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Perfumes: The A-Z Guide
Witty and provocative reviews of 1,800+ perfumes
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The Emperor of Scent
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The Perfect Scent
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A Natural History of the Senses
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The Secret of ScentLuca Turin's scientific look at perfume
Essence and AlchemyThe voluptuous history of natural perfume.
It was the headline that snagged me -- an irresistible combination of peekaboo seduction and the porn of mad-money extravagance: “Vamp in the Veil Spends £100K a Day on Perfume”. (That's about $166,000 a day to us Yanks.)
The veiled vamp in question is Sara Al Amoudi, a Middle Eastern heiress living in London who recently won a $23m property dispute. After the British High Court ruled on March 7th that the bulk of her legal costs be covered by the prosecution, a triumphant Al Amoudi let her hair down -- metaphorically -- in an interview with Charlotte Edwardes in the London Evening Standard.
The heiress, whose age is a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey number somewhere between 28 and 43, let rip with glorified girl talk of binge shopping, binge eating, binge bad life choices. My kind of glorified girl. In a masterful understatement, she admitted that her life has been “colorful”. And how.
First there's the matter of the tussle over six Knightsbridge properties. Property developers Ian Paton, 45, and Amanda Clutterbuck, 56, alleged that Al Amoudi had posed as a Saudi princess to trick them into transferring property into her name.
She counterclaimed that she (Al Amoudi) and Paton had been enjoying a secret affair, and the property was in payment for the millions she had given him that went to underwriting his enthusiasm for drink and drugs. Oh -- and to cover school fees for his child with Clutterbuck. Oops.
The judge bought Al Amoudi's side of the story, but that was just the tip of the glistening iceberg of juiciness. Other tidbits truffled out include Al Amoudi's freewheeling ways with cash: her diamond-bedazzled mobile phone, the Ferrari she'd gifted an ex-boyfriend, a racehorse, and her London runaround -- a Rolls Royce Phantom. Oh, and that £100K a day perfume habit.
Any vague tsk-tsk condemnation floating around in my head (what about the starving children in Africa...the Pacific trash vortex...the drowning polar bears in the North Pole?) was quickly drummed out by sheer admiring envy. A kind of Homer-Simpson-fantasizing-about-doughnuts reverie. £100K a day on perfume? That's a fancy new bottle of the good stuff every hour or so! Mmmmmmmmm....
The way Al Amoudi tells it, her rough early life propelled her into her sister-doin'-it-for-herself style. She was raised in a “closed religious society” in Jeddah, and was married at 13 to a man in his 70s. He beat her when she started her periods -- both were ignorant of that obscure phenomenon known as a menstrual cycle, and he accused her of doing something wrong.
On a family trip to London a few years later, she became pregnant by an Englishman. She sought asylum, fearing honor killing if she returned to Saudi Arabia. Her cites her daughter Marni, now 13, as giving her the will to live, and the impetus to start afresh in a strange new land.
But what of Al Amoudi's future? Referring to her gleefully spendthrift ways, she told the Evening Standard, “In my house I have a wall of perfumes. I know it's a problem.” Putting her hand on her heart, she continued, “I have a vacuum here.”
Ah, “feeding the hungry heart” -- the self-soothing binge strategy with which every woman under siege is familiar. Ratcheting up the poignancy on the rich lady's poverty-stricken soul, her lawyer observed, “guidance has been lacking”.
Well, Sara Al Adoubi -- have I got guidance for you. Call me. We've got some perfume shopping to do.
Fumies -- any suggestions for how you'd spend over $150K a day on perfume? What would you buy?