Wednesday, April 28, 2010

notes from my lunar insomnia

La-Lune-The-Moon Ok, it’s the second day of my monthly lunar insomnia, so here’s my second musing on the link between the moon and perfume. I was thinking about D&G’s recent attempt to offer a niche line with their generally disappointing tarot-inspired fragrances (what is with the naked models as tarot cards anyway?) and their interpretation of the moon tarot card with a rather insipid fruity floral/woody scent, La Lune. Of all things, this is just the wrong fragrance for this mysterious card. Not to get all new-agey on you (I’m not usually) but I have spent some time with the Tarot in my life—I am a medievalist, after all, and the allegory of the Tarot appeals to my sensibilities—and the moon is one of the most powerfullune and ambiguous cards in the deck.
In the Tarot, the moon—the most powerful sign of mutability next to the Wheel of Fortune—has both positive and negative meanings. As you can imagine, it is associated with women, with their monthly cycles, and with their fertility. It also has to do with madness—lunacy—that can be brought on by cycles fo human life (think: menopause) but also that werewolfishness that some like me experience in a cyclic way when the round moon hangs bright in the sky.
It also has to do with the binary of life and death, and with sex—the only real thing—biologically speaking—lying between those two extremes. It has to do with the endless cycle of procreation and death to which all humans and all life are chained. Note the crustacean crawling out of the ocean in the top image. That is the nightmare of the unknown, of the subconscious, and also of the deep unexplored ocean; the things we know exist and don’t want to understand—all brought up by the moon’s powerful force.
moon All this is to say that Dolce and Gabbana’s La Lune is a deeply inappropriate fragrance choice to represent this spooky tarot card. Where La Lune is soft, ethereal, floral, and derivative, this card is destructive and creative, monstrous and beautiful, and extremely powerful in its paradoxes. If I imagine a fragrance that would be appropriate, I would want something extremely indolic (to represent sex and death), something with lots of cumin and musk (to represent the animal forces responding to the moon’s call), and something with herbaceous aquatic notes (to represent nature’s union with lunar forces both on land and sea).  In other words, this fragrance should be schizophrenic—both appealing and disgusting—and inescapable.
Well, perhaps it is too much to ask these days that a fragrance should deliver the symbolic idea its marketing directors cook up. I guess I get irritable when I see a fragrance house launch such an insipid, uninspiring offering when they could take a chance with a really uncomfortable concept and fragrance, and really knock the mass market’s socks off. Wishful thinking, I know!

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