ALONG THE SILK ROAD ~ Black Orchid by Tom Ford

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The scream was cut off by the diving hawk swift chop of his hand to the man’s wind pipe. The shocked look on the face was almost comical as he turned slowly toward Lily Chu, his dying eyes bugling. He staggered toward her with the knife still in his hand. Slashing at the air he fell at her feet.

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   The earth was soaked in blood and black orchids were falling from the sky in slow-motion. The hard glittering sapphire eyes of the killer just beyond the dead body narrowed their focus on her.

“I want to go home… my name is Margaret not Lily. I want to go home.”  The screaming returned and it would not stop. Then there was a terrible jolt that violently woke her.

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“Nightmare?” His British baritone glowed on the edge of warmth.

“It was that man you killed in Beijing.”  Lily looked out the window of the stolen automobile now covered up to the hubcaps in sand. The wind was screaming as it hit side of the car taking away the paint as the sand gouged it from the dead steel body and carried it off into dark desolation of the Gobi.

“We are going to die out here, aren’t we?” She whispered. “How can we be in a desert and be so cold?”  She pulled the mink closer around her neck. “I wish there was at least some light. She fingered the edge of the canary diamond ring now dead in the dark.

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“It’s just wind and sand and a broken axel… When the storm passes someone will come along and give us a lift to Dunhuang. Don’t worry, we’ll make it out of China”

“Yes but will I ever be safe? That man in Beijing was not working alone. They have some kind of hit out on me. They don’t want the money back. Forty million is nothing to them. They just want me dead for steeling it and making them look like fools.” She shivered. “It’s so damn cold.”

“Come here.”

She looked at his craggy face as handsome and cold as the marble likeness of a roman general.  “No…”

“Come here!” He snatched her by the lapels of her mink and pulled her to his side of the car. His arm locked her to his chest, hard and warm. She looked up to see that thing she had only seen twice before and now realized she wanted to see again. His smile. “Now maybe, just maybe we will survive the night.”  He whispered.

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“Let me go.”

He nuzzled his lips to her ear and nibbled her lobe.

In the morning Lily woke to silence and sun. He was gone.  In core shattering panic she scrambled from the car. She was about to scream for him when she heard him calling her name. She turned to see him at the summit of a sand dune. As she neared the top of the dune he reached out to pull her up to the crest.

“Look at this!” He pointed down the other side of the hill.

There in the middle of forgotten nowhere was a small oasis, a crystalline crescent lake and beside it in lush trees stood a beautiful Pagoda.

“You see, even in the most desolate place on earth there is beauty.” He encircled her shoulder with his strong sure arm.

When they reached the gate to the pagoda there were golden flowers carved into the door, and in the center one large black lacquered orchid

Lily’s eyes widened in horror…  Black orchids and blood soaked earth.

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Black Orchid by Tom Ford was created in 2006 by the fragrance house of Givaudan. This is a Swiss company that creates not only fragrance but has a perfumery school as well. They are known for, Valentino (1978), Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme (2008) and Fire and Ice by Revlon (1994) and of many for the house of Tom Ford, White Patchouli (2008). They have been around for a very long time and among the noses who have worked for them in the past are Maurice Blanchet who created the classic beauty Je Reviens for Charles Worth  and Jean Charles creator of Shocking by Elsa Shiaparelli (1937).

With the creation of Black Orchid, Givaudan and Tom Ford have come up with a luscious Oriental Floral perfume that leans deeply toward the gourmand with the sweet tooth.  It is delicious but with a bite of its own that comes into play with a slightly fleshy vegetate rot. Now this may sound off putting but to my nose it is not.

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It opens with flowers and citrus battling it out for your attention. Clean sparking Jasmine blended with a indolic mix of gardenia and ylang ylang are underscored by bitter bergamot and Amalfi lemons. There is a sweet mandarin orange mixed with a black currant and tuber that make it into a heavy thick jam. This is almost too much as that tuber gets the dirty dying rot accord going on quite strong

But fear not ye of the “clean is cool” school, that all fades off in about ten minutes and up come the fleeting middle notes of  Spices, fruits , lotus, and the imaginary orchid. Now we all know that the orchid flower has no scent. So what is this orchid note in the perfume? It is a synthetic lab created molecule that gives the fragrance a dusty powdery feeling. But really, let’s be frank, what is an orchid all about? It is something of a creepy beauty and has the felling of a flower that is made of living flesh. In “The Big Sleep” Sternwood tells detective Phillip Marlow about the orchids he raises in his hothouse.

Sternwood: You are looking, sir, at a very dull survival of a very gaudy life – crippled, paralyzed in both legs, very little I can eat, and my sleep is so near waking that it’s hardly worth the name. I seem to exist largely on heat, like a newborn spider. The orchids are an excuse for the heat. Do you like orchids?

Marlowe: Not particularly.

Sternwood: Nasty things! Their flesh is too much like the flesh of men, and their perfume has the rotten sweetness of corruption.

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The rotten sweetness of corruption is in the heart of this fatal poison and it spreads with lethal beauty as the dry down comes slithering up from the earthy bottom of this perfume. The earth from which this deadly flower grows is composed of disintegrating vetiver, decaying vanilla and humid wet sandalwood. Here the most dominating notes enter the perfume at about 30 minutes. Rich dark chocolate wrapped in Patchouli make it sweet, so sweet.  Infusing it all with sly glamour is oriental temple incense that intoxicates the skin and enchants the senses.

The sillage is immense and the perfume last on my skin into an epoch, over fourteen hours. This is not a perfume for little girls and boys beware if you dare to wear this one. This is a woman or mans perfume that bars nothing in the telling of its tale of danger, derringers and dark dames.  Black Orchid is a fem fatale, a noir beauty that is dangerous without regret. It has more treacherous curves than California’s Highway 1 in a rainstorm.

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BLACK ORCHID by Tom Ford 4 gold stars

I GOT A LITTLE STORY I THINK YOU SHOULD KNOW…For Men Michael Kors 2014

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He was down. Way way down in the 20s on 8th Avenue in a little dive called, “Set Um’Up”. And you guessed it; the bartender’s name was Joe. Can you believe it?  It was three in the morning and it was just Joe and me and him. I hung around way after the place had cleared of its regular flies because of him.  He was big, BIG big. One of the biggest stars on Broadway, only nobody recognized him here cause of the puffy eyes and three days of stubble on that matinee face of his. The face that made the ladies pony up nearly two hundred dollars for the first row of  any show he was in.  Besides, what would he be doing here so far from the Upper East Side and the bright lights of, well you get the idea. His million dollar smile was nowhere to be seen. Cause he was down, way way down.

I was just close enough to hear his story as Joe poured him another scotch. It was on the rocks. He laughed when Joe pointedly shoved him the drink.

“I guess I like it that way,” Mister Broadway said. “my scotch and my love life….on the rocks.”

I fed the juke box some quarters and picked what I though would be the right kind of blue note.

A peanut hit me in the back of the head. “Thanks buddy…that was our song.”  He shot me a weak version of his star bright smile. “What are you drinkin’?”  He didn’t wait for my answer, too worse to care. He just went on bending our ear with the story.

“You see it isn’t easy finding love under the microscope of fame. You just can’t trust um’. Any of um. But this one Joe was solid. Not in the Biz. Don’t ever fall for someone who acts for a living guys. That brake up is over the bathroom mirror…most times. If not that then it is because of that old Star Is Born cliché. What are ya gonna do?  It is what it is. “

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“Yeah but this one was different, didn’t even know who I was when we met. I didn’t believe it at first. Thought it was an act to get next to me. You’d be surprised what some jerks do to date a star. Or, maybe you wouldn’t be surprised. But no Joe, it was the real thing. I mean the REAL thing….ya know?”

“Things were going great. As great as they can when you’ve swallowed the hook. As Margo Channing once said, the honeymoon was on. When there was a big show biz event did that matter? Nope “let’s go camping upstate? Or drive out to that little bed and breakfast at Montauk. I just want to be with you.”  We had even set a date…..you can do that now you know…when you fall in love too easily.” He lifted his half empty glass to his lips and scrutinized the ice. “It is what it is.”

“What happened?” I said and caught Joe rolling his eyes. He must have heard it all before.

“What happened?” His eyes got all cloudy. “Yeah, what happened?”

For a minute it got too quite, all except for Sinatra singing soft and low.

“Yeah, that’s my cue….I gotta go.” The wounded star slid of the bar stool and gave me a short last curtain bow. Then insinuated his way through the tables and stacked chairs to the door. He turned the door half open to the chilled black autumn morning.

“Thanks Joe.” He gave us a half hearted two fingers to the brow salute and then at last that million dollar smile that slays the ladies from the front row to the back of the top balcony. “Funny thing is….his name is Joe too.”

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***

For Men by Michael Kors after a rocky start has been re-released. The wait was worth it. It is a melancholy sophisticated love song singed around the edges with a bit of a broken heart. It is smoky and moody, lush a mix of cocktails and regret and in the end filled with a longing for something lost and just beyond ever finding again. It is beautiful.

This masculine fragrance is perfect for fall and winter. It is magnificent on a man but boy could a woman wear it well and smell great. It would be the olfactory equivalent to a woman wearing her boyfriend’s crisp white dress shirt with jeans. Or nothing but the shirt. Effortless and elegant on both sexes in ether a formal night out for theater and a late cold supper or on a sunny fall picnic in Central Park. It works so well for any setting. That’s what I love about Michael Kors clothes and his two fragrances in his men’s lineup.  The nose is Harry Freemont who also created among many fragrances CK One for Calvin Klein, Modern Muse for Estee Lauder and Grey Vetiver Eau de Toilette for Tom Ford, and of course the fist men’s fragrance for Michael Kors, Michael.

It opens with a dominant and beautiful star anise, which shines in a dark kind of glamour as the coriander, thyme and pepper buzz just below this star giving it that signature you will recognize from the opening of Michael from 2001. There bergamot that is there is very light and almost imperceptible to my nose but what is wonderful is the addition of the elemi that adds a smoky sweet melancholy to the opening and sets everything up for what is to come.

The fragrance moves into its mid notes with the most wonderful twisting tendrils of incense that rise up like a cobra from a snake charmers basket. But there is also something wonderful in that basket, a wreath of sage and the smoothest richest suede note I have smelled in a long time.  It is simply entrancing and here is where the beauty of the fragrance departs from the generic designer signature and enters into the realm of fine perfume in a classic style.

The dry down comes on with the masculine lines of fine polished wood, a nearly caramelized sandalwood, lush rich layers of patchouli and musk add just the right light to the fade out and final curtain of this fragrance.

Now for some the bad news comes here. The longevity on my skin is not great, around four to six hours. The sillage is moderate which depending on your taste and personal style can be a good or bad thing. But for me this is not a make or break issue since I am a proponent of the liberal and lively art of the re-apply.  Being a designer scent the cost is very reasonable for what you get. A beautiful men’s fragrance that can take you uptown, downtown and all around in great style.

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FOR MEN MICHAEL KORS Five Gold Stars.

Press play to hear Robbie Williams sing One For My Baby.

THE POET ~ An Interview With Perfumer Mario Tomas

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It is always very exciting when a new perfumer hits the scene and doubly exciting for me when that perfumer is a local Bay Area artist. I have known Mario Tomas Gomez for about two years. I was privileged to be at dinner with him, Mik of Mik Moi and Hilary Randall when he decided to take the big leap and start his perfume house.

His official brick and mortar launch is this Saturday at Tigerlily Perfumery here in San Francisco. So to honor his blossoming as an olfactory artist I asked him a few questions.

Lanier: Where were you born?

Mario:  Born in Oklahoma City, OK raised both in OKC and Mexico City, Mexico

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

Mario: I always wanted to do something which allowed me to help others.

Lanier: who introduced you to perfume?

Mario:  I remember smelling different fragrances on different family members. These various olfactory experiences helped build my love for fragrances/perfumes.

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

Mario: It was the experience of blending my own creation at Perfumer’s Apprentice when they had a shop open in Santa Cruz, CA. It was a small shop that provided tea service while you created your own scent. Afterwards, I searched for a local perfume making workshop. I saw one offered by Yosh Han, the rest is history.

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Lanier:  what is the inspiration behind each of your scents?

Mario: El Poeta (The Poet): This fragrance conjures up another era; a time and place when debates on beauty, style and technique were hotly discussed over drinks at a crowded and smoky cafe. It too is unconventional. Artistic expression and flair is flaunted and appreciated. For those who walk a different path, it represents the cultural, artistic mavericks of a time gone by. It is Absinthe inspired, Bohemia in a bottle.

Corazon Blanco (White Heart): Corazon Blanco is my love note to my family and heritage of beautiful Mexico. I have deep and unforgettable roots in Mexico: the exotic flowers, spices and culinary delights of this region have lent themselves to my fond memories and recreation of such moments with this scent. They include my Grandmother making cinnamon tea, my Mother’s enjoyment of Cajeta (caramels) and adoration of gardenias, or the recollection of tequila from my cousin’s distillery.

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Lo Mejor di Mi #1: This citrus fragrance is homage to the citrus, aromatic family. Its great diversity of revitalizing notes will offer a fresh embrace that is meant to lift one’s spirit. It will envelop you in notes of bitter orange, pink and white grapefruit and blood orange that will delight and recharge your essence. Its hint of floral, woods and musk adds to its complexity and will have you fall in love at first smell.

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

Mario: It was Yosh Han and Shelley Waddington who helped me explore the art of blending.  Michael Coyle of MikMoi who gave me the helpful nudge to launch at the 3rd SF Artisan Fragrance Salon.

Lanier: What is your process in making a perfume?

Mario: Normally, first I will explore the single individual notes alone without any other notes.  Sometimes this can take less than a minute or sometimes days. Once I have all the fragrance notes I will be using, I explore fragrances already out on the market.  If I can bring something new, then I move to blending and testing out Jerry my husband or friends.

Lanier:  Do you have an idea of whom you are making your perfumes for. Who is that person, what is he or she like?

Mario:  I am creating scents for anyone who enjoys them. I may be inspired by a specific person, but I try to create scents that are enjoyed by both genders.

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

Mario: Getting my bottling and packaging finalized, transitioning from my State job into making perfume into a full-time event.

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20 smelly questions. (inspired by the ten questions asked by Bernard Pivot on the French television show “Bouillion de Culture”.

1.Who inspires you?

Anyone in my inner circle of friends and family.

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

My Nespresso machine.  Just kidding, gratitude for life.

3.What is your favorite sensation?

Smell and taste, they are connected.

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

Lovely.

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

Lovely

6.What is your least favorite perfume note?

I do not have one.  All notes can be blended to create a wonderful experience.

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

I think of myself as a very spiritual person and so that enters by thought process while creating.

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     8.What perfume turned you on this month?

Les Parisiennes Mademoiselle Eau de Parfum by Guerlain. If I was just to judge this perfume by only it’s notes or by the name alone,  it would be something I would have ignored.  Having experienced this scent without knowing what was being spritzed on me, I was able to enjoy the development without any prejudgment. I love wearing by itself or blending it with many of my other fragrances.

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

My biggest turn offs are acts in which one is inconsiderate of another.

10.Who excites you in the world of perfume?

The growth in interest of the art of fragrance making.

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

Some of the restrictions being placed on ingredients that have been used to create some of the most amazing perfumes.

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12.What natural smell in nature do you love?

I love the smell of cement and rain after a heavy rain in any season.

13.What smell in nature do you hate.

The smell of public urination one gets when walking out of some of the BART/Muni stations.

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

Either Cleopatra or Marie Antoinette.  Cleopatra was known to have the sails of her ships soaked in fragrance oils, so I can just image what “lovely” oil collection she owns. It was said that Marie Antoinette was know for her signature scent(s), when she tried to escape, it was her scent that was recognized which lead to her capture.

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(Conceptual painting by John De Cuir for Cleopatra’s Barge “Cleopatra” 1963)

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

Spanish.

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

Mierda

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

Ballet dancer.

18.What profession would you not like to do?

Anything that would not allow me to work with people.

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

“Welcome, you will enjoy this fragrant garden and all of its wonders.”

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

She will be wearing Guerlain’s Sous le Vent.

I would like to thank Mario for a wonderful and thought provolking interview The Launch for his perfumes witll be Saturday, November 1, 2014 from 5 – 9pm. If youi are in the San Francisco area do drop in and explore with me the wonderful olfactory world of Mario Tomas.

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TIGERLILY PERFUMERY

973 VALENCIA STREET

SAN FRANCISCO CA. 94110

510 230 7975

EMAIL INFO@TIGERLILYSF.COM

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

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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. A smear of red dawn smudged the eastern sky 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.”

***

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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.

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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!

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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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