I’m Irish and I have a secret: I don’t like the color green. Maybe it’s because it’s the color of the uniform that I had to wear day in, day out for eight years under the unforgiving glare of the nuns at the convent school I attended. Or maybe it’s because it’s the color of the grass in Ireland, which only got that way because it never stops raining. Personally, I blame my mother (don’t we all?) for making me ingest boiled-to-death kale at least twice a week until I was old enough to say, “No thanks, I’ll be having some of those French fries instead.”
In perfume terms, a “green” perfume is either one of two things to me – an idealized representation of a bucolic meadow in springtime (Le Temps d’Une Fete, Chamade), or a bitchy, cold green chypre or green floral designed to put the fear of God into you (Cristalle, No. 19, Gucci No. 3). The first is pretty and elegant, but a little too pastoral for this urban chick. The second, well, I find green chypres to be excessively formal and more than a little unfriendly. I’m working on it, I promise.
But last year, in an effort to be more rounded or ‘Catholic’ in my tastes, I went on a bit of a green perfume spree to try to find one that clicked with me. Patrica de Nicolai’s wonderful Vie de Chateau Intense came very close, but Palais Jamais by Etro was the one that won out in the end.
In a way, I could say that Palais Jamais chose me, and not the other way around. It has such a definite character of its own that you suspect that it might have native intelligence and chooses to cooperate with your skin (or not).
Palais Jamais is urban. It is a moody creature of tea, smoke, rubber, tobacco, moss, leather, vetiver, and birch. Green it may be, but it is the green of collected urban habits – smoking cigarettes, wearing a black leather jacket, and smelling the scorched rubber smell of the motorbike you boyfriend just left on. It is kind of kinky, actually. On the one hand, it is silky smooth in texture, so I get an image of a silk paisley tie and a conservative silk suit. But the smoke, leather, and all-round badass attitude kind of brings to mind a man in a rubber sex mask in an East Berlin gay bar. So, Palais Jamais = both urban and urbane.
Palais Jamais chose me. And sometimes it still chooses me. But it acts kind of like those mood rings we used to wear back in the day – you know, the ones that turn red for angry, and blue for sad, and so on. Some days, this smells downright glorious on me. On other days, it surrounds me with a poisonous cloud of bad attitude. With Palais Jamais, you just have to judge the moment.