There are concepts in perfumery that sometimes hit the nail right on the head. So when I learned that a new brand was taking inspiration from movies to create a perfume, I was thrilled. I discovered Moth and Rabbit at Smell Stories, and while browsing their collection, I came across La Haine, the French film that had turned my childhood upside down. Immediately, I remembered the neighborhood I lived until the mid-90s. The last lawless zone in Brussels, called the “Chicago Neighborhood,” where crime was romanticized, and dehumanization was common courtesy.
“So far, so good – Jusqu’ici tout va bien” was the leitmotif of the film, and it still echoes in my head because the feeling of invincibility was a luxury unknown to us.
But what was Kassovitz’s masterpiece, released in 1995 and shot in black and white, supposed to smell like? I remember the first anxious spray on the blotter. Then everything lit up, the smell of tar, smoke, leather, earthy green with a spicy freshness of cardamom reminiscent of the coldness of a stressful, colorless life, with tire tracks on the asphalt, people giving the finger, gnashing teeth, sirens, and young men trying to become lions.
The perfume was everything I had hoped it would be. As I enjoyed my first spray, I thanked my parents for being who they are, for the love and the strong family structure they gave us, my sisters and me. I was one of the lucky ones, and just like in Tupac’s poem, we became “roses that grew from the concrete.”