on chic

Luca once called something chic, and I asked him why, or rather what “chic” was exactly. He sighed and said despairingly, “Chic is the most impossible thing to define.” He thought about it. “Luxury is a humorless thing, largely. Chic is all about humor. Which means chic is about intelligence. And there has to be oddness— most luxury is conformist, and chic cannot be. Chic must be polite, but within that it can be as weird as it wants.” Both Bigarade and En Passant, it seems to me, incarnate chic, though they are utterly different. The best way to describe Bigarade is to say, first, that it is a vast smell. And second, that it smells like a human being in the summer in a complex weather system; whoever this person is, we can smell them, they’re showered but they have a smell all the same, and the lovely, intricate smells of summer are all around and clinging to their skin, and also it seems to have just rained because there’s the scent of rainwater on pavement and perhaps a bit of ozone, plus some flower petals and grass that got washed into the puddle they’re stepping in. As for En Passant, I’m told by Malle’s people that it was born in the instant that Giacobetti somewhere on a street in her native Italy passed a bakery and a florist and got pastry, flowers, and street all at once. I’m willing to believe that, because the scent is so fascinating, but what this woman has crafted isn’t just a smell; the damn thing transports you with loveliness. I would say that it’s magic, but I know it’s simply molecules. Still, your retinas shrink from the pure pleasure of this scent. Both are so unusual you don’t know how to respond at first. You’ve never smelled anything like them.

Source: let me talk about perfumes forever | Tumblr