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!

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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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(GARY COOPER)

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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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?

 o.2451

Michal: Kouros Sport

Hilary: Muguet by Guerlian (2014)

 Guerlain Muguet 2014

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?

 Portrait_of_Murasaki_Shikibu

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

Biehl

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.

 Paris-Alternative-Must-Do-Gems-Pere-Lachaise

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!”

P13

***

 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.

Wunderkind_Perfumer_Geza_Schoen_of_Escentric_Molecules

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.

 piazza della rotunda

  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!

 

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