Friday, August 22, 2014

I Wore This: Chanel Cristalle EDP and Vero Profumo Mito

Cristalle is nice, and I prefer the edp to the edt, which is nice too, for the all of five minutes it lasts on me. Cristalle in that big brick bottle Chanel makes. My Cristalle edp comes in this brick but hits you like a feather. I keep trying to like feathers but I prefer bricks. So the Cristalle feels like a beautiful tease, and puts me in an irritable mood.

Mito Voile d'Extrait is a brick - not a blunt thing, not bombastic, but it has force, it's got a confidence and an assertiveness about it. People compare it to greens like Cristalle and maybe Chanel No.19, Scherrer, Givenchy III. References can be useful. They make you feel you can control the narrative happening to you.

I don't compare Mito to anything but other Vero Profumo fragrances, each of which, in each concentration, is a different state of mind. I find it difficult to put them into words. I can find all kinds of words but I don't want to restrict the fragrances. I don't want to break them down or compartmentalize them. They happen to me in a place outside of vocabulary. They make words feel feeble at a time when almost everything does back-flips to assure you it can be summarized succinctly.

I've heard that Vero Kern, the perfumer behind Mito, was inspired by an Italian garden, at Villa d'Este in Tivoli. Smelling Mito I don't need her to describe that garden in words. She's brought it alive in my mind. Cristalle is this kind of thing: beauty as an ethereal concept, something that wafts across your consciousness as a veil. Sheer, really. Chanel takes pains at all times to reassure you that you are in control of what you see and experience.

Mito takes you over the way extreme beauty or experience does. There's no safety from it. There's no remove, no conceptual detachment. A veil sits between you and the thing you see through it. It imposes an abstraction, a sensation of separateness, locking you securely behind the wheel of your own experience. It pats your hand and affirms your sovereignty over your perceptions, the things you see out in the world. They don't happen to you; you happen to them.

What Mito does, what all of the Vero Profumo fragrances do for me, isn't precious that way. When I see someone or something beautiful, I experience it, it colonizes my emotions, changes the alchemy of my thoughts and mood. There's no separation; there's no protection from it. I'm communing with it and being changed by it and it might end up being stronger than I am. It is in that moment. It can make me feel tiny, a speck, swimming around in powerful, gorgeous and fraught otherness.

Do you know that moment in a beautiful place, where everything seems to be perfectly constellated, caught in a moment of full bloom? It reminds you what a miracle a moment can be, how fugitive it is. Mito sits on my skin bringing that alive. A brick as in a force of beauty. Cristalle assures you beauty can be handled, minimized, abstracted, ordered. Mito reminds you what a fantasy that is.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful writing, Brian. I have yet to try any of the Vera Profumo line, but now I'm quite inspired.

I love the new series "I Wore This:" - nice stuff.


Brian said...

Thanks, Marko. Rozy and Onda Voile d'Extrait are favorites - not just in the line but in general. They're well worth seeking out.

Gwenyth said...

I am enjoying this new series you are doing - "I Wore this" I check/read this site often and have read everything you've written. Your writing style is very much to my liking and your comments are well-thought-out and insightful.

I have some Cristalle edt; I like it but rarely wear it, probably because of the longevity issue. Your comments about how Chanel carefully determines how their scents are constructed and presented is spot on. Perhaps, however, this is one reason why all things "Chanel" are classics and tend to endure?

Looking forward to more from you...

Brian said...

Hi Gwenyth, I'm glad you've enjoyed the blog. I definitely think the rigor Chanel applies has everything to do with the brand's iconic endurance in the public imagination. And my favorite Chanel fragrances always seem quintessentially "Chanel" to me - whatever that actually is. I feel like I can always smell "Chanel" in there, and wearing them puts me in a head space half my own, half Chanel history. The ghosts the Chanel fragrances conjure are situated firmly in a haunted house built and cared for by Chanel HQ. I love Coromandel, No.19, Coco, Allure and Allure Sensuelle, Cuir de Russe, No.22, Rue Cambon. It's interesting that, while they're in no way interchangeable, they all feel very much of a piece.