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Friday, October 28, 2011

What to Wear For the Day(s) of the Dead

By Marla

Dia de los Muertos, a holiday that celebrates the dead and reunites their spirits temporarily with their living family members and friends, is celebrated throughout Mexico and the southwestern United States from October 31 through November 2. It’s a joyful holiday that’s meant to honor the ancestors, and get together as a family in order to celebrate all generations at once. It’s music, dancing, and parades. Tables of lovely presents called “ofrendas” are set up at home and at gravesites; they display portraits of the deceased, their favorite things, foods, and flowers. Most people outside the celebration areas recognize the fabulously decorated sugar skulls of this holiday. The Grateful Dead used a lot of symbolism and imagery from Dia de los Muertos; they really liked La Catrina, I think.


So what kind of perfume should you wear?? Well, the flower of the dead is the marigold, or tagetes, and if you’ve never been to Mexico for the first days of November, then you’ve never seen marigolds in such saffron profusion! Tagetes, or genda as it’s called in India, has a sharp, compelling green scent. It’s strong so it’s not used often in perfumery; it’s got a reputation as a tough note to handle. Sophia Grojsman loves it though, and has used tagetes/marigold in Estee Lauder’s Beautiful, and Prescriptives Calyx. Niki de St. Phalle perfume uses lots of tagetes in all its concentrations, and its herbal, green piquancy really works well in this chypre. For purists, genda attar is still available from India; it’s just marigold distilled with sandalwood, and it’s a green lover’s dream. From the men’s department comes Paco Rabanne’s Black XS by Olivier Cresp. And, for a subtler tagetes experience, the original Dolce & Gabbana might be a good choice.


But OK, what if marigold is not your thing? Well, I’d say anything with sweet notes, especially a caramel or chocolate gourmand, would be a perfect choice. Dulces/sweets are a huge part of this tasty holiday. Mugler’s Mirror of Desires has a lovely nutty caramel heart, and there’s Prada Candy, too! Or perhaps a bread scent reminiscent of the traditional “Pan de los Muertos”- Bois Farine or Jeux de Peau might work. Naranjas are also common on the ofrendas, so any orange-based cologne would be lovely. Orange Sanguine by Atelier Cologne would be perfect.

So what do you plan to wear for the Day of the Dead?

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10 Comments:

OpenID olfactoriastravels.com said...

This is a tradition that is fascinating to me, but somehow very far away. Here All Hallow's is a very somber affair, visiting graveyards and the scent of chrysanthemums.
I like the Mexican approach a hell of a lot more! :)
I think I'll go with your inspiration and choose something gourmand, PG Musc Maori - it is always a good idea to wear chocolate.

4:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Musc Maori is an inspired choice, Olfactoria! And I remember in Germany, when I hung my Day of the Dead paintings in the windows this time of year, how my neighbors stared at me like I was quite out of my mind! My favorite painting is a vase made of a happy skull with sunflowers bursting out of it. It made quite an impression in the Alps....
-Marla

6:02 AM EDT  
Blogger Karin said...

For some reason, I like Mitsouko on Halloween. I rarely wear it any other time (only have a couple of small vials of the parfum). Just seems like a bewitching fragrance to me - perfect for the holiday.

7:46 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Karin,
Mitsouko is such a marvelous spice fest, I think it would be perfect for these holidays! I was actually wearing the parfum version last night and thinking how beautifully autumnal it was.
-Marla

7:58 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My cousin lived in New Mexico for a couple years and became obsessed with this holiday. It turned out to be her wedding theme! It was amazing, she made 100's of sugar skulls and her cake topper was even two skeletons in love!! For the wedding I wore Profumum's Vanitas, chilly myrrh and warm vanilla= life and death..it was SO perfect!!

10:05 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vanitas sounds perfect for Dia de los Muertos (certainly the perfect name), and I love that wedding theme! What a great cake!
-Marla

11:40 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder about the original Dolce & Gabbana. I pulled it out this morning and have been enjoying its slightly bitter warmth on this damp, somewhat dreary day.

Didn't know about the relationship between marigolds and the Day of the Dead, but did know they are "death to cutworms" so always provided a border around my parents' vegetable gardens when I was growing up.

-- Lindaloo

8:09 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marigolds are certainly useful in a garden, and "bitter warmth" is a good way to describe their fragrance!
-Marla

9:19 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daughters just buried their first goldfish to die (life span 3 years!) and they made a grave decorated with chrysanthemum flowers spontaneously. It's quite beautiful.
Cheryl

11:39 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cheryl,
Please extend my sympathies to your daughters for their loss. They chose the right flowers for the grave.
-Marla

6:26 PM EDT  

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