The recent death of John Hughes and some writing I’ve been doing about the influence of Madonna in my life has got me thinking about the value of nonconformity lately.
I, like every other teenager in the history of time, once believed I was a unique and beautiful snow flake and felt the need to express that though the archetypical fashion choices denoting rebellion at that particular moment in suburban America. This, for me, meant flannel shirts over thermal underwear (in the Texas heat, mind you), long flower skirts, and big stompy boots. Also, lots of black. So much black, in fact, that my grandmother cut me off, wardrobe-wise, until I promised to buy something, *anything*, not black.
But underneath all this conforming nonconformity was a heart yearning to find originality and self-expression amongst the cookie cutter tract homes of my world. That part of me – the self-obsessive, introspective, navel gazing, artist-type – has never died. Though submerged by an even greater desperation to survive, she’s in there, still raging against the machine, whatever the machine might be. I like to think she does it with more effectiveness and grace now, or at least better clothes, but who can really tell about these things?
Anyway, this sharded self who must.be.different. above all things really values the occasional waft of a scent she’s never seen before. If it’s weird, difficult to love, or vaguely offensive in an artistic way, this is the part of me that screams, “YES!” and beings the frantic scramble for the credit card. Given my incredible brokenness and the high costs of moving and setting up life all over again, this is the part of my inner perfumista who is the least happy with me right now.
My Avon week is not really helping.
Today I tried two more Avon scents, Christian Lacroix Rouge and Christian Lacroix Absynthe. Like most Avon scents I was hunting all over the internet trying to find more than a meager one line description and a few notes as a starting point. (Not that ad/marketing copy ever really reflects the experience, but hey, it’s nice to start somewhere.) Thanks to Robin’s exceptional thoroughness at posting “New Scent” posts on Now Smell This!, I did find a few little blurbs.
Christian Lacroix Rouge is described by Avon as a “burst of citrus and spices [that] unveils a floral heart wrapped in the most sensual cashmere woods.” Robin adds that Rouge is a “‘floral chypre’ developed by perfumers Laurent Le Guernec and Carlos Benaim and includes notes of white pepper, orange, red peony; osmanthus flower, plum blossom, water lily, cashmere woods, patchouli and musk.”
Christian Lacroix Absynthe, per Avon, is supposed to be “[a] mysterious potion of sexy florals and rich woods inspired by the magic of absynthe.” Thanks to Robin, the fragrance notes are supposed to “include absinthe, freesia, green anise, orchid, saffron, narcissus, ancient woods, ebony, musk, myrrh and amber.” Supposed, Christian Lacroix himself had this to say about Absynthe:
Absynthe, a mysteriously mesmerizing 19th century potion known as the green fairy, is still one of the world's most seductive mysteries. Irresistibly inviting, dangerously captivating - a great inspiration to my fashion and newest fragrance.On me, at first, both Rouge and Absynthe were fantastic and unique. Rouge was a delicious warm, sticky carmel apple concoction; Absynthe started out a weird balance of black liquorice, amber, limes, and cocoa powder. But almost immediately this strangeness burns off, as both collapse into a fizzy sweetness that reminds me of getting soda foam up my nose. An hour in, while Rouge tips toward the warm and sweet and Absynthe tips toward the aquatic and citrus, the mildly spicy bases were virtually identical. Both seemed flankers of a missing center pole, and without that center, neither really hold. And it makes me sad, too, because I tried both three times and each time the nonconformist in me wailed as the immediate singularly sensational impressions dissolved, crying, “Wait! That was lovely! Where did it go!?!”
I miss the weird. I like the weird. Absynthe could have stayed a mildly sweet, peppery, tangy citrus mix. Rouge could have stayed warm and supple and so sweet it reminds me of Starbucks Carmel Apple Spice. I’m sure neither would possess a huge audience, but it would have been so much better than the completely boring, mild and non-descript fragrance each becomes. As they are, neither were meant for me; they are not unpleasant, just ho-hum. And the little rebel within simply won’t have that.
“I feel like this could all come to no good.
The kids who populate these cul-de-sacs
will never know what stood
beneath those cookie cutter houses:
fields and streams and woods.
They'll sit in cars and wait for mom to drive them
out of this boring neighborhood.”
- “Oh, Susquehanna!,” Defiance, Ohio
Christian Lacroix Rouge & Christian Lacroix Absynthe are both available for purchase direct from Avon.