Sunday, July 15, 2012

les Maitresses Parfumeuses

Photo courtesy of

What makes the Faustian tale so compelling?  Is it the promise of worldliness?  Getting what we want?  The thrill of flirting with danger?  Perhaps the first tale of its kind was the Adam and Eve story, where they tasted of the tree of knowledge and their eyes were opened.  There’s always a price to pay when dealing with the devil and theirs was being cast out of Eden and thrust into the world.  

The memory of their original home and past innocence attained mythic proportions and as a result God, their creator, became the gatekeeper of their past.  Somebody else had to step up to the plate and provide the tools for their survival and success in the wilderness.  That was the Devil who offered ambition and drive (along with seven other deadly sins) so that future generations could enjoy the fruits of culture and sophistication.

Dev and Lil perfumes
photo courtesy of Sheila Eggenberger
Alexis Karl and Maria McElroy of Cherry Bomb Killer Perfume, have delved deep into the myth and mystique of the devil.  Inspired by the characters in Sheila Eggenberger’s Quantum Demonology novel and their own dark-themed work, these mistresses of the subconscious have collaborated on the creation of two fragrances for the Devilscent project: Dev and Lil.  Although named after the Devil and his wife Lilith, these perfumes also exemplify Adam and Eve after their expulsion from paradise. The ousted couple, residing now in New York City (like their mistress perfumers), prefer the shelter of the night to the shining light of day, and never leave their apartment without perfume.

Photo courtesy of
Smoldering caramel, burnt sugar, molasses and maple, Dev is the ultimate gourmand fragrance because it conveys the original meaning of the French term: that of gluttony.  Catching a whiff is not enough.  One needs draughts of the stuff, inhaling deeply and coming back for more.  It’s thick enough to eat and can cause Americans to spontaneously erupt in French “c’est si bon!” (thanks Yoplait).  It’s a decadent olfactory dessert and if worn on the right man could make a woman skip that course and head straight for the sheets.  This perfume would have made Adam’s first wife Lilith submit to his demands so that God wouldn’t have to fashion another mate from his rib (ouch!).  It is domination in a “Venus in Furs” kind of way, where pleasure and pain are exchanged freely.

Lil, on the other hand, is “Femme Fatale”, sung to perfection by Nico with her throaty voice recalling Edie Sedgewick, muse to Andy Warhol at the Factory.  One tragic superstar glamazon singing about another.  However, beneath her charming gamine exterior and celebutante background Edie, like Lil and even Nico is “from the street, She’s just a little tease (She’s a femme fatale), See the way she walks, Hear the way she talks, She’s gonna play you for a fool yes it’s true”.  Alexis and Maria’s creations are avant garde perfume covers of these two songs that live side-by-side on the Velvet Underground & Nico album.  They are rock perfumes that deal with the dark veins running beneath the surface of sweetness and beauty. 

Image courtesy of Alexis Karl
There is another musical connection through Alexis Karl who, in addition to being a talented perfumer, is a trained opera singer and visual artist.  She performs her musical compositions with her band “Ondyne’s Demise”, her voice capturing the gloaming dreamscape of the subconscious and transporting us through the gothic atmosphere of danger and mystery.  While the Velvet Underground lyrics conjure up archetypal anima/animus images of Dev and Lil, Adam and Eve, Andy and Edie, Lou and Nico . . . the smoky sounds of Ondine’s Demise provide the backdrop for all of these Faustian arrangements.  Is this particular melding of perfume and music inspired by the devil himself?  Perhaps, but I doubt these Maitresses Parfumeuses will ever divulge their secrets!

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