July 14, 2007

Perfume Noir and Duende

In the style of "black" or dark perfumes are Datura Noir, Nobre Noir, Noir Epices, Orris Noir, Narcisse Noir, Crystal Noir, Noir de Noir, and Rose Noir, to name a few. What they have in common is perhaps an earthy basenote such as oakmoss or spices blended closely to a darker base that draw the energy of earthiness up through the fragrance. What they have in common with other artistic creations that call to the heart of darkness is the concept of "duende", as described by Latin poets and dancers (see the poem "Ode to Wood" below for a good example) who speak of dark sounds, and of the raw inspiration derived from that direct connection to the leaf-mold and decay that feeds the life force of the earth forming itself into rich loam from the materials of living beings. Dancers and musicians in the Gypsy and flamenco tradition call this Duende, an untranslatable word -- here is a more authoritative description from Fear and Beauty in the Heart of America, by Michael Meade --
Duende is anything that knows earth, that has black sounds, anything that has enough shadow and blue descending to black. Pena Negra, the black sounds that rise from the mystery of “the root fastened in the mire, the fertile soil that gives us the very substance of art.” The mysterious sense of life wound around death speaking dark sounds into the ear of memory, whispering where the breath of day gathers in the blind recesses of the soul.

Duende is power, not simply work and not only thought, but a struggle with spirit in the blood. Not a question simply of talent given or skill earned, but an issue of genius entering life at the moment of birth and continuing to whisper dark notes to the mind and the heart. More a matter of true living style, of style written in the soul and born anew each time the self is willing to die again.
Within the realm of fragrance, this concept is married to that of sensuality, luxury, and celebration of the body. No wonder that so many are drawn to the Perfumes Noir...

Above photo from the Flamenco photo stream of Adam Blicharski on Flickr.

2 comments:

chayaruchama said...

You've been so inspired these days !
Love that fiery photo...

I could never understand how del Pozo named their fruity/floral 'Duende' years ago.
It was pretty, but hardly merited a name so imbued with feeling.
Nothing dark or 'rooted' about it.

The Sargent in the Gardner conjures up similar feeling- as does a Putumayo CD called 'Gypsy Caravan'...
It's full of extremely raw, exquisite untamed music that I thrill to.
Bet you'd love it.

Lucy said...

Thanks, C -- I'll check into the CD -- and I don't know that Sargent either, I will see if I can find it online. The Spanish gypsy singing especially the male voices that accompany flamenco is so intense, it really is amazing....