Thursday, August 14, 2008

Chaos by Donna Karan

Flame fractal by Roger Johnston

After the Non-Blonde's review comparing the old and new versions of the Dona Karen scent, I knew I had to give ot a sniff at Bergdorff's. As luck would have it, yesterday was one of their celebratory launch days, so the sniff was accompanied by Veuve Cliquot and little canapes of delicious meat pastes on tiny vegetables. Oh my!

Prior to the review, I had assumed Chaos would be a dark incense scent like Back Cashmere, but in reality it is a beautiful glowing thing. Red fruits, citrus and woods explode in bright shades of red and amber and then slowly collapse so that after an hour, the scent is a soft gray ash of incense and woods. It's the first olfactory reconstruction of the big bang I've ever smelled. Like Lovely Prism, the name conveys the broad spectrum of composit notes, and Chaos begins with a glowing fizzy note which reminded me of Demeter's Ginger Ale.

I love this narrative quality in perfume, and experienced it again with JAR Bolt of Lightning. Mr. Branch had spoken highly of it with a caveat that the first minutes may be stomach churning. The sales associate actually apologized that he had applied too much too my hand and asked me repeatedly to give it some time before "scrubbing" it off. (I was shocked that he used that word - perhaps he has seen someone describe it on a blog as a scrubber.) The initial thunderclap is represented by camphor, wintergreen, sharp green notes and something buttery. It reminded me of Cy Twombley's ancient-Rome-rendered-in-toothpaste-impasto work.

Cy Twombly, "Leda and The Swan" 1962

After the lightning comes the ozone, and the scent mellows to a warm green fog. I don't know how "warm" is rendered in scent but it smells like eating breakfast in the mountains - warm oatmeal and green grasses. It's very beautiful, and lasts for hours.

Back to the subject of chaos, it reminded me of the first bouquet of flowers Dave ever gave me: a romanesco, or as I called it, fractal broccoli. Such a wise Mr. Mandelbrot who linked our concepts of chaos and order through a vegetable.

Those fractally inclined bight like to listen to the Sweet Child o Mine at the Self-similar GNR midi synth.
Q: Huh?
A: They used recordings from GNR albums, speeded them up, and used the resulting tone patterns to re-compose the songs. More detail is available on their website.

Fractal chaos? Perhaps you prefer intellectual property anarchy in the form of unlicensed sampling. That references social chaos and turbulent weather? Well then the K-OTIX have what you need.


Gaia, the non-blonde said...

I keep meaning to go and have another JAR sniffage and actually test BoL on my skin. What keeps me from doing it is the good chance I won't be able to leave the store without a bottle.

the oblitterati said...

It's definitely worth a skin test. I find the $700+ price tag enough to keep me from leaving the store bottle in hand, but a delicious snare into buying smaller ticket items at the store.

nathan said...

I love the free-association you employ on your posts: you'll start with a perfume, veer into an artwork, wind up with a video -- it always makes for good reading.

Glad you sniffed out Bolt of Lightning. I can't recommend it highly enough. It's unfortunate that it's so ridiculously expensive -- I'd love to give it away for birthday and Christmas gifts, but . . . with that price tag? Fuggedaboudit!

I think JAR does themselves a disservice by not handing out small samples and letting people try the fragrances on their skin at their own time and pace. Their perfumes are often so awful in their opening notes that a lot of people walk away without realizing the things of beauty they transform into later.

You post has made me curious to sniff out Chaos (hey, I kind of like the way that sounds!).

the oblitterati said...

I highly recommend smelling the Chaos in every possible sense. It's very well constructed and a beautiful spectral spread. I agree completely that little samples of JAR would be wonderful! Perhaps the fear is that samples wold hurt the cache of such a rare scent, but tiny vials packaged beautifully would make excellent relics to take home from the fragrance pilgrimage.