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terça-feira, 17 de maio de 2016

The Pink Shock of Elsa Schiaparelli

There are perfumes and brands that live long and happy lives, pleasing both buyers and sellers. You know the names of these perfume world Methuselahs – Chanel №5Mitsouko Guerlain, Joy Jean Patou, Kolnisch Wasser... In contrast, there are brands and perfumes resembling meteors or comets that beamed brightly and became highlights of their time only be forgotten too soon. One of those meteors, Shocking de Schiaparelli, I want to review today.
Elsa Schiaparelli
I have long searched for it – though not very vigorously – because of its legendary author, Jean Carles, the perfumer who though he lost his sense of smell, never stopped creating fragrances. He is the perfumer who became the head of the first perfumery school in the world (Roure, 1946) and created an open-sourced methodology for the studying and the creation of fragrances. He is the perfumer who created legendary fragrances of 20th century: Tabu Dana, Canoe Dana, Miss DiorMa Griffe Carven, and many Lucien Lelong perfumes. Finally, Jean Carles was the first perfumer who created the first “take-away perfume”, Shocking de Schiaparelli: after that success Roure Corporation began work on the creation of fragrances for many fashion designers.
Sketches for hats inspired by shoes, Schiaparelli 1937
Then my interest in this perfume was warmed by Elsa Schiaparelli as a controversial figure who at one time successfully competed with Coco Chanel and other contemporary designers. Her resounding success was backed by artists such as Salvador Dali, Jean Cocteau, Leonor Fini, Alberto Giacometti. Elsa’s success was largely fed by extravagant outfits such as her Lobster dress, Shoe hat, Skeleton dress, gloves with a manicure, Tears dress, Beetle buttons, etc... In the 30s, Time magazine named Elsa one of the fashion leaders, a mad genius, while Coco was only in the second row.
Schiaparelli's Skeleton Dress, 1938
But surrealism and shock were not the only reason for the public interest. She invented the wrap-dress 40 years before Diane von Furstenberg, the artful speakeasy dress with a secret pocket for a flask, the bathing suit with hidden bra, and tennis skirt-shorts for the ladies. All them were invented by Elsa. And she brought bright pink color, Shocking Pink, to fashion as her own feature.
The final compelling reason I needed to experience Shocking was the description by Fragrantica readers: civet, honey and musk are the main notes according to the opinion of most readers. So, it`s an animalic perfume! I have to try it! However, I did not dare to invest in an expensive bottle immediately; one should try first to avoid any regrets.
My ¼ ounce Shocking Elsa Schiaparelli mini-bottle came from the United States, it has a gold inscription «Made in USA» on its pink label with a big S, while on the bottle is written «Bottle Made in Italy». Its form resembles the legendary bottle with feminine figure (Elsa had created costumes for the actress Mae West in the film Every Day's a Holiday in 1937), using a mannequin with the figure of the actress. This personal mannequin inspired artist Leonore Fini to design the Shocking Elsa Schiaparelli bottle; just add a floral wreath in the Dali-esque spirit – and the design is ready! The main thing is that my bottle was born between 1997 and 1979, the years when the fragrance was subjected to reformulation. It can be seen immediately.
Mae West in a dress by Elsa Schiaparelli
And it is immediately to be smelled, as the perfume touches the skin. Obviously, the start is far from its best form; the citrus-ylang-aldehyde part of it smells bitter and recalls nail polish remover. Shocking is still shocking, even though it has aged.
And next, as if to compensate for this rough start, is a floral bouquet: barnyard dirty and green narcissus, pungent jasmine, bitter honey and warm rose, all rubbed by civet paste. The rough chypre heart, infinitely familiar, flowery and animalic, radiates warm soul vibes and strict disciplined orders at the same time. It reminds me of the director of a school, with a sharp voice and massive torso, covered with a green jacket, and an intricate hair bun on her head. It's like a woman of large stature in a fur coat and perfume that both fill an elevator.... In general, I can say that there’s a time machine in Shocking perfume, and it works fine – but only until the reformulation time, about 1970-1980.
It seems to me that this Shocking honey-warming and edgy floral-chypre heart can be found in Jean Carles' earlier perfumes (not to mention the fact that these flowers were at the heart of the first Chypre Coty). In his legendary Tabu Dana, the heart of jasmine, narcissus, ylang-ylang, rose and civet formed “the heart of a whore" (Tabu was created as “un parfum de puta”) against the background of sharp spices, magnetically warm amber and woody patchouli. Interestingly, both fragrances' concepts were similar – the perfumes were to shock the audience, and to attract the attention of others.
The further development of Shocking, from the familiar floral heart to the woody-musky base, follows the same chypre path with civet and powdery spices. A small cloud of powder with a touch of animalics lingers – like a durbar at the French royal court in the 17th century: it looks fine, but the animal spicy stench is smelled clearly, despite the hiding efforts of powder, musk, sandalwood and orris. The dry and edgy wood-musk base accord (moss, cedar, vetiver, sandalwood, honey and civet) completes a shocking perfume fairly quietly, with warm feelings.
Shocking by Elsa Schiaparelli has two poles. The attracting pole has something of a Guerlainesque warmth and tenderness, from its flowery powder and references toChamade and Mitsouko. The repellent pole is the severity, bitterness and sharpness of the chypre, to keep people at a distance. Shock must attract people's attention but not create an effect such as the depictions in the final stages of the novel/filmPerfume.
I would love to try an original pre-war Shocking Elsa Schiaparelli perfume. Would I be shocked by it? Perhaps its shocking name exaggerates the effect? Shocking was the fragrance for perfuming lipsticks and pressed powders, compact sponges for bathing, hair clips, buttons, brooches, etc. It should be nice then. Most likely, the shocking feature of Shocking will become clearer after this quote from Elsa Schiaparelli:
"Women dress alike all over the world: they dress to annoy other women."
The beautiful perfume to annoy others – that makes sense.
Shocking Elsa Schiaparelli

Top notes: aldehydes, tarragon,bergamot;

Heart notes: honey, narcissus, ylang-ylang, rose, jasmine;

Base notes: carnation, civet,patchouli, musk, amber, sandalwood,vetiver.

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