Whilst watching the Glastonbury Festival on TV the other week, I was overwhelmed by just how much I adore Arcade Fire’s wobbly voiced soprano songstrel – Regine Chassagne. I’ve enthusiastically followed Arcade Fire’s art school indie style output for many years, but with the launch of the ‘Reflektor’ album they seemed to have morphed into a kind of ‘cyber rave orchestral noise spectacular’ of the kind that excites me the point of thinking “They are better than the Pixies”. Which is my measuring stick for how good a band is.
Watching the extraordinary Regine’s performance this year was an utter delight. She is simultaneously; charming, coquettish, exuberant, luminous and technicolour. Her voice possesses a beautiful flaw where amongst the high soprano peaks, cracks and creaks occur, perfection is boring. She isn’t.
I’ve always been inspired by these type of ‘women of colour’. Those who character (both in personality and visual appearance) radiates an uncontrollably vivid exuberance. As Regine whirls around the stage twirling coloured ribbons in the manner of an Olympic gymnast on amphetamines, I see a history of equally technicolour women of pop. There is no doubt that Regine must cherish Cyndi Lauper who shares a similarly squeaky voice and love of ‘dressing-up box’ clothes.
The eighties also produced some fine ‘men of colour’. Remember the video for pointy faced love god – Paul King’s ‘Love and Pride’? It had all the elements of essential 80s pop played out in a sun parched quarry where Paul danced like Elvis wearing an amazingly green suit. To amplify the colour, many leather jacketed children ran amok spray painting each other's Doc Marten boots whilst graphic splatters of animated paint popped across the screen in time to the drum beat. Ahhhh.. the eighties.
Gorgeous and brilliant - King
I wonder what perfume might Regine wear? Arcade Fire present a psychedelic super charged extravaganza of light on their stage. Neon paint daubed onto their costumes and much (terrible fire hazard) metallic, fringed and futuristic lycra abounds. Lead singer, and Regine’s husband – Win Butler rejects the archetypal pair of shades for a ‘pair of shades theatrical make-up’ rendering him somewhat sinister and beautiful in equal measures. There is nothing natural about Arcade Fire. They exist in a futuristic and synthetic world where electric chaos reigns. With this in mind, I can only imagine any of them wearing a symbol of the future, an aromachemical, a very artificial one. The obvious choices where I to present Regine with a perfume would be:
Lalique - Perles De Lalique. Whilst patchouli usually contributes a warm, earthy and damply sweet quality to a perfume, in Perles De Lalique it’s rocketed skywards by shockingly huge dose of space-age wood replicant – ISO E Super. Add to this a rather piecing rose and you have something that is (on the negative side) migraine inducing and (more positively) a uniquely bright and fizzy experiment in NASA-esque perfumery. I own a bottle. I wear it now and again. I love it but it makes me feel shouty.
Tauer Perfumes – Noontide Petals. A rather ‘un-Tauery’ Tauer, Noontide Petals was inspired by the modernity of the 1920s and 30s, a time of air travel, fast cars and girls embracing the art of acting like boys. In perfume terms, this means aldehydes, those sparkling chemicals brimming with vivacity that brought an oddly chilly, metallic and genderless edge to the blousy compositions of an earlier era. If you haven’t smelt Chanel No 5 or Baghari for a while, sniff them out and ponder how strangely contemporary they feel. Noontide petals mixes Aldehydes with a whole caboodle of woody and floral notes but it still feels primarily aldehydic and as such makes me think of Clara Bow smoking a fag in manly pants whilst winking through a bit of untamed frizzy red fringe. In her time, as visually Bonkers as Regine or Cyndi.
As for Cyndi, a fruit bowl would match her kaleidoscopic style. Byredo's vegetal overdose 'Pulp' is a possible choice. It polarises opinion, a love or hate scent where fans cite it as the greatest indie adventure in fruit of all time and others state that it recalls 'bin juice', a literal pulping of rotting vegetation leaking from the bin bag. Whichever side you take, it's certainly vivid, shocking and eccentric - perfect for Cyndi.
Tropical fruit warrior
And lastly, little known Malcolm McLaren punk-pop invention - Bow Wow Wow. If you haven't heard it PLEASE watch 'Go Wild In The Country' on Youtube. Singer Anabella Lwin was just 14 when McLaren discovered her. She was immediately famous, if only for a brief time, shouting her angry lyrics over the tribal drum beats of the band in a combustive and rather glamourous wallop of noise. Fond of block coloured batwing jumpers, flappy bits of fabric worn in tribal headband style (another influence on Regine?) and bejeweled animal prints, Anabella is the ideal wearer of Kenzo's 'Jungle L' Elephant'. A curiously (or furiously) cumin fueled riot of mango rich spiced oriental decadence.
If you've enjoyed this post, you may wish to read some other music related perfume waffle by clicking here:
On Olfactive Studio - Chambre Noire and Adam and The Ants
On Jovoy - Psychedelique and Nico and The Velvet Undergound
On Byredo - Flowerhead and The Gossip's Beth Ditto
And for those of you who didn't see it. Here is the beautiful Regine singing Sprawl II (squeakily) live at glastonbury. Enjoy.