Jasmine Too Girly for a Guy?
This morning I did something out of the ordinary: I pulled a volume of Cavafy from the bookshelf and read his 1915 poem “Orophernes,” while I sipped my cup of Assam (Golden Tips, for those theaphiles among you). I guess a poem about “delicious Ionian nights” was a good side to my northern Indian indulgence. What struck me most about the poem were the lines describing the royal Cappadocian ephebe “among the strangers” of Ionia:
but in his conduct and discourse a Greek:
arrayed in precious stones, in Hellenic garb,
scented all over with jasmine perfume.
Among the beautiful young Ionians
he was the most beautiful (ὡραῖος), the most ideal.
Jasmine eroticizes the youth, drawing attention to his fleeting hour of beauty “among the strangers.” I love how scent here makes quick work of the gender divide. It makes me wonder how, when a man or woman wears a scent at that appointed hour, regardless of all external limitations, it transforms him or her into an object of instant desire. This is the magic of perfume, the thing which has always made us view it as an elixir of love.
Good jasmines for men nowadays are hard to find. Caron’s 3-ème Homme comes to mind, along with Annick Goutal’s Le Jasmin (smoky and woody). Fougère accords traditionally used jasmine notes, but many shed them on account of added expense. I wonder what Orophernes would wear today, faced with a night out at the clubs. Any suggestions?
So.... I am raffling a sample of The Perfume House Private Reserve Yasminale, which IMHO is - along with vintage Joy - one of the most beautiful jasmine-lily of the valley perfumes available. The winner will be drawn from the pool of comments on this entry on Saturday, May 23.