“The Scent a Celebrity Series is my vain attempt at picking perfumes for those who don’t know any better, yes I mean celebrities. Let’s face it, most celebrities are incapable of choosing decent clothing, boyfriends, girlfriends, movies, (insert-celebrity-mistake-here) let alone having the ability to make decisions about something as important as their scent – that’s where I come in. Never fear my dear schlebs, I will ensure that you are appropriately scented, all you need to do is listen.”
I always enjoy writing entries for the Scent a Celebrity Series. It’s seriously fun and challenging to try and delve into a character and pick out fragrances that I think can match their personalities. This process gives me a greater understanding of not only the celebrity in question, but also the fragrances I have matched with them, and I always coming away feeling as if I’ve seen things from a slightly different angle.
Speaking of different perspectives, I thought I’d take the liberty of approaching this episode of the series in a slightly different manner. Our subject for today is the inimitable Kate Bush, a musical enigma and theatrical performer who cannot be rivalled by any other starlet, dead or alive. She is simply unique – simply ‘Kate’. Instead of picking a number of fragrances that suit La Bush’s personality, as I would normally do, I’ve opted to scent four of my favourite Kate Bush albums – after all, there is nothing on this planet more filled with personality than a Kate Bush LP…
“To be sung of a summer night on the water. Ooh, on the water.”
– Delius (Song of Summer)
Never for Ever is Kate Bush’s most diverse album. Covering themes ranging from; army conscription (Army Dreamers) and murderous, revenge-filled rampages (The Wedding List) to nuclear holocausts viewed in utero (Breathing) and marital trickery (Babushka), Never for Ever is seamlessly chaotic, bat shit and beautiful, all at once. This is the album that brought me to Kate Bush and it was the catchy quirk of songs like Babooshka and Violin that resonated with me, in a way that few other artists have the ability to do so.
To scent Never for Ever I have picked Penhalgion’s Night Scented Stock (M.Pickthall; 1976 – revised in 2009, by Mike Parrott). I choose this fragrance for two reasons; firstly, it shares its name with an instrumental piece on the album; and secondly, because it captures the nature and earth themes found within songs such as Delius (Song of Summer). This animalic, night blooming floral is herbaceous and stewed in a truly unique way that hints at the strangeness of Bush herself – a strangeness that now feels so completely familiar.
“Red, red rosies. You won’t bleed. Pinks and posies. Confess to me, girl. Red, red roses. Go down.”
– Waking the Witch
Everybody loves Hounds of Love – it’s easily one of the greatest albums of all time, of all time, people! The track listing reads like a greatest hits, with a series of truly great songs that would make most modern pop stars blush with embarrassment. Hounds of Love was a pioneering album back in 1985, due to its famed use of the Fairlight CMI synthesiser. Split into two halves – Hounds of Love and The Ninth Wave – this album is just so incredible, it’s difficult to describe, but perhaps it’s best just to say that it is both abstract and narrative.
I’m always struck by the song ‘Waking the Witch’, an anarchic and disjointed tour de force of a melody, with a poignant line about red, red roses. This leads me to think of the reddest of all roses, created for a pioneering brand – Une Rose by Editions de Perfums Frederic Malle (Edouard Flechier; 2003). Une Rose is a crimson rose blushing with scarlet blood in its veins – it almost feels more rose than rose itself. It has a rich and earthy base that speaks of darker undertones – themes that Bush herself, never shies away from. Like Hounds of Love, Une Rose is a symphonic beauty in a completely modern style.
“He said I was a flower of the mountain, yes, but now I’ve o’er a woman’s body, yes.”
– The Sensual World
Kate’s 1989 album, The Sensual World is full of romance and emotion. As the name suggests, it’s her most sensual album to date and whether the romances she speaks of in the lyrics are great ones, or even weird ones involving Hitler’s amorphous head, they are incredibly captivating. Whilst The Sensual World may not be Bush’s most consistent album, it does contain ‘This Woman’s Work’, her most heartbreaking song, so all can be forgiven.
The album’s title track takes inspiration from James Joyce’s Ulysses, and charts Molly Bloom’s adventure as she steps away from the book’s monochrome pages to the real, sensual world. Kate coos and whispers the word ‘yes’ throughout the song, creating a dreamy and warm sense of joy. The joy of nature and the sensuality of this song make me think of En Voyage Perfumes’ magnificent Zelda (Shelley Waddington; 2013) – a big white, and creamy magnolia fragrance that feels incredibly natural but also larger than life. It is fragrant joy in a bottle.
“The dawn has come, and the wine will run, and the song must be sung, and the flowers are melting, in the sun.”
I dare anyone to listen to ‘A Sky of Honey’, the second half of Bush’s 2005 album, Aerial, and not be moved. Charting the movement of the sun through the sky during an average day, this album turns the ordinary into the sublime through the use of piano and bird song. It’s a dreamy piece that leads one to think about the beauty in the every day things and the glory of the light during a blazing sunrise and a burning sunset.
In 2011, when I smelled Mona di Orio’s Oudh Osmanthus (Mona di Orio; 2011 – formerly known as Oud), I had in mind a golden shimmering sunset, just like the one Bush conjures up through the second half of Aerial. Through the use of a golden, jammy osmanthus note and the hot breath of oud, Mona di Orio created the olfactory equivalent of an expansive sea, or sky of honey. Both Aerial and Oudh Osmanthus are nothing short of divine.
Sample of Zelda via En Voyage Perfumes, others are my own. Image 1 via interviewmag.