First Impressions on the Thierry Mugler Coffret Based On Perfume The Novel by Süskind & Perfume The Movie by Tykwer {Scented Thoughts}


The red velvet box finally came. I smelled it before opening it as I was wondering whether all put together the perfumes created an interesting, either dissonant or harmonious smell that might have transpired through the walls of the coffret.

One end of the box smelled moldy, you will know why later, the other one was neutral...

The malodorous perfumes do not smell as disgusting as I expected. I was bracing myself expecting the worst and having decided to use as a reference point my memory of the nauseating smell of a market in Thailand that I remembered of, which I visited one day for the first time when it was reeking of rotten vegetables, raw pungent meats and of a muddy dirt made of all the refuses of the market; all that magnified by the heat of a day under the tropics.

Standing there in the open-air market, which paradoxically was as stifling as a cooped up room, I thought at first that it would be intolerable. I remember how violent the olfactory encounter was and how I slowly got used to it, to its naturalness. No one paid attention to that overwhelming presence of stench but went about their businesses with an air of quiet about them. I admired their resilience. Everything seemed so of-course that I stopped paying attention as well, put on my armor of olfactory insensivity and went deeper into the suffocating atmosphere of the market, looking at carcasses and the filth and interrupting the buzzing conversations of flies.

I got used to it that day but also over the years of visiting these market-places of a pre-hygienic age. The 18th century market interpreted and imagined by Süskind in Das Parfum probably smelled of something like that. In fact I realize that this original experience as well as a number of others have made me more resistant to the notion of bad smells. In Bangkok, the klongs or canals are putrid and one becomes attached to the smell of rotting waters. So I would say that I think, in a way, that these fetid exhalations that one finds in the coffret are rather tame, and definitely artistic and controlled.

In fact, I find them strangely beautiful. The one that put me most ill at ease at first was Ermite. It suggests loneliness in a tangible manner only too well. But now I love it from what I can still smell of it. The package was not optimally conceived and is rather flimsy for a perfume product in that price range. Ermite opened at some point and mostly evaporated in the package (they are going to replace it). Now the room in which the coffret is placed has borrowed some of the olfactory personality of the ermite's cave and I catch a whiff of his solitude and isolation whenever I step into the living room. And I feel I am close in spirit with that lone abstract being. It is strangely beautiful, is all I can think of.

Aura has a very interesting smell, very modern and a bit strange. Sea is more conventional than I expected but I haven't tested it on my skin yet. Noblesse is my favorite so far as a perfume to be worn, one of the ones I wanted to try on my skin and which smells ravishingly good. Oh, please make it into a perfume to be marketed more widey. The Absolute of Jasmine is beautiful but not as outstanding as I expected. Virgin #1 is more pungent than I thought it would be, less ineffable and curiously smells of something like onion and milk although I know the first food was avoided in preparation for the copying of the smell etc. More later.

I feel whenever I open the lid of the coffret that I am stepping inside Baldini's boutique with its neatly arranged rows of perfume bottles often in the style of medecine bottles. It is like a piece of the decor from the movie.

The velvet is a bit cheap-looking though. The stoppers on the flacons catch the light and look like lenses making you think both of both science and art.

I will go back to each one of the flacons and let myself, hopefully, be transported elsewhere, perhaps precisely to that point where the perfumers wanted us to head, but perhaps not.

It is starting to get late and I just wanted to let you know that I have made acquaintance with the coffret.

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11 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. I look forward to your beautifully introspective posts each day. I can't wait to see what you think of the coffret. I'm still debating ordering it, but I know deep down, it will be mine.

  2. There isn't one in the box called Envy, is there? If there was, it would be my smell, at this precise moment!

    Enjoy all of them, M-H!

  3. Bryan,

    Thank you for your kind words. I would like to take some time to dream more about the scents but knowing me it could take months, if not years, so you will have my impressions that I will have been able to develop over the course of a few days.

    I think that if you value poetry, literature, cinema, and of course perfumes, then it is a very good idea to buy it. It will charm you.

  4. Leopoldo,

    You are ever so funny!If you feel envy that means you could get the coffret, only you have not made up your mind:) I'm suprised not to hear more tales about perfumistas who would have teamed up to share expenses over a coffret.

  5. Of course, I could get the coffret, but I have Christmas presents to buy for others too!

  6. Leopoldo,

    It looks like they are still available on the website. As you know, they sold out in one week in Europe. Perhaps after Christmas? It remains to be seen though what the impact the movie will have on the desires of people to acquire the coffret.

  7. Mais, I'm in Europe!

  8. Mais, j'avais oublié! And you know what, this box does not ship that excellently, so it would be taking a risk to ask friends to re-route it to you.

  9. A great post -- it was wonderful to read your impressions. I saw the coffret in Vienna and I admit I was a little surprised that it didn't look more substantial at the price. The bottles themselves are charming (although very small!) but I thought the box looked ... a bit cheap.

  10. March,

    Thank you, I appreciate it. Well, the cat is out of the bag now -- the so-called luxurious edition is not so luxurious folks.

    We have to assume that the development of the juices themselves was the priciest part.

  11. I so wish I could smell this set - especially Noblesse, Nuit Napolitaine, Jasmine, Virgin No.1 and Sea. If only some charitable person would decant it by the 1/4 teaspoonful and eBay the stuff! Then again, they probably smell nowhere nearly as good as the descriptions sound. I'll just keep telling myself that.


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