Blog post by Gwen
The Beat Movement – was there ever a cooler subculture? The literary movement started by Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Jack Kerouac in 1944 rejected materialism, explored Eastern religions, experimented with psychedelic drugs and promoted sexual freedom. Their lifestyle and works were incorporated into the hippie and counterculture movements of the 60s, and some say that Punk was an outgrowth of the Beat Movement. It’s a zeitgeist that still has appeal today; take Ginsberg is God perfume by fashion designer Bella Freud for example.
Bell Freud is the great-granddaughter of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and daughter of renowned English portraitist Lucian Freud and writer Bernardine Coverley. Her unconventional upbringing gives her authentic counterculture cred. Born in 1961, the same year as two of Lucian Freud's other children – he has acknowledged 14 children - her mother moved Bella and her sister to Marrakech to live. Several years they moved to Tunbridge Wells, where the girls were enrolled in a Steiner school. At 16, Bella rebelled and landed a job at Vivienne Westwood’s shop in Chelsea. Discovering an interest in fashion, she moved to Rome to study fashion and tailoring before starting her own eponymous design company in London in 1990. Success followed, but she is most widely known for her 2003 beat-inspired limited edition sweater collection, which featured the phrases ‘Je t’aime Jane,’ ‘Ginsberg is God,’ and ‘1970’ on them. The sweaters quickly won fans among celebrities and soon gained cult status. Her star continued to rise, and in 2014, Freud teamed up with perfumer Azzi Glasser to launch Bella Freud Perfumes with three fragrances named after the slogans on her signature sweaters. My favourite is Ginsberg is God.According to the Bella Freud Perfumes website, Ginsberg is God was 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.’ This is the kind of fragrance that creates an impression and is more than a series of notes, so it’s difficult to break down, but here’s how I experience it.
It opens with the smell of spicy, warm black pepper. It’s not harsh or bracing; instead, it’s suggestive and seductive. A note of tomato leaf, fresh and green, signals spring; its herbaceous bitterness plays off the pepper beautifully. There’s a touch of lush, juicy, fresh fig that adds roundness and sensuality. As it settles,the fresh, citrus-spicy smell of elemi appears. It rests on sacred woods – is that sandalwood and cedarwood? The incense facet of elemi calls up a note of resinous, smoky Frankincense that smells of Eastern mysticism. There’s definitely wormwood here, and it’s paired with moss to create an ink accord. But it’s the sensuous smell of worn, supple leather that brings Ginsberg is God to life for me.
The drydown is dry, aromatic and woody. This is the complex sensuous scent of what happens when nature meets intellect, an olfactory reminder that the brain really is the sexiest organ.
Check out Ginsberg is God in our Shop.