Caleche

My parents’ bedroom is always full of treasure. I discovered father’s porn when I was in primary school. I went to afternoon classes then, and both of my parents had to work. Nobody would notice when I sneaked up to my parents’ bedroom during lunchtime: my nanna would be downstairs in the kitchen, preparing lunch. I’d lock the door, silence the TV, and enjoy about fifteen minutes of raw human pleasure.

The porn back then was different to what the internet offers now. It wasn’t entirely based on the male vision.  The woman wore beautiful clothing. A be-bowed silk blouse and a camel a-line skirt. Hair glued sleekly to her skull. Red lips. Demure white heels. She would throw her head back, and looked thoroughly unaware of being filmed. It was sensual, real, and if the film was a perfume, it would have smelt of sex and passion. The porn nowadays would just smell of plastic. Cheap, mass produced plastic. Father’s porn was the sexual education I never received. I’m glad it was good education.

Next door to father’s VCRs were mother’s perfume collection. I toyed with the perfume more openly. Almost a hundred viles, bottles and tubes were housed in a delicate plastic drawer inside the cupboard.

Mother forbade me from spraying the perfume. So I always headed to the cupboard, picked out the bottle which stood out most prominently and quickly uncapped it and spritzed.

It was a tall one. It looked like a pillar in Roman architecture. It was gold capped with amber liquid inside. I loved the tangy smell. It was a deep, deep orange. It smelt as if somebody’s just eaten an orange inside the interiors of a vintage Rolls Royce. I remember I felt incredibly sophisticated.

With Pierre Aulas encouraging me to buy that “bottle” I have been thinking about for weeks now. (“You smell it once, put it away and literally don’t go back and smell it until at least a month later. If you’re still thinking about that, go back and try it again. If it evokes the same emotion as it did a month ago, go for it.”) I ran out the door to buy a Mitsouko parfum today. I showed it to my mother.

Mother brought out a box (she stowed away the entire perfume collection a while ago, I have no idea why), and there it was, the Caleche. Almost twenty years on, I finally know that the tangy perfume I’ve been secretly spraying myself with, is the legendary Hermes Caleche.

I immediately sprayed some of the amber elixir on my wrist. I lament that the top note has evaporated and I can no longer smell that familiar orangy scent. Nevertheless, it feels good to be reunited with something I’ve missed for so long. Caleche still makes me feel sophisticated. Aulas is right.

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Fast Fashion, so long.

After seven years in exile, the reality has finally dawned on me that Hong Kong is now home. My royal possessions have been residing in their ten cardboard boxes for over a month, and I didn’t have the heart to release them from their prisons. I knew there’d be tears once I knifed open the duct tapes. The inevitable would be: some elements that once glowed with an aura in the store, spoke to me on the shelves, and with whom I since had a loving relationship for years…

I knew I’d have to call time on some of them.

This afternoon I finally did the unimaginable. Out came the vintage Bally shoes. Out came to 50s circle skirt. Many of the purchases that reflected craftmanship, history and good taste went straight to the display cabinet. Out came the Primark top. I remembered the day: in the Hammersmith branch of the store, the princessy hue of this T-shirt drew me towards it. It had two ribbons sewn across the T-shirt. Vertical to the ribbons, some fringed threads fell freely from the “eyelids”. And the T-shirt was a very romantic face. Pink face, long, seductive eyes. It reminded me of the face of a cabaret dancer.

Today it doesn’t look so seductive. One button has fallen off from a row on the back. The long lashes are disorientated. At best, the cabaret dancer’s face looks like a failed and forgotten artist, whose battle with drugs has always been futile.

I have to let it go. Our times were good.

What I can’t believe is, after three hours of unpacking, half of the boxes actually ended up in the bin. There are H&M purchases that no longer fit. There are Zara shirts that I don’t even remember existed. There are shoes that I bought because they looked “cool”. There are items that were uncomfortable, wrong, disgraceful.

“Why did I buy them in the first place?” I pondered.  And what Lily Cole said in a Guardian interview suddenly dawned on me. “BUY LESS, PAY MORE”.

Ever since I got back to Hong Kong, it is amazing how little I have purchased for the past year. Of the several items I bought, they were so BLOODY expensive that I had no choice but to really care for them. I know I will love them to no end no matter which corner of the earth my wild soul takes me to. Without knowing what I was doing, Lily Cole has summed it up for me.

I now think I deserve the best. Not the half arse stitches that exploited workers in India toiled away their days and nights to sew. Not the bargain fabrics that Primark, or Giordano’s minuscule budget allowed. My wardrobes only have room for love, and not grotty items that have child labour written all over them.