A NEW LIFE ~ 21 Bonaparte by Vicky Tiel

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Diana Vreeland looked across the luncheon table at her and put it quite plainly: “My dear at your age and with a face like yours you simply cannot be a smug Mademoiselle.”

Vivien Van Volkenburg looked up from her Chanel compact and smiled. “Diana what a thing to say!”  she snapped the compact shut.

“It is not that you aren’t beautiful, it is that you are to smart to stay here in Manhattan. You simply must go to Paris. For a newly minted divorcee like you Paris is essential, like caviar or oxygen. You simply must have it to live! And while you are there it is vital, VITAL that you have a love affair.”

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Screaming horns and screeching tires brought Vivien back to the present. She opened her eyes and looked out the window at the gushing fountains of the Place de la Concord as the taxi that carried her whizzed past in a glittering shower of December rain. The mixture of the ozone from the rain and the heady fumes from the cars and taxis cutting across the Place to turn up the Champs Élysées made her delightfully dizzy. Her taxi did not turn with the others onto that famous boulevard but lurched forward toward the Seine and the 6th arrondissement. She wiped the steamy window just in time to see the Christmas lights strung for a good mile in the trees all the way to the Arch de Triomphe.

“When you get there you simply must make a Bee line to this perfectly charming boutique on the left bank. Forget Dior and Coco’s little shop behind the Ritz. This is the place for you. You have the body and the look that was made for wearing Tiel.”

“Teal is not a good color on me Diana”

Diana tilted her head upon her great swanlike neck and vermillion red lips parted in a smile. “It is not a color, it is a person.”

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Just before the Pont de la Concord the taxi driver made a hard left just missing the front fender of an on coming bus and sending Vivien sliding across the well worn leather seat to slam up against the left door.

“Pardon Madame.” The driver mumbled.

“Are we almost there?”

He ignored her as they speed along the Quai Francois Mitterrand. Vivien cleared the window with her leather loved hand just in time to catch a glimpse of hundreds of little Larks wheeling up from the Tuileries and out over the river toward Notre Dame.  Despite the crazy ride across the city Vivien smiled. She was in Paris after all. It was beautiful and somehow, just as Diana had promised her, being here was as easy as breathing. It felt like coming home.  The taxi decelerated from 50 to 15 to turn onto Pont Neuf. The little finger park on the end of the Île de la Citéwas deserted yet inviting as it separated the waters of the Seine like an elegant trowel. Another sharp right onto Quai de Conte that within a block became Quai Voltaire, then a sweeping honking mad turn onto a little narrow street. Moving too fast down the street there was just a flash, a wet impression of the École des Beaux-Arts in passing in a jumble of stones then a sudden stop.  Vivien leaned to the window and looked out. The driver turned around in his seat.

“We arrive Madame… 21 Rue Bonaparte.

***

 

21 Bonaparte, the new perfume by famed Paris based American couturier Vicky Tiel is classified as Oriental Floral. It is more than that, it is sensual, elegant, refined, a woman’s perfume.fiorentina

Launched in 2013 its creation stretches back many years to a glittering night in the South of France.  The night Elizabeth Taylor won her second Oscar for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”  The star did not attend the awards in Los Angeles, she was on the Rivera finishing up “The Comedians” and Vicky was with her. When her husband Richard Burton lost the best actor award Elizabeth was very upset and stormed out of the villa heading down the stone steps that plunged into the Mediterranean Sea. Vicky was worried for her friend and followed  to see if she was alright.  As she followed she noticed the night was filled with the scent of Jasmine, Gardenias and Tuberose. She stopped and looked about to find that she was surrounded on either side of the marble staircase by the very flowers which filled her senses and in so weaving their white magic cemented an indelible memory. She made a mental note on the spot that some day she would make a perfume from that impression.  She then continued down to the sea to find Elizabeth. It took some time, 47 years to finally realize the perfume in memory of that night.

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The name 21 Bonaparte is for the address of the dress boutique in Paris she owned with Taylor. The bottle is a regal beauty worthy of Taylor’s inspiration, the color, purple which Elizabeth loved.

The perfume opens a tad sweet and spicy with black current, Mandarin Orange and star Anise. And at first it seemed to me to be a little too sweet. But in moments that sailed away leaving the perfume to become in every way that garden on the French Rivera in 1966.

The middle notes are glorious, Jasmine, Gardenia and tuberose. Now it should be noted that true gardenia scent is impossible to extract from the flower and must be created with the expert blending of other white florals. Often times the attempt by perfumers fails to delver a believable facsimile of the scent, but in 21 Bonaparte we have a photorealistic Gardenia blooming and lush. Here in the middle of the life of the perfume these flowers are joined buy a very subtle smoky vanilla, It seems to waft into the white midnight garden like an exotic incense.

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The dry down consists of Patchouli, Vanilla and smooth, woody and rich, sandalwood. The Patchouli brings a certain masculine vibe along with the sandalwood making 21 Bonaparte accessible to men. But only those who appreciate the indolic joys of white flowers on skin.

The perfume lasts a very long time, around ten to twelve hours with a heavy sillage in the fist quarter of its lifespan.  21 Bonaparte is exclusive to and only sold on HSN. I have tried other perfumes by Vicky Tiel and found Sirene to be very nice, Ulysse for Men stunning, but 21 Bonaparte to me is her grand opus, a fine tribute to her friendship with Elizabeth Taylor and quite simply her best perfume to date.

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(Vicky Tiel)

21 BONAPART ~  FIVE GOLD STARS *****

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FESTA DI PARMA! ~ Join Me at the Acqua di Parma Event at Barney’s San Francisco

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I have some very exciting news for my fragrance friends in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Barneys New York in San Francisco, is proud to announce the Acqua di Parma fragrance collection has arrived in the fragrance department.

 To celebrate the arrival of this magnificent fragrance house, Michael Rogers the new fragrance specialist for Aqua di Parma at Barney’s NY San Francisco and I will be hosting a very exciting event at Barney’s

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Please join us on Thursday, July 31st at 6pm in the Fragrance Department on the Lower Level for a special event to showcase the newest Acqua di Parma fragrances Leather and Ginepro di Sardegna.  We will be providing personal consultations to help you discover your perfect scent and receive a special gift for attending plus a deluxe gift with purchase. 

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Steeped in tradition, renowned for its elegance and refinement, Acqua di Parma represents exquisite Italian quality, craftsmanship and masterful fragrance blends. Created in Parma, Italy in 1916, iconic Colonia was discovered by silver screen legends of the 1930’s who helped establish the brands the symbol of Italian chic. Comprised of the highest quality ingredients, both fresh and understated, Acqua di Parma’s fragrances remain exclusively hand crafted in Italy today.  

 

So do please join Michael Rogers and me, Lanier Smith for an exciting fragrant and fun filled evening at Barney’s. Ci vediamo alla festa!

Annex - Grant, Cary (Charade)_NRFPT_06(Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn ~ Two devoted fans of Acqua di Parma!) 

PASSPORT TO PERFUME ~ Interview with Fragrance Specialists Hilary Rayvis Randall and Michal Gizinski

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Last Sunday morning I found myself in a sweet smelling spot. Vibrant morning light filled the beautiful little patio behind Antelope on Valencia Street where Tigerlily Parfumerie is located. The mornings in the Mission District of San Francisco always seem the brightest and warmest of all the neighborhoods in The City and never more so than in late Spring when the sleepy fog hangs over Twin Peaks not daring to descend any lower than Upper Market Street.

 

I was there to meet my friends and fragrance specialists extraordinaire Michal Gazinski and Hilary Rayvis Randall for a nosey perfume chat. Under a poppy orange umbrella we sipped on steamy cappuccinos and sampled lovely pastries and fresh nectarines.

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Looking at this truly beautiful woman I have known for a little over two years I mulled over how we met.  I bumped into Hilary at a Diptyque launch for Volutes. Amidst the swirling notes of that perfume we clicked, over the following weeks we became good friends. Hilary speaks both French and Japaneses, was a teacher of English as a second language, she has even been a chef.  Food, Florals and French!  At all seems to have lead her to fragrance.  Most recently has represented many perfume  lines including L’artisan Parfumeur, Byredo, Arquiste at Barney’s and Dior Fragrances at Neiman Marcus. She also holds top honors as a nationally recognized fragrance specialist. She presently works at Barney’s New York on Stockton Street as well as being a fragrance consultant for Tigerlily. Hilary became my fragrance history teacher, my perfume guide and beautiful ambassadress to the ever blooming garden of fragrance I was discovering.

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Through Hilary I met Michal; she referrers to him as the “Nose of Union Square”. He is the man everyone goes to who is serious about perfume, those who want to know more than what is the hottest thing on the market today. Michal is a fascinating man, an actor, a gentleman, and impeccably stylish and sophisticated. Open, warm and a mesmerizing raconteur he is simply a wonderful guy. He can tell you just about anything about any perfume past of present.

Over the following months I met up with Michal at different events or just popped in to see what was new at Neiman Marcus. Though these meetings with both Michal and Hilary the idea was born to interview both of them.

 

Now at last we were together for the long anticipated interview. This sun was shining on us, our own personal key light. The stage was set and the curtain was rising on a new act for three fragrant friends.

 

 THE ABC’s OF MICHAL AND HILARY

Lanier: “Where were you born?”

Michal: Warsaw Poland

Hilary: Philadelphia Pennsylvania

 

Lanier: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Michal. As a very little boy I wanted to be a classical pianist.

Hilary: up to 10 a Ballerina, from 10- 12- Mortician 14-20 Geisha 20> Chef

Michal: from 10 up and Actor.

 

Lanier:  What opened the door to your life in the perfume industry?

Michal: My grandmother, the smell of her perfumes. Then in the 80’s a friend took me to Dior and introduced me to their perfumes. First in Grenoble then in Paris .

Hilary: My Mother,. She would descend the stairs in a cloud of Diorissimo. She was dramatic. She talked to me about her perfumes and taught me about them. Since she was a gardener and expert flower arranger, she would take me out in the garden and teach me everything about flowers and how they were transformed into fragrance.

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Lanier:  How do you gauge a client?

Michal: I don’t judge. I never judge a book by its cover. I ask questions and over time I discover the personality, where they live, work, their lifestyle. I use my imagination to put all this together. I engage them in dialogue.

Hilary: You can’t judge a client. I ask questions and look for non verbal clues as well.  It is all about finding solutions. What do they own, what notes to they like. And what part of the world are they from. That plays a very large role in the process. Northern Europeans, Scandinavians generally prefer lighter florals; in the south they like heavier florals or Orientals. I try and see how adventurous they are.

 

 

Lanier: Are there skin palettes as there are color palettes for skin tones?

Hilary: No not by color if that is what you mean. The skin itself, the age of the skin. Older skin that has lost its oils needs a bolder scent. The skin’s natural oils are no longer there to support the fragrance’s diffusion. And self identity is important in choosing a perfume and the skin’s chemistry as it reacts to a perfume is important. Perfume is a form of communication that speaks to the right brain, the limbic system which houses emotion and memory. It is a non verbal way to present a part of yourself that may be the secret you, the part of you that can’t be expressed verbally.  Perfume is the invisible language. Its aura casts a spell !

Michal: Psychology is an important aspect. Why do we wear scent? Attraction plays a role for many clients, Perception of others, or how we want to present ourselves is a part of it.  There was a big change in perfume in the 90’s. People stopped smoking. A woman who smoked could wear Santos and it was beautiful. It might be too much on a non-smoker.

Fragrance involves people and can take them to a place they have never been. You wear a certain perfume that says “ Paris ” to you, and you are IN Paris.

 

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Lanier:  What is your favorite type of client and least as well?

Michal: I like people so there are no favorites. My least, never mix perfume with politics. I once had a client from Texas who was looking for a perfume for his wife. When I presented him with a Cartier fragrance and explained it was French he said, “I don’t want anything French!”

One must be a diplomat with clients; we are the ambassadors of fragrance.

Hilary: My favorite clients are thoughtful, open to new ideas, non-judgmental. A person with imagination and who is confident in their choices and in their opinions. I like a good dialogue with a client based on trust. My least favorite would be someone with a closed mind. Also boasters, who come in and talk about how many hundreds of perfumes they have and lists of notes.

 

 

Lanier:  Who was your mentor in the world of perfume?

Hilary: My mother and Michal. Reading every book published on fragrance, all the blogs and being a chef for 15 years have contributed to my scent knowledge.

Michal: Not a person, but books and travel were my mentors. I grew up isolated in Poland . Imagine my wonder when I was first exposed to Yves St. Laurent’s Opium or No.5.

 

 

Lanier:  Where do you want to be in five years?

Hilary: I want to be sharing my passion for aromas, fragrance and food in a global venue.

Michal: I want to have more time, personal time to pursue my interest. I will be in San Francisco and still traveling.

 

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20 smelly questions for Monsieur M and Madame H. (inspired by the ten question asked by Bernard Pivot on the French television show “Bouillion de Culture”.   

 

1. Who inspires you?

Michal: Marguerite Yourcenar

Hilary: My daughter , Sasha

 

2. What makes you want to get out of bed in the morning?

Hilary: The idea of learning something new that day, perhaps meeting someone intriguing!

Michal: Early morning is my favorite time of the day. The fresh air of a new day

 

3. What is your favorite sensation?

Michal: Looking at nature and feeling a part of it. Mendocino!

Hilary: Letting go when I drift off to sleep.

 

4. What is your favorite word to describe a perfume?

Hilary: Intoxicating

Michal: Magic

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5. What is the most over used world to describe a perfume?

Hilary: Fresh

Michal: Sexy

 

6. What is your least favorite perfume note?

Michal: None

Hilary: None

 

7. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Hilary: Imagination

Michal: Fate

 

8. What perfume turned you on this month?

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Michal: Kouros Sport

Hilary: Muguet by Guerlian (2014)

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9. What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Hilary: Negativity ~ no sense of humor

Michal: Vulgarity ~ no sense of humor

 

10. Who excites you  in the world of perfume?

Michal: Olivia Giacobetti

Hilary: Edmund Roudnitska then, Bertrand Duchaufour now.

 

11. What turns you off about the industry side of perfume?

Michael: Money

Hilary: Focus group generated perfumes

 

12. What natural smell in nature do you love?

Hilary: Violet

Michael: Lilac

 

13. What smell in nature do you hate.

Michael: None

Hilary: Lavender!

 

14. What historical person do you imagine would have smelled Wonderful and why?

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Hilary: Lady Murasaki ~ because of the beautiful bathing “ofuro/onsen” ritual of the Japanese with wonderful botanicals and incense.

Michael: Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette ~ because they appreciated perfume, had their own perfumers. On a side note: Catherine de’ Medici who was a great influence in perfume.

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15. What is your favorite language other than your native tongue?

Michal: French

Hilary: French & Japanese

 

16. What is your favorite curse word in that language?

Hilary: Chienne

Michal: I would rather not say

 

17. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Michal: Classical musicianship. Any aspect of classical music; be it conducting or playing an instrument.

Hilary: Shakespearean Actor

 

 

18. What profession would you not like to do?

Hilary: Politician

Michal: Working in a slaughter house, or being a butcher.

 

19. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Michal: Relax honey.

Hilary: My dear, you look and smell fabulous!

 

20. What perfume would you like God to be wearing when he says that to you?

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Hilary: Joy; vintage Joy from fifty years ago because I would know my mother was near and I would be with her once more after so many years.

Michal: En Passant. A heavenly scent.

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 *** 

I hope you enjoyed this time with Hilary and Michal. They are indeed extraordinary people. As Sales Associates in their stores they go beyond what is expected giving great service to every person who comes to see them. More than that, they are wonderful friends that I am privileged to know.

 

If you come to San Francisco drop by Barney’s for Hilary and Neiman Marcus for Michal and say hello. Bring your open mind and your nose ready for a fabulous journey. Let them be your guides, just as they have been and will continue to be mine. Tell them Lanier sent you.

ALONE AT LAST ~ Gs03 from Biehl Parfumkunstwerke

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Movie stars are strange creatures who flourish and grow bright in the cold glare of fame. It is a brittle brightness that often shatters in natural surroundings. When there is no one looking, no stalking paparazzi on the pavement outside Le Cirque. It happens when one sunny day they turn a head to find no fans trailing behind on Rodeo Drive to flame the ego. No stardust left to add glitter to the id. That is when they begin to die, up, way up above mere mortals in the sky they loosen and begin to fall.

There are only a rare few who truly don’t care. The ones who don’t put on a disguise and try to hide just for a sliver of me time. They can turn off that inner starlight and walk among the hoi polloi without eliciting a sudden gasp of “Oh …oh! It’s you!”  They don’t want to be alone like other stars who really mean “look at me!” when they protest the eye of the telephoto lens. They just want from time to time to be left alone.

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Strolling on this overcast spring day in Cimetière du Père-Lachaise the biggest movie star in the world, David Black went quite un-noticed by the few people he passed in this city of the dead in the center of Paris. He was just a man with an annoying cold walking under the new leaves unfolding over the departed. The irony of his stroll did not escape him, the fact that he sought a hour of anonymity in a place packed with fallen stars.  Balzac, and Bernhardt, Simone Signoret and Yves Montand. Piaf is there and Callas no more. Just an empty urn for her is all that remains. Only one grave draws a crowd, the ravaged remains of Jim Morison’s tomb can be found with mourners in grievous attendance that were born long after he was interred.

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David paused before the thousand lipstick kisses the cover the monument that keeps Oscar Wilde’s wit in check. Each lip that touched that stone belonged to a man pursed and placed on rough granite in memory of the love that dare not speak its name. That old concept of love is buried  there too. Even though David was not one of the “boys” something made him want feel his lips touch the stone.

“Do you know what his last words were?”  A woman nearby said to her husband.

“No.”

“Well, he looked around the shabby hotel room he was dying in and said; ‘‘My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or other of us has to go.’.”

No chance of sun on this day and the cold he was fighting was growing worse. David took out his handkerchief and blew his nose quietly as he walked past the woman who had no idea the object of her fantasies was so near. It felt good and clean and wonderful to be alone with his thoughts. To be just a human looking at what was in store for everyone, the final escape into the anonymous.  He was tired of his life, of fame, of the unwanted beauty that brought so much pain. How he longed to be free of this body that held him prisoner, a body owned by every kind of camera on earth.

A few drops of dew fell of the Sycamore trees above him…or maybe it was the beginning of a spring shower. In any case it was getting late. He had better get back to the Plaza Athénée and the interviewers who waited there. On his way out, near the west gate David came across the grave of Colette. He stopped to pay homage to the writer he admired. He heard someone softly weeping. David turned to see a man crying a few plots away at a small tomb marked with a little soulless angel in white marble. He gently bent to replace rotted bouquet with fresh white flowers. David read the name on the tomb, it simply said VIBERT. A sneezing fit gripped David and he turned away to face Colette’s gave and jammed his handkerchief to his nose to stop the attack. Completely alone he thought about her and where she was now.

A police siren screamed at the west gate drowning out the click of a shutter from behind a mulberry bush.   That night the photo of him blowing his nose was splashed all over the papers, the internet and television.

 

“DAVID BLACK BREAKS DOWN IN TEARS AT FAMED WRITERS GRAVESIDE!”

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***

 From Berlin comes the perfume house of Biehl Parfumkunstwerke. This house created by Thorsten Biehl in 2006 presents to perfumers from around the world a chance to create unusual and beautiful perfumes free of marketing constraints or commercial expectations. Like Fredric Malle this is a house that celebrates the artist who create perfume.

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GEZA SCHOEN

GS03 is the creation of prolific perfumer Geza Schoen who has created perfumes for Clive Christian, Eccentric Molecule and Ormonde Jayne. GS03 is a swirling, exciting, lush and intoxicating magic spell that is disguised as a woody floral musk. Don’t let the modernity of the bottle or the house fool you. This is old style perfume glamour retrofitted for both men and women of the early 21st century. There is a citrus freshness that whispers of being more than that when it gets busy being dirty, sexy and a little kinky. It is like a great character in a film noir thriller, it starts off looking innocent but it ends up being dangerous.

Let’s look at the call sheet for the notes in GS03.

The Big Break: It burst on the scene camera ready with a crisp Neroli, photo realistic orange blossoms that radiate ingénue glamour as they share the spotlight with a tartly sweet mandarin orange that possess a bit more experience than the blossoms do at an opening. There is juniper and pink pepper that give this premiere a brisk cocktail shaker of oomph.

A Star is Born: Earthy and comfortable in its skin, the iris enters wrapped in a very mature rose. This star shines in the middle of the red carpet of this perfume and what is it wearing that makes it stand out from the merely beautiful? A sophisticated, chic white jasmine skin tight and just right finishes the picture perfect entrance. The heat is on baby as this perfume begins to mesmerize.

Legend: The third act, the dry down is where the mature, self confident sexy beast comes to play. This guy is no flash in the pan but a star with staying power. Tart and dry as a martini  the vetiver lies here warmed by a boozy benzoin. Castoreum and musk do a dark and dirty seduction of the senses leaving me hungry for more. A hint of tonka bean at the base of the woody rough cedar ignites in the night with a classy masculine oakmoss.  Fade to black.

AVAG ARDNER BURT LANCASTER

GS03 ~ Packs all the heat of Ava Gardner and Burt Lancaster in “The Killers”

GS03 is one of those perfumes that falls squarely in the middle of the uni-sex camp. Anyone can wear it. On a woman it is darkly glamorous; on a man it is Noir, and dangerously sexy. In both cases it is mysterious and splendidly right. Long lasting at about 8 hours, for me and not bombastic in its sillage it never screams look at me. It’s too smart for that kind of immaturity.

I was so taken by this perfume that I had to wear it for a week trying to understand its complex beauty. It is as magnetic and charismatic as it gets yet deeply personal and mysterious. It is enigmatically beautiful and compelling. I truly have become a fan of this star from Biehl Parfumkunstwerke.

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GS03 by Biehl Parfumkunstwerke ~ Five Gold Stars *****

Limoncello Sky ~ Acqua di Parma Colonia Essenza

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Every morning God paints Rome in a new color. It could be Della Robbia Blue, or Parma violet, and on a rare occasion it has bee Cardinal red. But on this morning, the first morning of Sally’s visit to Rome God chose Limoncello yellow.

Sally was up early, before the other girls of The Joplin Southern Baptist Women’s Tour group. She needed alone time, away from the women who keep asking if there was a MacDonald’s in Mantua or a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Venice. She peeked out the window of her hotel room in the Centro Storico as the last stroke of yellow splashed across the walls of the houses across Via Del Seminario.

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  She nearly skipped out the door onto the street she was so happy to be on her own at last. She turned right and walked past the early morning shuttered shop doors. The end of the street she stopped, the breath nearly sucked out of her lungs by the sudden beauty of the Piazza Della Rotunda. It spilled out before the Pantheon in ancient stony splendor, cool and imperial, yet strangely familiar and comforting. Weakened by its beauty Sally leaned against the buttery terracotta wall to take in the moment of magic to file away in her heart.

 

“Carriage lady?” The rich baritone tickled her ears and what stood before her awakened her eyes.  He was next to his horse and carriage only a few feet away on the Via della Minerva. His curling chestnut hair peeking beneath his hat was kissed at the nape of his neck by the roman sun. Sally had never seen a more beautiful man.  He patted the neck of his mare, “This is Sophia, and she thinks you are a very pretty lady.”

 

“No…thank you.” She whispered.

 

He cupped his right hand to his ear.

 

“Grazie, no…” She managed to call out to him as she hurried out into the piazza and scooted past his glittering smile. “No… I can’t afford you.”  Her research before the trip had informed her of the exorbitant cost of a carriage ride in Rome.

 

“I am not so expensive!” He called after her. Sally looked over her shoulder.  He winked at her. She whipped her head forwarded just in time to avoid walking into fountain in the center of the piazza.  The heat of embarrassment mixed with a flighty excitement she had never felt before rose up her neck and flushed her cheeks.

 

Over the next few days when she walked onto the Piazza della Rotunda he was there. He would tip his hat; dazzle her to the bone with his smile and say, “Today you come with me?”

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Once, one of the girls from The Joplin Southern Baptist Women’s Tour caught the look that passed between Sally and the carriage driver.  She shot Sally a stern scowl. “Oh! These Italians are so….so…Italian!”  That was the moment Sally decided to ditch the tour and stay on for a week by her self in Rome. Everyone disapproved strongly. One young girl who was fond of Sally broke into tears “I am worried for you. This place is dangerous.”

 

Sally smiled into her tear washed eyes, “I know…isn’t it marvelous?”

 

Very early on the morning after the tour flew off to America Sally walked into the deserted Piazza della Rotunda. He was not there waiting in the sun as he had been every morning before.  Her stomach dropped so alarmingly that she suddenly felt old and foolish. She turned back the way she had come.

 

“Carriage Lady?” She had walked right past him without realizing it. He looked so different without his horse. He was dressed in a dark suit, sunglasses pushed up on the top of his head standing next to a Vespa looking like an Italian movie star from the 1960’s.

 

Sally stepped back and looked back down the Via del Seminario then back at him. She didn’t know what to do.

 

He held out his hand toward her. “Come, we have breakfast, then I show you Rome, my Rome.” He smiled beneath the Limoncello sky, his silk tie was Cardinal red and as Sally stepped toward him she realized she had never before seen eyes that were Della Robbia blue.

 

As their fingers entwined he said. “This is my Vespa, I call her Gina.”

 

Sally laughed. Rome felt like home.

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                                                 ***

 

Acqua di Parma Colonia Essenza was created in 2010 as a flanker to the original Acqua di Parma Colonia that was launched in 1916 in the midst of World War I. The original, nearly a hundred years old is very beautiful, very classic and very Italian. Where as the deco bottle of the 1916 classic is clear glass to reveal a golden juice the bottle of Essenza in the same design but is rendered in opaque black glass with an elegant black and white label. It is as formal and stylish as a great Italian suit by Armani or a Brioni tuxedo.  Masculine, romantic and filled with a history of glamour of the house that was a favorite of such stars as Cary Grant, Ava Gardner and David Niven Essenza does not disappoint. It is glorious, chic and supremely beautiful.

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A bold Citrus Aromatic, it opens in summery warm notes of bergamot, lemon, mandarin, orange, grapefruit, petit grain, Neroli. These notes never fade but are built upon by the addition of the aromatic herbs of sage, rosemary and clove. These give the fragrance its classic barbershop center. And this barbershop is not a typical corner barber but a grand luxury barber such as you might find in the Excelsior hotel on the via Veneto in Rome.

 

In the center of the fragrance there is a small floral flourish of rose, jasmine and lily of the valley. These notes are very much in a supporting player mode and remain soft and comforting.  Like the manicurist who does your nails while your face is wrapped in seaming towels before a shave. All is burnished to a rich beaten gold hue in the dry down by the arrival of amber, patchouli, musk and oakmoss. In essence, the soothing finish to a relaxing luxurious and very pampering shave.

 

For cologne it is surprising in its longevity lasting on my skin a good eight hours. The push out of the sillage is moderate after the initial spays that come on very strong. For me it was a love at first sniff and a real stand alone fragrance in the Acqua di Parma line. When I bought it I was actually on the hunt for a new incense heavy fragrance but when I was shown the line and sniffed Colonia Essenza my shopping itinerary changed and I decided to find out just what magic there is in this magnificent Italian house.

 

Sono innamorato di Roma e si sente nel mio cuore come tornare a casa.

head-COLONIA_ESSENZA2ACQUA DI PARMA COLONIA ESSENZA ~ FIVE PLATINUM STARS *****

En Voyage Perfume Launch at Tigerlily!

Please enjoy our spring fragrant fun here in San Francisco!

 

HEDDY HOOPER’S HOLLYWOOD! ~ Vickie Lester Tells All In New Book, HOLLYWOOD REELS!

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Hello darlings! This is Heddy Hooper coming to you from Hollywood with all the latest dirt! And the dirt is flying all over town this morning and I am not talking about that infamous mud bath fight at Black’s Fifth Avenue between Mamie Van Vooren and Lana Gardner over shared ex-husband Paul Brando.

 

I was having lunch at the Poison Ivy on Robertson yesterday. Did I say Lunch? Darlings it was more like Brunch I got there sooo late. I stayed up way past my beddy bye time Friday night trying to crash George Looney’s bachelor party at Nero’s but that is another story.

 

So there I was darlings sitting outside at my usual table along the white picket fence just  behind the Maitre’D stand (that way I see EVERYTHING and Charles the Maitre’D who I call the major domo of dirt fills me in on just who had what lifted, sucked out or simply scotch taped as they walk in.)

 

Anyway darlings who should come staggering in on the arm of a much, much younger man but Imperium International star Ava Turner. Talk about reinvention, no strike that, reconstruction. The ex-Mrs. Richard Bourbon (Remember how great they were together in TheMGMKid’s massive “Cleopatra” just five years ago?) looking decidedly less top heavy.

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Ava avoided my frantic waves to join me with her latest bore-toy and found a place in the sun on the other side of the patio. When the Maitre’D returned from seating her and possible husband number thirteen I grabbed his arm, “She looks so slim and trim.” Charlie told me what was up with that, Ava has always been battling the bulge and it has always been up top! Remember how her pallonchini seemed to expand and deflate in Cleo? Well darlings Miss T. had her girls reduced! The first time I ever heard of that in Hollywood. Charlie told me that, “Most of the studios are run by Boobs, but in Ava’s case her boobs built Imperium International.”

 

Speaking of Imperium I ran into the retired studio chief TheMGMkid aka Lanier Smith He is mad about perfume these says and is youtubering all over the place as well as writing his blog (I just can not keep up with all this social media, it’s worse than when Televison came in!) Check out his latest glam-review right here!

 

TheMGMKid and I bumped heads over a bottle of Summer Rain at the perfume counter at Blacks (I was all out of my favorite perfume, Summer Rain. MGM says it’s cheap and vulgar, but darlings that’s so me! ). I asked him what he is up to these days now that he runs a blog instead of a Major Hollywood Studio. Well darlings He was frothing at the mouth with excitement over a new first novel just about to hit the stores by none other than blogging bombshell Vickie Lester! You know her darlings; she has that mesmeric Beguiling Hollywood blog every one is raving about. Talk about DIRT, I should go to her for my stories.

 

The book due out next month is called IT”S IN HIS KISS. The Kid, Lanier gave me a sneak peek saying he was thinking of coming back to the studio to make a picture from Miss Lester’s tome de l’incroyable!  You will never guess what it is all about darlings. Our favorite subject, the life blood of our lives, and the inter sanctum of our souls, HOLLYWOOD!

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   Now I don’t want to spoil a moment of the book for you (Or the movie if you, like me can barely read) but I will say it starts off with in Palm Springs, and a dead body!  Sound like the end of one of Ty Montgomery’s pot parties, I know! But believe me darlings it is so much better. I can’t put the damn thing down long enough to change my girdle! So keep your eyes peeled in June for the release of IT’S IN HIS KISS on Amazon. You won’t regret it darlings!

VICKIE LESTER’S BLOG, BEGUILING HOLLYWOOD! 

http://vickielester.com/

 

That’s it for now my dear readers, so until next time darlings, remember; if the dirt is flying in Hollywood I’ll be there with my catcher’s mitt!

Heddy

HEDDY HOOPER’S HOLLYWOOD ON YOUTUBE

(I did all the voices!) 

IMPERIUM INTERNATIONAL’S CLEOPATRA TRAILER

A STRANGER IN THE NIGHT ~ Atelier d’Orient Rive d’Ambre by Tom Ford

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The great amber dragon skimmed and curved north from Hong Kong through the mountains of Guangdong province, its glowing cyclopean eye never wavered from the silver twin silk threads that were the path to Shanghai. Within the mechanical beast Lily Chu had fallen asleep to the clickety-clack of the dragon on the tacks. She was dreaming on the edge of sleep. Slowly she realized she was not alone in the bed. There was a body pressed up against her back. It was not human and not of this earth. She tried to roll over but the thing kept her pinned against the wall. As it pressed harder its hot breath was upon her neck just behind her right ear. She tried to scream when she felt the claws moving up along her spine.

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(Fan Bingbing as Lily Chu)

Eyes flashed open. A large strong hand instantly covered her mouth. The nightlight gave his eyes a terrifying neon glow. She tried to scream again and pushed against his muscular arm that held her paralyzed as if caught in a jade vice.

“Were you having a nightmare?” He smelled of bitter oranges and cognac. “Don’t scream Margaret and I won’t have to hurt you. Do you understand?”

She nodded in the affirmative.  He uncovered her lips slowly. He still held her pinned as securely as a prized exotic butterfly in a glass case.

“No Margaret, my name Lily Chu.” She said. “No Margaret…”

His low baritone laugh filled her ears blotting out any hope of pretense. “Now that is the worst Susie Wong impression I have ever heard.”  He unpinned her. “Sit up.”

She did as he commanded. “I am cold, may I have my coat?”

He tossed her the mink. As she pulled it on over her shantung silk pajamas she fumbled at the empty pocket.

“Looking for this?” She looked up to see her gun pointed precisely at the bridge of her nose.

“I have a great deal of money I can…”

His icy smile cut her resolve. “Your get right to the point, smart girl. The usual question would be, who are you and how did you get in here?  It is my job to get into locked rooms and who I am is not important. What is important is I know what you have done and that there are men after you because of what you have done.”

The gun pulsed ever so slightly to the beat of the blood running through his trigger finger.

“Are you a cop?”

“Not a cop, not a, what is it you call it, a private eye?  No, nothing as simple as that, I am here on an unofficial basis.”

“You’re not American… you’re Australian.”

There was a tiny quiver in the gun. “British.”

“Are you going to kill me for the money?”

“I don’t need the money.” He lowered the gun and with the index finger of his left hand touched her nose. He smiled almost warmly as his finger deliberately moved over her lips to her chin.

 

“I am here Lily Chu to help you get away with it.”

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***** 

 

Rive d’Ambre from Tom Ford’s his Atelier d’Orient line is a light elegant take on a classic eau de cologne with a twist tied up with a silken rope of mystery. The nose behind its creation is perfumer, Olivier Gillotin. He is known for creating 10 Corso Como, Cristobal for Balenciaga and Notorious for Ralph Lauren. Among his many perfumes is one of my favorites, Fath Pour L’Homme for Jacques Fath. (See my review Falling In Love With Fath)

 

Classified as an Oriental for men and women Rive d’Ambre opens with a sparkling pop of citrus notes like the clash of cymbals and wind chimes in an exotic modern symphony. These notes are linear and come at you in a heady bright jumble of lemon, bergamot and bitter orange. This plays around on the skin for about 20 minutes and slowly the course of the opening they calm and are absorbed into a cocktail of cognac and amber. Spices of cardamom and tarragon add dimension to the fragrance as it falls to the skin at about 5 hours.  In the dry down there is the warmth of tolu balsam and patchouli to cover and comfort the bones of what remains of the fragrance.

 

This is not a complex or challenging fragrance but that does not make it uninteresting. On the contrary it is surprising in where it goes from that familiar eau de cologne opening into an exotic warm range.  It is a perfect fragrance to wear in the tropics where the heat will open it up and add to its projection. In more temperate climates it would work best in summer. Rive d’Ambre is a light bright smart and sophisticated addition to the Atelier d’Orient collection by Mr. Ford.

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RIVE D’AMBRE FIVE GOLD STARS *****

(NOTE: PART ONE OF THIS STORY IS THE POST ENTITLED: ESCAPE TO SHANGHAI )

 

AMOUR À L’OPÉRA ~ Fougère Royale by Houbigant Paris

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Palais Gernier Opera

Painting of the Paris Opera by Frank Myers Boggs

He spoke French so impeccably that anyone outside of Paris would have taken him for a Parisian. The Parisians on the other hand knew he was not French. In fact they knew exactly who he was. Well at least the aristocrats of the city knew, after all it is there job, their stock in trade one could say to recognize European royalty on the spot.

 

At the instant the oddly handsome Prince Aleksander Kostka alighted from his carriage at the curb half of the assembly ascending the steps to the Palais Garnier Opera house turned in unison to look upon his dashing form.

 Prince Aleksander Kostka

    “Oh there he is, the Polish Prince of mystery.” Comtesse de Roussillion tuned whispered to her husband. “I have heard he can never go back to Warsaw. Some scandal so unspeakable that…”

 

”Bonsoir Comtesse, je suis enchante”

 

She stifled a startled squeak as her hand was enfolded by the Prince and swept up to his perfectly chiseled lips which  barely brushed the satin of her opera gloves. This sent a thousand twittering magpies to flight in her now overheated veins.

 

He dropped her hand and with a clipped bow of the head and accompanied by a bemused smile he took is leave of the middle-aged woman who was now on the verge of fainting fit.

 

“Détendez-vous mon cher, il est juste un prince pas un dieu.” Her husband hissed in her ear like an over stoked locomotive.

 GarnierOperaParis

The entire foyer of the Opera was abuzz with excitement as the Prince entered. He assumed it was about the revival of the opera La Juive. It was not. For just as a ship is unaware of the wake it leaves behind so too was he blithely in the dark of the effect he created where ever he went. Generally happy with a tinge of melancholy from time to time he moved though life content.

 

As his right foot touched the first landing of the grand staircase he was completely oblivious that his life was about to be shattered by a look. He paused to decide which branch of the stairs to take; she brushed past him in a cloud of mesmerizing perfume. In heavy cream and gold satin from the house of Worth she floated to the landing above. His eyes followed her as she appeared and disappeared behind the columns until she came to pause in the opposite balcony of the grand foyer and turned toward him. Her smile faded as the air between them was sucked into a whirlwind of déjà vu. The hundreds of people on the stairs moved in a frivolous dance around the Prince who saw none of them, he would really never see anyone else in the same way since she, this night had opened his eyes to a new world.

 

“Aleksi…Aleksi! How are you?”

 

The Prince looked down to see his old friend Patrice Aubchon standing in stiff evening dress before him.

 

“What are you looking at?” Patrice turned. “Ah yes, her.”

 

Who is she and what is that perfume.

 

Only the most notorious and expensive courtesan in Paris my friend. Mademoiselle Marianne Deasún, and leave it to her to wear the most shocking fragrance. It is something new, Fougere Royal I think it is called. Too many notes and too masculine for a woman if you ask me, but there is talk of course that a woman now and then is not beyond her range. Ah well there you have it. That perfume is the current mode de Paris, half the men in here are wearing it, and only one woman dares to.

 Marianne Deasún

Marianne’s amber and green eyes held his eyes in lock. His in turn intrigued her with their hint of turquoise in a sea of blue.

 

“She smells like nothing I have ever experienced.”

 

Too many notes! A woman should smell like just one flower, a rose or lily of the valley.  But I must admit, on her it somehow works.

 

“I must meet her. I must smell her skin, up close.”

 

The gong sounded signifying that the opera was about to begin, she reluctantly released him from her ocular embrace and turned to walk to her box.

 

“Goodbye Patrice… I will see you later.” The Prince broke off from his amused friend and took the stairs two at a time. In the grand foyer he saw her disappear into the hall which lead to the boxes. When he entered the hall it was just in time to see her trailing skirts sashay behind an open door which closed softly behind her.

 

At the door to her box he hesitated then peeked though the tiny window. The house lights had gone down and as the curtain on the stage ascended accompanied by the first notes of the opera  Marianne’s profile was etched in pink and amber light.

 

He knocked on the door and waited for an answer.

 

*****

 

Fougere Royal 2010 by Houbigant is the modern interpretation by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux of the game changing Fougere Royal of 1882 by the nose Paul Parquet.

The original Fougere Royal was the first modern perfume (and the very first fougere, meaning fern) created in an age of solifleurs it was a shocking and exhilarating blend of notes. Paul Parquet was the first nose in the history of perfume to isolate a scent molecule, the coumarin from the Tonka bean, thus ushering in a modern form of perfumery with the first use of a synthetic in a perfume.  To create a classic fougere one must add to the coumarin note, lavender and oakmoss. This trifecta of notes is the basis for the first truly masculine perfume group, the fougere.

Fougère Royale Paul Parquet

In the 1882 Fougere Royal the notes are; top, lavender, clary sage and bergamot. Mid notes of carnation, orchid, heliotrope, geranium and rose and bottom notes consisting of Tonka bean, musk, vanilla, oakmoss and coumarin.

 

In the new version by Rodrigo Flores-Roux (Donna Karan Gold, Atelier d’Orient Fleur de Chine for Tom Ford, and Fleur de Louis for Arquiste to name but three of his brilliant creations) he has created not a reformulation as such, but a modern interpretation of the classic.

 houbigant-fougere-royale-MSL

As it hits the skin there is a silky edged citrus created by bergamot that suddenly sparks brightly then gives way to green notes, chamomile, clary sage and lavender. (lavender the must have note number one for a classic fougere)  This combination is dramatic, compelling, mesmerizing. The first time I smelled this on my skin I was speechless at the beauty of this opening. It is fuller, richer and more sophisticated than most fougeres that I have smelled. Like a great piece of jewelry, it is a statement piece, a signature promising greater beauty to come.

 

Central notes of green carnation, greener geranium combine with a subtle rose and a whisper of lilac that is dusted with a magical spice note of cinnamon. The brilliance of this combo is shimmering in its effect. Here the fragrance roils and billows beautifully projecting just enough to be elegant never stepping over the line into bombastic. There is only one word for this as it transitions into the dry down. Opulent.

 

In the base the central notes that draws you in with their gravitational pull just as they radiate like a great massive star is the oakmoss and coumarin. The bold butch muscle of the fougere is found in these two notes (must have notes number two and three)  Flores-Roux has replaced the musk and vanilla of the original with a banked smoldering amber, stoked with patchouli, Tonka bean it smolders for hours.

 

The entire effect of Fougere Royal (2010) is amazing. It is built upon the first modern masterpiece and brought into the 21st century with grace, beauty and a new modernity by the house of Houbigant Paris under the direction of the Perris perfume family. (see my post Le Grand Prix ~ Perris Monte Carlo Perfume Event, San Francisco) . I must give special thanks to my friend Michal Gizinski of Neiman Marcus who first introduced me to this fragrance. He is a brilliant man who is one of my mentors and teachers in the art of perfume. If you are in San Francisco and you love perfume go to Neiman’s and talk to Michal and find out why we call him The Nose of Union Square. More about Michal soon as we are organizing an interview for Scents Memory.

Paul_Parquet_-_Portrait_photograph

Paul Parquet father of the Fougere

Fougere Royal is a testament to the past, homage to Paul Parquet and his ground breaking creation. It is an example of true creative beauty by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux who has made so many beautiful perfumes.  And above all of this, it is a modern masterpiece of complexity, bold masculinity that stands as a formidable lighthouse in a sea of boring, watery clean laundry fresh fragrances.

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Fougère Royale by Houbigant Paris ~ Five Platinum Stars *****

THE GLAMOUR AND THE GLORY ~ Scent & Subversion by Barbara Herman Book Event

   SS B Herman book cover

 

Back from vacation and into the perfume social whirl of San Francisco Fumantics!  Last night at Books Inc. on Van Ness Avenue just north of our Belle Epoque inspired  Beaux-Arts Civic Center author and blogger (Yesterday’s Perfumes:http://www.yesterdaysperfume.com/ )   Barbara Herman came to read from her book Scent & Subversion: Decoding A Century of Provocative Perfumes. The event was a smashing success and Ms. Herman was a delight. Gallons of vintage perfume was sniffed and a ton of books were sold. Here is my video blog of the event.

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(Barbara Herman ~ photo from Basenotes)

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