Tauerville Hyacinth and a Mechanic, 2016

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Perfumer Andy Tauer

The Tauerville line started surreptitiously with a perfume called Rose Flash. It was initially a limited release and wore the familiar “Tauer” label, though the small print contained something new: “Tauerville Collection.” By the time it was released more widely it proudly wore the Tauerville badge on the front of the bottle. Hyacinth and a Mechanic also bears the Tauerville stamp but it leads with a single word.

STORIES

hyacinth
and a
mechanic

“Stories” reminds me of the start of the tale in Slaughterhouse Five, which begins with a single line. “Listen:” It grabs my attention and emphasizes that what follows is the heart of the matter. The title juxtaposes two words and leaves it to the ‘reader’ to interpret the meaning.

Hyacinth—Spring. Innocence. Blood. Love. Death. (Murder?)

Mechanic—Physical. Retro. Non-digital. Fetish.

The perfume can be read on an olfactory level. The topnote creates a sweet-smelling image of  hyacinth flower. It’s followed by a plastic/leather note, the olfactory symbol of the mechanic. But the name Hyacinth also suggests ancient Greek mythology. The preface “Stories” emphasizes narration yet the open-endedness hints that tying the perfume to just one story risks missing out on all the others. A predictable reading would be nature (hyacinth) versus artifice (mechanic) but hyacinth is one of the highly fragrant flowers that yields no essence. A hyacinth accord is as artificial as a mechanic-shop accord.

Tauer grabs ahold of the inherent artificiality and shakes it for all it’s worth. It’s a beautiful rendering of the hyacinth flower; metallic, spicy and floral in equal measures. Fresh hyacinth flower has an oily spiciness that is watermarked with sweetness. The flower’s inky scent is balanced by a watery quality, giving it a chilled, silvery vibe. Tauer’s hyacinth accord starts with broad strokes, all angles and edges. It is raucous but balanced, easily holding its own against the plastic, vinyl leather of the mechanic. Both accords, the flower and the vinyl, keep their shape but lose their edges as they merge. After a few hours Hyacinth and a Mechanic folds in on itself. It coalesces into a purple-mauve kitty-purr, just as much violet as hyacinth. After a neon opening, the perfume has an effortless drydown and is surprisingly pretty.  It’s like a splash-free entry following a big dive.

Is the titular “Hyacinth” the flower or mythic character? Wikipedia describes hyacinth’s subfamily: “The flowers are hermaphroditic, actinomorphic, often showy.” I suppose this could just as easily refer to the tragic Hyacinth, poster-boy for the perpetually unheeded maxim that runs through most Greek myths: Don’t fuck with the gods. They’re immortal and you’re not.

The story of Hyacinth and a Mechanic began in 2007 when Tauer passed a bottle around to a few perfume writers. I’m not certain that the perfume was ever made in quantity and I don’t think it was ever available for sale. Jump ahead 9 years. In late 2016, the perfume was available for one day each at two perfume shops, Fumerie in Portland, Oregon and LuckyScent in Los Angeles. The release was limited to two hundred bottles and the only way to get a bottle was to show up in person where Tauer would put a bottle in your hands. It’s as much a performance piece as it is a launch and it’s a great scenario for storytelling. The extremely limited release suits a perfume with the most condensed narrative possible. Two nouns. You fill in the rest.

Tauer has used many approaches to convey meaning through his perfumes. Romantic desert scenarios (l’Air de Désert Marocain, Lonestar Memories, Coeur du Désert.) The portraiture of the Tableau de Parfums series. Pure abstraction, as in the Pentachords.  Rose essays (Incense Rose, Une Rose Chyprée, PHI Une Rose de Kandahar, Une Rose Vermeille.) “Stories” (plural) might allude to the many stories that can be told with two words and an imagination. If so, Hyacinth and a Mechanic tells its story and then closes the book. Or it could imply that more will follow, in which case Hyacinth and a Mechanic is a cliffhanger keeping us in suspense for more. I’m staying tuned.

(photo Ernesto Casaretto. Coin du Roi/Société d’Opéra. Apollo et Hyacynthus, Mozart)

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