Keiko Mecheri Mulholland, 2010


Perfumer Yann Vasnier

A wonderful advantage of self training in perfume-wearing is that I learned to disregard the bottle and the name of the perfume.  ‘It’s the perfume, stupid.’

As for the bottle, I quite like the Keiko Mecheri bottles. Nice blend of form and function. What might be intended to be jewel-like, reads to my mind as a simple, attractive geometry.  The name: Mulholland.  I live in LA, in the valley.  Less than a mile from Mulholland, in fact.  I can safely say that the name of the perfume has nothing to do with the place, so it must be more about aspiration. Very mid-20th century General Motors when you look at it.  Impala, Bel Air, Wildcat, Firebird, Safari, Grand Prix.  So, without further thought, I’ll dismiss the name.

There is something quietly appealing about a line that is niche not in order to be ‘indie’ in style or to be more hip than the mainstream will allow. There is a sense in the Mecheri line that the perfumer just wanted enough space to work with the ideas that interested her, whether this meant creating something previously unknown, or making a classic idea your own. It implies a stable ego and hard work.

Mulholland fulfills an unstated goal, one that many have pursued: the long- lasting eau de cologne. Many have tried, many have died. There have been some spectacular successes in recent years. Andy Tauer ignites orange with amber in Orange Star and Francis Kurkjian throws away the book with the revolutionary Cologne pour le Soir.  Mecheri goes out on a limb and attempts to keep the shape and tone of the edc while making it last. It’s perfume alchemy, the magic short-cut to turn common metals into gold.

Mulholland’s initial wager is the eschew the ‘natural’.  To makes a durable musky citrus, Mecheri creates idealized woods with steely accents. From the first sniff, Mulholland forgoes the desire to appear strictly botanical.  Instead, it strives to be appealing and interesting to the nose.  It succeeds.

You can accept Mulholland at face value. It crosses tones and makes links that aren’t meant to hide the artifice, but to manipulate it and make it work for you. The musk is woody, the citrus is salty-metallic and the floral elements are papery.  In the place of an eau de cologne’s lightness there is a sense of agility, and where a cologne burns brightly but briefly, Mulholland has an inherent sparkle, a quality that doesn’t burn off.

Mulholland would make an ideal daily perfume. It’s fetching, it’s interesting and it’s balanced from top to bottom. One interesting thing about  enduring, mainstream constructs is that they make you consider the distinction between truism and stereotype. Mecheri posits the eau de cologne as a truism and then pokes at it.  Why is an edc appealing? Why has it become a tradition?  Is it strong enough to survive some bending and twisting?  I suppose that Keiko Mecheri could be seen as the antithesis of Etat Libre d’Orange, but she sticks to her guns and uses tradition to great advantage.

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