Missoni by Missoni, 2006

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Perfumer Maurice Roucel

There are any number of expressions that convey incongruity. For rhetorical use, the oxymoron (eg. deafening silence.) The unintentional, often humorous contradiction in terms (eg. compassionate conservative.) The misplaced modifier (“I bought a doll for my sister with a plastic head.”)

A non sequitur is less a mistake than a peek into somebody’s thought process. A good non sequitur gets at that wonderful, riotous feeling of a mind racing faster than the ability to communicate. My favorite was someone saying, “I like ice cream! Can you swim?!”

There are perfume equivalents that exemplify the distinctions. Contradiction in terms: Britney Spears’s unquestioningly conforming Curious. Oxymoron: Lalique’s blindingly bright Encre Noire pour Elle.  Misplaced modifier: Chanel Bleue’s shrill saccharine note.

Then there’s Missoni, the non sequitur that points to a mind just buzzing with invention. It’s a chocolatey floral. A starched, crisp, sweet fruity. A savory wood. We sometimes say “synthetic” to connote “bad” but will say that synthesis is a creative accomplishment. Roucel trashes the negative connotation and makes the distinction meaningless. Missoni succeeds conceptually, merging and twisting perfume genres while still managing to be strikingly beautiful to wear.


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