by Cécile Zarokian
for Le Monarque
V -pronounce « vee »- is difficult to approach. As is it often the case with benjamins, he is jolly different than his brethren. He surprises and eludes. One cannot easily figure him out, presenting only one of his many facets to the stranger whom intrudes into his family’s intimacy, so as to perceive whether or not he is worthy to be loved. He is one of these children who say few but hear much, who turn out to be heaping with talents as long as we get to know them, as they get to know us, as we let them get to know us.
He’s presented to us as an incense and from that moment on, he delights in teasing us, leading us astray, breaking down our preconceived ideas on what incense is, leaving behind him the classic dust, lavender and elemi accords supposed to remind us of the waxen woods of rich sacristies, to unveil himself in all sincerity. It is as if we had opened up a bag of fresh frankincense, its golden tears exuding an aroma of bitter lemon and dry stone.
It is true that V. is an incense, although not the one we are used to smell. He sweeps away the polished marble cathedrals, the lenghty processions overflowing with clerics and thuriblers. He hasn't known the fastes of a decadent court nor the cardinals mired down their cappe magne nor the popes carried in their sede gestatorie, nor the crowns on the foreheads of Plantegenêts ; nor the monstrances, nor the altars, nor the processions, nor the adorations, nor the monks, cloisters or coronations, nor – anything that we know.
Such is the utter talent of Cécile Zarokian. To give without giving away. To unveil with pudour.
Hallow he is, of a holiness man forsook. Since the overture, he transports us in a beyond yet unsung, forgotten, passing Dilmun and Sheba to reach the banks of a river that saw the birthing of gods. His start is fair mineral albeit losing nothing of its warmth – teaching us that cold can be the sun and painted the stones.
For V. stands for kings and queens haughty, not the Sun-King but the kings of the Sun ; he is the incense of Rê and his nilesque empire ; the incense that burns ere Pharaoh’s face. He is his crown and pride, the tangible aura of a man made god, of his face austere, of the supreme judge over the dead and the undead, whose glance goes through the soul of the righteous and the sinner.
V. stuns, astonishes, inspires and cows. One bows down upon hearing his voice. And his introit lasts and remains, losing naught of its power. One might ask : when will the head notes pass with their dream of an Egypt lost ? When will the banks of the Nile pass away, and the shadows of Thebes ? When will the coptic chants cease and the mummified priests ? When will the jewels of lapis pass away, when will the mute pyramids ? When will the tombs and vales, when will the barrows and the kyphi buried in its stead ?
V. does not end, he dims and his face changes. He now goes through the Red Sea on dry grounds – he is the pillar of light that shines at night and guides the prophet through Sinai. He whips up the desert sand, with Egypt at his heels and follows the prophet through the mountains. He warms up, he scintillates – he’s heavy as the oil that runs down on the beard, that runs down on Aaron’s beard. He goes from light to Ghost, embalms heart and soul, seizing it, reviving it. He comforts the heart left forlorn, soothes the hurting soul, guides the ones gone astray in a place they know.
Now ends the turmoil of the sea, now end the desert and its apocalyptic rocks, now end the fear and stupor before the sublime. Gently, surreptitiously, through the comfort he procures for our souls, he reminds us that Love never ends.
His ambery bases dries out and heats up, the encens unveils yet another of its facets, more authentic than ever. We’re at world’s end, betwixt sand and sea. We’re now far from the Nile and its luxurious banks.
We’re transported to another realm, above white domes and rocky shores he takes us. On the slopes of Dhofar, in the silence of a desert deserted, between the baleful and wounded trunks of sacred hearts from which incense drips, perched atop the city and the sea : we climb. A decrepit house catches our eye. A cloud of white smokes comes out of its doors and runs to greet us. She seizes, chills and embalms our sticky, salty bodies.
He guides us ; we follow him. A few notched steps lead to the door, where an hermit awaits, tanned by the heat. We go through it, we look around, we’re looking for V. but he fled – again. We’re alone face to face with a corpse. Is it a Pharaoh, again ? No. It’s the prophet, it is V. himself, neither light nor smoke, sleeping under a jadelike veil. The hermit keeps vigil with us, reviving the mabkhara in the corner. A few sticky tears of olibanum fall from his chapped hand – they sing, upon the glowing embers, a canticle to the prophet asleep.
It is him.
It is V.
He who, bereft of his coral and rubies, went through the sea ; he who showed us the light through the darkness of our beings, through the morose lives that we force upon ourselves, through the cold that we’ve let seep in our souls and bones. It is he who dragged us from the decadence we laid in to bring us closer to him – to bring us closer to ourselves.
He imprints himself onto us and we onto him. His silence joins ours. His sun finds that which we had lost. After a second that could have lasted a life of man, we emerge from the mausoleum to find the hermit still sitting on his step, minding nothing of the world around.
Where shall we go hence ? V. walks before us no more. He is part of us now – we must take heed.
Night appears on the skies overlooking Oman and V. dries out. He is no longer sticky, nor is he sugary ; he doesn’t scintillate, he doesn’t fill the air like a cloud of smoke ; he is the midday sun the more – he is the sleeping sun. He now exhales an exquisite yet a tad salty gentleness.
Where shall we go hence ?
Our steps lead us as far as one may go – alone. The ennightened ocean before us and behind, a strange kingdom where day and night, ghee lamps burn. A warm breeze calls us : it is balsamic, it is heavy, it is wild…
Where shall we go hence ?
Now that night has come and the pillar of light withered ?
The sun sleeps behind and stars rise in the skies. Who doesn’t fear the coming of the night ? Who is not afraid when we let go of our father’s hand on the long trail of Life ? But V. is still here, we became filled with him and he with us. There is pillar no more, smoke no more, winds blowing up the sands and dust and pearls – no more. No more processions, no more pharaohs, no more prophet in his celadon shroud.
There’s only us and the night that lays around.
Us and V.
He keeps shining in us like an inextinguishable sun, clinging onto our skin,, our wrists, our veins till the end of night. Because night will end.
Yet won’t the trip.
From Versailles to Varanasi…
It is V.
V - Le Monarque
Available in 100ml, limited numbered bottle, at Jovoy Paris in France, Jovoy Mayfair in the UK, Philippe K Haute Parfumerie in Switzerland at 495€.
Also available outside of the EU and on their website : www.lemonarque.paris