Saturday, February 03, 2007

Guerlain Chamade

For three days, I've been wearing Guerlain Chamade. For three days, I've been wondering how to tell you about it. I'll begin with the notes:

Top: hyacinth, galbanum
Heart: ylang-ylang, jasmine, blackcurrant bud
Base: vanilla, sandalwood

At times when I write about perfume, I feel as though I'm a colorblind person who's been asked to describe a painting. As the colorblind person could not describe the shades of sunset in a Monet painting, I find myself unable to describe the notes I'm smelling. This sweet almost peppery opening that smells a bit like cinnamon to me, is that hyacinth or galbanum? I would guess hyacinth, but I can't say I ever smelled hyacinth. It's maddening. Did all perfume lovers except for me spend their lives in gardens and forests, sniffing buds and inhaling the scents of woods and dirt? Months ago I talked about putting together a scent kit for myself, and now I think if I want to keep going, I'd better start looking into it again.

At least I can give you the experience and impressions part, which, after what I just told you, you may find less meaningful: The top notes for me have the same sweet spice as the hated (by me) Chinatown, only this comes across as more floral, natural, and less cloying. In fact, I'd rather compare it to another favorite of mine, Citta di Kyoto, in this respect. The spice softens and becomes creamy and dark with the entry of jasmine and blackcurrant bud. It retains this creaminess as it moves into soft woods. And the other thing: it's very clearly a Guerlain and nothing else. I think if I were to smell it and not know, I'd at least get the maker correct.

I cannot imagine being colorblind any more than I can imagine remaining unmoved by music. What happens to art? I think it would be silly to assume that colorblind people can't love art. I read somewhere that often the colorblind will love color combinations (the colors as they see them, of course) together that the rest of the world finds appalling. (I think some designers must hire these people.) But is it any less valid? I doubt it. Of course, mine is a case of ignorance, which I can overcome. I can sniff the oils and train my nose. I can stop and smell the roses, and the hyacinths and the violets and the orange blossom and what-have-you. But I don't think you'll see me in the forest sniffing trees anytime soon.

*photo from you're looking for vintage Chamade, that one's for sale. Hurry!