Perfume, Murder and Awesome Glasses
“Perfume: the Story of a Murderer”
Presented with an official “scent-track” as created by Les Christophe.
Produced by the IAO, Lucky Scent, l.a.Eyeworks and IFF November 6th and 7th, 2013.
In Hollywood, located on a lovely retail part of Beverly Blvd, we find the Scent Bar kitty-corner from the ultra funky, designer eye glass frame showroom called l.a.Eyeworks. Over the last few months the IAO, l.a.Eyeworks, IFF and Scent Bar have been planning this multi-sensory screening event of the cult classic movie: Perfume- the Story of a Murderer.
The movie was based on a book of the same name. While beginning his perfume career, Christophe Laudamiel read the book and it inspired him to create scents that matched different scenes, passages and themes. Christophe partnered with Cristoph Hornetz calling themselves “Les Christophe”, and began creating a set of scents that would represent the feel and scent of the movie. It was these scents, which have been kept in a vault at IFF for the last 7 years, that we got to smell tonight, the way Les Christophe intended. Just like the movie, the entire emotional spectrum is represented through the sense of smell and Les Christophe’s compositions.
The evening began with some champagne, everyone settling into their seats and an introduction by the wonderful people that made this event happen; truly a team effort. During the screening, the employees of l.a.Eyeworks handed out individual scent strips that correlate with the given scenes. I hit the play button and the DVD began with the haunting musical score. What follows is my impressions of the scents. (I was the tech guy, making sure everything was running smoothly, and for the most part it did, minus the two times the machine froze...)
“Paris, 1738”- Holy god, this melange of foulness is bad, transfixing and nauseating. The initial impression of body odor, not a post workout bo, but an unkept, sickly, aged, death bo. From someplace in my sense memory, it reminds me of an 80 year old, dying man with greasy hair. You can smell the garbage, sewage and death. Combine this scent with the movies visuals of the discarded fish heads, drunkards vomiting on walls and the blood soaked clothing of Grenouille’s mother, and you get the picture of “Paris, 1738”.
(I brought a scent strip of this home with me, and I almost lost my dinner three times. I had to open all the windows, or else...)
“Baby”- Soft, sweet, tasty. A wonderful touch of a creamy vanilla. It shifted a little into a soft musk. Very nice indeed. I’ve read the book so many times I thought the movie had the scene with the wet nurse educating Father Terrier about how a baby “should smell like milk, no like butter...” It was a bit of a juxtaposition smelling the scent of new born “Baby” while seeing him covered with blood and fish parts.
“Grimal’s Atelier”- Leather, leather and more leather. Lot’s of animalic musk, possible a castorium. I noticed a couple people cough and sneeze at this part. The scent really brought to life the slavish conditions Grenouille lived in.
“Baldini’s Boutique”- This one overdoes it, as it’s supposed to. Baldini’s boutique has hundreds, if not thousands of scents, of every kind and in every crevice, making it overwhelming for the average person. This scent captures that perfectly. The first note I got was lipstick and white face powder then a musk along with every type of floral note. This was masterfully created to duplicate hundreds of scents, poured into a jar and shaken vigorously. It was just like walking through a perfume section of a major department store, on a very busy Saturday with every sales associate eagerly offering up liberal sprays of this, that and another. Too much, yet lovely.
“Virgin #1”- I enjoyed this fruity scent. It opened with a touch of salt, like moist skin then moved into a ultra soft musk. While watching the movie, the scent seemed to be her pale beige skin and soft red hair. I got a wonderful aldehydic, peachy/apricot, plum note. I came back to this one a few times and after an hour or so, it seemed to move into a soft musk.
“Amore & Psyche”- It actually was nice, albeit linear and “safe”. The lime, cardamon, cloves, cinnamon, rosemary and bergamot seemed to make the soft patchouli less noticeable. After about an hour on the strip a strong, undistinguishable synthetic note appeared, not sure what that was. Seeing Duston Hoffman “smell” during this scene, while smelling this version of Amore & Psyche was a lot of fun and very immersive.
“Rose Essence Grasse”- This was from the scene when they begin the distillation education. For the sake of making it easier to deliver the scent strips to the 50 people attending the screening, the strips were dipped prior to the beginning of the event, thus the natural Rose essence wasn’t as strong with the top notes. It was a little weak, but lovely non the less. Beautiful in fact. There were audible ooh’s and aah’s in the audience as they began to sniff at the beautiful rose oil.
“Nuits Napolitaines”- Since I was the tech guy for the night, I was slightly distracted, so I think this was the “perfected” version of “Amor & Psyche” that Grenouille created on his first visit to Baldini’s. If so, this was a beautiful version! There seemed to be all that was in A&P plus some uplifting violet, osmanthus and a beautiful floral accord. After the evening was over, many people said that this was one of their favorites from the entire screening.
“Ermite”- the cave. My first impression of this scent was that of licorice root, not the candy, but the actual root that has a rounded feel to it. I also got a mellow anise or anisic aldehyde note right off the bat. It was filled with many other scents including green moss, aquatic green notes, a clean musk, a metallic note, possibly an oxide in very low dosages and the very distinct scent of steel wool. The scent of steel wool after it has been wet then allowed to dry. I wanted to smell earth, but I don’t recall that note. Watching the scene of him huddled in the dark, under dripping water made this scent experience profound.
“Human Existence”- Damn! Musk, funk and arm pits. Damn! This got audible gages and coughs from the audience as the sent strips were passed around. Repulsive, yet I kept revisiting it again and again. Animalic musk was the first note I smelt. It progressed into ancient wood, like the wood I smelt as a kid on the North Dakota prairies, the wood that was next to the train tracks we called “Indian wood”; ancient trees filled with sap that have been baked in the sun. There was also a filth of years worth of unwashed, hairy arm pits. The harsh scent of corroding, moist, hand forged wrought iron. The fecal scent was very noticeable in the dry down. Damn!
“Jonquille Extraction at Mrs. Arnulfi”- Breathy, warm and sweet hay like. I’ve never smelt pure Jonquil or narcissus by itself, so I don’t have a comparison, but it smells very similar to the Tuberose Absolute I just got from Eden Botanicals. Tuberose shows up in the following scene of the movie.
“Lavender Fields”- Lavender. A slightly camphorous and slightly herbaceous Lavender. Just like being in Provance. The visuals of the movie while smelling this seemed to transport the entire room. This was an all natural that Christophe got in France from this years harvest.
“Noblesse”- This is from the party scene in Grasse, in the Richis labyrinth garden. My notes were a little sloppy at this point. It reminded me of a white musk with lemon, civit musk, some floral notes and some other things I can’t seem to make out. (The DVD player decided to freeze up and I had to take care of business...) I do remember I liked it.
“Sea”- This is when Laure and her father arrive at the seaside castle. Calone is the initial note with some added salt, possibly some galaxolide musk giving it a clean laundry smell. There were some metallic notes, similar to the steel wool, that made this a very light, but impactful scent. A number of people said it was in their top three of the night.
“Orgy”- The process of the evening went like this: there were three employees handing out scent strips at specific times to correlate with the scenes of the movie. Being that there were 50 people in the audience, they had to hand them out fast-ish. This scent was passed out a little too fast, or “premature” if you will (giggle).
The scene starts with Grenouille using the perfume in the prison to win over the guards, then he changes into the blue velvet outfit. He dabs a little more perfume prior to stepping out of the carriage, thus winning over the crowd and the executioner.
It was at this point the scent strips were passed out, but it’s not for another minute or two that the “Orgy” begins. Since it was dark in the audience, no one could read the titles on the scent strips, yet starting from the back of the room, you could hear one person giggle, then another giggle, and another as the scent rekindled the sense memory...
Finally, Grenouille threw the perfumed handkerchief into the crowd and the 10+ hour orgy commenced, allowing for Grenouille’s escape.
Now, for the scent of “Orgy”. Semen. There was a slight cool, clean/dirty quality, but the musky, hazy note that seems to be “molecule X” in a number of Le Labo compositions dominates this blend. Semen.
“Jasmine”- We finished the screening by watching the cannibalistic, angelic light show that was Grenouille’s death, while smelling a beautiful natural Jasmine absolute. Jasmine is a very spiritual, naturally complex and euphoric scent, making the conclusion to this story very fitting.
We are looking forward to the next screening on Thursday. The response from the Hollywood Reporter article and word of mouth has been great. Look for other screenings coming up soon, possibly in a city near you.