Rose Is The Navy Blue Of India

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Image not my own.

It was before I became a perfumer.  I was returning a rental car to a destination car rental joint in a forgotten, questionable neighborhood somewhere in southern California.  A creepy, greasy, smelly, filthy, shit-show of a place.

But the rental agent employed by this dubious establishment – now he was an altogether different deal.

Crisp shirt, impeccable hair, gracious smile, and smelling of roses.  He circled the car with clipboard poised, suavely investigating for dents and dings.  An elegant gentleman from India who classed up the entire experience.  I was transfixed.

“Pink is the navy blue of India” I heard in my mind’s ear…  A guide stone adopted in the ’80’s as inspiration by my performance art co-collaborators and I while brainstorming shows.

We grabbed it from fashionista and Vogue Magazine editor Diana Vreeland, who famously observed, “I adore that pink, it’s the navy blue of India.”

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Diana Vreeland

As artists, we got it.  We took its message of subjectivity all personal-like and it drove us and liberated us.  We questioned rules and limitations.  We expanded and created. We invented ourselves and reinvented ourselves.  We became ourselves.  We expressed ourselves as any seriously silly color of the rainbow we wanted to be.  And we invited our audience to do same.

Back to the greasy car joint.  Here was a man, elegant, masculine, and smelling of roses.

His rose infused elegance reminded me of the Vreeland quote.

I buried the experience in the recesses of my mind.

Years later, as I launched my little perfumery, I struggled to categorize the scents as I thought was required.  Affixing labels on ineffable ethers.  Earnestly weighing them I’d ponder, “Would a man wear this?”  I thought I should conform and slap that label on each fragrance.   Men smell like this.  Woman smell like that.  This one feminine, that one masculine, etc.

Naturally, at my first public fragrance “showing” (scenting?) this fussing was proven utterly unnecessary.   A man strode up, grabbed a perfume I had dutifully classified as feminine – InVisioning Roses – and before I could steer him to the more ‘masculine scent’, he generously doused his wrist and voila!  Mind altered.  Like a second skin, it was a scent made for his very body chemistry.  The rose prevalent but still masculine with spices simmering and electrifying citrus.

It took me back to the elegant rose scented man at the car rental joint, and I got it!  Rose is the navy blue of India!  Rose is for everyone.  Roses all round!

He has been a return customer, my InVisioning Roses fan.  Smelling lushly of Bulgarian rose and bergamot, frankincense and cardamom.

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Image not my own.

I’m grateful to live in a time and place where we can overcome these limitations.  Roses are not just for women!  Woodsy scents are not restricted to men.  Grown up ladies can smell like vanilla and toasted marshmallows and boys can smell like Ylang Ylang.  I mean who the hell cares?  Do you?

 

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Me and my performance art buddies – the group Somebody’s Daughters from Dirt, Food, and the Cleansing Influence.  Left to right – Anna Brown, Kiki Ciesielski, and me.
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Vlasta Gerhardová in her crown of roses!   A model for Magaela Accessories  picture borrowed from the ever inspiring Enchanted Living Magazine

 

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10 thoughts on “Rose Is The Navy Blue Of India

  1. As if I did not love that entry enough that I see a picture of myself and of course you and Anna and loved it even more brilliant writing

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gosh I love this! Roses indeed are for everyone!
    What in the world were you gals doing? Are you wearing a girlscout shirt?
    Wish I could go to your event!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Maggie! Thanks! Yes we are wearing Girl Scout clothing. We are re-enacting an abstracted version of the middle girl, Kiki’s, memory of summer camp. We are making and eating dirt sandwiches and brushing our teeth with dirt to the song Dirty Water by The Standells. It was a joyful piece. I which ou could come to the event also!

      Like

  3. Beautiful sentiment!!!! I got some negative feedback once from a reader who said I should include feminine and masculine annotations to my reviews but that is just not me. I feel much like you, that scent is universal and labels/barriers shouldn’t be in place. Wear what you like, regardless if it should be in the Men’s section of Sephora or your grandmother’s vanity. Wear it! Experience it! Relish in its own unique beauty. Love these photos and sentiments. ❤

    Like

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