Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dolor of Autumn: Enigma

This fall I've been making a weekly trip to Memphis, which is about a three hour drive away. I go down in the early afternoon and head back home around 8:30 pm, which puts me on a long, dark stretch of interstate at a time when there's very little traffic. I don't really mind it -- in fact, I enjoy the utter solitude. But at some point in the trip I always start flashing on the face of the The Man from Carnival of Souls. Funny how all it takes is the right set of factors -- i.e., isolation and darkness -- for the make-believe ghosts to come out. (The real ghosts always show up when you least expect them, like last Christmas when my father passed me in a Ford Focus as I drove to my friend's house for a holiday dinner. He's been dead for years but I swear it was him.)

Anyway, this is supposed to be a perfume post. What's all this talk of ghosts? Well, the theme here is the dolor of autumn, and what's more dolorous than the feeling of being pursued by ghosts, fictional or otherwise? And yes, I do have a perfume that evokes just such a feeling: Enigma, a largely forgotten fragrance from the largely forgotten Alexandra de Markoff line. Fragrantica calls it a woody oriental, and that's true enough, if the wood in question is musty, worm-eaten and dark with age. Although Enigma starts out with a blast of generic, floral-tinged spice, it quickly becomes a sort of eau de haunted house, with a grim bitterness that overwhelms its deceptive introductory smile. If you tested it blind, you'd swear it was some edgy niche creation, rather than a 70s era mainstream. I give it high marks for originality, though it is so unsettling and insistent -- kinda like those ghosts -- that I generally wear it only when I'm home alone and feel like surrendering to its strangeness.

Leave a comment or email me to enter the draw for a sample of Enigma. Or, if you don't want to wait to be creeped out, just watch the end of Carnival of Souls:

Photo above is a still from the movie. If you've never seen Carnival of Souls, you can watch the whole thing here.


Lisa Abdul-Quddus said...

Ahh, Carnival of Souls. This was a must-have in my haunted films collection. That man! :)

This perfume isn't familiar to me. Please add my name to the draw. Thanks!

stella p said...

Thanks to you and LimeWire we will be watching Carnival of Souls tonight. It had been nice to try the scent too! It is a dark & cold autumn evening here, and I'm glad that I don't have to drive somewhere.. :)

Unknown said...

I don't need the sample, Maria, as I still have a bottle that I got in the 80's. In 1991, I wanted to create a simple perfume to celebrate the opening of the Fort Lauderdale Performing Arts center. I had been to a pre-opening event, and knew tropical woods and flowers would be my theme. So I blended some jasmine sambac, sandalwood and ylang ylang. It was Enigma. I was shocked, but there you go.

BitterGrace said...

Anya--Ylang ylang! Yes, there must be a good dose of it in Enigma, can't believe it's not on the list of notes. (Did you use your creation?)

Anonymous said...

Our seasons are not so very distinct from each other here.
Sign me up for the draw, I'd love to have the dolor of autumn in my nostrils.
Thanks Maria.

Unknown said...

Maria, I wore it the night of the big opening. I only made a tiny bit, maybe three mls. I remember being so shocked that it was a doppelganger for Enigma, and I *never* do dupes ;-)