Though he died just short of his 85th birthday, Salvador Dalí was the eternal evil teen; his pronouncements and gestures were designed to startle his “audience” — the World! Dalí seemed sure everyone, everywhere watched him with unflagging fascination and cared what he said and did. Perhaps Dalí’s attention-grabbing ways masked deep insecurities; one wonders if the weird, cruel, inexplicable opinions Dalí proclaimed were true expressions of his heart and mind, or only empty words intended to shock and awe. Did Dalí really “spit for pleasure on the portrait”1 of his dead mother; applaud the murder of his friend Federico García Lorca (“The moment I learned of his death…I cried 'Olé'!’”)2; and support Franco's torture and killing of dissidents (“Three times more executions are needed…. Personally I’m against freedom. I’m for the Holy Inquisition.”)3?
What type of perfume would Dalí have created? I imagine him saying something like: “Doesn’t everyone love the scent of blood and dung, sweaty breasts, fuzzy tongues and turtle shells, lady bug shellac and horses’ milk!? Let’s bottle the scent of desperation, the aroma of time running out.” (Actually, that sounds more like García Lorca than Dalí!) Dalí did say, "Of the five senses, the sense of smell is incontestably the one that best conveys a sense of immortality.”4 Dalí, always looking for ways to make money, signed a licensing agreement with Jean-Pierre Grivory of COFCI (now, Cofinluxe) in Paris on Dec. 17, 1982, and the Salvador Dalí brand was born. Dalí designed the company’s bottles (seen above); they represent Aphrodite’s nose and lips from his painting Apparition of the Face of Aphrodite of Knidos (image below, left).
I have a hunch Dalí would have loved strange, man-made, contemporary fragrance accords (even though his personal perfume preference was a dab of jasmine oil behind each ear), and I wonder if he would have appreciated Laguna (1991) if he had lived to smell it?
Laguna was created by perfumer Mark Buxton and lists notes of iris, lily of the valley, rose, pineapple, ambergris and vanilla. I can smell all of those (blatantly synthetic) notes if I strain my nose (‘pineapple’, ‘ambergris’ and see-through ‘vanilla’ stand out), but overall Laguna’s notes seem blended by a hurricane: a "blur" of slightly sweet aromas melding into a watery, fruity, sheer floral concoction, light and airy, but with good lasting power on skin. I don’t find Laguna too feminine for men; the dry-down of ambergris and vanilla (and a note that smells of fresh white bread sprinkled with sugar) sounds heavy but the perfume is “jaunty” — a good choice for warm-weather (and post-exercise) anointment. Though Laguna aims for a marine-beach-y, outdoor vibe, there are no obvious Calone/ozone notes present.
The “shocking” and innovative spirit of Dalí is exemplified more by Comme des Garçons and État Libre d’Orange than Parfums Salvador Dalí, but I’m curious to smell other fragrances in the line. (I won’t feel guilty either; Dalí isn't collecting any royalties these days!) For buying information, see the listing for Salvador Dalí under Perfume Houses.
1. Lorca: A Dream of Life, Leslie Stainton, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999 (hardcover edition), p. 205.
2. Ibid., p. 450.
3. The Shameful Life of Salvador Dalí, Ian Gibson, W.W. Norton & Company, 1998 (U.S. hardcover edition), p. 619.