October 2, 2011

The Clarimonde Project/& Sharif Give-Away

To announce this project there will be a give-away of a full bottle of Sharif, from La Via del Profumo, whose elegance, sense of restrained power and soulfulness I have written about before (for more  please see this post, which also speaks of the brightness and dark of Aftelier's Haute Claire).  I feel Sharif relates well to this project, which references both the sensual and the austere.

The short story Clarimonde, by Theophile Gautier, as translated by Lafcadio Hearn, had a big effect on me as soon as I heard it.

I highly recommend a wonderful reading by Joy Chan on Librivox. Her oh so slightly French-accented Hong Kong British voice is expressive and increases the rich detail of the story.  This story full of sumptuous Gothic imagery is also available in a free download.

Theophile Gautier, author of the phrase “art for art’s sake”, close friend of Baudelaire, and Gerard de Nerval, and quoted by Oscar Wilde in Dorian Gray, was one of the original proponents of Aestheticism, a/k/a the Decadent school (and also a great animal lover).

I have enticed some perfumers and writers to this project who I  know will share my enthusiasm about this story.  The project which will run through the entire month of October. 
I will post on it through the month, and the other writers will post as they are inspired to.  There will be links to each other as these post arise, and a Facebook group page where we can also share our thoughts on the story and our experience of the perfumed interpretations that arise from it.

We will all interpret this story in our own way. We are doing this with complete freedom as to form. The main thing is that we are all immersed and energized by the beauty of the story to make something beautiful ourselves. The fragrances may take the form of perfume as liquid or solid, powder, oil, fragrant drink or food, within jewelry, as room fragrance, or wherever inspiration may lead, including variations on a theme. 


I love stories that make me think of perfume.  I see this one through my experience of aromatic beauty as a sensual force and with more awareness of how ephemeral it all is, and how its transitory nature is part of it's special beauty. 

Halloween is now one of the last interesting public holidays we still keep, and since this since this is one of the first vampire stories, an association with October in all its golden dying glory is the perfect time. I will be posting all month on this story and the perfumes and aromatic creations of the perfumers, and will link to the other writers who are participating.

I recall hearing Clarimonde for the first time walking the streets together with Dante, an Italian Greyhound, during the blooming of the big old linden trees around here, on a night with a big full moon, while heavily humid air held the fragrance and intensified it. Breathing in gusts of lively, lush beauty while moving through the luminous dark, hearing this story read by a beautiful expressive voice made a big impression on me.

I wanted to have perfumes to specifically embody this story. It is one of the earliest of the vampire genre.  In this case however, the female vampire feeding on the life force of the male victim gives so much back in terms of beauty, love, life, youth and pleasure that the enthralled victim is more than happy to give his very blood as the price that must be paid. 


This description of a vampire is not dark and awful, but instead all about sumptuous luminosity, a blonde who emanates light, who wears pearls that glow almost as much as her skin,  wearing colorful satins and velvets.  Her greatest craving along with the blood of life itself is a matching ardor from someone truly worthy of her.

This story is about a man who dissolves himself every night into a dream of a woman’s love so seductive and sensually detailed he is not sure that she is not real. For him, emotionally, nothing could be more vivid. He can no longer be sure what is real, or when he is actually dreaming or awake, or even what is truly good or not. There is both the tension of resistance and a sense of surrender. The story is one of opulence contrasted with austerity and self-discipline, so heightening the understanding of both.

The victim is a devout young man, who grew up in austerity, isolated from the world. He is meditative, prayerful, exalted in spirit, completely unbalanced to our modern eyes in that he is about to enthusiastically choose an entirely monastic existence. Suddenly he loses his heart and body through the vision of a beautiful womanly apparition, standing by in the Cathedral at the very moment he is vowing self denial and austerity for life.

Eventually he becomes aware that her vitality is enhanced and renewed when she consumes a little blood from him. After these sessions, she gives back abundantly with the most sensual experiences imaginable, providing both the means of great luxury and an intensely erotic and deep romance.

It made me think of perfumes that recall the details of the story, such as Avignon by Comme les Garcons, for the incensed ceremony in the Cathedral interior of the first scene between Romauld and Clarimonde. 


I’m also reminded of bright florals relating to the colors worn by Clarimonde, her bright gold hair, her inner light illuminating dark interiors, in contrast to Romauld’s monastic minimalism and austerity.  The orange flower in Madini Azahar or 1000 Lilies from DSH become yet more luminous against a dark background and well layered against the deepest darkest ambers, resins and balsams.

The give-away I am conducting for Sharif relates to what I see as the richly elegant side of the masculine narrator as he describes a nightly escape from a life of humility, solitude and extreme simplicity. He conducts this alternate life in a Venitian palace with the gorgeous Clarimonde.  There he exists timelessly as a proud and wealthy prince who thoroughly enjoys the privileges of leisure and beauty enough to match the imagination and vivid color of a romantic painting by Delacroix. 


Please leave your comment below for the give-away, which I will announce on October 16th.

The perfumers participating will be Mandy Aftel, who last I heard was contemplating a perfume for the hair or a perfumed body oil; Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, Maria McElroy of Aroma M and Alexis Karl in collaboration, Monica Miller with a perfumed lip stain, and Deana Sidney of the divine LostPastRemembered creating and then writing about one of her imaginative and most highly fragrant food experiences.

Writers will be The Alembicated Genie, Beth Schriebman Gehring on Perfume Smellin Things and The Windesphere Witch, Scent Hive, Perfume Pharmer, Jade Dressler, and myself. I will also open a Facebook group/page to give space to all the participants to share more about their process and interpretations.


For further visualization, our more contemporary decadent favorite, Alexander McQueen, in one of his most highly ambiguous luxury phases as in the above photos, please see this video from Elle of Fall Winter 2008.   I think this collection is exactly what Clarimonde would be wearing  if she was/is still around today....
http://youtu.be/qFTRQJxVWQI
Illustrations:  Gustave Moreau.  
Photo of Sharif by Nathan Branch

40 comments:

Scent Hive said...

I am thrilled to be a part of this Lucy, thank you so much for the opportunity.

Lots of love,
Trish

Lucy said...

Trish, I am so excited it is starting.
There's so much in this story that inspires me and I think you and the rest too. I am so looking forward to the next developments.

Matt said...

Thank you for your generosity. I look forward to what's in store!

tarleisio said...

Just reading about it gives me chills - either that, or else Alexander McQueen's jawdropping interpretation of...decadence. I'm thoroughly overexcited!

But I can't wait to begin - and to find the words I hope will fit! Thank you, Lucy for making this happen - and asking me to be a part of it, too!

Laura said...

I am looking forward to following this amazing project! And thank you so much for doing the Sharif giveaway - sounds amazing!

Laura
ltrittipoe(at)yahoo(dot)com

Doc Elly said...

I would live to try Sharif, so please enter me in the drawing.

Joey said...

I'm so excited to read everyone's posts!

I really, really hope Mandy creates a perfumed hair oil. Her perfumed body oils are fantastic, Patchouli Spice is a new favorite.

Michael Singels said...

The Clairmonde project sounds entrancing, I look forward to following everyone's contributions! And I can definitely see how Sharif fits with your description of the story, it is strong yet delicate, almost haunting. The winner of the draw will be very lucky indeed!

Laurinha said...

This sounds quite intriguing...!
Thank you for the post and the give-away.

Silverlily said...

I think with this collaboration of so much talent, something earth shattering is about to be created...

I feel privileged to be here to watch the process unfold.

Please enter me for the drawing.

Lucy said...

Tarlesio, your excitement always excites me, because I know how you enter into things will full bore passion! Can't wait to see what you do with this because it is so right up your gothedelic alley.

All are entered in the draw --

Laura T said...

What an interesting project, it sounds fascinating! And I would love to try Sharif, please enter me. :)

womo531 said...

What a freely formed project! I'm interested in seeing where it leads =)

Isa said...

The tale sounds promising, according to the way you talk about it :) I'll read/hear it!

I love Avignon, and I can see why you think of it when you listen to that story.

I'd love to try Sharif. Thank you!

esscentualalchemy said...

I'm struck by the contrast from the Female being vampire and giving back to the man in question, vs the Man as vampire stories that I've read, where he drains the female. I'll just leave it at that.

This is going to be a wonderful and fascinating project! I await the next post and more.

Thanks Lucy!

Amanda

Anonymous said...

I'd love to take part in the give away.

Your description of Claramonde is intriguing, I'm off to read it.

Lalla,

Doc Elly said...

Didn't notice the typo in my comment, but since I see no way to edit it, I'll leave it so that I can rival Tarleisio's level of excitement. I live to try all perfume!

Stacey said...

Wow, this sounds like a really rich, interesting project, and I can't wait to read and smell more soon! And of course thank you for the giveaway. :)

Nina Z said...

How wonderful to have a story as the inspiration for a perfume rather than a marketing brief. And thanks for the McQueen photo; his work is so stunning and evocative.

I would love to try Sharif!

Qwendy said...

Hi Lucy, this sounds really interesting! I must admit I've been off reading about perfume lately, even though your writing is always wonderful, there's just so much information I can take in on that channel in my brain, a kind of fatigue has set in. This is a whilly different approach to it that I find really stimulating, thanks! I'm going on a trip tomorrow and I'll listen to the story and follow along. I've been terribly curious about Sharif, BTW.

I'll be in touch in a month or so when I come to NY, hope we can get together! Xxx

ccdouglass said...

Sounds wonderful! Please enter me in the drawing.

a.k.a. Warum said...

This is a fascinating project, dark and mysterious, and the illustrations were captivating!

I am glad I have something this fun to follow as the darkness falls on me in the month of October.

Thanks for a new project and a giveaway!

(perfume for hair is my dream -- everyone should make a hair mist!)

Sigrun olafsdottir said...

What a beautyful story and what an interesting project! Id love to ve included in the draw.

flavourfanatic said...

A beautiful story and an intriguing project! I'd love to be included in this draw :)

lostpastremembered said...

I am looking forward to this one... perfume and food are so related... just made Conditum Paradoxum from a 2000 year old Roman recipe... with mastic, spikenard and saffron and honey.. the wine smells like perfume... I also have a fabulous old Transylvanian dragon bottle for my offering for the group... the photo should be wonderful!
Oh, and I love perfumed hair... it is a brilliant idea!

Lucy said...

You are all entered in the draw --

D/Lost Past I can't wait to see what you do -- the ancient wine recipe sounds amazing. The dragon bottle I can only imagine. The photos you do are always so vivid and enticing. ( (I imagine you must be in deep correspondence with Rosalva about the old Roman wine)

Turns out Mandy Aftel has decided to do a full perfume after all, which is very very exciting and I am so honored she is inspired to do so for this project.

Doc Elly, you will have a run for your money with Tarlesio/Sheila.

Qwendy/Wendy, I think you will enjoy it, we are all enthused. Wait til you get a load of Lost Past Remembered and Tarlesio/Sheila and AromaM and Alexis going all out and everyone, Mandy amazingly doing a full perfume for this concept. I have been so enthralled by this story since I heard it. Do try it, I think the utter decadence will revive you from ennui...

I am so glad to hear from you all. If any of you want to be invited to the group on Facebook and are not already, please let me know -- I am at lraubertasatgmaildotcom, send me a note with your FB name.
Stay tuned, there will be much more to come. The story will keep you all busy for a little while, and is the most seductive and best intro to all this. I really do recommend listening to Joy Chan's voice, it is perfect for the story.

Qwendy said...

"I think the utter decadence will revive you from ennui"...you're not kidding! Can't wait! Xxx

Lucy said...

Q/Wendy, let me know when you come in -- I don't see you on Twitter anymore are you tired of the keyboard? That happens...sometimes you must get away from the computer

Bellatrix said...

More! More!:)

jen said...

Well, I can't wait to read more! This is a really intriguing project -- and seasonally appropriate while being utterly timeless. Enter me in the draw, if you will, please?

Lucy said...

There will be more! I am thinking for myself a short post midweek and a long luxurious one on the weekends. The other writers will be posting throughout the month of October and we have a group on FB on Clarimonde. Please send me an email at lraubertasatgmaildotcom if you would like to be a member to see the Clarimonde activities on FB

Maureen said...

Utter Decadence...sign me up! I would love to try this, and what a cool project...will follow with interest. Thanks for the draw.

Jennifer Haile said...

Very intriguing, indeed! Great giveaway too!

Monica Skye said...

I loved the sample of Sharif I was able to procure, would love to be in the draw! .... the story of Clarimonde is certainly...ponderable... thank you for the opportunity to be in such sumptuous company!

ololiuqui said...

Thanks for the giveaway!Sharif fragrances are great,please enetr me in tre draw!

Liz G. said...

This story of Clarimonde is exquisite. I can almost feel the warmth in the biting cold as I read about it. I would love to win Sharif. You description of it a few posts back made it sound amazing.

Anonymous said...

I ran into this lovely blog since....i have recently found an interest in perfume...so it would be nice to try something as magical as Sharif. :)

ex-oriente-lux@hotmail.com

judith said...

Love your post!

MoonRae said...

I'm so intrigued.....maybe late for the giveaway, but I will be following this

lunrei(at)yahoo(dot)com

slundberg said...

Another wonderful project! Some great creative artists in this one! Sharif is beautiful, would love to be in the draw.