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The story of sex and a peach

peachesI didn’t even bother to smell By Kilian’s “Flower of Immortality” this weekend at Bergdorf, because anyone who has smelled any of their Asian Tales series can tell you how it smells: light, sheer, and (in this case) with a peach note, because they tell you in the ad copy that it has peach in it, and all the Asian Tales are extremely light sheer fragrances (ones that I daresay you could find in similar versions in any number of other brands).

Another thing I know without smelling it is why peach is the “flower of immortality”. With apologies to the Chinese medieval history professor I had in college, as any errors I transmit are mine and not hers, here’s a version you don’t often hear:

In medieval China life force (chi or qi) was thought to be produced by a woman when she had an orgasm, but expended by a man when he did. One secret of immortality was for a man to cause women’s orgasms during intercourse, so that the chi would flow into him, but not to orgasm himself and expend the chi. The emperor’s harem had a unique lifegiving purpose: to keep the emperor alive forever with the flow of all those women’s chi into the emperor.

Of course, you can immediately see why this “system” of achieving immortality never worked.

The sexual nature of the peach, blushing and dewy with its cleft reminiscent of a woman’s buttocks (or vaginal lips, depending on how you read paintings of peaches,) was thus simultaneously a depiction of the possibility of endless life and the sensual pleasures of earthly indulgence at the same time. Plus, have you ever eaten a perfect peach?

Whether you seek immortality or the temporary delights of the flesh, pick up a peach. There’s no need to go with something sheer and nondescript to get there; indeed, when has mediocrity ever led to immortality?

My favorite peaches are vintage Yvresse (originally Champagne) by Yves Saint Laurent, or (to a lesser extent) original J’Adore (Dior). There are a lot of people out there still buying J’Adore and wanting to find out more about it, because my review of various versions of J’Adore is the number one most popular article here at the Unseen Censer (see list at left). I think both of them are bubbly, party-dress types of peaches, with Yvresse being jammier. I have not smelled current Yvresse; it’s still pretty easy to find one of the original bottles, when it was named Champagne, online for reasonable prices. I have smelled current J’Adore and I think it is not just disappointing compared to vintage J’Adore, it smells actively unpleasant once the opening notes are gone.

So if you don’t want to search out vintage but you can afford it, let me recommend an elegant, rich version of a scent in this category: al03 by biehl.parfumkunstwerke.

I had not gotten to try or know the biehl fragrances before this Sniffapalooza; Osswald hosted a lovely part of the event and featured the biehl creative director, and I had about six of these babies on my arms and smelled them for most of the day. Compared to some of the other spicier, woodier, more masculine scents, I was surprised by the fresh opening of al03, a clearly floral, clearly fruit scent with nothing of the department store about it, and was more surprised when, as it progressed, the peach became more and more noticeable to me and started reminding me of my older peach-based friends.

Yet it was complex, part of a blend of what smell like good quality ingredients, each one contributing to the sophisticated sensual veil that this peach occasionally shimmers behind and occasionally just drapes over one shoulder. This perfume is simply well-made.

There are a lot of perfumistas out there who turn up their noses at anything fruity or floral; yet fruity florals are outstandingly (behind gourmands) the most popular category of perfume in the U.S. today. If American women are going to buy sparkling floral-tinged peaches, I hope that (if they can) they buy al03; or if you’re looking for a bargain but can still afford to gamble a little, do try those older bottles marked Champagne.

Of course you should try a sample before investing; al03 is at time of writing $180 at Osswald NYC, $195 at LuckyScent. It may be more or less peachy on you. But if modern day J’Adore isn’t doing it for you, or isn’t doing it for you any more, and you can invest in a perfume art work like this one, I don’t think al03, despite its nondescriptive name, will disappoint you.

You won’t get immortality out of the bottle; you won’t get chi, or a harem, either. But you will smell delicious.


Image is “Peaches” by Big Yellow House (Steve Adams), via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

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10 comments to The story of sex and a peach

  • What have you done?!! 🙂 Sometimes a peach is just a peach. Before reading this post I’ve never looked at it other than just a fruit…

    As much as I love eating good peaches, this note doesn’t work for me in perfumes. It doesn’t stop me from searching immortality testing those perfumes thar feature the note but not much luck so far.

    • Judith

      Hey, it’s the story of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. You can’t un-know something once you know it. And I just had to share!

      I do keep finding myself liking peaches. And apricot, too. The new Shalimar Ode a la Vanille was just announced, and it’s supposedly Mexican(-inspired?) and says it includes a prune note, and I find that irresistible too.

      No immortality from prunes, though. Only peaches!

  • Ari

    Noooope. Already got my Yvresse for $20, thank you very much. What was Osswald like?? I need my Sniffa fix! Your little history lesson about chi was amazing.

    • Judith

      Osswald is lovely. Just picture the exact opposite of Aedes de Venustas (which is also lovely – just in the completely opposite way). It’s modern, open, and light; one wall is entirely covered with minis, which is even cooler than it sounds; and the staff are lovely. And they have so many great lines.

      There’s a little room in the back where they hosted the biehl talk – nice space.

      And Yvresse is a great idea! 🙂

  • […] and look at a peach from a different prospective? Read Judith’s (the unseen censer) The story of sex and a peach  (but I warn you: a peach might never look the same to […]

  • A peach will never look the same 😉
    And I hated smelling Flower of Immortality By Kilian. Smells like peach Nestea

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