Mon Parfum (Paloma Picasso)

When the original Mon Parfum print ads started making their way into his favorite magazines, a friend of mine suffered an unusual reaction... and not to the fragrance. Apparently, the sight of Paloma Picasso triggered an overwhelming Oedipal rage in him that could only be propitiated by cutting out her image and subjecting it to an avalanche of abuse. He drew mustaches, monocles, devil horns, and forked tongues on Paloma, poked out her eyes with a pencil, and glued cut-out letters spelling "BITCH" under her face by way of an editorial caption. Collaging layer upon layer of scorn over his foe, he could not rest until he had obliterated her. Then he hung her, trophy-like, on his wall.

Now, in all other respects, my friend was a perfectly reasonable and liberal gentleman, sensitive to women's rights and no stranger to the intricacies of Freudian thought. Granted, he had some pretty profound mommy issues brewing in that great brain of his, for which he'd found a number of outlets far more constructive than the one detailed above. Yet for him, the sphinx-like visage of Paloma Picasso constituted a feminine threat not to be borne. Why? Was it her direct, unflinching gaze? Her bold, carnivorous red lips? The fact that she was famous enough (both for her own design work and her legendary patronymic) to merit a self-named fragrance? Who was this modern Medusa?

If Mon Parfum is a mirror of its maker, then Paloma Picasso must be a supremely confident and self-assured lady-- not apt to blush, simper, or flutter her eyelashes to win others over. Many women are conditioned to behave as though their very existence is something to apologize for. Not Paloma, and by extension, not Mon Parfum-- a rich, mature jasmine chypre with an air of chinoiserie about it. One wears it like a Mandarin cheongsam-- a high-collared, close-fitting satin gown seemingly engineered to stiffen the wearer's spine. The unyielding severity of its cut is ameliorated by the rich coloration of its silk embroidery (and the single peony blossom in the wearer's hair). Thus clad, one feels a bit like Madame Liang, the fierce and resilient "steel camellia" of Pearl S. Buck's final novel.

In all, this is a proud, almost savage fragrance; a serious scent for a serious woman, and flawless-- except for that damned bottle. As innovative as its design may be, prying that ridiculous plastic doughnut shape apart is a hazard to the very juice it contains. Unless carefully done, spillage is inevitable-- and unless you are that friend of mine, believe me, you will not want a single drop of this perfume to go to waste.

Scent Elements: Hyacinth, ylang-ylang, bergamot, angelica, rose, lemon, mimosa, coriander, jasmine, honey, iris, oakmoss, sandalwood, amber, patchouli, musk