How could I resist an opportunity like this? To be invited to participate in a project to express a hauntingly beautiful and evocative story such as Clarimonde by Theophile Gautier… I couldn’t pass it up. And October is the perfect month to get into a gothic tale of love, loss, seduction and illusion.
Of course, I, like Gaultier himself, was inspired by the color and texture of the story more so than the characters themselves (although for Gaultier it was Delacroix’s colors that inspired him). One phrase in particular struck me: that of …“A Twilight Blue Oriental Perfume”… Oh yes, this is the place to start (and finish).
I don’t want to give away the story as I highly recommend it s a novella or an audio book, so I won’t go too deeply into the other elements of the story and the design. I will share with you some of what I wrote for the short press release:
“Just as T. Gautier was inspired by the luscious colors of Delacroix, I found the sensuously atmospheric descriptions throughout the love story to evoke otherworldly perfumes and luminosities.
The phrase “ A twilight blue oriental perfume” most captured my imagination from the first time I heard it along with the image of faded flowers along side a bed of gold and silver, attended by a negro page wearing black velvet holding an ivory cane; and the satiny hand of “Clarimonde” as she lay dying. This cool, almost misty scene that might have been a last glimpse of Clarimonde paired with an alternate universe of warm opulence in Venice were always shimmering in my mind’s eye as I created “Paradise Lost”. ( As you can tell, I do not want to give away too much of the story for those who have not read it).
The colors always flickering and wafting about my mind were cool periwinkle blue, the rich cobalt of “the blue hour”, faded terre verte earth & faded pinks, golden naples yellow, vermillion, deepest black velvet and oxblood”.
In the end, I called my perfume “Paradise Lost”, not just for the double literary reference but as I felt this was the crux for me: a paradisiacal, albeit illusory, love and life that is lost when questioned and made untrue. Would that we would all choose to keep Paradise.