Today’s blog is brought to us by Odette Toilette associate Laurin Taylor.
If you’re in the UK, Sunday is Mother’s Day (if you’re in the US, kindly bookmark this page and come back to it in May), and therefore the walls and halls of every retailer across the land are decked with perfume. I’m joining in with the chorus but instead of the warm-hearted matriarch drawing her brood close by the hearth, I’m looking instead at some more off-beat literary mothers and the perfumes they might wear.
Mrs. Bennet – Pride and Prejudice
My dear Mrs. Bennet! Was there ever a more meddling literary matriarch? Determined not to be turned out of her house by the Collins’ to starve in the hedgerows, she will go to any lengths to see her five daughters well-married – including (but not limited to) attempted betrothals to oleaginous clergymen, mass seductions of military encampments and strategic deployment of infectious diseases. A pity then that her uncouth manners should frighten away all the eligible beaus in the village.
For her, I’ve chosen Guerlain’s Insolence. Like Mrs. Bennet, it comes from a respectable background but betrays the family’s good name with its delightfully trashy antics. This screaming neon violet ultimately has a good heart and you can’t help but love it. In small doses, anyway – the sillage is enough to send packing every single man of ten THOUSAND pounds per year who sets foot in the neighbourhood. Never mind – such squeamish youths as cannot bear to be connected with a little absurdity are not worth a regret!
Daisy Buchanan – The Great Gatsby
Unless you studied The Great Gatsby at school you could be forgiven for forgetting that Daisy is a mother at all. Her daughter Pammy appears in only one scene of the novel – led in by a nanny while Daisy coos over her like a show poodle, then whisked away to wherever rich people store their offspring.
When I picture Daisy, I see a hologram draped in white silks and decoratively arranged on a chaise lounge. She is beautiful, she is pristine and yet she is not fully there. Men crash and burn and the Roaring Twenties party on, but she remains untouchable.
To Daisy I give Tom Daxon’s haunting Crushing Bloom. A bright, dewy rose and lily-of-the-valley at first spray, but the composition swiftly turns stormy with pepper and oakmoss. Meanwhile, wispy iris cirrus clouds drift over the landscape, casting a chilly gaze on the players below. Like Daisy, they hover – but they are always just out of reach.
Hera – Queen of the Gods
Hera hasn’t had much luck in life. She’s saddled with a husband who will chase after anything in a peplos – and when she’s not bursting in on him and his latest river nymph, she’s got to find time to be goddess of marriage AND childbirth. Somebody didn’t do their background checks – when her son Hephaestus was born, she was so horrified by his ugliness that she threw him from Mount Olympus and he had to go live in a volcano. It’s safe to say she’s not a fan of attachment parenting.
I make her an offering of First by Van Cleef and Arpels – a formidable aldehydic floral by Jean Claude Ellena (before he went zen rock garden minimalist) to be worn by a matriarch with a bony lap and a disapproving scowl on her face. Maybe you would too if your husband was out turning himself into a bull just to get into a lady’s knickers.
Eva Khatchadourian – We Need to Talk About Kevin
It’s hard not to feel sorry for Eva. Once a celebrated tavel writer, she has somehow found herself stranded in the ‘burbs with a dreary husband and 2.5 children – one of whom is less interested in Lego than he is in murder. She seems as out of place in this parallel universe as would a Gaugin hung next to a commemorative Dodi and Diana plate from the back of a Sunday supplement. In another life, she’d be wearing an attar picked up in a Moroccan souk. But we’re not in Morocco any more, we’re at the end of the cul-de-sac after the Saturday trip to the supermarket. So Eva gets Coco Mademoiselle – a woody Oriental with a safe slug of vanilla and a sweetly smiling orange blossom.