've been obsessing about something I've had in my collection for ten years, I'll spend a few paragraphs on that. If some salesperson hands me a sample of a fragrance that was launched last week…okay, that never happens, but if I manage to wheedle or filch a sample of a fragrance that was launched last week, I'll do that.

I have a shoebox labelled NOT YET REVIEWED that is very full, mostly of samples: I have a lot of other things I haven't written about, too, in various other boxes scattered around the house, but then organization is not one of my strong points. Today on a whim I dug a tiny bottle of something called Rubylips out of that NOT YET REVIEWED box. It's by Salvador Dali, a line whose first scent was monumentally important to me and which has produced some other delights over the years, particularly Dalissime and Eau de Dali.

Rubylips, I figured, would be all about the colour red: since it was so modern, it would be a fruity floral, but a good one, with red fruit in the top (raspberry, maybe? currants, red plums?) and plenty of ripe red roses in the middle.

It's a fruity floral, all right, but it is disgracefully, staggeringly bad, a blot on the name of perfumery as an art. The top is a huge spindly mass of synthetic apple and citrus that jams its way into your head, ballooning into a cloud of unidentifiable, amorphous flowers of equal syntheticity, all of it bathed in a sickening sweetness. There's probably a base underneath all that, presumably the usual vague clod of ambery wood that underlies too many mainstream scents these days--it must all come out of the same vat--but I wouldn't know, because half an hour was all I could take before furiously scrubbing it off. Rubylips is nausea, bottled.

Ever a sucker for punishment, I tried Eau de Rubylips shortly afterwards. To my complete shock, it isn't terrible! It isn't good, either, god knows, but at least it's not a complete atrocity like its forebear. It's a rather unisex blend of grapefruity citrus and the ozonic notes that everything labelled "Eau" (or "Aqua") has to have these days, some sweet but unobjectionable and not especially feminine flowers in the middle (it really is very unisex), and a lightweight, pleasantly sweetish musky-woody base. There's nothing at all special about it, nothing you haven't smelled dozens of times before, but at least it doesn't make you want to cauterize your nasal cavities.

The Rubylips bottle is, as is usual with the Dali packaging, lovely: a tall, elegant rectangular prism of clear glass with a column of lips embossed into the back, which is lacquered in transparent red. Don't let it fool you into buying it! The Eau de Rubylips bottle is the same, but in frosted glass, and not quite as nice: they couldn't sneak some red in there somehow?

The name, by the way, comes from this piece of jewellery Dali designed

which is ghastly but undeniably Daliesque.


  • I, uh, well, not to destroy your thesis sentence or anything, but this is the only fragrance blog I read.

    By Blogger D.J., at 11:05 PM  

  • I am very flattered.

    By Blogger pyramus, at 4:42 AM  

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