Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Whatever happened to Baby Jane? ~Andy Warhol Silver factory by Bond no.9

The great homonymous 1962 film starring Joan Crawford and Bette Davies is surely much more Machiavellian than the question I am asking today in relation with one of Andy Warhol’s stars of the 60s. Camp stars of the era have a way of disappearing into an incandescence of the mind that regurgitates upon a random twinkling provided by a seemingly irrelevant thing ~such as a new perfume by Bond no.9, called Silver Factory.

As Perfume Shriners may recall, we had announced the new scent recently as the most intriguing thing to come out of the New York niche perfumery for quite some time. In fact it has picked the interest of Perfume Shrine since it made the first bleep on the radar, so there was great anticipation to test it. And then Bond had the courtesy to send a sample along and that anticipation was satiated. With good results I might add.

The idea for the new scent was the Factory, Andy Warhol’s studio; Warhol, whom one would indeed call "the pope of Pop".
The Factory has its own history, an illustrious ~if not notorious~ one. In operation from 1964–1968, Warhol’s original studio, hangout, and club central, it was located in a indifferent looking building on East 47th Street, yet it acquired visual uniqueness with its aluminum-foil walls. Those evoked silver-backed mirrors ~emblems of the narcissism that suffused the times, perhaps. The Silver Factory served as a galvanizing forum for artists, silkscreeners, actors, filmmakers, debutants, activists, hustlers, and misfits, all of whom somehow contributed to the creativity. It was here that Warhol emerged as an avant garde filmmaker, pop art progenitor, and all-around superstar.

Baby Jane Holzer had recently married real estate magnate Leonard Holzer, at the time only twenty-two. It was then that she first met Warhol ~when Nicky Haslam took Warhol to Holzer's Park Avenue apartment for dinner, at which the photographer David Bailey (immortalised in Antonioni’s "Blow Up" film) was also present. Baby Jane's first Warhol film was "Soap Opera" while she went on to such miraculously named things as "Batman Dracula". Of course anything might evolve by the person who made an entire film with someone sleeping for several hours! (which by the way won an award from the cult film magazine "Film Culture", so you know that there is someone out there who will appreciate anything one might do).

Still the allure of that period in time, amid Vietnam-war, post-Kennedy-assassination is tangible. The Factory people, Ondine, Billy Name, Joe Dallesandro and most notable in pop mythology -like the Atalante of a young pantheon- none other than the enigmatic Edie Sedwick who died tragically at 28, the subject of the film "Factory Girl" featuring Sienna Miller. Her style of black tights, paired with high heels, skimpy tops, anthracite eyes and the longest earrings she could find made her unique and worth emulating by droves of knowing girls who batted their eyelashes with all the gusto of a speed taking bad gal that doesn’t give a fig for propriety; yet has been raised a good girl by a proper family. And a slight androgynous edge intertwined through it all, befitting the boom of the unisex trend that forever blurred the bounds on which we defined male and female stylistically: the heritage of the 60s, one might say.

This contradiction survives in the new scent Andy Warhol Silver Factory by Bond no.9. The overall character is one of quiet androgyny that is hovering on smooth smoky accords of incense and the subtle warmth of amber. Much like a girl smoking something illicit back in the premises of the Factory or a modern day urbanite residing in a hip address burning incense to the sound of Jefferson Airplane on the speakers, the fragrance has a nostalgic beat drumming paired with a modern woody element that diffuses it somewhat to a soft trail of smoke rings through the air.

Upon sniffing it, a hazy lavender note paired with the greenness of a dry violet meet the nostrils to form an impression of dryness that is immediately met by the mysterious note of incense. Incense is usually associated with churches and crypts and in perfume-speak (which is a peculiar formulaic version of speech, alas) it is desrcibed as “smoky”. However just what the latter denotes here is not reminiscent of any church, but rather the abode of the avant garde who used it as a secret handshake among themselves. That and the drugs of course...
The inclusion of jasmine is not very apparent, so don’t expect a rich floral heart, despite what you might think judging by the notes, although there is the element of a whiff of powder mixed with the smoke, before a slightly sweet note settles down to round this off in a resin embrace.

The Bond promotional material talks of molten silver. I think not, but it does evoke the grey façade of an aluminium-foiled building in which pop mythology was etched for ever after. The visuals alone make it worth sampling.
And just WHAT ever happened to Baby Jane? You can read it here.

Pic of Baby Jane Holzer by Nat Finkelstein (1965) courtesy of Google images. Pic of Edie Sedwick from Vogue courtesy of

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