Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Inspired By Literature: Angela Carter

Very little "modern" authors have filled me with as much enthusiasm and wonder as Angela Carter. I was introduced to her works through The Bloody Chamber (thank you, Carina!), a collection of short stories that artfully turns classic fairy tales on their heads and forces us to rethink characters and circumstances we think we know by heart. As a fragrance lover I was immediately struck by Carter's incredibly vivid sensory descriptions, particularly those pertaining to smell. Such over the top baroque descriptions always contribute to a sense of being utterly enveloped by a story however short or long, so in short order I fell absolutely in love with Angela Carter's entire body of work. 

It is only natural that the book's namesake The Bloody Chamber inspired my first selection. Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin is uncannily appropriate in spirit, shade and scent. The bright red "juice" is reminiscent of the terrifying yet strangely alluring story of a young woman swept off her feet by a mysterious and much older French nobleman with more than a few dark secrets. Much like the inspiration behind the Lutens fragrance the young woman's adversity through violence and horror makes the story haunting yet strangely inspiring. 


The fragrant imagery Carter employs in her stories adds an additional dimension that many authors aren't artfully able to add to their work. The pieces in The Bloody Chamber are made all the more chilling by their reference to the smell in the air, of a character, of flowers that seem unrealistically vibrant in their sillage. Fragrance can be a powerful trigger of memory so it follows that Angela Carter's ability to so artfully delve into our mind's eye through our noses makes the stories that much more unsettling. Through scent Carter engenders unease by tapping into memories that may seem uncomfortably similar to memories from our own lives.


Carter's works are also incredibly vivid in terms of color. If the descriptions others create can be likened to matte shades, Angela Carter's are unquestionably shimmering and illustrious in the afternoon light much like the products photographed below. Red seems that much more crimson, light that much more bright and shadow that much more dark and chilling when described by such an author: Carter's character's and settings seem to leap off the page and into our minds.

(Clockwise from top right): Rouge Bunny Rouge Abyssinian Catbird eye shadow, Le Métier de Beauté Corinthian eye shadow, MAC Stereo Rose MSF


Though I've only just begun to explore Angela Carter's works I am madly in love. For a reader often too distracted by the classics of yesteryear to notice something penned within the last 75 years, Carter's works are an incredible modern light in my dusty (but no less wonderful) collection.

Do you have a favorite work or short story by Angela Carter? What fragrance or cosmetics would you associate with her works?