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Ginsberg is God – resinous and green and woody


The Beat Movement – was there ever a more ‘cool’ literary movement?  Writers Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, the core group of Beat authors, had a major influence on American culture just after the Second World War.  They were the new bohemians out on a spiritual quest that rejected materialism, explored Eastern religions, experimented with psychedelic drugs and promoted sexual liberation. Their lifestyle and works were incorporated into the hippie and counterculture movements of the 60s. It’s a Zeitgeist that still has appeal today with artists like Bella Freud.

Great granddaughter of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and daughter of renowned British painter Lucian Freud, Bella had an unconventional upbringing that has given her real counterculture cred. Bella was born in 1961 - the same year as two of Lucian Freud's other children. He is rumored to have fathered as many as 50 children but only 14 have been identified – 2 with his first wife and 12 by various mistresses.

Bella's mother was Bernardine Coverley a writer, gardener and free-spirit. She moved her children to Morocco and lived there for years while she studied Sufism. Later, she moved them to Tunbridge Wells, and enrolled them at the Steiner school where she became a dinner lady. Coverley travelled to Cuba and Russia and worked in an orchid nursery in Mexico. But by this time, Bella was on a different path.

At 16, she landed a job at Vivienne Westwood’s shop in Chelsea, got bitten by the fashion bug and moved to Rome where she studied study fashion and tailoring before starting her own design company in London in 1990. She is not only a designer but a writer and a filmmaker, yet she is probably best known for her 2003 beat-inspired knitwear collection which featured the sayings ‘Je t’aime Jane’, ‘Ginsberg is God’ and ‘1970’.

The limited edition sweaters quickly won fans among celebrities like Kate Moss, Alexa Chung and Laura Bailey and soon gained cult status, so in 2014 Freud teamed up with perfumer Azzi Glasser and launched Bella Freud Perfumes with three scents named after their signature sweaters: ‘Je t’aime Jane’, ‘Ginsberg is God’ and ‘1970’. The one I am stuck on right now is Ginsberg is God.

According to the Bella Freud Perfumes website, Ginsberg is God is inspired by ‘Allen Ginsberg, the tousled headed poet surrounded by books and papers - the scent of green leaves and spring drifting in through the open windows.’ It opens with spicy, warm black pepper and resinous incense – the incense runs right through the fragrance. Tomato leaf gives it a green, slightly bitter tone that plays off the pepper/incense opening beautifully. A note of fresh, juicy fig lurks among it all, just like the promise of spring – it’s lovely when I catch a whiff of it. Woody notes – including aromatic wormwood, which pairs with moss to create an ink accord – anchors it all but it is the smell of old leather that brings it all to life.

The drydown is dry, aromatic and woody. This is not the smell of an old hippie. Ginsberg is God is the smell of the smoldering seduction that happens when nature meets intellect – an olfactory reminder that the brain is the sexiest organ – whether you’re a man or a woman.

Truth be told, I was never a big fan of Ginsberg’s poetry, but I am lovin’ this Ginsberg-inspired eau de parfum.

Ginsberg is God is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.