Ghost Image – Pavane for a deceased child
Your photo on the bookshelves
falls by itself
there is no wind, no draft
it’s a hand without a palm, without a body that throws it towards me
without disturbing anything else,
only to make me hear the noise.
It’s the hand of oblivion.
Your photo is so present, for so long
that I always forget you stayed there.
A ghost image flies, always so strangely
to caress my feet or comb my hair._
Miller Harris is an interesting house. It has several nice perfumes. And the word “nice” is deliberate in its use. This is how they feel. They smell good but I feel I wouldn’t rush to the shops for buying one. They are not heavy, they are nicely blended, If I was given a bottle I wouldn’t put it up on e-bay. Fleur de Sel is one of their best because it manages to smell salty, something not very easy to achieve. Then I noticed this release with the surrealistic name: The Air of Nothing. By itself this name is intriguing but given the conventional persuasion of the house does not promise to be memorable. However it was created for Jane Birkin, “it girl” of the sixties, one of the most beautiful women to walk on the face of the earth. She has the impeccable style of all British women who have been adopted by the french culture, like Christine Scott Thomas. They can walk in the street wearing an apron and they would still look stylish. So I had to try it.
Nothing anyone can write can describe this perfume. If Dorian Grey had to sell his soul to the devil to stay young, L’ Air de Rien smells like a perfume created under a similar pact. Official notes listed are oak moss, neroli, amber and vanilla and if you believe a word of this you ‘re in for a big surprise. It is a sweet scent so I can buy vanilla. But where does the rest of this come from? What does it smell like? Have you read the book Perfume by Patrick Süskind where the perfumer extracted the smell of women he killed to make the ultimate love potion? This is what it smells like to me. Many reviewers report this as being skanky, animalic. What I find disturbing with this one is that it smells human. It is the closest you will ever find to the smell of a baby’s head. Devastatingly human, excruciatingly innocent and yet managing to impart the guilty wish “don’t you just want to bite this?” that is so often heard in the presence of a cute baby. Regardless of what the components might be not a single note coming from a plant can be pinned down. The end result is so overwhelmingly human that even the reported neroli must have come from a flesh eating bitter orange tree. The oak moss must have been growing on a troll’s body. The amber must have been washed with tears of despair. And vanilla has travelled from Madagascar in slave boats. I don’t mean to say that this is a dark scent. It is just that the uniqueness of its blend makes it stand above and beyond any categorization. It is sold as a feminine but is as sexless as a baby.
Years after I was caught under the spell of L’Air de Rien I heard this song of Jane Birkin. Composed by Maurice Ravel and with lyrics by Hervé Guibert, it sounded like a synaesthetic version of what this perfume is.
Note: I was inspired to talk about this perfume by a post by The Candy Perfume Boy and Poppy.
Read another to the point interpretation of this scent here.
Official notes: oak moss, neroli, amber and vanilla
Notes from my nose: sugar, vanilla, baby head, kitty fur