THE DEVILSCENT PROJECT XV
– a review of Neil Morris Fragrances’ Essence of Melina
(Note: Found on my laptap when I woke up this morning, a review! It seems I had a visitor last night…)
You might as well know it right from the start: this is not the Genie. She sleeps in the other room now, Hairy Krishna spooned inside her outstretched arm, and on the sofa in the living room, Janice Divacat spreads her calico belly against a magenta silk throw pillow, dead to the world. From where I sit at the Genie’s desk, I can see her twitch her tail as she dreams and softly snores. At this dead-of-night hour, even the streetlights are asleep and only the red neon glow of a Coca-Cola sign at the burger joint across the street glows its admonitions against the dark of an April night. The downtown taxis are finally silent and the Saturday night bar crowds have all dispersed at closing time towards home, to their beds, to Saturday night intents and purposes.
Meanwhile, I was summoned by a perfume.
Yet before I can get to the perfume, I should maybe explain something about the woman who inspired it.
So close your eyes and imagine a woman. She stands six feet in her stockings, six feet of willowy, long-waisted, long-legged perfection (her mother was a fashion model) wrapped around a sarcastic heart of Gothic black. Visualize a waist-length, wavy fall of glossy, naturally blue-black hair, a pale, moonlit complexion touched with a tiny brush of petal-pink, eyes as luminous, sparkling green as a secret Mediterranean cove in high summer, and a full, rosaceous mouth that could send any man and several women dreaming.
I should also add before I cook my own goose that much as I like her, she’s not my type at all. Being somewhat <ahem> vertically challenged in my current disguise, for one thing she’s too damn tall. For another, I much prefer short, busty, rather less perfect blondes.
Why not let a short, busty, perfectly flawed blonde describe her, too?
If you ever wanted to know what a Greek Goth Goddess looked like, here was exhibit A.
(Quantum Demonology, Quotidian Pleasures)
Meet Melina, the nemesis of Quantum Demonology’s nameless protagonist. Since arriving in Copenhagen 12 years ago, she has been the doom (and on one occasion, the death) of bass players and other musical paragons of testosterone from Seattle to Siberia. Norwegian black metal bands you’ve never heard of have written songs about her, and one Swedish band scored a minor Scandinavian metal chart hit a couple of years ago when they released a song called ‘Melita’ inspired by a heartbreak night to remember (courtesy of Melina) that really put the capital D in doom.
Noblesse oblige so they say, so Melina created a group of female acolytes somewhat snarkily dubbed the Black no. 1 Mafia (inspired by this song), and she’s ruled those ladies with a titanium fist in a net glove ever since.
In other words, she’s so perfect you can’t have her.
(Off the record, I’ll tell you something else. She was inspired by a certain, über-Goth Empress of Snark. Now you know.)
There things stood for quite some time, beyond publication and (so far) great reviews, until Neil Morris of Neil Morris Fragrances decided to do something about it. Whereupon he promptly pulled the rug (and quite a few heartstrings) out from under the Genie by sending her a perfume she never, ever expected, from a project she thought had long expired, even if the perfumes certainly haven’t!
Voilà – Essence of Melina. The newest edition to the Devilscent Project.
And here you thought that labdanum, lascivious lechery and Lilith-littered cardinal sins were all the project had to say three years ago.
Neil Morris had another idea. He decided to explicate Melina through a perfume, inspired perhaps by the phrase ‘absolute essence of Melina’.
Call me biased, but I’ve always thought all of Neil’s creations had one thing in common, apart from an emphatic and profound understanding of Gothic darkness. They are all of them supremely delineated, seamlessly assembled and sublimely elegant.
Essence of Melina – capturing the demeanor and not a few of the contradictions of Melina herself – is no exception.
So how did he explain a half-Greek Goth goddess?
He began with a mainstay of Mediterranean gardens everywhere, even on the storied Greek isle Melina calls home: a fig.
A fig that wraps itself as tight as corset stays around an audacious and more than a little dissipated jasmine sambac, that bold and fruity floral babe that just dares you to come closer.
So she can eat you alive.
While that impudent jasmine breathes its celestial song of sins both sweet and salacious, her gal pals – in this case, orris, white patchouli flower and nootka that echo a hint of Melina’s consigliere Birgitte – sneak in to seal your doom.
I dare any red-blooded male to sniff this without a reaction. (In which case, check their pulse.) I’d also dare any jasmine-loving female to sniff this without swooning.
It’s that kind of perfume. Surely, you expected no less from a Devilscent?
Orris – one of the Genie’s own favorite perfumery materials – was a surprise. Its presence was unexpected, until I remembered two things: the Genie’s little lecture on orris adding depth and a certain intellectual hauteur to perfumes and also Melina’s own dirty little secret: she’s the fourth generation in her Greek family with impeccable academic credentials. A PhD underway no less, and no one knows except me since I make it my business to know everything.
But Melina is anything but chilly (except to the protagonist), and right when you think you have her all sussed out, somewhere between the jasmine, the orris, the patchouli flower, the nootka… Neil pulls the rug out from under our noses again.
Some long, long time later, nocturnal animals begin to growl.
Maybe the bestiaries so beloved by Goth culture; the vampires, the werewolves, the bats, the hordes of midnight-black cats.
That bass metal hum of vetiver, the hungry howls of civet, the purr of a feline, furry musk, the heat of castoreum and last but never least, a lecherous, leatherine lick of labdanum, and I know that one since I put it in my original brief.
All in all, a black, heady pulse bomb of a perfume! It fits Melina like a lace dress, like black tulle, like midnight and moonshine and arcane alchymical emanations.
Some time ago, I overheard a discussion between the Genie and Ms. Hare concerning a theory the Genie calls ‘the brunette school of perfume’.
‘The Brunette School of Perfume’ theory (patent pending) describes in a catchphrase the differences in skin chemistry between brunettes, blondes and redheads. Simply put, it’s the reason why Essence of Melina smells like a smexy, molten trainwreck of Goth salaciousness… on Ms. Hare. (A brunette). On the poor blonde in the bedroom, this astoundingly beautiful, flawlessly crafted perfume… smells like a wet, miserable dog shivering in a bubblebath.
But that wasn’t the point, for all the Genie does love a few select jasmine-centric perfumes, including the two she gave to Melina.
The point was to capture ‘Absolute essence of Melina.’
Where Neil Morris succeeded beyond all imagining – and gave her his own, uniquely creative spin.
Someone should have told him: ‘Beware when bearing presents to a Greek.’
Luckily for the rest of us, he never listened! Instead, he made her a Goddess. With jasmine.
Notes: Fig, jasmine sambac, orris, white patchouli flower, nootka, civet, vetiver, animalic musk, castoreum, labdanum.
If enough jasmine-lovers ganged up on him, I’m sure Neil Morris would make this available to the general public, as he should!
Disclosure: A sample of Essence of Melina was made available for review. For which this Devil thanks him from the bottom of his inky black heart.