Today, the heavens over Britain are laden with volcanic ash, and The Scentimentalist is in a somewhat contentious emotional state. It is a truism that, on dark days like these, only a judiciously chosen scent can lift or transform one’s mood.
Thus, after a couple of hours of grizzling (and hanging back in case the postman decided to drop me off something fragrant), I resolved this morning to confront my antagonists and raise my morale in one fell swoop.
I needed an unexpected scent; I needed to prove my indomitability. I wanted a scent that was ardent and fiery, pugnacious – endangering, even. With unerring instinct, I knew exactly which vial to pluck from my samples box: possibly the most unrepentant of the loudest of the most heavy-hitting scents of the ’80s.
‘Damn the world!’ I declared, belligerent. ‘Today, I am going to wear … Rumba!’
Balenciaga’s fervent, ferocious, untameable, terrible Rumba! A torrid monster confection of flowers, fruit, honey, woods and incense. A sweltering party night in Havana that yields, astonishingly, to the cool of an Eastern Orthodox church.
… And how it worked its rhythmic magic, and how my moods evolved in its wake, as the following scented schema sets out to demonstrate:
Mood One: In its first movement (if you will, for Rumba is nothing less than ‘symphonic’), its colossal floral topnotes propel one instantly into an exercised, dynamic, euphoric mindset. This is the ‘Bring it on!’ (or, in The Scentimentalist’s case, ‘Back off, world!’) stage of the scent’s evolution.
Mood Two: Rumba continues to stimulate via the slow seeping of its ripe, oozing-in-the-punnet soft fruit accords. Note that it intoxicates but avoids veering towards the intemperate; there are no indiscriminate pelvic thrusts here, rather, the assured grace of a sensually executed bolero. This is the confidently sustained, gently dramatic developmental stage.
Mood Three: Rumba has now bloomed and warmed, as has the heart of its wearer, which is cradled in golden honey, tonka, vanilla, tobacco, leather and amber. It is at this stage that wearers begin to feels soothed, and increasingly unburdened.
Mood Four: We are now left with the consoling remnants of Rumba’s aromatic incense notes, which cling to the skin as tenaciously as bukhour clings to an Arab thawb. Here, wearers find themselves contemplative and peacefully reflective, their passions balanced and quelled, their peace of mind restored.
Back in The Scentimentalist’s office, day has now turned to night and the blanket of ash remains suspended above. And, after eight hours’ wear (and counting), it is time to slip the vial of Rumba back into the samples box. Perhaps it will be picked out on some other dark, distant day, when life once more seems bleak and beleaguering and one’s soul calls for recalibration.
It should be noted here that Rumba is a fiendishly anti-social scent.* Yet, for The Scentimentalist, its therapeutic properties are beyond dispute. Latterly dropped by Balenciaga and now distributed by Ted Lapidus, this irrepressible ’80s one-off can be purchased on-line for a song.
*The author took care to wear hers in the home, and with no third parties present.