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I love the poem that inspired the Lyric Rain fragrance—Parker wrote it around the age of thirty, and while it might seem a morbid exercise to imagine one’s death and write a poem about it, somehow the poem reads to me as more of a triumph: one that acknowledges the heartaches of life, but also the day when those heartaches have rendered one immune from further hurts. A triumph of the bittersweet variety, but a triumph all the same. After thinking about the poem and sampling the perfume at various times this past week, trying to decide whether to keep it or give it away, I can see how the two intersect. Lyric Rain, in the moments after initial application, has a lavender note that is punchy enough for me to equate it with Dorothy Parker’s wit and the heart made bold (the heart “that pain has made incapable of pain”). And very shortly after that, the lavender is gathered up and folded into the sweet rejoicing of flowers: the notes of jasmine, blue lotus, and lavender combine in a truly exquisite way. For its first half hour of wear, this fragrance is gorgeous on me.
But then comes patchouli, and what a hippie-lovin’ patchouli it is! Don’t get me wrong; it seems perfectly suited to the perfume. From everything I’ve read about Parker, she had a bohemian spirit, so a patchouli that smells like a throwback to the very bohemian 1960s and 70s (a little after Parker's time, as she died in 1967) seems fitting for a perfume inspired by her. And, of course, “dirty” patchouli is also a perfect olfactory symbol of the grave—of rain-washed dirt—that is the imaginary final resting place of Parker in her poem. For me, however, it’s a deal-breaker. I prefer the cleaned-up and spit-polished form of patchouli found more frequently these days in fragrances like Chanel Coromandel and Montale Patchouli Leaves. If you want to strip me of my perfumista card because I can’t stomach this more raw and, perhaps, more authentic version of the note, go right ahead.
But first, I’m hoping that one of you will take this bottle off my hands. This is a partially used but mainly full dab bottle (in immaculate condition, as I have only ever applied it using a sterile Q-tip and have always stored the bottle in its pretty box, away from light and heat). If you live in the United States and would like a chance to win my bottle of Lyric Rain parfum, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org stating your interest. (Sorry, I don’t have a commenting forum, but please be assured that I won’t use your email for purposes other than the drawing.) The deadline for entering is Sunday, August 15th. The drawing is now closed -- the winner was Amy.
Strange Invisible Perfumes Lyric Rain:
Brief Review & Prize Drawing
I don’t know about you, but I feel like I could sleep through the rest of August. The busyness of summer has caught up to me, and my fatigue is expressing itself in a number of ways. My emails to people have been clumsy; I can’t seem to find anything I’m looking for because I keep absent-mindedly putting everything in the wrong place; and my interest in perfume seems to have completely evaporated—along with my interest in writing about it, or anything else.
Until I get my perfume and writing mojo back, what can I offer you? How about a perfume drawing for the adventurous. (And by adventurous, I mean those of you who like to embrace the highly unusual in terms of fragrance). The perfume I’m putting up for grabs is a nearly full, one-quarter-ounce bottle of Strange Invisible Perfumes Lyric Rain in the parfum concentration. Lyric Rain is a completely natural botanical perfume created by SIP’s owner and founder, Alexandra Balahoutis, a native Californian whose avant-garde fragrances have drawn many a perfumista to her boutique in Venice, California. Its inspiration and name were drawn from the Dorothy Parker poem, Testament (see below) and its fragrance notes include jasmine, pink pepper, blue lotus, patchouli, and lavender.
Before we go further, I should mention that I’ve never been to Venice: my bottle was received as a gift, of sorts, from another perfumista (not anyone associated with Strange Invisible Perfumes), and I’ve had it for a year, stored away in a cool, dark place, because it ended up being too funky in the patchouli department for me. I don’t think my friend will mind me giving Lyric Rain away; I’m sure she would rather it wind up in the hands of someone who will enjoy it.
Oh, let it be a night of lyric rain
And singing breezes, when my bell is tolled.
I have so loved the rain that I would hold
Last in my ears its friendly, dim refraln.
I shall lie cool and quiet, who have lain
Fevered, and watched the book of day unfold.
Death will not see me flinch; the heart is bold
That pain has made incapable of pain.
Kinder the busy worms than ever love;
It will be peace to lie there, empty-eyed,
My bed made secret by the leveling showers,
My breast replenishing the weeds above.
And you will say of me, "Then has she died?
Perhaps I should have sent a spray of flowers."
Images: the photo (top of page) of statue in Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia, is stolen from a site called funeralwise.com, and the photos of the Strange Invisible perfume bottle and box is from Basenotes.net. (I used to have my own images of the bottle on this page, but when I had to update my website, I lost those images.)
Interestingly, in the time since this post was originally published, Lyric Rain was discontinued and can no longer be purchased at Strange Invisible Perfumes.
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August 10, 2010: