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Salome – Gorgeous uncompromising debauchery – November 13, 2015

Image - Wikipedia - Loïe Fuller at the Folies-Bergere poster

When I was a little kid, our family had a 1920’s RCA Victor record player which came from our grandparents house, the kind which was powered by a hand-crank on the side of the big four-legged walnut cabinet. Along with it came original records by artists such as Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Sophie Tucker, and classical recordings of symphonies and operas. One of my favourites was the Dance of the Seven Veils by Richard Strauss. My five-year-old friends and I would dress up in scarves and jangly costume jewellery and perform our interpretation of the Dance of the Seven Veils for our mothers.

We had no idea who Sal-o-may was, or why the dance required exactly seven and not six veils, or why our mums laughed and winked at each other so much while they watched us. What was important was that dancing as the exotic Salome made us feel powerful. Like magic, we could command our  mothers’ attention and bask in their obvious enjoyment as long as we danced and the music played on.

Salome is the central figure in the Bible story  (Matthew 14) about the execution of John the Baptist. According to Wikipedia “John was imprisoned for criticizing King Herod Antipas's marriage to Herodias, the former wife of Antipas's half-brother Herod II. Herod offered his niece a reward of her choice for performing a dance for his guests on his birthday. Herodias persuaded her daughter [Salome] to ask for John the Baptist's head on a platter. Against his better judgment, Antipas reluctantly acceded to her request.” …and the grisly deed was done.

The Bible doesn’t mention Salome by name nor does it describe her dance. It wasn’t until Oscar Wilde’s 1891 play, Salome, that her dance involved "Seven Veils", and that her name became synonymous with seductive powers. Wilde took his inspiration to portray her as the incarnation of female lust from the French writers who preceded him. Huysmans’ hero Des Esseintes characterizes her as a “weird and superhuman figure he had dreamed of. … her quivering breasts, … heaving belly, … tossing thighs … she was now revealed as the symbol incarnate of old world vice.”

Salome is the fourth fragrance launched by gifted independent perfumer Liz Moores under her Papillon Artisan Perfumes brand. Gwen has written about her first fragrance, the deep resinous leathery Anubis, which she created as her own personal signature scent, and which made the perfume world stand up and pay attention to the big new talent of Liz Moores.

For Salome, the website says her inspiration came from a vintage photograph of a 1920’s erotic dancer she has in the hallway of her home. She wondered about this woman’s mysterious beauty and felt that her evocative portrait lent itself to the story of Salome. In an interview, Liz says she finds Salome “to be one of the most compelling femme fatales ever depicted in history. She was demanding, dangerously powerful, spellbinding and dark. Salome demanded a perfume that could match her untameable nature and I challenged myself to create a perfume that I felt reflected these aspects.”

The opening definitely has a vintage feeling, like the photograph that inspired it. Bright and gold with bitter orange and bergamot, lush with sweet orange blossom, heavy with velvety rose and dusty spiced carnation. But there's a difference - addictive animalic notes follow quickly, instantly projecting this rich accord into the here and now. Hyraceum or African Stone, which comes from the dried feces of the African Cape Hyrax, and carries a pissy sour feral scent with sweet facets of tobacco and mulch, wraps around the rose floral accord, sending the drydown into danger territory. Then castoreum, from beaver scent glands, with its leathery raunchy thick warmth raises the temperature, and finally in the heart indolic jasmine releases its heady molecules, making Salome smell downright filthy, in the best of all possible ways. In the heart, Salome is hot, sweaty, leathery, smoky, funky, sensual, beautiful …in a word, erotic. Incredibly erotic.

In the base, the richness of the animalic floral accord is softened with patchouli, sueded leather and hay-like notes, dark vanilla and cumin lend a savoury-sweet aspect, and hints of the bright citrus opening notes add a perfect balance as this animalic whirlwind very slowly winds down. Salome lasts for hours and hours, it needs warm skin to tell its long story. Liz Moores has created a living vintage perfume, dark, powerful and spellbinding, just like a perfume should be if its name is Salome.

Salome is carnal and uncompromising. It’s made for intimacy. Take Muscs Koublai Khan, push the civet and indoles to the limit, load in sumptuous florals over honeyed woods and tobacco and moss, flavor with cumin and castoreum, blanket with musky leather and patchouli, mist with vanilla and sweet hay, then carefully apply this elixir called Salome to bare skin – yours and someone else’s. Inhale deeply, then enjoy the long dance as the veils are lifed, one by one.

If you’re one of those who crave debauchery in the form of lusty, unashamedly filthy, untameable, and incredibly alive fragrances which enslave your senses and take you into a dimension of pure beauty, then you won’t be disappointed.

Salome is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 each.