Back to Black is a dark, seductive brew of pipe tobacco drizzled with honey. Its luscious richness is almost tangible. Back to Black is deeper in feel than the also-popular Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille. Where TV merely smells great, Back to Black has a story that it might be willing to divulge. Back to Black is exactly the sort of delicious oriental fragrance that I generally love, and until recently I did love Back to Black. I still consider it to be a gorgeous fragrance, but I am no longer comfortable wearing it. Back to Black was allegedly named for an Amy Winehouse song of the same name. I told you before that this perfume tells a story, but it is not an honest retelling. Like a sanitized Disney version of a dark children’s story, Back to Black slaps on a happy ending where there is none.
Amy Winehouse’s death this summer hit me hard. I know how foolish that sounds, to be so affected by a stranger’s death (and a fairly predictable death at that). But Amy Winehouse wasn’t a stranger at all. I have known dozens of Amy Winehouses. Achingly talented young women who lose themselves in drugs, drinking, eating disorders. Women with formidable minds, women with magnificent voices, women who could make words crackle like lightening. I have seen these women shake uncontrollably for three days straight from alcohol withdrawal. I have watched as their immeasurable gifts withered away along with their dwindling bodies.
But that’s not the story that Back to Black intends to tell. Back to Black represents the allure of darkness, its sick glamour, its temptations. Back to Black reminds me of an addiction on its good days. The days when your addiction is your best friend, when it makes you funny or pretty or talented. Back to Black is the first few drinks, the ones that put you on top of the world. But what happens when the highs give way to their inevitable lows? What happens when the party’s over? Back to Black never reaches that point. It is a perpetual wild night that never has to face the next morning’s consequences.
Am I overreacting to what is essentially a harmless perfume? Absolutely. I’m actually a little embarrassed by how much I’m overreacting. But there is nothing harmless about the way that Amy Winehouse was glorified as much for being troubled as she was for her talents. We applauded when she told us that she didn’t need rehab. There is nothing glamorous about the darkness that ruins the Amy Winehouses of the world. It is a hideous and pointless way to live. Back to Black has lost its appeal for me. I was lucky to get out the first time.