I have nothing to add to what has already been said about the life and passing of Prince Rogers Nelson. What made him great is undeniable. The mere fact that he played the guitar, bass, keyboards and drums at a level that granted him a position in the top players of these instruments would have been enough. His creative output was prolific and covered not only music but also the aesthetics of his presence. Most of the time he supported and was supported by a collective of musicians in projects that put him on th limelight but he was very generous to young musicians. He expected from all members of his crew to appear in-role at all tmes, weird, sexy outfits, high heels and all. He himself played basketball in high heels. His private life remained very private at all times and we only caught glimpses of his troubled childhood years, his crack addict sister and his failed marriage and attempts to have children. All of his songs however come with tiny drops of sadness on the happiest tunes (“The greatest romance ever sold“, yes, sold not told, comes to mind). In 1993 after a dispute with his record label, he dropped his name and started using The Symbol, as a protest of the fact that he had no control over his creative production and its commercial distribution. As much as this decision has been ridiculed in the media it remains one of the bravest and loudest artistic statements ever made. It even surpasses the boundaries of pop industry. He revolutionised pop industry itself putting forward an androgynous persona that however was sexually charged to the maximum, not neutered in favour of the ambiguity. It was like David Bowie’s vestigial Ziggy Stardust and Madonna’s Truth or Dare horny persona collided in a nuclear reactor. No one before him managed to don buffed up hair, high heels and purple, sequinned, décolleté one-piece suits and still be considered a sexual threat by worried fathers of teenage daughters. And probably no one ever will again. As much as his music touched me deeply, not so much with the obvious hits, but more with some hidden gems and out-takes that slowly became available, what touched me most was that from the age of 17 he knew exactly who he was, what vision he had for his music, and he never strayed from this path throughout his life even if it was tumultuous and definitely not the easy one. All this has been captured in the 2012 documentary Prince, The Glory Years.
In 2006 he launched an album, a club in Las Vegas and a perfume, all under the same name. 3121. What maybe few people know is that this was his second perfume. The first one was Get Wild released in 1995, and it was housed in a funky bottle with a fur hat! This perfume is virtually impossible to find so I can’t tell you anything about it. A few months ago I bought a bottle of 3121 for research purposes and for admiration purposes as well. It is a tuberose-centred fragrance and it caused far less ripples in the perfume world than Madonna Truth or Dare, another tuberose bomb release 6 years later. Only 3121 is not a bomb. On the contrary, it is one of the softest floral scents I have ever experienced. It starts with a lime-like citrus note that is there for no particular reason and declares its presence for the briefest opening and then goes on straight to tuberose with a pronounced rubbery side. A “creamy” tuberose is a somewhat common description and this one feels creamy, not sharp at all, but this quality is achieved through the use of vetiver and this is truly an unexpected effect for this ingredient. The smoky increment of vetiver combines with the sumptuousness of tuberose to create the ultimate androgynous tires-and-flowers fragrance. I can smell a hint of coffee in there that could also contribute to the hazy floral effect. The perfect dosage of tuberose strikes a delicate balance and 3121 remains the only tuberose scent I can see myself wearing in public. The gem-shaped, clear bottle with the purple-brown juice, although not revolutionary, is minimal by Prince’s aesthetics and tacky by general consensus, but it captures exactly the essence of the perfume: ethereal but slightly dark, femininely multifaceted and branded with a tech, masculine font.
Sadly no one really noticed 3121 when it was launched and now it appears to be discontinued. This makes it a bargain blind buy today and I have no doubt that it too will become as precious as Get Wild a few years down the road. It was easier to notice the very well crafted but also easier to read Truth or Dare, as it came with an agenda far more obvious, recreate a modern, slightly gourmand Fracas. Having worn 3121 several times, I am convinced that perfumer Adriana Medina-Baez was given a very precise and difficult agenda, to create an androgynous tuberose balancing between shyness and provocation. And I am also certain that this was not your average celebuscent project because in this bottles there are clear glimpses of Prince Rogers Nelson’s entire life.
Notes from Parfumo: Bergamot, Gardenia, Jasmine, Lily-of-the-valley, Orange blossom, Tuberose, Ylang-ylang, Musk, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Cedar
Notes from my nose: Lime, Tuberose, Rubber, Coffee