Gustave Moreau - The Sirens, 1872
Much has been written about Liz Moores’ recently launched Papillon brand. It became an internet phenomenon long before the scents were ready for sale, mostly due to her prolific engagement with scent lover’s forums online.
What has not yet been discussed yet is the untamed erotic disposition of the scent that stirred me most significantly – Anubis.
True erotica isn’t concerned with the sex act, instead, it brings forth imagery to tease and rouse the imagination. It is enigmatic rather than explicit. In the fact that is more to do with the mind than actuality, erotica can play with concepts or imagery that perhaps you might not necessarily want to connect with in real life. I’m sure that no seafaring man wished to end his life shattered upon the bloody rocks, lured by the bewitching call of the Siren. And yet there is no doubt the fantasy of resting his cheek amongst the plentiful bosom of the sinister maritime songstress sisters would have surely whistled a breeze up his flagpole.
Anubis is primarily a smoky leather scent, underpinned with a spiritual incense that renders it ‘otherworldly’. My first thoughts were of David Hemmings playing the startlingly handsome Captain Nolan in the 1968 film – The Charge Of The Light Brigade. It’s not just the almighty horsey leather boots reference, it’s in his eyes. A star reigning long before the advent of Touche Eclat, his beauty was magnified by the dark shadows underneath eyes of sapphire. Shadows that hinted at late nights and Byronic decadence. Gothic chic – a deathly pallor.
Leather has traditionally signified the erotic in perfumery. It’s no wonder when we consider the connotations of this whiff. The obvious (and to me unappealing) signification is the relationship between leather and S&M. However a more intriguing idea is the imagery of the horseman, the hero that will rescue us from danger, or perhaps the highwayman that will hold us at peril. The young girl that reads stories of valiant horseback rescue may also be the girl who’s first love is a pony. In this case the ripe leather and grassy sweat smell of saddlery and the excitement of our first pair of proper riding boots is associated with the obsessive equine love of the teenage girl, creatures that we adored and nurtured and nuzzled long before we discovered boys.
Anubis contains an almost briny element, reminiscent of fresh sweat upon the skin or the seawater that clings to us following a dip in the sea. The sea brings me back to mythology and the great paintings of classical tales. Manchester Art Gallery displays a melancholically erotic depiction of Sappho, poet of Ancient Greece, said to have ended her life by jumping off a sea cliff driven quite mad by her love of a ferryman. Some years ago I swam in icy, weed riddled waters off the West Coast of Scotland. Under a black sky spattered with the incandescent spectacle of the Milky Way, I was struck by the terror of unseen creeping hands of the seaweed and yet overcome by the almighty feeling of being consumed by vivid raw nature in a vast landscape. When I stand in front of Sappho I feel both the terror of the sea and the absolute elemental nature of feminine sensuality.
Charles-August Mengin - Sappho, 1877
We are indeed creatures of Mother Nature, affected at base level by the stuff of the earth. Living in the modern world we take our sensual pleasures in our homes, most often in bed. But our fantasies often take us outside where our visions of amourous embraces are acted out in the forests and mountains, the picnic with the sun baked and bonded skin, the hidden shelter of a canopy of trees in an electrical storm, the whiff of a man’s hair tainted by wood smoke. Were I not afraid of the chanting, rituals and terrible fashion, I’d without doubt become a Pagan priestess.
Which leads me nicely back to Liz. Not that I’m suggesting that she is indeed a Pagan priestess, but she does live deep in the countryside surrounding by a gaggle of children, various pets and domesticated wildlife. It seems fitting that such an evocative perfume came from a nose with a profound love of rural life.
On Ormonde Woman and witchcraft
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