(image source Leonard Bernstein. source, lexquise.net)
Perfumer Guy Robert.
Gold affirms a fundamental reality for me in the same way that stepping off an amusement park ride and feeling gravity reaffirms your kinesthetic sanity.
The question is why should Gold be this 50-year-old white American guy’s article of faith rather than, say, Aventus, the opiates of my cohort? How do we come to love the perfumes we love? Aventus is an ideal to many straight men my age, but fortunately I’m queer and my people embrace eccentricity. We claim a wide range of aesthetics. Call it kismet, call it grace. Somehow in my lower middle-class, Irish-American upbringing, I was fortunate enough to be exposed to Jean Patou Joy and Lanvin Arpège. As a child of my particular 1970s, the formative influences should have been Led Zeppelin and the nuns of my parochial school. But happily for me, it was the perfume. Home-schooled and self-taught in the world of perfume and aesthetics, I am incongruously yet happily prepared for the work of the French perfume maestro working for an Omani Sultan.
I suppose that Joy and Arpège gave me a predilection for the orchestral in perfumery and that Gold, a lustrous, aldehydic floral-animalic, is just a likely candidate. To abuse the orchestra analogy a bit, I think we tend to say orchestral and symphonic in perfumery when looking at a perfume that has a wide range of tones, great complexity and whose genre was fashionable in the past. By orchestral, I mean a perfume that has not only the flutes, violins and trumpets we see in many musical genres, but oboes, piccolos and French horns. Who composes for these instruments these days?
Gold might be considered retro, but it’s not a tribute to a forlorn genre. It’s a pinnacle of the form made by Guy Robert, an artist whose work defined the genre during his time. It has the fullness and occasion of the earlier floral aldehydes, but has more clarity and legibility, making it feel both classic and of the moment. Gold reminds me how and why I came to love perfume in the first place.