THE VIEW FROM THE 20TH FLOOR ~ Simply Divine by Diana Vreeland Perfumes

o.2020

From his perch on the 20th floor there was only one thing on his mind and it was her. The city stretched south down 5th ave. in 5am slumber, winking its traffic lights from red to green in a slow jazz syncopation.  The glow of Times Square was pushing up the side of buildings just over there. And a smear of red dawn smudged the east like the rouge on her cheeks. It was too late for cocktails and too early for coffee. The fireworks were long gone yet he wanted to celebrate. He wanted to kiss her. It was the 5th of July 1924 and she had changed everything.

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Only last month he stood every night in the same spot as he did now. Drinking martinis and feeling blue. He had it all, old money, good manners, and he was handsome, but always blue around the edges and a little lonely. He watched the couples dancing at El Morocco and the frantic beauties that hopped into cabs in the rain heading for 21. He didn’t particularly need romance but he felt something was missing; someone extraordinary was not in his life and the fact of it left him down and in the depths.

On the turn of a tango just last night the girl dancing with the Argentinean gigolo caught his eye and smiled.  He had seen her earlier in the evening when she passed his table at the Cotton Club on her way to the powder room. As she glided by the silage of her perfume tickled him behind his left ear. She was not beautiful in an obvious way like the dime a dozen pretty things of Manhattan. In fact her looks were perfectly funny. But when she smiled he could see she had style. Style to burn and charm enough for the rest of his life.

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When the Duke Ellington orchestra shook off the tango to slip lightly into a slow foxtrot he cut in on the Argentinean. As he guided her backwards around the edge of the dance floor the foxtrot tuned into a waltz that in turn lead them to a night of terpsichorean rapture. As they polished the parquet floor till their feet were sore he came to realize just how extraordinary she was. She had that something extra, a pizzazz that was electric.  At four in the morning he took her home and said good night under the red awning of her apartment building.

The east sides of the city’s towers were turning from grey to rose with the first light of the sun. It hit him with such a force, the realization that he would marry her, and fter tonight he would never be blue again.  As a thousand suns winked at him from as many windows, he recalled her parting words to him just as she disappeared into her building.

“You, my dear, are simply divine.”

***

 Reed and Diana Vreeland

Simply Divine by Diana Vreeland is and extraordinarily beautiful perfume. It evokes a more romantic age of the 1920’s and yet is quite vibrant and modern. It is a class act that is as sophisticated as cocktails in smart evening clothes and as chic as a Renaissance red cap is with black jeans and a black tee shirt. It has a shimmering vibrancy that is inviting to both men and women. It is gorgeous, an instant classic.

This floral fragrance is all about the garden. Smelling it on the spray nozzle or on paper it is purely white flowers. The scent is dominated by tuberose, but not your everyday tuberose. On the skin, on my skin it turns to the greens of the garden and the flowers fall back and take a secondary place. It is very much like a country garden in high summer where the heat invigorates the lush green leaves and they fill the air. It is not a summer fragrance. No this one is for the fall and winter. And in wearing it in those seasons it is a remembrance of summers past. The nose behind Simply Divine is Clement Gavarry, who is also known for among others, Black Violet by Tom Ford, Armani Code, Prada Amber and Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker. He also created Extravagance Russe for Diana Vreeland.

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It opens with very bright green leaves and a dash of nutmeg. This combo is immediately married to the tuberose and the three notes entwine and complement each other for the entire performance of the perfume. Orange blossoms and jasmine are there in the background to lend the idea of the rest of the garden but overall it is green.

In the dry down the base notes come up with powdered sandalwood and lush cashmere wood. There is a vanilla hint that is lent to the base by tonka bean. And it is all held in place to the end by a clean slightly soapy layer of musk.

On my skin it plays overtly uni-sex. It lasted well over twelve hours and the silage bubble reached out about two feet for most of the day. It is a green fragrance that hangs in a place between a classic floral and a Chypre which will make it accessible to men who don’t mind being simply divine. When I wore this perfume it garnered more complements than I have every gotten on from almost any other perfume. Women loved it and men wanted to know what it was and were they could get a bottle.

I am really impressed with the entire line of perfumes by the house of Diana Vreeland. And it was hard to choose which one to purchase. They like the woman who inspired them are bold, commanding and impressive. These perfumes have something to say and what they talk about is always interesting. In the end I realized that if you are going to dive into the Diana Vreeland pool you have to jump head first into the deep end. So I chose the most spectacular of the five in the line.Simply Divine.

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Alexander Vreeland

Diana Vreeland was called the Empress of Fashion, the editor in chief of both Harpers Bazaar and Vogue she changed the face of fashion in America and the world. As Lauren Hutton said about her, “She was an upside down original!” The man behind the perfume line is Alexander Vreeland, the grandson of Mrs. Vreeland. His life long intention has been to create something that captures the essence of his beloved and extraordinary grandmother. How perfect a way to do this is perfume? I had the great privilege to be able to tell Alexander Vreeland that he had succeeded in his dream to honor her and that he has done his grandmother proud.

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SIMPLY DIVINE Five Platinum Stars *****

“UN-SHINED SHOES ARE THE END OF CIVILIZATION!” Diana Vreeland ~ DV Perfume Launch at Neiman Marcus.

o.2020

You better believe I had my new shoes polished to within an inch of blinding the populace when I went today to Neiman Marcus for the launch of Diana Vreeland Perfumes. It was an amazing event hosted by Tony Mendez the rep for the line at Neimans. He pulled out all the stops as you will see in the video. The documentary on Mrs. Vreeland “The Eye Has To Travel” was even running on a widescreen television. Well it was Absolutely Marvelous!

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 My review of the perfume I chose from the line will be up later this weekend. But in the meantime, won’t you join me?

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UNFORGETTABLE ~ Iris des Champs by Parfums Houbigant Paris

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The rap of his camel crop on the rim of her pith helmet brought her into focus. His sun bleached blue eyes narrowed to a cutting beam and frightened her. He handed her the canteen with a scruffy scowl.

In this place where there is no word for ice and snow the North Africans call it, the anvil of the Sun, the part of the Sahara where nothing lives.  Here dying men see many things real and unreal. The few who have survived tell of smelling the beautiful scent of austerely cool flowers dappled in dew in the heat driven deliriums of the desert.

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“We are going to have to get rid of that ridiculous luggage of yours.” He said.  “The camels are more important, and the porters too.”

“My Louis Vuitton?”  She said trying to focus on the shimmering horizon. A field of purple flowers shot through with yellow seemed for a moment to be there, far in the distance. It looked like fields near the villa she had stayed in last spring in Tuscany.

“If you want to live to see the next oasis Miss Lord, then yes, your Louis Vuitton.”

Against everyone’s advice Kelly Lord had hired the cold distant and dangerous Daniel Taggart to lead her across the Sahara to find the lost perfumed city of Mjal Eeyrys. The place where the legend says perfume was first created five thousand years ago. He had strongly advised her not bring her frivolous fashions on an expedition but to pack light and dress for the heat. This was not a society safari that most of the Newport 400 whom she was intimate with indulged in, but a life and death proposition. Scorpions and cobras had not the slightest interest in what was the height of fashion of the 1932 Paris season. A Chanel suit or a Schiaparelli ensemble was taboo when tomb hunting. She thought at the time the tall cool blond man was absurd. She never went anywhere without looking her best.

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Things had changed after 500 miles under a cloudless sky and over the blistered sands. She was shedding her silks to find out just what kind of woman she was.

“All right then…” She looked as his craggy bronzed face. It was the kind of hard chiseled face she would have never found attractive back home in Philadelphia. “Dump it, dump it all.”  She said feeling giddy and free.

He turned in his saddle and called back to the porter’s in Arabic. At once they began to cut the leather bound Paris fancies loose.

“Wait!”   She called. “Not the smallest bag, the one with the Houbigant perfume and the negligee.”

He looked at her and for the first time all day gave her that crooked smile she was learning to like.

“I might need that… you never know.”

He snapped his crop on the camel’s rump and shouted. “Yalla Yalla” The camel bellowed and galloped ahead.  He looked back over his shoulder to Kelly. He was still smiling.

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  ***

Yesterday October 11th I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time with Michal Gizinski and Hilary Randall at the Houbigant launch at Neiman Marcus San Francisco of the gorgeous new scent Iris des Champs. I do want to clarify here that when I mentioned in my video in the previous post about the dinner I attended hosted by Michal and I said he worked for several companies in fact what I meant was that he is the representative for Houbigant, 10 Corso Como and Perris Monte Carlo exclusively at Neiman’s.

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The presentation of the eau de perfume and the essential Parfum was beautifully arranged with Iris and the stunning bottles and boxes. The royal blue and yellow are the colors and on the inside of the wonderful box and along the inside purple and yellow irises are the theme of the design.

I did get to sample the eau de perfume at the San Francisco Perfume Salon dinner last week and it was wonderful to smell it again yesterday as Michal and Hilary took be through the journey of the Iris.

Iris is one of the most expensive ingredients in perfume because it is so difficult to extract the scent from the flower. In truth the fragrance is extracted from the root of the flower called rhizomes, not the flower itself. At harvesting there is barely any scent at all from the rhizomes. They are gently unearthed cleaned and cut by hand, then dried in the sun. After this first drying process they are placed in cloth bags for further drying and aging. This stage takes three years after which they are distilled into a butter like form called beurre d’iris. Only then does the wonderful note of Iris emerge to enchant and captivate the nose. The entire process takes up to 5 years to complete from planting to the creation of the beurre. Now we move on to the making of the perfume which in and of itself is a very time consuming process.

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Iris des Champs opens with a hint of bergamot, a light rose, accompanied by muted notes of lily of the valley that ring softly and lovely in the background as they are joined by a few shakes of pink pepper. This is all very brief and subtle like a flourish of muted French horns announcing the arrival of Le Roi Iris étincelant.

The king Iris enters from the very beginning of the perfume and with his court of beauties in attendance, Jasmine and ylang ylang. He shines from a throne of sandalwood and amber, as he holds court over the skin in magisterial beauty. In the later part of his reign, the dry down is a beautiful blend of vanilla that creams the sandalwood and amber and mellows into a sleepy slumber on a woody bed laid over with a soft duvet of musk.

Iris is a magnificent note that is often found in women’s perfumes but always to me gives them a cool austere masculine strength. It has made an appearance in men’s fragrance before, such as Dior Homme.  This note like the blue fire from the moon in the 1965 film “She” burns cold and does not consume but rather gives an immortal grandeur and life to a perfume. It is often called the powdery cool blonde of the perfume world when the note is included in a perfume of a feminine bent. In point of fact Hilary Randall found in her encounter with Iris des Champs and scent image of  the inside of Grace Kelly’s Hermes bag that she carried on the day she steamed into the harbor of Monaco to marry Prince Rainier.

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Yes I too see that, a hint of leather that one often gets from Iris. It gives this perfume strength and authority with out overpowering its beauty. Yes there is a powdery aspect to it but gentleman isn’t it time to embrace the powder. It is after all a staple of the barbershop experience.

Iris des Champs, which translates to filed of iris is the perfect perfume for any woman of elegant sophistication who posses an air of grace and élan. Or any young lady who aspires to project those attributes. And for men?

The baritone beauty of Johnny Hartman singing “Unforgettable” comes to mind when I smell this perfume and in that song I find one last image. Kelly Lord and Daniel Taggart are floating across a moonlit terrace in the South of France in an effortless foxtrot that leads to a kiss under the stars. In their search for the lost city of Mjal Eeyrys they found an unexpected match in each other. And in the iris blue morning while she sleeps, he finds her bottle of Iris des Champs and smiles. As he sprays it on his sunburned chest, he too becomes, unforgettable.

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Iris des Champs ~ Five Platinum Stars *****

PERFUME IS STYLE, IT IS VITAL! ~ Vreeland Perfumes Launch & The New Houbigant Perfume!

dianavreelandmemos_p122October 14, 2014 …Mark your CALENDAR! Here in San Francisco the official launch for the Diana Vreeland line is happening at Neiman Marcus Union Square. Alexander Vreeland founder of the perfume line and grandson of Mrs. Vreeland will be in attendance. D.V. ambassador, Tony Mendez will be our host and he has planed for us a fabulous afternoon under the dome at Neimans.

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But hold on to your atomizers! there is more going on in our beautiful city by the Bay.  October 11 at Neimans Michal Gazinski will be presenting the gorgeous new Houbigant perfume Iris des Champs. This  stunner is a real show stopper and sure to be a hit with an adoring perfume loving public. So if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area do pop in for both events. As we tumble into Fall the most glamorous perfumes of the year are making their entrance.

Here in my video review I talk more about these perfumes and the events as well as a marvelous fragrant dinner I attended with with a wonderful group of perfume creators and lovers which for a lack of a name I call the San Francisco Perfume Salon.

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IRIS DES CHAMPS by HOUBIGANT

CHOCOLATE AND FLOWERS ~ Four Perfumes by En Voyage

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It has become my Friday night ritual to make a classic cocktail and share it with my YouTube viewers. It is also my way of introducing a perfume review. Some of the reviews are in depth explorations of a scent and others like this one are first impressions.

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   Not long ago Shelly Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes sent me a sample of her newest perfume, Fiore di Bellagio. I wanted to do a first impressions of it. Shelly’s musing on what perfumes might be found on Zelda Fitzgerald’s dressing table, (Among the bottles of perfume night be Zelda. Another stunning perfume by En Voyage) leads her to create this new scent. Fiore di Bellagio was inspired by the great classic from 1927 from the house of Caron, Bellodgia.

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Image by Klara Fowler Photography

  I also give my first impressions of her Souvenir de Chocolate Trio. Three delicious gourmand perfumes with chocolate as their theme. So here is the video review, make yourself a refreshing cocktail and enjoy!

On October 4th there will be a launch for Fiore di Bellagio at Tigerlily in San Francisco. Speakeasy is the theme so ladies roll down your hose and rouge your knees, gents dust of your straw boater and don your racoon coat and join the festivities.

Fiore di Bellagio Speakeasy

5pm – 8pm Friday October 4th

Tigerlily Perumery 975 Vallencia Street San Francisco.

Link to Tiger Lilly: http://www.tigerlilysf.com/

Link to En Voyage Perfumes: http://www.envoyageperfumes.com/store/

1000 Paris Adventures

THE FAIRY GODMOTHER OF 5TH AVENUE ~ Quelques Fleurs L’Original by Houbigant

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When she swept past the doorman at Bergdorf Goodman she smelled of Prell shampoo and crisp starched linen.  He smiled and nodded as he held the door open for her, she was one of his favorites of the working girls who breezed over from Madison Avenue on their lunch hour and out again in less than fifteen minutes. She was as fresh and just as pretty as any young ingénue on or off Broadway.

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There were so many of them hurrying along 5th Avenue, secretaries and stenographers from the advertising houses and the book publishers. Between 11:30 and 2:00 p.m. they hit all the department stores from Bonwit Teller to Bergdorf’s with one thing on there minds; a free spritz of some exotic and impossibly expensive perfume. June Ramsey was no exception. She smiled at the doorman. He winked at her, like he always did.

She worked at Harper and Row in the secretarial pool for $75 a week. For her perfumes were a luxury she could not afford unless it was some horrid eau de toilette from Woolworth’s. She was not a Woolworth’s kind of girl.

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“If you want to smell like Chanel No.5 but can’t afford it honey, just dab some Palmolive dishwashing liquid behind your ears. Smells just like it!” Louise from accounting had given her that tip one day during a coffee break.

“No June that is so cheep! Do what I do. Make Bergdorf’s perfume counter part of your daily toilette routine.” Maggie from the reading department whispered so that Louise would not hear her dig. “And especially if you have a big date!”

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She stood at the counter looking at the assortment of romances bottled and packaged for dreams. There was Shalimar, No.5, L’Interdit, all exquisite, but somehow not right for tonight. June fingered the buttons on her home sewn Simplicity “Chanel” suit and closed her eyes.

“Having trouble deciding?”  June opened her eyes. There next to her was an exquisitely dressed woman of 50 or so. She smelled amazing and looked every inch very, very Upper East Side.

“Oh! Yes, I mean no… I am just looking.”

The woman nodded and then picked up a bottle of perfume and showed it to June. “This is my favorite for a very special night out. Like the one you are heading for tonight I am guessing.”

“How did you guess? It is a first date; he is taking me to see that new show, “Camelot” at the Majestic.”

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“I am good at reading people.  Here why don’t you try it? It is called, Quelques Fleurs.”

“Well, I… I can’t afford it. $30 a bottle.” She sighed

“A sample spray can’t hurt your pocketbook,” She smiled mischievously. “Besides, all the girls who work around neighborhood sneak a spray. I bet you do too. And you never know what a perfume like this one might add to your first date.”

“Alright, maybe just one little spritz.”

“Close your eyes my dear….”

 

When June walked out of Bergdorf’s the doorman caught a whiff of her perfume. He grinned and looked back into the store. Mrs. Goodman was afoot and playing fairy godmother to the working girls again.  He chuckled at the thought of just how surprised that young lady would be when she opened her purse.  There she would find a bottle of Mrs. Goodman’s favorite perfume beautifully wrapped in Bergdorf Goodman tissue paper with a kind note tucked neatly in among her lipstick and Kleenex.  Mrs. Goodman always had the girls close there eyes when she sprayed them. That was when she made the drop!

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***

 

Quelques Fleurs L’Original was created by the nose of Robert Bienaime for the house of Houbigant in 1913. It is still in production today and presented by the house with great attention to the finest absolutes in its notes and to the preservation of the original beauty of the perfume.

I have to thank my dear friend at Niemen Marcus, Michal Gizinski for giving me a sample of this amazing perfume to try out. He, as I have said before is one of my great teachers in the realm of perfume. I am ever thankful for his guidance and generosity.

Just imagine it, this perfume is one hundred and one years old and yet as fresh and romantic and relevant today as it was in the twilight of the Edwardian era.

The top notes are orange blossom, green notes, tarragon, and bergamot, lemon and citrus. This burst on the skin fresh and bright as spring’s first flowers is gorgeous. It is a rush to the senses of white blossoms from rows and rows of orange trees and lemon on warm hillside groves. If you have ever been in such a grove you know just how beautiful this arrangement can be.

Then the heat of your skin awakens the garden that lies in the mid notes. A really stunning and photo realistic rose that truly to me smells of fresh cut roses, not that sharp synthesized rose I usually smell in perfume. But a real rose. The tuberose ads a generous helping of high glamour along with a indulgently lush jasmine. Oh does it ever sing! Behind these notes there are traces of lilac, heliotrope, creamy ylang-ylang. And intertwined are rapturous hints of lily-of-the-valley, violet and iris and even an earthy dash of one of my favorite notes, the austere silvery orris root. You have the entire garden here from deep within the earth up to the sky. “Hey buds below, up is where to grow!”

Then finally in the dry down we find the woods and the animals of the garden,  Covered in Honey a civet romps among the roses, This little sexy cat is musky and sweetened by a dash of vanilla, tonka bean and amber. All of this is warmed by a creamed smooth sandal wood and the sharp masculine notes of Oakmoss.  It is a classic French romp in the sheets if you ask me. Sweet but not cloying, and a little dirty and not afraid to be just what it is, a real perfume for a person who knows how to be a flesh and blood sensual voluptuary who is madly in love with life.

As with most of the old school classic perfumes it is very long lasting on the skin. I got twelve good hours out of it and the sillage is impressive. They are going to know you are wearing a masterpiece when you wear Quelques Fleurs L’Original.

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Quelques Fleurs L’Original Five Platinum Stars *****

ARRANGE TO BE BORN IN PARIS! ~ Diana Vreeland Perfumes!

o.2020

For those of you who don’t know, yes I have a YouTube review channel. (One wonders, What won’t he NOT stoop too?) In any case here is my take on the just released perfumes by Alexander Vreeland of the new Perfume line Diana Vreeland.  Something more in depth is bound to show up here on the blog in a week or so as I get to know these (3 out of the 5) better. In the meantime enjoy my rambling and endless ums and ahs.

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COWBOYS DREAM OF PARIS ~ Cuir de Lancôme by Lancôme of Paris

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He smelled of leather and sweat standing there in the middle of Kaufman Texas, the handsomest sixteen year old boy in town. Mike kicked his boot against the curb to crack the dried mud off the heel. He looked up at the marquee of the old Plaza movie house on Courthouse Square and squinted as he pulled the rim of his cowboy hat low over his honest blue eyes.

“Mighty hot today.”  Mr. Cross the owner of the theater was sweeping the sidewalk with a nubby old broom. “You coming to the movies tonight Mike?”

“I don’t know.” Mike kicked the boot a little harder this time sending the last clump of mud flying off into the street.  ““What’s it about?”

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“Paris….it’s about an artist in Paris.”

“Paris France?”

Mr. Cross leaned on his broom and smiled.  “I don’t think there is much call for artists in Paris Texas.”

Mike pursed his lips to one side and thought for a moment. “Is it any good?”

“It’s better than good, It’s a great film. But nobody in Kaufman is coming to see it. Just not the kind of story folks around here like, “Rocky II” next week…that will be a sell out.”  Mr. Cross started sweeping again. “You might like this film though.”

Mike suddenly felt a little exposed. “What makes you say that?”

Mr. Cross’ smile was genuine and safe. “Because you don’t belong in Kaufman.”

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Mike had only half an idea just how true those words were. He had no idea he was born in Los Angeles and had been adopted before he was one by his parents. They never told him he was Jewish or what his real name was. What he did know was that he was an outsider. Even though he looked from top to bottom like Texas he longed for something beyond the rolling heat and big sky. It wasn’t something most people picked up about Mike, the girls at Kauffman High all had crushes on him. Most of the boys wanted to be like him.

“You’re so pretty Mike.” One of the girls blurted out during lunch which in turn erupted in nervous laughter from his buddies.

“There’s nothing pretty about me.” He barked in his Texas baritone.

He was right, he wasn’t pretty.  He was beautiful. It wasn’t his dirty blond curly hair, or his golden skin that shimmered smooth over his well muscled frame. Not that kind of beauty.  He had a beauty deep inside that came from a natural valor and truth that bubbled up when ever he tried to hide his true essence. He was just too big for Texas.

That night he sat in the empty Plaza movie house on Courthouse Square in the middle of Kauffman Texas and let Paris wash over him in the dark. That night he realized that someday he would fly away to a world where he could be real, to a world where he could kiss the boys and make them cry.

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***

 

Even Cowboys from Texas can wear perfume. And not just any old perfume but one of the most beautiful leather perfumes around, Cuir de Lancôme by Lancôme of Paris. As I and so many others have said. Perfume is without gender and what is good for the gander works just as well on the goose.

 

Cuir de Lancôme is from the La Collection Fragrance line by Lancôme. Their exclusive line created a few years back. Many houses now have special lines like Collection Privée by Dior and Les Exclusifs by Chanel. Lancôme has not been left behind in the dust on that account.

 

This fragrance is most interesting in the fact that it is labeled Cuir (Leather) and yet it has not a single so called leather note in it. Yet its overall effect is that of the most luxurious fine leathers one can wear.  It opens with a softly sweet and smooth mandarin orange and a slightly bitter bergamot that is given a tawny elegant smoothness with the addition of saffron. This note is where we get the leather. It is a grounded leather close to the earth and rather sensuous and caressing. This wonderful leather effect is created from a flower.

 

Hawthorne lightly sweetens the mid notes and marries the jasmine and ylang ylang under a canopy of sturdy masculine patchouli. It really shines here. Never too loud like some leather perfumes, rather it is like a Gary Cooper cowboy in full control of any situation yet laid back and languorous with a hint of danger behind it.

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In the dry down it gets even more masculine with a balsamic styrax, the pure beautiful note of birch.  These notes meet up with a austerely cool and gorgeous orris root. Cuir de Lancôme is never more beautiful than in its fading moments.

 

With fall fast approaching I know that this will be in my rotation. It simply and effortlessly projects a quite, masculine elegance that with a flip of the coin is equally perfect on the skin of a woman of substantial glamour and poise.

 

There are two noses behind this fragrance Calice Becker (J’adore and Velvet Orchid for Tom Ford) and Pauline Zanoni. Together they have come up with a really beautiful fragrance that lasts on my skin between 8 and 10 hours. Around the third hour it moves closer to the skin were it remains to invite more intimate exploration. The projection is moderate which I like in a leather fragrance. You don’t want to come in with six guns blazing all the time. Sometimes you can say much more leaning against the bar surveying the room from under a ten gallon hat.

 

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Cuir de Lancôme by Lancôme of Paris 5 Gold Stars *****

BUONA SERA E BENVENUTI A BARNEYS! ~ Acqua di Parma Launch at Barney’s

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Last Thursday night I co-hosted the launch of Acqua di Parma at Barney’s NY here in San Francisco. I was invited by Michael Rogers the rep for the line at the exclusive department store to help set up the event and introduce him and the line to the Barney’s customers.

Here is what I had to say about the Acqua di Parma that night.

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As far back as I can recall I have found a fascination with the lands that are kissed by the salty waves of the Mediterranean. The golden glamour of Egypt, the mystery that is Marrakesh, the fallen heroes of Hellas, and the place where God met man in so many different languages, but of all these lands one claimed my heart when I was very young. There in the middle sea stretching down from Europe toward Africa like an exquisite Ferragamo boot is Italy.

In dark Cinemascope dreams, painted in lush strokes of Technicolor….as a little boy in the front row of the Fox Theater I found the map to my heart’s home. It was the 1950’s and after the horrors of World War II Hollywood went on location and in so doing took me and the rest of America on a grand tour. “Roman Holiday” made a Vespa ride through the eternal city the hart of bitter sweet romantic possibilities.  “Summertime” gave us Venice as we had never dreamed it could be, at any age.  De Sica showed us “The Gold of Naples”,

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Luchino Visconti swept across a Sicily now gone with the wind in “The Leopard” and Fellini gave us “8 ½” thousand ways to  re-imagine our dreams, It all happened in the darkness of that old theater. A darkness that to me was brighter than sunflowers in Tuscany and as fragrant as Parma violets.

 

In the midst of this boom of movie making in Italy the imported Hollywood stars I was watching on the screen, like Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, Ava Gardner

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and David Niven discovered the Perfume house of Acqua di Parma. They fell in love with unique beauty of the fragrance first created in 1916, Aqua di Parma Colonia.

 

Think of it, 98 years ago. Hemmingway was driving an ambulance in the Alps, Paris was the last stop before Hell and the world was fighting for inches in trenches in the Great War to end all wars. Out of that terrible time came this beautiful fragrance and many more to follow.

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It survived World War I, this cologne fist created to scent newly sewn Italian suits and men’s handkerchiefs. The great depression didn’t diminish its beauty. And then it was liberated by the Allies on April 25, 1945 to a new world with a new look of glamour and sophistication. It became so interconnected with Old Hollywood that to this day it carries a cache of chic not many other houses can match. In one very real sense Acqua di Parma is Hollywood on the Tiber in a bottle.

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But it is much more than that to me. It is the smells of Italy. In each bottle from the Colonia of 1916 to the newest of the Blu Mediterranio it is there. The leather scented air of Florence, the Lemoncello nights of Positano. It is there in that little deco bottle. From the twisted juniper trees on high Sardinian cliffs to the rich gourmand blend of pasta and wine that is Rome. It is there.

 

When I finally made my way to Rome, to see it for myself, to be immersed in my own dream, and to wake every morning and realize it was better than any movie, it was real.  I smelled the trampled earth of the Circus Maximus after the rain, and a smoky incense swirl that meets the air when a church door opens, the flowers cut fresh at the foot of Giordano Bruno in the Campo di Fiori, and the shimmery slippery wet cobblestones of the via del Corso. Italy is fragrance, it is perfumed by history. These smells are the essence of Italy and as I breathed them in I knew at once that I had come home at last.  Now it is your turn to find your story in the bottle, your turn to smell Italy and become a part of the dream.

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***

 

We had a nice turnout and everyone enjoyed Michael’s presentation of all of the fragrances of the line. He was so engaging and entertaining. I was so impressed by the time and effort he put in to the presentation. The table was beautiful and there were even samples of the ingredients for everyone to smell. Every aspect of Acqua di Parma is hand made. Even the beautiful boxes the fragrance come in. Of particular interest were the new Leather and Oud fragrances. At the end of the event every guest received a goodie bag packed with samples to try out at there leisure.

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(Michael Rogers of Acqua di Parma)

 It was so much fun to be a part of this wonderful launch and I want to thank Michael and Christina and the entire fragrance department staff who are always hospitable and wonderful. And welcome to Barney’s Acqua di Parma!

 

If you are in the San Francisco area, do drop by Barney’s and say hello, smell some incredible fragrances and tell them I sent you.

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Barney’s NY San Francisco

77 O’Farrell Street

(415) 268-3500

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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