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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Sloth by S-Perfume and The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

I started this blog with a series of reviews of fragrances that reminded me of some of my favorite books (Bonjour Tristesse, Master and Margarita, Roksolana, Heaven Has No Favorites, and The Forsyte Saga). I tried to imagine what each book would be like as a perfume; what existing perfume would fit the “feel” of each book. There was one book that has been left out, simply because I could not think of a scent to represent it. That book is The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. It tells the story of four people and their interconnecting relationships, with particular focus on Tomas, torn between his love for Tereza and his inability to stay faithful to her. The world that Kundera describes in his book is the one where life disappears once and for all; it “is like a shadow, without weight, dead in advance, and whether it was horrible, beautiful, or sublime, its horror, sublimity, and beauty meant nothing.” That world “rests essentially on the nonexistence of return”, on “the absolute absence of burden”.

As soon as I smelled Sloth, I knew I have found the scent for The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Sloth is a part of /7S/, an olfactory installation of the Seven Deadly Sins by Mother S (Sacré Nobi, founder of S-Perfume). The installation was created in collaboration with seven perfumers, Alberto Morillas (Luxuria or Lust), Annick Menardo (Ira or Anger), Annie Buzantian (Invidia or Envy), Harry Fremont (Avaritia or Avarice), Ilias Ermenidis (Gula or Gluttony), Jacques Cavallier (Superbia or Pride), and Thierry Wasser (Acedia or Sloth). Thierry Wasser is also the nose behind such scents as Calvin Klein Truth, Christian Dior Addict and Addict Eau Fraiche, Gres Caline, and Lancôme Hypnôse.

I find it fascinating that the deadly sin of Sloth was originally called Sadness and only later renamed Acedia or Sloth. There are many ways to interpret this sin; in my opinion, Thierry Wasser has chosen to focus on the melancholy aspect of Sloth, the sin of not living up to one’s potential. Sloth the fragrance starts with a lively burst of orange blossom, bright and sunny; little by little the fragrance becomes subtler, softer, quieter, more delicate, and acquires a sad, wistful quality. There is an interesting accord somewhere in the middle stage, raw and earthy and strangely cozy, it makes me think –rather bizarrely, I admit- about boiled courgettes. The scent continues to develop and the strangely appealing raw note is eventually replaced by a soft, fragile jasmine accord. Finally, having come full circle, it dries down to a delicate scent of orange blossom, only, in contrast to the dazzling smell of the top notes, this is but a hint of the blossoms, a vague memory of the hopeful, forceful beginning.

Sloth is a fragrance of “splendid lightness”. Its poignancy, fragility, transparency, its beautiful melancholic quality make Sloth the perfect olfactory equivalent of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a book that tells the story of the lives without weight and substance. Says Kundera: “the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant.”

Sloth is most certainly full bottle worthy for me, and I would recommend it to all fans of orange blossom in perfume. It is guaranteed to be eminently wearable and enjoyable in spring and summer. It is available on S-Perfume, $27.00 for 0,5oz.

*The photo of Sloth installation is from


Blogger Anna, Fair and True said...

Great post AND great book!

7:04 AM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

Well, you know I think this one is dee-lish. I get that other note as something kind of green/industrial. It's a really different, compelling scent, but totally wearable.

8:43 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you , Anna! It's one of my absolute favorites. I haven't seen the movie though. I am afraid it will spoil the book for me :-)

9:20 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I wonder what exactly IS that note that to seems industrial and to me smells like a boiled marrow :-)
Both Sloth and Lust (have you tried that one?) are to me examples of how a conceptual, "intellectual" scent can actually be wearable. I am curious to now why the other 5 sins were not released, perhaps those were less wearable?

9:22 AM EST  
Blogger Anna, Fair and True said...

Haven't seen the movie but I think Lena Olin is in it (?). It's probably a matter of no time before they do a re-make.

2:15 PM EST  
Blogger Caitlin Shortell said...

How perfect that you connect Sloth to that great book. You hit the nail on the head. I agree with the melancholy fragility of Sloth, and Sloth evokes a confusion in which you can't be certain of what you are smelling or what is real; perception and misperception is so important in the book. I heartily agree.

2:19 PM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

One of my favorite books, M, and you've matched it perfectly :-)

3:07 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I think she is in it,yes! I am afraid even to think what they'd do with the poor book in a remake and whom they'd cast. Perish the thought :-)

3:09 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you! I smelled Sloth and heard a click in my brain and though- there it is, the scent for ULoB :-) I am so very impressed with every and each S-perfume I've smelled.

3:11 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you!
I've been unable to log in and comment on your blog today, and since others can, it must be my computer acting up, arrgh!
I am lemming Songes so much, after your review :-)

3:12 PM EST  
Blogger Victoria said...

Sounds good! I need to order a sample pack!
Happy V-Day,

3:20 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Happy V-Day to you too!!

4:15 PM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

I have Lust and some other dumb thing (Sex for Surfers? for Smurf-ers?) on my shelf. Haven't tried yet. Afraid I will like them. Maybe the other Sins just don't smell great... sometimes sins don't, ya know? :P

9:39 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I'd love to know what you think of Lust. I thought it was Great with capital G. :-)

9:47 AM EST  
Blogger katiedid said...

Aw, all I could say was "orange-y," though it did conote neroli to me I just felt uncomfortable with naming it as precisely that. You have such a good nose!

I love that you smelled sadness in it. I smelled the lapping up of sloth and luxuriating in it, which seems not at all melancholy to me. The odd base strikes me as some strange amalgam of dirty musk and wood, which gives it an almost sunburned feel to me. I totally agree with you - this is emminently wearable, perhaps moreso than any of the others in the line.

5:33 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Ah, the beauty and the msytery of skin chemistry! You smell wood and musk, March smells something industrial, I smell boiled vegetables...hee!

7:49 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I realize this is an old post but I just had to comment. I just read The Unbearable Lightness of Being with the intent of coming up with a scent for it! How strange that I found your blog (definitely bookmarking). I make and sell handmade soap, all inspired by literature! *heading back to your blog to do more research* thanks :-)

7:50 AM EST  

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