Agent Provocateur

Madonna Sealed

A few months ago while I was in Philadelphia for another #phillyweekend getaway, I bumped into an unassuming record store that caught my attention with it’s boxes of $1 vinyl. #ILoveVinyl and I couldn’t help myself. Digging in the crates is fun and what ensued was an hour and a half of searching for gems. I blew a nice wad that day but I scored an unopened copy of Madonna’s first album, Madonna. While I’m not the biggest fan, I recognize her brilliance and there were moments in her career that caught my undivided attention. For a #FunFriday post, my scented partners in crime, Carrie, Dariush and Thomas have agreed to post about the material girl and tie it to fragrance.

The year was 1992 and America was a completely different place but that wouldn’t stop this agent provocateur from exploring her sexual fantasizes. In conjunction with the release of the Erotica album, Madonna dropped Sex. Just a year prior to its release, Magic Johnson revealed he was retiring from the NBA because he became infected with the virus that causes AIDS. This obviously propelled the disease into the mainstream and surely exacerbated the controversy surrounding the book. Consider the following when thinking about where we were then:

Bill Clinton was elected President
Riots broke out in Los Angeles following the Rodney King decision
Home Improvement was a popular television show
Boyz II Men was on the radio
Reservoir Dogs, Lethal Weapon 3, The Bodyguard and Basic Instinct were in theatres
The average monthly rent was $519

Madonna Sex

The book was raw. The leather, the acts she depicted, and the nudity pushed all the right buttons. If you had to pair a scent to the book today, what would it be? What scent could one wear to push another persons buttons and temp them to touch? What could give the night more legs when it seemed like there were none? What’s raw and brings the heat? What’s good and bad all rolled into one? If we had that magic potion, I’m sure we’d all be wearing it daily. The following scents, however, are sensual, a little dirty and pack some serious heat:

Comme Des Garcons by Comme des Garcons
Tobacco & Tulle by Liz Zorn
Secret Garden by Mandy Aftel
Absolue Por le Soir by Maison Francis Kurkdjian
Anima Dulcis by Arquiste
Epic Man by Amouage

In the song Human Nature Madonna says, “express yourself, don’t repress yourself.” It’s clear she listened to these words and for that she’s loved around the world. By the same token, each of the fragrance I’ve selected was created by perfumers whose work is loved by many for its point of difference. They bring artistry to the craft that can be likened to musicians, especially those that aren’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers with their work. Sound familiar?


16 responses to “Agent Provocateur

  1. Great post. Really creatively done.

  2. Wow, I’m really impressed. Great take on the Madonna theme, great post!

  3. Barney, this was such a wonderful read! A real trip back to another time and another place. And it’s amazing that we both went for Absolue Pour Le Soir, and that we both linked it with early 90s Madonna!

  4. Great post Barney! Totally unexpected! Thanks for taking us back to 1992 and I love the scents you chose.

  5. Dear Barney : Enjoyed your piece on fragrance & Pop Culture of times past. Records have a different sound and feeling my lovely friend Bill has a iconic collection of classic vinyl in Dallas Tx . I love going through old music and books during my travels as well . Music is one of the things that inspires me to create . Thank you for sharing your thoughts and inspirations.

    • Tara, thanks for stopping by. I’ve had a love affair with vinyl records for many years. I’m actually trying to get a turntable set up in my living room so I can play some of these records again. I, too, love visiting cities and finding what gems they have…such a thrill.

  6. Pingback: The Original Candy Perfume Girl – Scenting Madonna’s Greatest Albums | The Candy Perfume Boy

  7. I miss records. I miss record stores. I could spend hours just looking at albums. I loved the cover art, the liner notes, all of it. Great post.

    • Thanks. During the #phillyweekend I mentioned, I picked up some John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Quincy Jones albums and they all had funky artwork. I may feature some of them during my Wordless Wednesdays posts. Stay tuned.

  8. I really love how you draw parallels between musicians and perfumers who push the envelope. It’s an important point to make, especially when a fragrance or a song is not beautiful in the traditional sense. Sometimes the darkness, a touch of feral odor or discord in music can be exactly what makes it clear to us that what we are experiencing is authentic.

  9. Interesting angle: I can somehow relate only to the first and the last points from your “where we were…: the U.S. president elections were always considered an important news even in the falling Soviet Union and all American movies were getting there in pirate copies within days after their premiere in the U.S.

    I enjoyed reading your post.

  10. Thanks so much Barney, I’m honored to have Secret Garden in your creative riff on Madonna & pop-culture! You are spot-on about their connection of “good and bad all rolled into one!”
    xo Mandy

  11. OK, now I feel old 😉
    Great post.

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