Olimpia Club, Bristol Club, Palace Club and Majestic Club
Smelling Bristol. Majestic, Olimpia, and Palace, perfumes by Miguel Matos from Lisbon Clubs 1920 collection (2020), I wondered if exactly a century later, in this time of self-protective distances and new Puritanism, we are witnessing the final extinction of clubs?
Clubs seem to be a source of perfume inspiration for Miguel Matos: last year Bruno Acampora presented Acampora 54 collection, inspired by Studio 54, from which Young Hearts won Art and Olfaction Award 2020. Mr. Matos dedicated Lisbon Clubs 1920, actually his second club collection, to the “old hearts” – the classic nightclubs that ruled the nightlife of big cities during the Roaring Twenties. Maybe now, in 2020., is the right time to reminisce about the classic beginnings of modern nightlife?
A century ago, the Roaring Twenties emerged as the expression of “new normal”, too: The First World War ended, and after the restrictions, fears and loses in the explosion of life energy the way of life inherited from the previous, 19th century was definitely sent to the past. Twentieth-century fully entered the stage with a two decades delay, right then in 1920-es, bringing to everyday life new freedoms, Charleston, Foxtrott, radio, big orchestras, night-clubbing, the women smoking, cutting hair, wearing shorter skirts.
It looks like the 21-st century also started with a two decades delay, and that the way of life as we lived it during the past century ended in 2020 in a global pandemic and “new normal”. Yes, this century’s twenties roar differently and the feeling is exactly the opposite: we all feel more stuck than free, and no one in a sound state of mind would connect our “new normal” with the explosion of life and joy, or freedom. While the clubs are closing and the nightlife is dying, the thoughts about good Roaring Twenties made me deeply nostalgic, thus deeply motivated to test Miguel Matos’ Lisbon Clubs 1920.
Roaring Twenties: Foxtrot, Charleston, Art Deco, radio, orchestra and the explosion of life energy after the First World War.
Mr Matos incredibly vividly created the collective identity of famous, old clubs. The collection about old hearts is built on studied and lived vintage nostalgia and it seems to me that it grew out of an artistic and personal desire to somehow revive or at least fix the fragrant profile of the old nightclubs.
Olimpia, Majestic, Bristol, and Palace together create almost an olfactive portfolio of historic nightclubs: in each perfume, the individual atmosphere is intertwined with characteristic, sparkling, and eloquent fragrant motifs, and they are all tightened together with carefully balanced layers of characteristic liveness and staleness every nightclub possesses. I smelled imprints of people of flesh and blood making the club alive by sharing its identity, and at the same time creating it by their own presence…
MAJESTIC Club (1918-1920)
There is the smell of air lingering in the spaces when left empty, in upholstered chairs, in draperies and rugs. While the fragrant motifs and references mingle around, in thicker darker backgrounds I smelled the murmur of voices.
Pretty late, close to the base of Majestic, I caught a fragrant rumor circling between club’s gents: it was about Cabochard. But, when I checked it, I found out that the rumour is false, and most likely immortelle, which sometimes likes to play around dressed in leather, in a company of moss, and possibly with the support of civet, is to blame for the gossip. But I could be wrong – this is a club, and it is all about sensed, not stated.
While in Olimpia, I was touched by the smell of old velvet and pleasurably reminded of the smooth silence of the empty club, just before the opening.
In Palace I passed by someone who, in the hours before going out, must have shaved with some very dry-scented soap. Through the smell of Spartan dryness, his body thrillingly radiated heat. The Palace also had a barbershop for gentlemen! – I learned that from old photographs while I was searching for the illustrations for already written text, and at that moment I congratulated to Mr. Matos on the fragrant blow of historical truth!
In Bristol, I was asked for a light by a gentle sweetheart who smelled of fluttering citrus. Taking out the matches, I thought: it’s not the perfume, it is a personality contradicting the crowd…
The dive in Lisbon Clubs 1920 collection strongly reminded me of going to the cinema to watch on a widescreen The Great Gatsby by Buzz Luhrman (2013). What Miguel Matos did by creating the spirits of Majestic, Bristol, Olimpia, and Palce in this collection strongly reminded me of Luhrman’s take on Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s novel (1925) and the first ecranisation (Jack Clayton, 1974), which followed the novel nostalgically.
Vintage is here, vividly material, and very concrete, but it is not nostalgic, as expected, and it is definitely not unnecessarily literal. Instead, all perfumes strike with precisely created modern references of vintage, and what looks to be close to Lurman’s dichotomy of expression is initially a bit noisy-demanding, but only until the dichotomy between vintage model and contemporary take on it becomes masterfully blurred.
In return, we are hit and overwhelmed by the strength of untouched and unchanged authentic emotion:
Yes, that’s a club. Yes, I’m there. In 1920-ies.
Majestic, Olimpia, Bristol i Palace iz Lisbon Clubs 1920 smell exactly like I imagine old nightclubs must have smelled once. These perfumes are their modern portraits, but the characters of the clubs smell convincingly vintage – so much that I thouht just:
“Yes, that’s it!”, despite the fact that in my life I have never set foot in Bristol, Palace, or Majestic or Olimpia.
I believe that “the reality effect” is due to pure, untouched emotion. On top of it, there is a clearly articulated idea of how the artistic recreation of every olfactive identity – including that of historic nightclubs – becomes authentic and fascinatingly convincing right at the intersection of inventiveness and interpretation.
And that is, ladies and gents, the olfactory art.
The perfumes from the collection are labeled as art and come with a notice and that they are IFRA non-comliant.
The image of the perfumer is sourced from Miguel Matos Perfumes. All images related to Lisbon historic clubs and 1920-ies are sourced from the articles published on the blog Restos de Colecao by Josea Leita: Clubs Nocturnos de Lisboa, Majestoc Club. Palace Club and Bristol Club.
The review is based on the discovery set from my own acquisition. Opinions are my own.