Once in awhile, by which we mean every Thursday about midway through of the New York Times, a story comes along that is so reedick, on so many levels, its preposterousness reaches a realm of stupidity we'll call metatextual, which is a word we learned (and forgot) back when we were studying for the SATs, which was — yeah, wait for it — the last time we thought about CK One, the apparently revolutionary unisex perfume that captured the zeitgeist and the paradigm shift, the hope and the dreams of a Generation called X:
A unisex brand that became the olfactory talisman of Generation X, CK One was so authentically grunge it was carried in record stores alongside albums by Nirvana.
Because nothing confers "authenticity" like the decision of a Macy's merchandising manager! Okay, so CK, surprise surprise, is trying to bottle nineties nostalgia the way it bottled the nineties, news we weren't quite sure how to react to, so we emailed our favorite secret scent-sessive, whose initial reaction was to the ad copy, and like ours, generally consisted of "utter bafflement":
"She likes how he blogs, his texts turn her on. It's intense. For right now." WTF?
But then she alerted us of what appears to be a stealth campaign to win over the industry's thought leaders, namely INFLUENTIAL PERFUME BLOGGER-SCIENTIST LUCA TURIN:
These guys are all in bed together. Luca Turin just rhapsodized about CKOne on his blog last week.
After the jump, we chat up our perfume fan, who for some reason did not want to be quoted, and learn why all dudes who don't reek of Axe smell all chalky and hippie that way, and how a handful of secretive companies COMPLETELY CONTROL the sense of smell ...
me: Tell me, did you smell of CK One as a grunge lass?
DEEP NOSTRIL: oh of course
i liked Be better though
DEEP NOSTRIL: I can't believe that CKin2u is a real thing
DEEP NOSTRIL: yeah. it was my cover-up-cigarette-smoke thing
my friend christian and i would spray it all over ourselves after smoking in his car during lunch
me: Why do all the kids want to smell like patchouli now?
DEEP NOSTRIL: it's like the hippie resurgence
me: "neon amber" sounds like a gratuitous Arcade Fire reference
DEEP NOSTRIL: they capoeira dance to neo-folk and smell like patchouli
me: Yeah but what is it that they're wearing. Every dude on the LES smells the same
but they're still listening to electroclash!
DEEP NOSTRIL: the stuff they come out with for dudes is more interesting than the girlie stuff these days
DEEP NOSTRIL: like the CK stuff sounds like it smells like gross fruit salad
me: what do girls want to smell like?
DEEP NOSTRIL: well... i feel like the fruit salad trend is on its way out
like that's been what was hot for a really long time for the next thing to not happen
then you have your hillary duff with love
that smells almost like something an adult would wear
i think the hillary duff jawn is a good sign
me: hillary duff?!
"A unisex brand that became the olfactory talisman of Generation X, CK One was so authentically grunge it was carried in record stores alongside albums by Nirvana."
what about THAT.
DEEP NOSTRIL: that's true
i remember the ubiquity
but it was like a gender-bendage thing too
me: i remember UBIQUITY but ubiquity is not the same thing as authenticity
unless it is
in the rosy glow of memory
DEEP NOSTRIL: i feel like an authentically grunge person would just stink
or smell like some musk oil stuff
me: i mostly wore vanilla oil from the body shop
not really authentically grunge
it actually smelled authentically like play doh
DEEP NOSTRIL: she likes how he blogs, his texts turn her on. It's intense. For right now.
ck is dumb
me: sooooooo awesome
DEEP NOSTRIL: this stuff is not going to be good
me: so Luca Turin is totally a shill!
DEEP NOSTRIL: i don't even think a 14 year-old would be seduced by this idea
no, chandler burr is a shill
me: but luca is on the payroll too
DEEP NOSTRIL: i think luca's a lot less of a shill
i think he's pretty innocently into stuff
DEEP NOSTRIL: chandler burr i think is a big rider of coattails.
but it was suspicious to me that he just got all into CKOne
me: has chandler burr written about CKOne?
DEEP NOSTRIL: and then this thing came out
i bet he does soon.
me: wait i need to change tampon NOW
DEEP NOSTRIL: mrs. tampastic
get em girl
DEEP NOSTRIL: today?
i don't know why they didn't market the new CK as unisex too
they should have tossed the girlie version and sold just the dude one
all the early-adapting young girls are like androgynous pseudo-lesbians now
me: CORY KENNEDY
so, hold on a sec.
Hilary Duff has a fragarance that is good right now?
DEEP NOSTRIL: it just sort of represents a shift
me: has this ever happened in the history of celebrity fragarance?
DEEP NOSTRIL: it smells like a weaker version of some older thing that was good
what, one of them being good?
no... like a few of them are good
me: Whose are good?
It is weird to think of Hilary Duff as the human manifestation of whatever CK One was to the zeitgeist of the mid nineties
DEEP NOSTRIL: I don't know if it's really a zeitgeist.
It just does something different than most of them
like the J Lo stuff all smells sort of beachy/tropical
and then the Britney perfumes are all kinda screaming fruity jawns.
Oh! Sarah Jessica Parker
that was sort of a landmark too
cause it's all musky and grown-up
but she is actually an adult
me: so weird.
DEEP NOSTRIL: kinda different
me: what is, like, the most important perfume right now? The Arcade Fire of Perfumes? The Gnarls Barkley of Purfumes?
DEEP NOSTRIL: These are hard questions.
there's a lot of really interesting niche stuff happening
you got your Christopher Brosius in brooklyn
me: No CKone of the generation, though?
DEEP NOSTRIL: "CB I Hate Perfume"
me: Yeah I read about that somewhere.
DEEP NOSTRIL: Oh duh. Light Blue.
that's the teenybopper shit
Dolce and Gabbana
DEEP NOSTRIL: kinda. not too, though.
it has a green apple thing going on
and then some cedar-ish base
me: I think I need olfactory news from you ever day
DEEP NOSTRIL: so it's not like "notes of strawberry cotton candy whipped cream and pineapple glace and accord of vanilla marshmallows."
me: they are making green apple secret deodorant now
imagine if you did smell like that..
like an amusement park
DEEP NOSTRIL: they make SPARKLE deodorant
well... this gets into the Turin/Burr shilldom
cause there aren't really natural ingredients as we know them in perfume hardly at all anymore
they're all these crazy patented molecules
and Turin's company makes those
me: oh, really?
DEEP NOSTRIL: so I think it's kinda funny that he's also "a critic."
his company is super small
most of them are huge
there are like seven of them running the world
so it's not THAT bad, but...
me: Sort of like the oil companies
the defense contractors
so much power, so much influence
over an entire sense.
DEEP NOSTRIL: well... they don't just do perfume
it's like what your fabric softener smells like, soft drinks, all kindsa shit
me: American Fragarances and Flavorings
is that one?
DEEP NOSTRIL: yeah. Givaudan. LVMH.
cause they're all sort of affiliated with superbrands too
it's weird. it's like secretly all about crazy huge amounts of money that don't really have to do with perfume
also, there's this huge push to restrict certain chemicals that someone decided were "allergens."
me: Like LVMH makes major cash flow scenting your fabric softener?
DEEP NOSTRIL: and these chemicals are basically like everything you'd put in perfume ever
DEEP NOSTRIL: yeah! seriously!
me: it's funny, though. most perfumes make me sneeze
DEEP NOSTRIL: i am not too secure in my facts on this stuff
me: i think fracas did
DEEP NOSTRIL: i just know it's all complicated... hahaha
me: issey miyake does not
DEEP NOSTRIL: issey miyake was like a 90s concept fragrance
me: i'm pretty 90s
DEEP NOSTRIL: i don't think issey fronts like anything natural is in that perfume...
it's all like "marine accord"
DEEP NOSTRIL: "ozonics"
that was a huge ubiquitous 90s perfume
me: it is like you are talking about a complex video game you have been playing for your entire adult life that i have never seen
DEEP NOSTRIL: that was like grown-up CKOne
me: it IS like a grown up CK one
DEEP NOSTRIL: the other thing that happened in the 90s was Angel
me: Gap made a frag called "Om" that was like a designer impostors CK one
DEEP NOSTRIL: Oh! Om smelled kinda like DK chaos
me: I liked it.
DEEP NOSTRIL: me too.
chaos now goes for massive amounts of money on ebay
DEEP NOSTRIL: but angel is like that sticky-sweet patchouli jawn with a bunch of fruit and sweet things that had about five bajillion spinoffs
me: Ok I have to post.
DEEP NOSTRIL: yeah, don't quote me.