Scent a Celebrity Series: The Studio Ghibli Edition

Scenting the Characters of Studio Ghibli
Scenting the Characters of Studio Ghibli

“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.”

It occurred to me the other day that it had been a long while since I put together an instalment for the Scent a Celebrity Series. In fact, a quick search of the blog tells me that it was way back in February when we last took a dive into the world of scent selection for celebrities. That is too long, if you ask me. How else are the celebrities and fictional characters of this world expected to navigate the perplexing domain of fragrance? They can’t scent themselves, surely not? No, they can’t. So let’s remedy that with a brand new instalment of some long overdue celebrity scenting.

For this edition I am heading into the magical, mystical and ever fascinating world of Studio Ghibli. Creating some of the very best Japanese animation ever, Studio Ghibli has entertained children and adults across the globe, breaking language and cultural barriers with their stories of love, childhood fantasy, strength and suffering. Director Hayao Miyazaki has created iconic characters that are loveable, loath-able, and all that’s in between. In this piece you will find some of my favourite Ghibli characters from a range of my favourite films – all of them scented to perfection.

Totora Wears The Afternoon of a Faun by Etat Libre d'Orange
Totora Wears The Afternoon of a Faun by Etat Libre d’Orange

If you haven’t seen My Neighbor Totoro, please step away from your computer, tablet, mobile phone or electronic device, source that shit and come back when you have been properly educated. It’s OK. I will wait. Out of all of the Ghibli films, Totoro is the most magical. It has beautiful countryside scenes, cute little soot spirits and a freakin’ cat that is also a bus (yes, you read that right), not to mention the gigantic rabbit-like spirit from which the film gets its name. It’s not difficult to see why it’s a fan favourite and whenever I’m in a blue mood, My Neighbor Totoro is always the perfect remedy.

Totoro is a huge, sleepy spirit that lives in a camphor tree. He doesn’t really say much, although he has been known to snore loudly and roar on occasion. He has the power to make trees and plants grow, and travels from place to place in a Catbus. I think he looks very cuddly and he’s the kind of guy you wouldn’t mind bumping into if you were having a bad day. Scent wise, I reckon he’d smell forest-y, with a deep animalic undertone (there aren’t many showers in the forest, to be honest), with a camphor edge. I’ve therefore decided to scent him in the cosy, immortelle chypre that is Etat Libre d’Orange’s masterful The Afternoon of a Faun. Moss, curry spice and a touch of menthol. Beautiful.

Yubaba Wears Farnesiana by Caron
Yubaba Wears Farnesiana by Caron

Magic will be a recurring theme in this post. The Ghibli world is fully of sorcery, illusion, wizardry and witchcraft, but no film is more otherworldly and magical than Spirited Away. This was the first Miyazaki film I watched and as the credits rolled, I knew that I’d entered a new world that I couldn’t resist exploring. Much like Chihiro in fact, the lead character in the movie, who finds herself in a new realm, filled with intrigue. The only difference being that she wants to escape, and I don’t.

To save her parents from being transformed into pigs forever, Chihiro is forced to work in a bath house for the spirits. The owner of this ghostly establishment is the witch Yubaba. Yubaba is a mean-spirited, ugly old crone with an oversized head and a thirst for riches. She’s the Studio Ghibli equivalent of Disney’s Ursula the Sea Witch, and she’s bloody fabulous. Yubaba is covered in jewels and rocks some serious talons. I’d scent her with Caron’s Farnesiana, a big buttery and powdery floral that is wickedly old school. Yubaba would think that this was the best scent on Earth and its thick sillage would announce her presence long before her arrival, a fact for which her many minions would be thankful for, I’m sure, even though I’m pretty sure they’d learn to dread it. Pity.

Howl Wears Rubj Extrait by Vero Profumo
Howl Wears Rubj Extrait by Vero Profumo

If I was forced at gun point to say what my favourite Ghibli movie was, I’d probably take the bullet. I’m kidding, of course. In reality I would most likely say that Howl’s Moving Castle is my favourite. I just love the magic, especially the wisecracking fire demon, Calficer. That dude (voiced by Billy Crystal) knows how to provide a running commentary unlike any other magical being. But we’re not here to talk about the comic relief, we’re here to scent the story’s protagonist, or antagonist, depending on which way you look at it. I am talking about the Wizard Howl, of course.

Howl is a vein, manipulative, philandering womaniser. He steals the hearts of young girls, they say, and he cares more for his appearance, and his spells, than the people around him. Strangely, all of this endears the viewer to Howl, and his broken personality, which can only be fixed when he and his heart are reunited, is what makes him so fascinating. For Howl, I have picked the aloof, saline floral tones of Vero Profumo’s Rubj (the Extrait, specifically). Like Howl, Rubj, with its pale orange blossom and rose notes, is beautiful, filled with ancient magic and ever so slightly self-involved.

Jiji Wears Rive Gauche Pour Homme by Yves Saint Laurent
Jiji Wears Rive Gauche Pour Homme by Yves Saint Laurent

Jiji is the feline sidekick in Kiki’s Delivery Service, a coming of age tale about a young witch who moves to a big city. He’s a rather sarcastic fellow (aren’t all cats?) and he can often be found judging Kiki on her many questionable escapades. If he’s not doing that he’ll be lurking outside, trying to impress the snooty lady cat next door, who is perhaps just a little bit too much of a pedigree to pay attention to our dear moggy, Jiji. Or maybe she likes a bit of rough, who knows? Cats are tricky little buggers.

Anyway, it’s clear that Jiji is a bit of a ladies man. He’s suave, humorous and sleek. His black fur is impeccably well-groomed and he has a lot to say. If he were human, I imagine that he would be the type of guy who props up the bar and chats up all of the people, with varying degrees of success. In the end, our lady cat next door cannot resist his charms. This makes me think of Yves Saint Laurent’s handsome Rive Gauche Pour Homme, a dreadfully sexy fougére with lots of fuzzy patchouli and barbershop coumarin, that is utterly irresistible. Like Jiji, it’s just begging to be noticed.

Fujimoto Wears Lord of Goathorn by Gorilla Perfume
Fujimoto Wears Lord of Goathorn by Gorilla Perfume

Ponyo is the Ghibli film that sees the most Disney influence, which is no surprise, seeing as it’s almost a modern retelling of The Little Mermaid, with the key differences being the fact that the lead character is a Goldfish (that is strangely chicken-like, no?) and that the story centres on the plutonic love between two children. It’s cute and I defy anyone not to want to fall in love with just how darn sweet the whole thing is. Anyway, we’re not here to get emotional, we’re here to talk perfume and for Ponyo the film, I have picked out one of the more intriguing characters to be scented – Fujimoto, Ponyo’s overbearing father.

Fujimoto is a wizard of the sea, of sorts. He’s tasked with ensuring that the balance of nature doesn’t go wrong and destroy the world. No biggie. The problem with this is that, he also has to spend time ensuring that his eager daughter, Brunnhilde (Ponyo) doesn’t escape onto land. She des, obviously, and who’d have thought that she would be the catalyst for the imbalance of nature? Fujimoto is constantly on edge, odd and initially a little bit creepy. There’s definitely something fishy about him, although his intentions are good, so I’d choose to scent him with Lord of Goathorn by Gorilla Perfume which fascinates, repels and inspires with its marine (read: rotten fish), smoky and liquorice notes. Weird doesn’t quite cover it.


Join the Discussion!

Who are your favourite Ghibli characters? How would you scent them? Let me know in the comments box below!

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