Recent Purchases with Some Background: The Greater Arcana

Went to Bloomie's today, because a friend had a discount card he wasn't going to use and gave it to me. I used it to pay for part of:

Miller Harris
Fleurs de Bois
Notes: Galbanum, Green Mandarin, Rose, Jasmine, Iris, Oakmoss, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Birch.

This is a very nice green floral that borders on the chypre theme, although it substitutes mandarin in the top note for the usual bergamot, but the galbanum in the top makes the citrus resemble bergamot a bit more. I have a feeling that this one will remain close to the skin, but I got it anyway. I have two Miller Harris scents already (Feuilles de Tabac and Terre de Bois), both of which are very fine and which deserve to be worn more; I fear I have sadly neglected them because I have so much more recently acquired stuff. I was glad to see that Bloomingdale's carries this line. I got my original two at Nordstrom, which later dropped the whole line. Neiman's had them for a while, and likewise dropped them. In my opinion, they ought to be better known in the United States.

Then I went on to Nordstrom, where they had displays of D&G's new Anthology line of EdTs in both the men's and the women's perfume counters. I tried all five, and settled on :

Dolce & Gabbana
18 La Lune
Notes: Lily, Tuberose, Sandalwood, Musk, Orris Root, Leather.

All the scents in this line are named for cards from the Tarot: 1 Le Bâteleur (The Juggler, or The Fool), 3 L’Impératrice (The Empress), 6 L’Amoureux (The Lover), 10 La Roue de la Fortune (The Wheel of Fortune), and 18 La Lune (The Moon). I think this is a fascinating conceit. Curiously, each of the scents has a different photo model; what they all have in common is that they are each and every one of them photographed naked.

The Tarot cards corresponding to the scents are interpreted in interesting ways:

  • The Juggler/The Fool represents Risk, or The Life Journey, or (sometimes) Death (if reversed). In the Tarot, he is not number one, but usually zero; because his theme is transformation, he can be anything, creating himself as it were ex nihilo.
  • The Empress is variously interpreted as the Earthly Paradise/Garden of Eden, sensuality, beauty, health, nature, desire, physical attraction, or satisfaction.
  • The Lover is only half of tarot card number six; card number six is The Lovers (plural) in the Tarot. In a common interpretation, it represents a difficult choice or temptation in some form; other readings are more superficial: love, relationships, sex.
  • The Wheel of Fortune in the Tarot can be seen as a turning point, a change of direction, or an opportunity; it can also be read as a passage between life cycles (impending entry into a different stage of life).
  • Finally, the one I chose, The Moon, represents the animal imagination; that is, the fantasies of the physical rather than the spiritual self, tending to be associated with the unconscious. It is associated with the Deep, the Abyss, from which emanate many forms of life, as from the primordial sea.

As for the fragrances themselves:

  • Le Bâteleur 1: the ad features Tyson Ballou, the fragrance has aromatic and aquatic notes, cedar and vetiver.
  • L’Impératrice 3: with model Naomi Campbell and notes of watermelon, kiwi, pink cyclamen and musk.
  • L’Amoureux 6: represented by Noah Mills, with spices, bergamot, juniper, pink pepper, cardamom, birch leaf, orris, wood and musk.
  • La Roue de la Fortune 10: the ad shows Eva Herzigova and Fernando Fernandes. The notes include tuberose, gardenia, jasmine, benzoin and patchouli.
  • La Lune 18: with Claudia Schiffer. The notes feature lily, tuberose, sandalwood, musk, orris and leather. [Info lifted from the Now Smell This review]

To me, 18 La Lune was the most attractive because of the combination of notes: woods, musk, earthy orris root; but these paired with lily and tuberose florals. It reminded me (very slightly) of Germaine Cellier's classic Fracas: leather and sensuous white florals. I guess it does recall things welling up from the deep of the physical imagination.

To some extent, all the scents seem to be related to the themes of the corresponding Tarot cards. The series may not be your cup of tea as a set of fragrances, but it could be fun to explore them with an eye to seeing how the theme functions as a conceit of perfumery — a kind of extended brief, reaching across a whole series of perfumes.

The overarching Idea strikes me as kind of cool.

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