Vanishing at the Haunted House
I picked this fragrance up several years ago after a neat little tip-off that it was being heavily discounted at select locations in Europe. At that time, the reviews were generally good, hailing Stash as superbly unconventional and a trail-blazer in the celebrity fragrance market. In short, they weren’t kidding.
It’s been 2 years since I purchased my bottle, and since that time, exactly half of the juice has vanished into oblivion without so much as a dozen sprays. Poor quality control? A coincidence? Or is my juice simply haunted by the ghosts of countless celebrity fruity-florals left behind in its dusty wake on a mystical journey into a woody underworld? I would like to think the latter.
However, overlooking the potentially subtle defects in the bottle’s construction, the scent itself is really quite extraordinary. Creamy, musty, peppery wood would be the simplest description, although there are quite a few nuances that give Stash some charming flavour – namely, the gingery incense and patchouli. The deviation from trendy, sweet prepubescent celebrity scents couldn’t be more obvious. It’s not animalic exactly, but I somehow remember SJP remarking how it was her intention to evoke the scent of skin in her brief to the perfumers.
To me, the opening is incredibly strange. Two words that immediately come to mind are “synthetic” and “fixatives.” Might as well throw in “niche” and “spooky” while we’re at it. Right from the beginning, nothing in the composition feels natural - which shouldn’t be a surprise from a celebrity frag I suppose – but if you can imagine stepping through the rickety front door of a century’s old abandoned wooden house on a damp morning, having the floorboards break beneath you and toppling into a dank, creepy basement, you’ll start to get an idea of where we’re heading.
From the first spray, I get a blast of what seems like a nutty pistachio, sage and vetiver. It’s not fresh, but more of a fizzy green and brown, yet unmistakably creamy. Very quickly though, the ginger, pepper and woods (a LOT of them) creep into the mix to give the composition that characteristic woody depth found in so many men’s fragrances. From there, the evolution heads into musky territory, with just a dash of dank patchouli adding contrast to the spicy wood.
But what intrigues me the most is how the pepper and incense are used to give the blend a dry, aromatic sexiness that’s impossible to ignore. The notes contrast sharply with the damp patchouli and creamy woods to give SJP a somewhat dichotomous persona. On the one hand, it’s spicy and dry, and on the other, it’s wet and musky. Can’t decide which one I prefer, but I’d imagine it working incredibly well on a woman’s sensuous skin.
As strange as it sounds, the overall vibe I get is of a dusty wooden floor in a haunted house – perhaps once filled with young orphans, old caretakers and chemical cleaners to preserve their slow deterioration. The image appears grim initially, but there is a rare, misunderstood beauty about the whole affair – stories that continue to come alive amidst the curtains of dust and decay. It’s like the smell of grandma’s skin; the tale of a long life, lived well and amidst the trials of corporeal suffering and heartache. But it’s time to move on now, and let the body rest in a deep, wooden coffin of its own creation, as the spirit continues on to inspire all those that come after - the TRUE stash. The wisdom of life experience.