Top Review 62
The smell of the white city
Mr Reiser spent the early 80s as a student in Paris. The Coming out had been completed at the end of the 70s in the homeland. Now there was a lot of horizon, and Paris stood up for it. The future a white sheet that we would describe as long and beautifully as possible. So we hoped. The city was white then, too. White pants and loud shirts, the uniform on boulevard and campus. We would have liked to buy them from Saint Laurent, who made the most beautiful ones, but we couldn't afford it. We just looked at them in his store. It was white. And scented with kouros. In the white customer toilet the milk-white Kourosseife. YSL was one of our heroes. He had already gotten naked in the 70s, when the shame of the province still ruled us. Now we lived in his city, which promised great freedom, and we could see him in person. In theory. I have never seen him, at La Coupole he was always just gone or would come very soon. I'm sure. So they said. He never came. But we had Kouros, his fragrance, of which Luca Turin will later write in his "Little Book of Great Perfumes" that it smells "like the tanned skin of a guy with pomade in his hair who just got out of the shower". How could we not like it? Saint Laurent had posters hung on which the flat, marble-white bottle, which was modelled on archaic youth sculptures, was placed in front of a blue sky next to an incredibly perfect naked man. The smell was as shockingly loud as our shirts and clubs, which were called discos at that time. Dirty and full of flavors like these shirts at the end of a far too long party night full of loss of control. Loud and dirty we liked; and we had nothing against the Parisian "tearooms", the urinals, with which our scent was quickly associated. Kouros smelled like our nights, sounds and escapades. It did not stand in the room as a defined aroma, it was the cast-iron vessel of many completely incompatible aromas, which suddenly came together so fittingly and overwhelmingly, as if it could not be otherwise. Herbs, animal and human secretions, woods, chemicals such as those from detergents, Campari, the dominant coriander, which was actually used in all perfumes of the 80s. Very pungent green notes. Something smelly and aquatic. And at the same time a very peculiar sweetness, which was perhaps due to the honey. We learned that the animalistic puff that hung longest was called civet. We decided to think of Kouros as a sexual perfume. A fragrance as a bet on the future. The reactions of the people in the bus and metro confirmed that the Sillage was strong and our scent was not their scent. That's the way we wanted it. At night, in our bars and discos, all of Paris really smelled of Kouros. At least that's the way my memory wants it. And as narrow boys we ourselves were probably never closer to a Kouros than in those days. Kouros created a lasting bond between us. In the lecture hall we recognized each other when we noticed this smell. We wore him like the signal cloth in our jeans. This is the magic that a fragrance can have: it creates stable connections to places, times and people. And however the scent changed in the following decades, it stayed with us as the white leaf was gradually written on. Not at all what we thought. A virus came and emptied the bars and discos. People switched from the dance floor to the hospital bed. It happened so fast that we didn't even understand what was happening to our world. Now we smuggled kouros to the AIDS stations instead of flowers, so that our friends at least did not have to miss the familiar scent. And the tape held until the end. Above the increasingly frequent mourning societies there was a feather-light Kouros cloud that testified that we did not regret our wild years but mourned them. Which showed that we saw ourselves as a community. At some point, most of those who survived had left Paris. Kouros was getting weaker, but that was all right, we were. The civet aroma is now extracted from algae. I have no objections. As long as I can still recognize the scent. And when we meet today, here in Berlin or elsewhere, all of us gentlemen in their sixty-something years, longtime survivors or simply lucky devils, then at least one of us has hung up Kouros as a sentimental reminder of our white city and the noisy good years. We don't wear kouros often anymore, but when we do, we know why we wear it. And sometimes it's enough just to pick up the marble white bottle.