I’ve never understood the parlour game of ‘guess my age’. In my mind, my age is just a map of when I arrived, and how far I get before I drop off the twig. I’ve earned my right of passage into middle age, and I’m not ashamed of being frumpy one bit. Every one of my 55 years has been an incredible tour of unfathomable wonders. Some years were bloody tough, some sublime, and all of it cherished.
I hardly ever wear makeup these days – I consider it part of the grand theatre of youth. Pouty lips and smoky, glistening eyes look great when you’re smoking hot, but I just look weirdly unnatural and scared to be me when I apply it now. I’m just a bit unsure of how to apply it, or how much, or even how I should try to look. I still know how to style others, and apply make up on actors when I’m shooting film or directing a play, but I just never have enough time or inclination to bother with my own grease-paint anymore.
I have several missing fingers and toes from a birth defect. I played electric bass for many years, and I type and paint and sew and sculpt and throw pottery and draw and pat horses and cats pretty well so it’s not much of a big deal.
What does all of this have to do with perfume?
I’m in awe of retro floral chypres. As a youngster in the seventies and eighties, I never had the means to venture much beyond the mainstream fragrance world. In those days it was pretty normal to have one bottle of perfume at a time. When that one ran out, you could try another, or go again. Lately I’ve been rediscovering many of my ol’ favourites:- Paris and Rive Gauche (YSL), Miss Dior, Diorissimo, Diorella, Eau Sauvage, Joy (Patou), Fidji (Laroche), Givenchy III, Helena Rubenstein’s Courant, Anais Anais by Cacharel. I kept a drawer full of hippie roll-on oils potent enough to fuel an entire mission to Mars and back. They seem to be long gone and replaced with much nastier stuff. How I loved Temple Bells and Aphrodisia by Spiritual Sky.
Revisiting these treats has stirred up so many memories. Visceral responses to old stimuli – leaving home, falling in love, falling out, touring in rock bands, waitressing, traveling, and leaving parts of me behind. At times, I was carried tenderly through my crises by the continuum of knowing I was OK purely by the way I smelled. Wearing perfume meant I was clean and fed and safe and home (somewhere) and still breathing. Those old fragrances have imprinted my unconscious mind with the cacophony of my past. Powerful markers of my life journey.
I wanted to create a jasmine chypre for my middle aged me. Not an ‘old lady’ perfume (whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean), but a monumentally great floral chypre that gathers all of the best elements of my youthful memories in a contemporary (more natural) fragrance for now.
Chopin eau de parfum nods to the aldehydes of Rive G, Fidji, No 5 and A.Anais, only generated naturally by bergamot and clary sage. Chopin waves to the sheer luxury of Joy’s heart of jasmine and rose with a massive dose of jasmine grandiflorum and rose damascena. The leathery grounds of Miss Dior and Diorella are reproduced in Chopin with amyris, cypriol and vetiver, and the powdery musk of my halcyon days is created with Orris and Ambrette. Hippie-girl lives on through the plump and creamy base of pure Mysore sandalwood.
Why Chopin? My father is a master musician (4th generation student of Franz Liszt and 2nd generation professional pianist) and my childhood was sound-tracked by incredible music every day. My missing fingers meant I never followed in the family business of mastering etudes or nocturnes. 4 litres of Chopin perfume is my humble contribution to the circle of life.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” ― Hunter S. Thompson,