Clarimonde Project: Fragrant GstaadGzadzillionaire Girls + Their Worshipping Menfolk

The ground flowed backward beneath us
in a long streaked line of pale gray,

(Gadzooks! Let’s Go! How we love invitations to be literary-ish and sexy.)

(Note to Self: If you do indeed follow Gretel, the White Rabbit or Aslan, be sure to leave a trail of breadcrumbs…)

The end of October 2011. NYC.

Dear Diary,
A massive snowstorm plus lightening has arrived appropriately in honor of Samhain, aka “Summer’s End,” Ognissanti and il giorno dei Morti, one of the witches’ quarterly sabbaths, the one which deftly marks the vampiric bite of winter closing in. The snow obscures the outside,while the veil between our inner worlds gets thin, wispy, scanty and scarily threadbare. Lucid dreams come marching in, like an exotic stranger. To be sure they are some fun but we also hanker for real-time remedies of the cashmere sweater, warm body and spicy chai-tea-type to remind us that life exists in the frigid dark. Thank heaven and hell for the resulting dark months where we shall sootheth with fragrant and flagrant couplings spiced with Vampire tales from Nordic and Eastern Old Europe! A taste of immortality to spur us on!
In honor of all that, and at the bewitchy behest of Lucy of the indieperfumes blog, who beseeched (had to go there) creative “indie-perfumers” to whip up scents inspired by an old French vampire tale written in 1908 by Théophile Gautier, THIS is the reason for this post. Among several bloggers selected for reviewing, I received 4 packages in the post, which in of itself was a nerdy sexy tactile thrill. Way more fun than an acidy obstacle course through a perfume department or everyday fragrant monopolic corporate copulations!
The story is “Clarimonde” and the copulation in question (had to go there) is that of a priest named Romauld and an exquisite vampire courtesan named Clarimonde. Opening with…
Brother, you ask me if I have ever loved. Yes. My story is a 
strange and terrible one...

The tale is told from the priest’s agonizing perspective as he questions his double life, his time with the seductive scented sensualist lady of the evening …all the while seemingly tucked in his hair shirt comforter inside his solo monk bunk. (C’mon, did he have to go there?) Was it really all a dream? Did he go there?!

I have never been able to relate to this moral quandary of lust vs. piety like this priest …to me they are simply the same.  Wee me was a Tiny Druid Priestess since the age of four, happy to converse with everything temporal and immortal cavorting in a square foot of suburban lawn from clover ladies to dirt hauling ants to tiny beetle Gregors. The habit grew throughout the years and between sweat lodges and initiation into Native American sisterhoods, organic farming and a lust for Pan, Bacchus, wine, coupling, True Blood and my Romanian heritage, well, really, this Clarimonde girl seems like one damn fun immortal. Miss “Clear World 1908” speaks to our frocked boy, Ro-Mr.Mauldlin, like his God would, promising Salvation and Eternal Love along with Nights Afire.

Ho Hum.

A little rote and olde tymie gothica, I’ve decided to pair the scent reviews with some modern couplings which I have both cinematically and in real life crossed paths with, those I personally find inspiring or vampiricly fascinating (had to go there) Love Stories. Fragrant GstaadGzadzillionairesses and their Worshipping Menfolk. These couples lure with the imagined absolute fragrance of their lives – both the scent of the woman and their fragrant lifestyle of seduction-these are women who you could easily run into in Gstaad, Go Completely Gaga over, or else, as we do in NYC, when celeb spotting, furtively text “Gadzooks! She’s in Dean and DeLuca!”

When a person appears like a lucid dream, we wake up to our immortality. To fight it like a Priest is a torment of self flagellation. Vampires and their victims are not suckers, they are choosy dieters. Natural selection. The seductresses here, Chloe Sevigny, Marina Abromovitz, Bjork and Carrie Brownstein are powerhouse “it girls,” exuding an indie-perfume monogram of pheramones – like a flower or fruit or prolific, Pro-Life human driven to press its genetic DNA forward, forward…into immortality.

Although I found the novel mostly dull, with the exception of

one seXual teXtual eXcerpt  (rated xxx for literary sex)

the passage where two black stallions tear through a dense forest to Clarimonde’s castle where she lays dying and calls for the maudlin and besmitten priest to issue last rites. The journey to the castle called to mind the power of Madonna on stage writhing to vast Steven Klein’s images of her with a black horse for the Confessions tour. Romp with it then, herewith, the textual horse dispatches thundering upon the path of your night…scented couplings…and the Clarimonde scent reviews.

Two horses black as the night itself stood without the gate,

pawing the ground with impatience, and veiling their
chests with long streams of smoky vapour exhaled from their
nostrils. He held the stirrup and aided me to mount upon one;

then, merely laying his hand upon the pommel of the saddle, 
he vaulted on the other, 
pressed the animal's sides with his knees, and loosened rein. 
The horse bounded
forward with the velocity of an arrow. Mine, of which 
the stranger held the bridle, also started off at a swift gallop, 
keeping up with his
companion. We devoured the road. 

Witch-fires ever
and anon flitted across the road before us, 
and the night-birds
shrieked fearsomely in the depth of the woods beyond, 
where we beheld
at intervals glow the phosphorescent eyes of wild cats. 
The manes of the
horses became more and more dishevelled, the sweat streamed 
over their flanks, and their breath came through their nostrils 
hard and fast.

Aroma M. by Maria and Alexis. Wholeness to the brink of insanity. Chloe Sevigny and Vincent Gallo.

Lolita and urban Latinas, Exotica Bombshells, as the inspiration for the makers of the Cherry Bomb Killer perfume, plus the horse description in Clarimonde, have repeatedly brought me close to insanity with their scent conjured for the Clarimonde project!  Maria Mcelroy, creator of a dainty line called Aroma M., scents inspired by Geishas, in collaboration with Alexis Karl, sent Immortal Mine, scented with their words: “soil from an unmarked grave, blood from a slayed Wyvern, the sweet elixir of dying jasmine and fading neroli…essense of smoke from the funeral pyre…” Nope, Bloomies does not stock this…yet!

“Immortal Mine,” as indie-perfumer Head Honcho, Lucy herself wrote, “Indeed, as I linger over the last of the perfumed wine that fills my mouth with ambergris, musk, rose, honey and chocolate, that scent rising up from the back of my throat, I sink more deeply into the fragrant complexity on my inside wrist, and would myself seek to dream such vivid dreams of ultimate and Immortal Love.” Other Clarimonde Kids have been similarly smitten…read the sultry take on the Clarimonde story invented by Tarlesio. And Gadzooks!, perfumer, Monica Miller captured in a poem exactly what is so enigmatic about this “Immortal Mine.”

For me, wearing the scent brought the words “wholeness to the brink of insanity.” And oddly, another immersion reminds me of being a little girl, being enveloped by the wool overcoat of my Father, protected yet vunerable in his love and his scent. Another cold morning, a deep draught of the ungent reminds me of a brandied, candied apple with light flowers showering around. Um, yeah…this scent is orgasmic and it keeps changing its messages. I am more than a little enthralled with it. (and submitting to Gothica in Gotham…had to go there!)


The coupling this scent reminds me of is that of Chloe Sevigny and Vincent Gallo in the movie Brown Bunny, with Bud’s relentless black and white rain soaked car journeys and obsessiveness that can only come from Immortal Love. Having brushed shoulders with both of these enigmatic souls, Chloë Sevigny, whom I surprised one evening as she stood alone, all-dressed-up, smoking, puzzled and deep in thought in a Paris hotel hallway and Vincent Gallo, at the book signing for his Brown Bunny film book, shyly signing my book, and then later dashing out of the store unto the street muttering hot holy words to himself like a madman, I admit it, I Love them both hotly!

...and the black silhouettes of
the trees seemed fleeing by us on either side like an army in rout. We
passed through a forest so profoundly gloomy that I felt my flesh creep
in the chill darkness with superstitious fear. 

Samples of Immortal Mine will be available for purchase by contacting Maria and Alexis at

“Two Spectres Riding on Nightmares”

The showers of bright sparks which flew from the stony road under the ironshod feet 
of our horses remained glowing in our wake like a fiery trail; and had any one
at that hour of the night beheld us both--my guide and myself--he must
have taken us for two spectres riding upon nightmares.

“Two Spectres Riding on Nightmares”

a double entendre of words, dreams and horses, are the odds paired in author and Master Perfumer, Mandy Aftel‘s new fragrance for the Clarimonde project called, “Oud Luban.”  She writes of “a story of extremes: austerity and opulence; sin and holiness; carnality and abstinence.” I ask, could there be any couple in love and art more fitting that description than Marina Abramovitz and her lover, Ulay?

Mandy Aftel, Aftelier Perfumes and Oud Luban.

Marina Abromivitz and her lover, Ulay.

“Oud Luban” offers you the sharp citrusy floral topnote promise of a heavy winter liquor thrust into your cold hand. As you sip and warm to its fire, you fall into Frankenscense (the milk) and finally die in the arms of resinous “oud” heartwood, the most expensive essence in the world, ultimately held by vanilla notes and aged Patchouli. (ok, yes and you are wearing flowing, heavy velvet garments and a sparkling, leather sheathed sword by your side-flank…) See also The Clarimonde Project blog where Queen Lucy perfectly captures the church sensuality vibes,‘s description of Oud Luban’s church incense and the “highs and lows with no middle ground” as Mandy put it, to be transported into the Church of Passion and the State of Lust! (who wouldn’t join those parties…yes, it’s a double-entendre;-)

The image on Mandy’s postcard sent with the package spoke of the old Europe folk working the Earth and reminded me of Marina’s “Balkan Erotic Epic,” where both men and women gave their souls and sexuality to the the fecundity of the earth and the rain.

Aftelier’s “Oud Luban” can be purchased in a super cube of solid joy here.

Sangre Eau Parfum and Lip Stains by Monica Miller for Skye Botanicals.

Bjork and her lover, Matthew Barney.

But when he found them slacking pace, the guide reanimated them by uttering a strange, 
gutteral, unearthly cry, and the gallop recommenced with fury.

Sangre Eau assaults like a shock of blood, violence or a sudden flash of a camera, an artist stealing someone’s soul. It has the beat and thrill of an urban garden of cultures clashing and shocking, like an early Madonna song, a Courtney Love melt down or a Bjork-Shock of warbled Pagan Poetry. I get hit with smoke and much-used colored pencils. Wax and a hot porn paperback. A Ron Galella black and white photo of dinner with Warhol. Up and out at 3 am, laughter, glasses shattering, risky behavior. Temporality loved so much, hovering between laughing and crying and know the feeling will live on only in memory or by repeating the formula. Is Sangre Eau perhaps a taste of addiction? (I love him, I love him, I love him…she loves him, she loves him, she loves him…ad infinitum.)

Monica conjured the dark-urban spin on the Clarimonde story inspiring me to think of passionate, couples who carry their coupling into every fiber. Bacchus into a corner!

Dusk quickened and Monica lights a Roman candle of Roman Chamomile with dark berry fruit essenses for the sex-in-your-face top note, and for the heart, a cocktail of Jasmine CO2, honeysuckle absolute, geranium absolute, white and red rose tinctures, which rise up instantly as I tap their names into the blog. (Blood of Christ! What is this love between plant scents and our desire!?) The base is musks (had to go there!) honey absolute, ambrette, Frankincense CO2 and Patchouli CO2 and you are crushed inside the mosh pit of Infernality for sure!

A little mosh pit of purpose is the Lip Stain Monica created called “Purple Shadow” a caldron of melting shea butter plus myrrh, peppermint, lemon balm and spices…again each of which enters my smell receptors as I type. Ok, yes it’s slathered upon my lips for easy access to the love canals of my nose…but still. Old news to anyone who follows me, I firmly believe “aliens” are among us, in the DNA of plants.

Sangre Eau and Lip Stains can be purchased here.

Tripping on Parfums des Beaux Arts and Ayala Moriel. And Portlandia fairylandia in twilight zones.Sunday. 8 am. NYC.

Dear Diary,

An innocent, fresh bright sun morning, the kind only possible after a day of the season’s first snow. Black coffee, lover still sleeping in a white tousled bed, I slip on red leather Moroccan slides to check the mailbox, where I hope the other packages from Clarimonde have arrived.

They have.

Even though I know it is a dream pillow, I have barely gotten through the layers of packaging and the scent rises up like a cloud. A nap with the pillow, designed to mimic the “Oriental perfume that lingered in the death chamber of Clarimonde” (eeeew!) granted me folklorica images of sleeping close to the ground in pine needles and the valerian root, violet leaves, roses, lavendar buds. orris root, liatris and patchouli (why did almost all the perfumers have go there?! to patchouli? what does that say about your hippie lover who reeked of it?)  I saw images of embroidered lederhosen strapping in my lover’s heart, probably because Ayala Moriel‘s scents are all natural, artisan perfumes and I happen to have a favorite kitschy image of alpine love as part of an artwork in my home here:

which naturally brings me to my favorite nerdish couple, Fred and Carrie of Portlandia. (their take on postal packaging later)

Tower 1. Paradise Found in the Dream Pillow.

Tower 2. “Paradise Lost” perfume from Parfums des Beaux Arts.

Monday, Twilight. New York. Halloween. Alone. Writing like a Nerd. NYC.

Dear Diary,

This Paradise Lost scent reminded me that midweek last week I was invited to trip upstate to the Winery at St.George, a massive de-consecrated church built in 1912 by the family of John La Farge converted into a Winery. (yes there are La Farges there!) Twas the perfect spot to contemplate losing oneself to tripping on pleasures secular and sensual.

At last the whirlwind race ceased; a huge black mass pierced
through with many bright points of light suddenly rose before us

The hoofs of our horses echoed louder upon a strong wooden drawbridge, and
we rode under a great vaulted archway which darkly yawned between two
enormous towers.
Some great excitement evidently reigned in the castle.

A 2007 Sebastiani Barbera, Sonoma Valley, that is.

And I quote the maker’s True Words. (the words of Tom, the incredible sommelier and owner of the Winery’s words are a blur…)

It is very supple and harmonious in its flavor purity and aromas. The incredibly fresh, dark, garnet color is immediately striking when the wine is poured. The aroma is filled with black cherries, blackberry pie crust and pureed blueberries with hints of vanilla and baker’s chocolate from the oak regime. The flavor echoes the nose with rich, concentrated blueberry and black cherry fruit. The wine has luxurious mouth coating tannins which effortlessly glide along the palate, providing structure and rich framework.

Servants with torches were crossing the courtyard in every direction,
and above lights were ascending and descending from landing to landing.

When is wine like blood, like a song, a book and a perfume? (yep, this is a segue…)

When it is Paradise Lost.

Paradise Lost Perfume inspired by words in Clarimonde, “A twilight blue oriental perfume.”

The words in the story and the inspiration for the Clarimonde inspired parfum by Dawn (yes, that is really her name and she did go there) of Parfums des Beaux Arts, is called Paradise Lost.
Twilight.  Dawn. The Changing Time. Between Worlds. In our lives, we are teenagers again. The threshold of children into adults. Why we are so fascinated by this time of revolution in our souls? It is the transition time, when immortality riding on a fast horse named Mortality comes to bite.
Damn that Dawn! She captured this. Paradise Lost is exactly Bittersweet, Fleeting, Acidy Sexy, the Dear John letter or text, the wolf in Grandma’s clothing, Vanessa Daou whispering Erica Jong’s empty room pain in the black, black forest,
the dead rose, the wine left in the glass, the field in winter, the vampire that must disappear, the empty teenager’s room before going out to a party with clothes left everywhere.
The perfume’s topnotes are all sweet love ignited: wild blue chamomile, immortelle, pressed violets, golden champaca. The heart notes begin to tear, rip, and cry with oils and scents of faded flowers, candlewax, oriental lotus, black orris. The base notes resound from memory, like finding an old letter: sable fur, fossilized amber, myrrh gum,bloody sweet accord and mitti.

This scent is the descent into the dark woods, the wardrobe or cave to discover magic. Thankfully Paradise Lost means that it may be found. The object that will bring it all back, the perfume, the person, the vampire, the prostitute, the sex toy, a draught from the fountain of youth in Dr. Heidegger’s study.

…and did our Dawn know? The blue will glow for Twilight, Dawn is Breaking…letters are posted…invitations…when Breaking Dawn, the newest Twilight movie premieres on November 18th. Tweens n Teens all a Twitter. (yep, had to go there too)

I obtained a confused glimpse of vast masses of architecture--columns,
arcades, flights of steps, stairways--a royal voluptuousness and elfin
magnificence of construction worthy of fairyland.

royal voluptuousness? fairyland? elfin good fun? welcome to NW Kearny Street, Portland Oregon!

Getting outa Gothica and back into Gotham, I flew back in a flash to Portland and to our nerd Lovers, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. They really toss it up when their new sex toy arrives in the mail. Because if you forgot the breadcrumbs to find your way back and are not tossing it up laughing all the way, life is a vampiric horror movie all the way.

Thanks Dear Diary, Over and Out!

Thanks to Ellen von Unwerth for her inspiring Heidi. Other pics by me or claimable, let me know!

7 Responses to “Clarimonde Project: Fragrant GstaadGzadzillionaire Girls + Their Worshipping Menfolk”

  1. Gorgeous! Love your spirited words and fresh impressions, you have done us all proud and shown a new perspective on the truth of the perfumes!
    XXOO Lucy/indieperfumes

    • thanks Lucy…I did look at Renaissance paintings for the visuals but these scents are so edgy and modern I had to go there! What a group and inspiring artisans of scent you have gathered!

  2. Jade, thank you for such a creative & intriguing review! I appreciate the smart artistic associations you make with Oud Luban, and indeed throughout the whole Clarimonde project.
    – Mandy

    • Mandy, it is an honor to enjoy your art and this project. Through Lucy’s smarts we get to expand the audience for deep and intriguing connections with Earth and her gifts.
      Truly this project has expanded my experience, especially given the timeframe of Samhain where sense are heightened! I am happy to be connected to such artisan as yourself! Thank you!

  3. Jade
    I am so blown away by your creativity and original thinking. It is great to be connected with you andI hope we will find more ways to connect in the future! Goody!

  1. 1 The Art Star Synesthesia Issue: 7 New York City Secrets « Jade Dressler
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