The Green Fiend

– A review of Jacomo’s ‘Silences’
Once upon a time in the Seventies, women were not afraid to be audacious or unique, either in their choice of perfume or their personalities. “Not for unassuming women”, read the copy for Yves Saint Laurent’s ‘Rive Gauche’, and if any perfumey slogan sums up an era, that would be it, equally applicable to Rive Gauche, Chanel no. 19, the teen-market version Revlon’s ‘Charlie!’ or any number of chypre/green/assertive scents of the time.

It was a bolder, more individualized decade, and the scents launched in the 1970s reflected that boldness, that audacity of spirit and daring and ‘You’ve come a long way, baby!”

And so I have, no longer anywhere near the 6- through 16-year-old I was in that decade, but one thing has stayed with me always – my penchant for the Green Fiends – scents that wave their galbanum flags loud and proud, scents with serious intentions for women you don’t mess around with.

Along the way, I found it was a perpetual quest to locate the ultimate Green Fiend. Chanel no.19, a perennial favorite, is very ladylike in its assertiveness, the kind to rap you lightly with a Japanese fan if you ever go too far. ‘Knowing’ by Estée Lauder is a rosy-green chypre that is as bracing as it is bitter, and this lady is not afraid to use her very expensive handbag, should you overstep your bounds, nor timid in the least to admit her relationship with her siblings, Lauder’s ‘Aliage’, Clinique’s ‘Aromatics Elixir’ or Prescriptives’ ‘Calyx’, none of them in the slightest unassuming, and all of them carrying metaphorical Hermès Kelly handbags with some serious punch behind them, or else some serious books inside them.

So on a whim, I wished for a bottle of a Green Fiend I had somehow managed to miss in my quest for green with a capital G.

Creeping in on sinuous, snaky tendrils of emerald green, Jacomo’s Silences arrived. Right away, I could tell this was no unassuming woman, this was a quietly commanding Helmut Newton glamazon, standing tall and proud in her six-inch spikes, not shouting her presence so much as insinuating herself into yours.

You can tell she is a blood relative of Chanel no. 19, the family likeness is right on her face, but whereas Mademoiselle Chanel is intimidating, Silences is intimate and more muted and by far more…green. This is the green of deep, uncharted forest, where unexpected flowers bloom.

After that sharp, bracing burst of galbanum, almost bitter, almost resinous, a hyacinth begins to bloom and grow, gathering more flowers in its wake, a hint of rose, a whisper of narcissus, the slightest touch of lily of the valley that keeps the hyacinth in check, keeping it from becoming too heady, too much, always erring on the side of class and elegance, always cool but never cold.

Those flowers stay with you a long, long time before they fade away to a verdant whisper of woods, a touch of amber, a tinge of something akin to regret. It lasted at least six hours on me, and was never less than stunning.

If Silences were a Tarot card, she would be the Major Arcana card called The Priestess, for that slightly chilly self-sufficient air she wears, that intimation she knows infinitely more than you could ever think to ask. She keeps her distance, and the distance only intrigues you more and lures you further in to those secret, green depths. She carries a touch of melancholy about her, a slightly pensive, eerie air, and even so, she inspires devotion, love and acolytes.

I’ve worn this during a heat wave this past summer, and it was the olfactory equivalent of air conditioning, keeping me cool, calm, collected and above all – grounded in the heat. But even in this wet and far cooler autumn, she reminds me that all things return, that even Spring will return, and so will I, longing for the secrets hidden in that emerald-green shade that is ‘Silences’.

This should receive far more attention than it does, but some of us do what we can to spread the word.

Can be bought for much less than the blood of your firstborn child in many locations, among them Amazon and here:

Notes according to the Jacomo website:
Top note : Narcissus absolute, Iris from Florence, Rose, Blackcurrant absolute, Galbanum
Heart note : Calendula, Bulgarian rose, Lily of the valley
Base note : Oak moss, Ambrette, Sandalwood, Vetyver

Notes according to Basenotes:
Top Notes: Galbanum, Green Note, Bergamot, Lemon, Orange Blossom .
Middle Notes: Orris, Rose, Muguet, Hyacinth, Jasmin.
Base Notes: Moss, Cedarwood, Sandal, Musk .

Read more here:

Image: Copyright: Helg of Perfume Shrine

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So here’s the deal

I am a woman obsessed by many things. Music. Literature. Poetry. Writing. What happens in the world around me, and what happens right underneath my nose.

That last is a big one. Because I am also a woman obsessed by perfume. What other form of art contains such a shortcut to emotion and memory, and what other art form is so hard to articulate and pinpoint, when the vast majority of Planet Earth rarely thinks further than “that smells…good/bad/horrid/heavenly?”

Picture this. It’s Paris in the spring of 1977. In Paris that spring, that seminal year, was a woman in her early thirties and her gobsmacked daughter, just turned fourteen. Paris had been an education in several senses of the word. The sightseeing, Versailles, the smiling strangers at the top of the Eiffel Tower, the patisserie shops, the very idea that life itself and all things enjoyable could be turned into at art form of its own. The woman – being a woman – knows of the joys that come with the territory. The daughter is just learning, suspecting that maybe being a girl is not quite so overrated. She is perched on the diving board of womanhood, and far, far below glitter many things that can’t all be bad. There are intimations of experiences ahead, like boys, like sex, like having something someone else could want, like desire. She knows about that one, at least. She just had her butt pinched by an unseen stranger in the Paris Métro.

Mother and daughter enter one temple of sensual pleasures on the Champs-Elysées, the Guerlain store. Time to graduate from all-over body sprays to the good stuff, the hardcore stuff, the olfactory equivalent of crack cocaine.

I was – am – that daughter, and that afternoon was a day I’ll never forget. The many perfumes I never knew existed, conjuring up emotions and sensations I couldn’t even understand, never mind articulate. Perfumes so rich, compelling and complex, “it smells good” didn’t even begin to cover it.

Maman left with Mitsouko. Daughter left with Jicky. The world was never quite the same again.

Fast forward, an uncomfortable amount of years later. Meanwhile, I had fallen on hard times. All my perfume bottles were empty. There was no…YSL Paris, no Rive Gauche, no Chanel no. 19, no Ralph (don’t shoot me!), no Bulgari Thé Verte Extrème. The closest thing was scented body products, and even then, they seemed a poor substitute.

Which was when I came across perfume blogs. I knew it wouldn’t be quite the same, would, in fact, be…perfume by proxy, so to say, to see if I could conjure up a scent with words alone.

It was another kind of education. So much to discover, so much I never even knew. I knew only what I liked and what I didn’t – and on a select few occasions, absolutely loathed.

Since then, I’ve declared never to smell like anyone else, ever again. Since then, perfume is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. There are days I want Liquid Courage. I want to take on the world by the teeth. There’s a scent for that. Sometimes, I want to sheath myself in invisible armor, so nothing can faze or unhinge me. I know what to use. There are days I want nothing more than to contemplate the unbearable brightness of being. There’s one for that, too.

Last, but not least, there are the days when I desperately need to put some lethal va-va in my voom, in more ways than one, and yupp, I know where to go now.

But above all, I’m a writer, inconspicuous now, but I might have potential – or so I delude myself. I write my passions into my blogs. Here’s another one.

The only disclaimer is that anything I review on these pages is usually something I bought myself, or was gifted, unless I tell you otherwise.

And of course, that my attempts at grasping the ethereal, the ephemeral are here for the taking, the commenting.

I can’t write like some of my own favorite perfume bloggers – most of whom you’ll find on the right. I can only write as myself.

I can also smell like…myself, and like myself, but better, finer, classier, brainier, sexier, taller, drop-dead intimidating.

You never know. I might even educate you!

Watch this space!

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