Last Monday was a bit more Pre Fall than Spring Summer…
“The late 20th century may be a fascinating place, but surely … nobody would ever want to live in it?” Dennis Severs
Last Monday after leaving Angela Flanders boutique on Artillery Row, I hopped over to Dennis Severs House at 18 Folgate Street. I really knew very little about the house going into the experience so I was really unsure of just what to expect. The motto of the house is “you either see it or you don’t”, and I left 18 Folgate Street feeling as if I had had an experience quite unlike any other I had before.
“From where you stand in Folgate Street you hear a door being unlocked from inside. As it opens you should remind yourself of the four dimensions. The first dimension is back and forth – the second is up and down; both like the door itself – are flat. The third dimension is not flat, but comes forward and goes back to constitute a space between. Within it life happens. The door is opened, but now you hesitate. The third dimension before you contains something more than space; as thick as treacle – it hosts a foreign fourth. And the fourth dimension, dear reader is time.” Dennis Severs
6:30 AM. Torn from my sleep by the audacious din of the alarm. Luckily a steaming cup of coffee has been left on the bedside table to lure me out of my duvet cocoon. I had a very early pre-assessment for surgery appointment at a hospital, which I suppose is nothing anyone really looks forward to. Hospitals, in my experience, have always struck me as such odd, peculiar places. Places that are meant to be havens of health and recovery that to me feel a bit tarnished in a faint essence of miasma that despite the overpowering, clinically sanitary smell of over-scrubbing with an army of cleansers and chemicals designed to seek out and burn away bacteria like some sort of molecular level Inquisition never seems to dissipate entirely. And despite the makeshift decorations and pitiable little plants, although trying their best, there is often times little cheer to be brought to such places.
Last Thursday, 12th June, I had the pleasure as a member of The Perfume Society to attend a Q&A with Guerlain’s Head Perfumer, Thierry Wasser. I have transcribed my audio recording of the Q&A for you to read below, but I am afraid it just does not do justice to what a privilege it was to hear Mr Wasser answer Jo Fairley’s questions with not only humor and wit that kept the audience engaged and laughing throughout the duration of the Q&A session, but also with real insight garnered from his experiences attained through his position at Guerlain. I was really surprised at the lengths he goes to to expertly fulfill his role, and what I really loved was his pragmatic, common sense approach to it.
To celebrate World Smell Day yesterday I made myself an appointment to explore Angela Flanders’ range of perfumes at her boutique on Artillery Passage in Spitalfields. Although I had read much about Angela’s fragrances I had never ever actually been to her shop in Spitalfields so today being World Smell Day seemed like the perfect excuse for a trip to East London. I met with Rachel, who works at the boutique, and she was a fantastic guide in helping me to get acquainted with the line. She was super knowledgeable and really down to earth and lead me through sampling the fragrances. There is something about taking in scent with another person that I always find to be a bit of a bonding experience.
There’s been this really strange bright thing in the sky over London recently. Could it actually be the sun!?? Pretty shocking stuff! I intend to make the most of it while I can.
I first became aware of Alphonsine Plessis, who later became Marie Duplessis, one of the most famous courtesans, or demi-mondaines, of 19th century Paris during the reign of Napoleon III (1852 – 1870) while reading Virginia Rounding’s fantastic Grandes Horizontales, which details the lives of four of the most celebrated courtesans of 19th century France. Through her relationship with Alexandre Dumas, fils, who was one of Marie’s amant de coeurs (a lover of the non-paying variety), Marie Duplessis became immortalized as Marguerite Gautier in Dumas’ La Dame aux Camélias and then later as Violetta Valéry in Giuseppe Verdi’sLa Traviata, which I decided to listen to for the very first time ever whilst writing this review, and it is absolute stunning.
I had received samples Jardins d’Ecrivains Gigi (also gorgeous) and La Dame aux Camélias from Bloom Perfumery in Spitalfields some time ago, and only just happened to have an “oh hello” moment with the La Dame aux Camélias sample a couple of days ago when I was tidying a drawer so I decided to have a moment with this beautiful fragrance and to explore La Dame aux Camélias.