Neil Chapman aka The Black Narcissus has really outdone himself with his latest article ‘Flowers of the Apocalypse’. And we’re not just saying that because our Flame & Fortune is one of the two fragrances upon which it casts its intense gaze.
It’s a wonderful piece of high-octane writing that vibrates with a passion and energy; post-cyberpunk hyperbole hopped up on the promise of a good night out clubbing, now merely a Proustian memory from a distant past. Indeed, just as Mr Chapman may now feel confined—though, unlike Proust, he has not willingly taken to his bed in a fit of melancholic pique—his remembrance of things past is every bit as fevered, heightened and a damned good read as the more verbose Frenchman.
For us it’s a double honour. To be discussed within such compelling writing is glorious enough. But, to be considered alongside our friend and fellow fragrance traveller Franchesca Bianchi makes the experience even more like a night out on absinthe.
“a dry yet immediately voluptuous high-sex woody neroli that is perfect for an outfit with heels”
Taking us through his tangential—but somehow completely logical—ode to the fun had in the 1980s with post-apocalyptic aesthetics in popular culture but entirely relating it back to the immediate present, Neil has some very pleasant things to say about Flame & Fortune.
“a tart, glamazon spritz that works perfectly from top to bottom: a green, sharp neroli/ petitgrain opening warmed through with tuberose and a shot or two of whiskey and incense for good measure – which reminds me of the good old days of going out ( if you can still remember those…………..)”
While our own inspiration for the juice might come from a slightly different angle, we think he has entirely nailed it. Pulp fiction, after all, was one of the genres embraced by the 1980s dress-up club and pop culture at the centre of Neil’s piece. With its love of all things both retro and futuristic without ever feeling a contradiction and preferably of an ironic or dystopian bent, the pouting trendsetters of the 80s couldn’t get enough of either the future or the past, as long as it was a little warped. Unless we’re reading it wrong, even Neil’s own blog appears to be named for the 1947 Powell-Pressburger film of the same name, itself a cult movie beloved of 1980s weekend all-nighter crowds at independent “alternative” cinemas such as London’s Scala, Rio or Roxy and their equivalents around the world.
A must-read whether you’re looking for writing about fragrance that defies the dominant formats or simply a great literary romp in itself.
Neil C. Chapman is an award-winning British writer who resides in the ancient Japanese city of Kamakura. An avid enthusiast of fragrance, among other things, in 2019 he published ‘Perfume: In Search of Your Signature Scent’ (subsequently nominated for a Perfumed Plume Award) published by Hardie Grant Books. He also regularly publishes his writings about fragrance on his The Black Narcissus blog.