HOW INSENSITIVE…. Prada Amber Pour Homme

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At the door to Dior he tried to clear his mind and continue his morning walk along the Avenue Montaigne but it was no use.  As he strolled past the minuscule and austere square park next to Gorgio Armani he realized the street that usually made him happy did not make him happy on this very early clear late June morning. The lush green fingers of the Horse Chestnut tree leaves seemed to point down at him in disdain.

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The snappy click of his red soled Smoker Flats seemed not smart but rather muffled, scuffed and sad. He had been walking all night unable to sleep since the opera ended and he said goodnight her and then without much thought a sudden and final goodbye.

There were no tears this time, usually there were. No slap in the face. That too was de rigueur with some of them in fact it had never gone out of style. Euros had not been flung in his face. No name calling, no pleading, nothing. Nothing but that last look.

Ending an affair had never been so easy. And yet he could not sleep and only walking had gotten him through the night and to this early dawn under the accusatory trees. Rene Michel Petriz had no idea that for the first time in his life he was caught by something so foreign to him that he didn’t recognize what it was that would not leave him alone. His heart had no room for words like regret, guilt, remorse or the most dangerous word of all, love. He was built for speed, designed in fact to please the eye, to entice the touch and the sound of his voice had more than once obliterated a woman’s defenses. Born with the lucky combination of looks, charm, intelligence, and most importantly sans regret had made the most desirable gigolo in Paris. So this little fling he had ended, a gratis diversion from the wealthy women who kept him secure should have never started. It was best for all that he had killed it last night. And it was good for business. She had cost him a lot of time and money. He looked into the dark windows of Armani and was shocked when all he saw in them was the reflection of that last look in her eyes, not cold, not crushed, simply disappointment.

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  If only it were later in the day and the stores were open. Silk ties and fine linen shirts would take his mind off of her and that final look when he told her it was over. He walked on. The ruby geraniums on the balconies of The Hôtel Plaza Athénée glistened with diamond like touches of morning dew. He smiled remembering the rich Argentine woman whom in that very hotel had dropped her Van Cleef & Arpels diamond and ruby cocktail ring in his glass of champagne as payment for the night. It was a cold memory and his smile faded. He needed to get back to work.

For the rest of the way, to the end of the avenue he was oblivious to the passing windows of Bottega Veneta, and Prada filled with things he would never need. At the Place de l’Alma he crossed to the intersection of Avenue Montagne and Avenue George V and stopped in front of Chez Francis.

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It was just opening. He took a seat outside on the sidewalk just behind the green hedges. The young waiter brought him a coffee and then retreated back inside to leave Rene Michel uncharacteristically slouched in his chair long legs stretched out before him exposing his scuffed Louboutin soles, He took a sip of his liquid breakfast and contemplated the light traffic on the Pont de l’Alma. Slowly the flame of liberty across the place de l’Alma came into focus.

kvefr1466sIt marked the entrance to the tunnel where in 1997 Princess Diana died. On the balustrade above the entrance to the tunnel and just behind the Flame of Liberty thousands of messages were scrawled in many languages lamenting the loss of the Princess. Messages of love and farewell. The spot had become an unofficial memorial to her.  Rene Michel starred at the flame of Liberty, his coffee untouched turned cold.

When, the night before, he told her on the steps of the opera house that he was leaving her for good. She looked at him in disappointment.

“I love you.” She said.

He just stared at her in icy silence then turned and walked away. He walked all night.

Gregory fitoussi as Rene Michel Petriz

***

Prada Amber pour Homme (2006) created by perfumer Daniela (Roche) Andrier under the guidance of the head of Prada Miuccia Prada is an interesting fragrance to me. One that challenged me and in so doing became a good object lesion in the understanding that sometimes a perfume takes time. You see, I almost ended the affair before it began. How insensitive of me.

This oriental fougere is not a bold in your face amber based fragrance but rather a soft, distantly elegant men’s fragrance that in my first encounters left me disappointed.  This was a case of expectations from the name not at all from the actual understated beauty I came to know in this fragrance. Amber! Amber in the name of the fragrance was my downfall. Expectations. I forgot for a moment what I have learned in life about expectations. If you leave expectations at the door you will never be disappointed and often times you will in fact be surprised.

I was hoping for a full lush symphony of deep romantic amber such as one finds in Ambre Nuit by Christian Dior.  But in truth I can find no amber in the fragrance per se but rather an accord of amber created by the blending of notes. Thus it is more of an amber veil rather than a smooth polished and hard amber note.

The fragrance opens bright and bracing with a beautiful mandarin, neroli and bergamot combo that is given an interesting edge of masculine sweat that shimmers the citrus with a glistening dash of cardamom. This gives it a touch of the sensual. But the sweaty aspect is never off putting or in need of a bath but rather like the salty deliciousness of a lover’s skin. The opening lingers for some time before the mid-notes enter.

With the arrival of these mid-notes we are awash in clean soapy musk, which is sweetened by a spray of orange blossoms. There is a really great geranium here as well along with a touch of bitter green vetiver gives the fragrance its strong masculinity. This is layered over with an exotic surprise of myrrh that is just the right touch. This is one of the best soapy accords I have found. Very complex and rich without a detergent brashness to make it common.

In the dry down there is more sensuality but of the understated variety coming from labdanum. It is smooth and soothing as it meets a note that Prada is famous for, Leather. It is suede like leather and very expensive smelling. Sandalwood and saffron add elegance to the mix. There is, I have read supposed to be tonka, vanilla and patchouli in the fragrance but they escape my nose if there are in fact in the game.

The silage is not overwhelming but respectable. It entices notice to those nearby rather than commanding their attention.  Prada Amber Pour Homme lasts a very long time on my skin clocking in at a good solid ten hours. Its wearablitly and versatility ranges in my estimation from office wear to evening. You will find that it will carry you thought the workday and into evening with great ease and elegance.

Overall it is understated, sophisticated and accessible. Commercial and wearable by a wide range of men and women. It may not be what one expects. But it surprised me in its development once I let go of what I wanted it to be and allowed it to stand on its own and be what it is, a fine masculine fragrance.

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PRADA AMBER POUR HOMME

FOUR GOLD STARS ****

A SPLASH OF CAPRI ~ Smashingly Brilliant by Diana Vreeland

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“He just quit! Balenciaga just shut up shop and quit.” Mona Bismarck’s voice was on the teeter-totter of emotions between tears and laughter. “No darling QUIT, Can you HEAR me? We have a bad connection. Cristóbal says no one has style any longer. It’s the hippies I tell you! They’ve killed fashion!”

Diana could hear Mona on the phone from the cool blue of the villa’s interior. Her voice tumbled past the chiffon drapes seeming to almost push them out against the incoming warm breeze and across the terrace to where Diana stood. It was the end of an era no doubt about that, If you wore Balenciaga you were the only woman in the room – no other woman existed. But now that he was finished how boring it would be to hang on to the past, with all the magnificence of today and tomorrow opening before the world.

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    The Bay of Naples sparkled all blue sapphires and white diamonds in the sun and in the distance Vesuvius wore a broad sunhat of flat white clouds.  Diana smiled to herself and walk to the edge of the terrace to where the path lead down the steep cliffs to the roman sea of Catullus’s poetry and Tiberius’ treachery. As far as she was concerned the hippies had great style and it was born from being positively original. The 60’s were the most exciting decade since her youth bubbled over in the 1920’s. The music, the colors the street fashion and Mick Jagger’s Lips! Positively Marvelous!

1968, was it really only two years ago that Reed died? Her first time back to Capri since then. There were so many wonderful times with Reed in Capri. Mona’s hissing rising voice plucked at her ears like stinging harpies. She looked up at the statue of Augustus perched on the precipice arm stretched out over the tops of the juniper trees that clung to the cliffs below. He was pointing to Sorrento. Suddenly she had to get away.

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   When she reached the beach the heat of the day was at its zenith. That wonderful caressing heat that snaked across the sea from Africa laden with the smell of flowering Italian lemon trees and climbing geraniums. She kicked off her sandals at the edge of the water and pushed her Chinese red lacquered toenails into the cool water.  She wiggled them watching with great amusement the rubies that were her toes dance under the turquoise salted waters. All of this in the wonderful light of Capri…well lighting is everything in a color.  She’d said that often enough.

Down she sat on the small marble white pebbles keeping her toes submerged and looked across the bay to the mountain that loomed over Pompeii. That was where she and Reed first saw the fresco of the slave girl in “Capri” Sandals. The easy sensuality of those ancient shoes worn by a young girl frozen in ashy time had impressed her as timeless, beautiful and somehow tender. She shut her eyes and drifted into the past.

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“You smell like Capri Diana.”

She opened her eyes to see Reed coming out of the Tyrrhenian Sea, golden tan, young and in love with life and with her.

Still sometimes a little shy of him she smiled with reserve.  “I have been making my own perfume out of bergamot and suede and germanium petals. Do you like it? I think it will be the hit of 1928.”

“The height of vanity, making your own perfume.” He teased and followed it with a wink.

“I loathe narcissism, but I approve of vanity.”

With his intrinsic grace he descended to sit beside her looking every inch Apollo with his noble head blotting out the sun thus making it his crown. He leaned over and smelled her skin. “It is divine darling. Like summer after the rain.”

Diana watch him as he turned his face away and looked out over the bay. She wondered still that this marvelous man, had come into her life and found her as fascinating as she knew she was. “Do you like it here Reed?”

“No prohibition here and it is beautiful. I love it Diana.” He turned back to her.

“Prohibition. Insane idea. Try to keep me from taking a swallow of a cup of tea and I’ll drink the whole pot.”

Reed laughed. “You have wit my darling. That is one of your charms you know.”

“A funny person is funny only for so long, but a wit can sit down and go on being spellbinding forever. Witty talk is without question the most fascinating entertainment there is.”

He smiled and looked up at the ruins of the Villa Jovis.  “Do you like Capri?”

“Heaven on earth my love, utterly and completely divine. The only thing I find I like better than this island is London and like London only because it is so close to Paris. ”

“Then we shall come back again as often as we can.” Reed said as he turned back to her as a sunflower follows the sun. He leaned in to pull his young wife into his arms. She closed her eyes and inhaled.

“You also smell like Capri darling.” She said softly and looked up into his eyes “And it is smashingly brilliant.”

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(Reed and Diana Vreeland)

***

I have not been to Capri the island of the virgin daughters of Phorcys known as the Sirens.  But I have been very close, the Amalfi Coast. And if Capri smells anything like the junipers and lemon groves of Sorrento in spring then I know I would love it as much as Diana Vreeland did.

The new release Smashingly Brilliant by the house of Diana Vreeland was inspired by her love of Capri. Being the newest addition to the line this has burst upon the spring scene like the much anticipated release from winter’s grip that we have all been waiting for. This is a fragrance that will not merely carry one into spring, but on though the high heat of winter and into the lingering warm days of a fading fall. Smashingly Brilliant is the first fragrance from Diana Vreeland designed for both men and women. This is wonderful news, for though I truly believe that many in the line are uni-sex Smashingly Brilliant opens the doors to men of a less adventuresome nature. And that is great! This house should be discovered by everyone who loves magnificent perfumes.

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   The nose behind this Citrus Aromatic is Clement Gavarry who also created two of my other favorites in the line, Extravagance Russe and Simply Divine.   Amani Code, Prada Amber, Lovely Sara Jessica Parker and Black Violet Tom Ford are a few of his many highlights as a perfumer.

Clement Gavarry opens the fragance bright and sunny and very Italian with the top notes of Italian lemons, succulent Calabrian bergamot, summer warmed aromatic juniper berries and a true Italian touch, basil. It gleams and sparks on the skin, a real wake up happy and ready to go opening.

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   The heart note is a solo star center stage and in full spicy bloom. The aria in Vreeland Red that is a beautiful peppery geranium. It unfolds on the skin in stages like the blooms of the flower it comes from. Fluttering open at the rise of heat from the skin as the flowers do in the full glory of an adoring Mediterranean sun.

The geranium carries into the dry down that is as comfortable as a pair of those Capri sandals Mrs. Vreeland first saw in Pompeii. The suede note is soft and caressing on the skin and warms up the dry down in a creamy supple leather note. Not a hard biting leather but buffed relaxing leather like those fine perfect driving gloves one finally finds at Bergdorf Goodman or Neiman Marcus. A perfect fit on the skin. This wonderful leather is wrapped around fresh wood notes that add to the masculinity of this side of the scent. It is smart, bright and ready to go. Purely scintillating from top note to bottom.

Silage is low and close to the skin. With a fragrance like this made for the outdoors and sporting around in convertibles and on the tennis court who would want it any other way. For some the longevity may be an issue for on my skin it fades at between three and four hours. For me that is just the perfect excuse to refresh. In the words of Diana Vreeland, “Perfume is an extravagance.  But it’s odd that Americans, who God knows are an extravagant people, have never used scents properly.  They buy bottles, but they don’t splash it on.  Chanel always used to say, keep a bottle in your bag, and refresh yourself with it continually.”

And how refreshing Smashingly Brilliant is. Go ahead, splash it on!

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UNA NOTTE A ROMA ~ Le Gemme Bvlgari Haute Parfum

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Slick and glittering of ruby and emerald reflected from the traffic lights, the Via Veneto was empty after the predawn spring rain. Nick Abbot walked down the steps of the Excelc6ior Hotel and trough the porte-cochère filled with the thrill of his first morning in Rome. He could not sleep from the excitement that keep waking him to whisper “five days in Rome…why are you sleeping?”

On the sidewalk near to where he remembered Marcello had returned Ekberg to the Hotel in black and white a half a century or more ago, he smiled. It really was Rome…and it felt like coming home.  He looked up the street. Café de Paris was half hidden by the sycamore trees its sapphire blue neon swirling. The sidewalk before it held the memory of Valentino as a youth bumping into destiny and Giancarlo Giammetti on that very spot.

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Beyond was the ancient Porta Pinciana gate in the Aurelian walls that opened onto the Borghese gardens. He crossed the street and just past the Fellini plaque he turned down the Via Ludovisi.

A Ferrari convertible sped past sending a spray of water up from the street. Caught momentarily in the headlights the water arched over the sidewalk and became spray of diamonds as they fell in slow-motion into a pool of shimmering platinum. The woman driving waved to him her fingers fluttering bejeweled in amethyst. In the rear view mirror He caught her smile, so like Claudia Cardinale’s.  He walked on not knowing where he was going. He just wanted to feel and smell and embrace the city he had waited forty nine years to come home to at last.

The only sound was the click of his heels on the cobblestones.

“Marcello! Where are you?”

At the sound of her voice he stopped and turned in front of the Villa Maraini? Silence, only silence. The kind that only exists in a city as it breathes slowly in and out as it sleeps.  There was no one behind him. He walked on past the Hotel Eden and turned left along via Francesco Crispi. The sidewalk became narrow and kept him close to walls washed in citrine and terracotta. A shutter opened across the street as he turned the corner onto via Sistina and he caught a glimpse of a dark woman. She looked down at him and laughed and shutters closed. That laugh was so familiar. He stopped…wait a minute. He knew that laugh and that dark beautiful face. Anna Magnani! But that was impossible. He laughed softly, it must be jet lag he thought and walked on toward the obelisk up ahead. At the Hassler the street opened onto a small piazza.

“There you are! We have been waiting for you.”

He turned to see young Monica Vitti standing in front of the spinning gold and glass revolving doors of the Hassler. Smoking a cigarette, she was black and white film incarnate. No color except for spectacular Technicolor diamond and emerald necklace which she touched lightly with her right hand. There was a matching ring. And likewise the earrings danced from her ears matched the entire suite. She dropped her cigarette onto the cobblestones and walked right through him. Astonished Nick turned to watch as the Italian star skipped in her evening gown to meet Alain Delon who was waiting in the shadow of the obelisk.

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“I can’t believe……” Nick’s heart skipped five beats as he saw them walk to a flight of stairs then disappear down them. He ran to the stairs and was stunned by his first sight of the Spanish Steps as they tumbled and spilled before him down to the Piazza di Spagna.

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The celluloid phantoms of Vitti and Delon were gliding down the steps toward the Via dei Condotti. Nick stepped down onto the first marble step worn by centuries of those who walked before him. The air became light, and the sound of Nino Rota’s music filled the sky as the first touch of dawn rose at the top of the steps over the Trinità dei Monti . Nick was near euphoria as he moved down and down amid a parade of cinema dreams. Ingrid Bergman passed on his right carrying a parasol…from her neck hung diamonds to dazzle the most jaded eye. She smiled at Nick. From his left came Virna Lisi dripping in scintillating stones she smiled into his eyes. As she passed him she caressed his chin with the tip of a finger and priceless rubies winked from her ears. Legends from every era of film came and went as he descended. Joan Collins in black pearls, Sharon Stone in gold, Grace Kelly in sapphires, Romey Schenider resplendent in amethyst. Audrey Hepburn met him half way down and took his arm. She was eating a gelato on a cone and held it out to him to take a taste. It was like nothing he had ever tasted before. Audrey then led him to the bottom of the Spanish Steps to the man waiting below. She kissed his cheek and vanished in swirl of stars.

Richard Burton stood before him. As he turned to lead the way he spoke as only he could in that baritone made in heaven at Shakespeare’s suggestion.

“’We will have rings, and things, and fine array’”

Nick followed unbelieving and wanting to go on forever in whatever magic this was.

Richard Burton stopped half way down the first block and turned. He smiled.

Nick looked up at the building. One word over the door. BVLGARI.

“That is the only word Elizabeth knows in Italian.”  Burton said.

The music stopped, the street was deserted …they were all gone except for Nick.

A touch of breeze up from the Tiber tosseled his hair and whispered in his ear.

“Welcome to Rome.”

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  ***

The new haute perfume collection of perfumes by Bvlgari is inspired by the iconic stones for which the Roman jewelry house is famous for. Six fragrances from six stones that create what Bvlgari calls “The Bvlgari Gems Road”.

The collection is called Le Gemme (The Gems) and it is something to celebrate.  The house known for adorning the necks, ears, wrists and fingers of most if not all of the legends of the 20th century and beyond has in the past impressed us with such fragrances as the amazing Bvlgari Black, The Jasmine Noir collection, The Aqua collection and Bvlgari Man collection and Omnia.  But with this new and very exclusive release the house is concentrating on perfumes that represent the very core of the Bvlgari brand. The soul of chic that is Bvlgari jewelry.

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First in the lineup is Ashlemah, (sweet dreams) is based on the amethyst. A stone associated with divinity, spirituality and purity. This perfume is the aristocrat of the line. It is highly sophisticated in nature and wears on the skin with regal beauty. Purple after all is the color of kings. The notes are lavender essence, Iris absolute and musk. No muddle of too many symphonic notes but rather a chamber piece of clarity and beauty. It opens in Lavender but the star in the evening sky is the imperial cool beauty of a lovely iris note. This is held aloft on the skin by a clean clear musk.

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Sunlight over Capri, Joy and la dolce vita are what we find in our second fragrance Maravilla (delight / marvelous ). The stone that we explore here is the golden Citrine, the stone of intelligence, and sunny disposition. In fact this chypre fragrance is my favorite of the line, bright, effervescent and shooting light and joy right off the skin. This is a lemon grove hugging the cliffs along the Amalfi Coast. The notes of Italian Lemon tree, Orange flower absolute are married to a playful and yet grounded rich patchouli. Again just three major notes and what a magic marriage of notes these three are. The patchouli with the two citrus notes is a brilliant move by the perfumer Daniella Andrier who is the nose for the entire collection. It is woodsy and warm. This will be a huge summer and spring hit.

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Mystery and solitude are Calaluna, the moonstone. The goddess, this stone is associated with magnetism, and intuition. Calaluna is also a beautiful isolated bay on the island of Sardinia. Azure waters and white warm sands are the signature of this place where the cliffs dotted with caves falls it the sea. This fragrance of White Iris, almond flavored Heliotrope and Sandalwood is warm and lonely. Not the sad kind of lonely but the self-possessed solitude of one who lives comfortably in one’s own skin. This is a very contemplative fragrance. When I wear it I feel the doors of introspection and discovery unlock and open before me. Truly beautiful, and again only three notes that blend to do all of this. Less is becoming the minimalist’s everything. That everything embodied here is the pinnacle of cool and chic.

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Lilaia was a Naiad of Spring to the Greeks and Romans. A fresh water nymph and daughter of the river Kephisos. She also lends her name to this green fresh fragrance by Bvlgari. Lilaia is inspired by the green Peridot a gem of rebirth and change. So fittingly this is a beautiful aromatic slightly fruity perfume. The notes are Galbanum, Mastic absolute, mint, bitter orange and musk. The Mastic give the aromatic resinous galbanum a full round lushness of a green Mediterranean forest of pine and cedar like accords. This to me smells like the umbrella pines on the Palatine hill in Rome. There in the Farnese gardens at the top of the hill just before you enter the ruins of the imperial palaces there is an overlook perched over the Forum. At that spot, under those umbrella pines you are enveloped in the most wonderful woody green scent. This to me is where Lilaia now lives singing her song in harmonious lovely notes.

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The Pink Tourmaline is a spitfire stone from Brazil, and at Bvlgari they call her, Amarena. In Italian, Morello Cherry. She is all about heat and glamour and a big bold flower in her hair. This fragrance sambas on the skin to a wonderful tune created by the notes of Amarena Cherry, Violet, Rose Centifolia and Tuberose. This is a glamorous floral that becomes more entrancing after the sun sets. In fact there is a rather playful war of the roses going on here. A tug of war between the temperamental rose and the heavy lidded languorous tuberose. But as you move into the fragrance the two kiss and make up ending in a rather intricate sexy tango. For a winter seduction under the stars in the Borghese gardens wrapped in chinchilla. Well look no further, is your arsenal of love.

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From across the empire and beyond the deserts of the Middle East came spices and the rarest of gems to tantalize and intoxicate the aristocrats and emperors of Rome. For thousands of years and to this day the markets of Rome such as the open air market at the Campo de’ Fiori are filled with wonderful smells. Here in the last presentation of Le Gemme, Bvlgari dazzles us with the exotic Noorah. Inspired by the Silk Road between China and Rome one particular stone made its way through the East to the capital on the Tiber. That stone was Turquoise. Noorah means the “exuberance of the heavens” and what a perfect name for this exotic sensual perfume. Galbanum, cardamom, and vanilla found in the markets of Rome are lush and interesting here in the opening. I pick up a rich sweet tobacco note along with the very intriguing note of candied dates from Arabia. The caravan from Petra has arrived! This one when it first hits the skin is a bit biting but settles down nicely into a warm embracing and very inviting scent.

I found it interesting with each fragrance in the line that they vary in intensity and each as it should for what it is. Some lighter as in the Maravilla and others bold and deep such as in Amarena. With them all I found the longevity to range from good to excellent. The most interesting aspect of that would be that at about five or so hours they seemed to die but then about twenty minutes later they bloomed anew. I found that delightful. In all they last between eight to twelve hours on my skin. Projection is fine Amerena being the one to push out the most. So there is, in this respect something to please almost any taste in that regard. Marketed to women for the most part they all, to me work well as unisex scents. So fellows don’t be shy, step up and try some truly wonderful fragrances to wear with that great Bvlgari watch.

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The line is making its U.S. debut this month April 2015 in a select number of Bloomingdales across the country. As for Europe I am under the impression it has already launched. The beautiful Bvlgari 6-piece Collection box of 10ml sprayers is available at $260. A 30ml bottle retails at $155 and the 100ml bottle at $310

Le Gemme Bvlgari collection has been a joy to explore. A wonderful olfactory journey though the past and present along a road paved with jewels, gems and memories.

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The Maharani of Rajasthan ~ Pichola by Neela Vermeire Creations

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“India for the Indian’s” she purred as she stretched and turned on the silk pillow in her perch under the columns of the pavilion of the City Palace.  Shaded from the hot sun she surveyed her kingdom with glittering green eyes. As far as those exotic impenetrable eyes could see out across the lake and into the hills around Udaipur she knew that with the British leaving at last her people were free.

She sighed with pleasure as she took a sip of honey milk, her favorite drink. Let everyone else drink Chai or Champagne this little Maharani when you got right down to it preferred the simple pleasures of life. Her palace on the lake. Soft silk pillows to lie upon, her diamond choker and the loving attention of her servant. She must be the only Maharani in all of India who had a little British maid. Now that was something. Of course after independence she would have to send her back to London. It would be hard to say goodbye to the one who had waited on her hand and foot, who brought her all her meals and showered her with so much attention. Sometimes even when she just wanted to be alone there she was…demanding to take care of her. Well it would have to be done hard as it would be. Goodbye to all things British and hello to a new world. Yes 1947 was going to be the best year yet.

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Something caught the corner of her eye, someone was coming. She was in no mood to see anyone. She would simply pretend they were less than a mouse an ignore them.

Ah India, her beautiful land, it was now hers to rule, well anyway this part of it called Rajasthan where she had been born. “India for the Indians.”  How wonderful that sounded. The British Raj was at an end at long last too. Since Alexander two thousand years ago and even before him many had swept into India and tried to claim it as their own.  Bit in fact, she swatted at a tiresome bee buzzing past her ear on its way to the tuberoses in the garden. What was she thinking? Ah yes…but in fact India was unconquerable. No matter how long the invader stayed India remained in its soul its very own. It remained always India, the jewel in its own crown.  It would absorb and slowly change those who tried to take it and they eventually and inevitably became part of her or as in the case of the Greeks and the British they would leave…India for the Indians.

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The approaching quickening steps grew louder. “Little Maharani where are you?” She ignored that shrill clipped voice and closed her eyes to mere slits of green and turned to look out over Lake Pichola. Another lazy regal sigh. She rolled on the pillows and stretched again in the all-encompassing heat. The rains would come soon. She loved the Monsoon and how it made the lake sing like thousands of bells when the water fell from the heavy clouds onto its silver surface. Then when the rains finally ceased the flowers would come back with the heat to perfume her palace on the edge of the lake.  Pichola was really most beautiful in spring, when the orange blossoms burst the air with their glory. In the night the jasmine filled the warm breeze off the lake to enchant her. Summer roses enticed her in the mornings and magnolias heavy in the trees smiled down on her, the beautiful little Maharani of Rajasthan. She would never leave this place that smelled of cinnamon, sandalwood and saffron in the summer. And in the autumn could only be described as heaven on earth. The place where the gods touched earth and found the land to be divine. She would never leave her beloved India.

“There you are Little Maharani!” Her servant’s hands reached down to pluck her rudely from her silky soft pillows of peace.  “You are the silliest cat in all of India. I had a devil of a time finding you. Now come along or we shall miss our train. You are going to love London!” Mary Elizabeth Thurber hugged her cat tightly as she turn on her heel to see her parents waiting at the end of the terrace looking tired and a little sad.

Little Maharani’s eyes widened in horror as she was carried away from the pavilion to the waiting boat below. The first leg of her journey into exile.

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  ***

Pichola by Neela Vermeire Creations just released in March of 2015 is a lush fleurs blanches rush of romanticism as well as a homage to the beautiful lake in Rajasthan for which it is named. It is a splendid perfume that I find to be intoxicating and perhaps the most beautiful perfume yet from the impeccably brilliant house of Vermeire. It is a fragrance of love, and spring beginning, it is a wedding fragrance that promises a honeymoon of carnal delights that with a holy blessing may never end. It is glorious.

The nose behind this creation of Neela’s is the wonderful Bertrand Duchaufour who is responsible for the entire canon of the house. A brilliant nose who has created many modern masterworks for L’Artisan Parfumeur, Dior, Acqua di Parma, Aedes de Venustas …the list is longer than the  Avenue des Champs-Élysées. The idea for this house is to blend and marry two worlds. The exotic rich beauty and history of India with the equally rich tradition of classical French perfumes. We are not disappointed in the least by this attempt to bring the two worlds together. Bertrand Duchaufour once again has met the challenge and succeeded brilliantly.

As an oriental floral Pichola sings in accords of spices and white florals, of woods and the aromatic splendors of the East.  It is undulating and sensuous. A sublime seduction of the senses.

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It opens with notes of spices and citrus, bergamot, clementine, neroli oil, sparkle like early morning sun on the lake…the magnolia smooths and sooths the citric notes down and lays its fleshy white carpet over them to make way for the spices of saffron, cardamom, cinnamon with a twist of juniper that are spilled like jewels before a monarch on unfurled bolts of red, purple and gold silk.

The middle notes take us to the heart of this perfume, the palace where passion dwells on her throne of love. Orange blossom absolute, Rose absolute, Tuberose absolute come in waves designed to weave into a marriage made in heaven with yellow blossomed ylang-ylang and a slyly beautiful midnight Jasmine Sambac.  It shimmers on the skin more beautifully than gold dust in the light of a full moon.

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This is all supported by a fine if not in fact very glamourous dry down of vetiver, benzoin absolute, bone dry driftwood and a creamed almost caramelized sandalwood.  A brilliant armature of notes that is almost architectural, an armature if you will from which all that came before it hangs in perfect harmonious balance.  But the notes do much more than hang from this support, they dance.

The longevity of this perfume is epic but never overwhelming. The silage is full and lush and you will be noticed. This is a perfume for both sexes but keep in mind that this sexy perfume demands a bold personality to wear it well. Pichola embodies all the glamour and youth, the romance and beauty, the fluttery butterflies one feels with the realization that you are falling in love with India though the eyes of Paris. This is no shrinking wall flower…this is the belle of the ball at the dawn of a new Belle Epoch in perfume.

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PICHOLA

THE FALL OF ROME ~ GOLD, Les Compositions Parfumees by Lalique

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Gold, she was completely covered in gold….

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She hardly noticed the fingers flitting from her collar to her cleavage as Irene’s hands plucked and pulled at her golden Isis winged cape adjusting it so it hung just so.  At the foot of the black fiberglass beast a line of men with highly oiled skin shuffled past in leather loincloths to their appointed place where the huge ropes waited to be lifted and hauled, their number was in the hundreds. Ahead of them stood the unfinished back of the Arch of Constantine, (set historically at the wrong place at the wrong time) a construction of pipes, scaffolding and plaster of Paris which had been standing a year already just waiting for this day. To the left of it were banks of lights and behind them electrical generators humming low and hot. A myriad of gaffers, technicians and gofers scurried and rushed to serve those machines and gigantic bulbs that would very soon all be turned on and turned toward her. All of this she barely noticed as Joe whispered last minute instructions in her ear. What she did notice was the low rumble of thousands upon thousands of voices beyond the arch. They sounded dangerous and hungry.

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“It’s time.” Joe said. He patted her hand then he and Irene climbed down from the gilded platform leaving her sitting there three stories high with a six year old Italian boy next to her who had no idea that a wave of vertigo was threatening to engulf her. Nor could he understand that she was in the eye of the biggest scandal to rock Hollywood in forty years. Only yesterday the Pope had denounced her publicly in an open letter in the Vatican newspaper as a wanton home wrecker and a sexual vagrant. Her falling in love with the married Richard Burton had even knocked the Cuban Missile Crisis off most of the front pages of the world’s newspapers. The sound of the mob rolled and rumbled ominously beyond the arch in what was a Roman Forum twice as large as the real one just six miles north of Cinecitta. The sound of it hit her in the pit of her stomach. There had been bomb threats that morning which she was not supposed to have known about, but she knew. Another wave of vertigo hit the pit of her stomach as the three thousand extras turned in unison to look toward her. Devout Roman Catholics all, and they all by now had read the Pope’s letter. Some of them might have rotten tomatoes, or rocks or a gun. She could barely make out Richard on the steps of the Senate house next to Rex. He was nervously fingering the hilt of his freshly sharpened gladius. Only then did she realize that she was clutching the little boys back for dear life. He was looking up quizzically at her as if he were about to ask her if she was alright. But he didn’t speak English so he said nothing. She smiled at him. She had to be brave for his sake and the sake of her own children and mother and father who were watching from the sidelines.

Suddenly Joe’s voice came thought a bull horn calling “Action!” The playback music began. Pounding drums deep and majestic that in turn where haunted by flutes and reeds. The three hundred men below began to strain against the ropes and slowly buy one inch then two the great black sphinx began to move laboriously forward toward the arch. All she could hear now were the drums. Was it the playback or was it the sound of her racing heart in her ears? The mob was deadly silent and waiting. Waiting for her. She set her eyes on Richard and concentrated on only him. Nothing else mattered, where she was, the scandal, the damnation of the world that had been hurled at her head faded to a blur and there was only him. No matter what was about to happen in the next moments, she knew he was worth it. They were screaming, they were shouting and they were surging forward as the beast of Egypt’s Queen cleared the arch baring between its paws a goddess of pure gold.

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“Here we go Bessie….” She thought. Then it hit her right between the eyes and shot straight into her heart. The three thousand Roman Catholics were waving and with smiles beaming, blowing kisses and cheering “Liz! Liz! Baci Baci!” kisses kisses. The sphinx came to a dead stop and she was surrounded by nothing but love. It was the most purely golden wonderful moment in a year of heartache, regret and madness. Her eyes were so filled with tears that she couldn’t see Richard until he was atop the gleaming stairs of the sphinx reaching up to her tears stained his beautiful pockmarked cheek. Joe was there too with wet eyes but the most surprising thing was to see that old crusty cameraman Leon Shamroy sitting beside the camera atop the crane crying and clapping.

In the summer of 1962 Elizabeth Taylor, sat on her golden throne atop a monstrous black sphinx at the center of her fame shimmering in the Roman sun in her 24 carat gold Isis costume. She had conquered Rome not to mention the Pope.

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 ***

Gold by Lalique is part of the Les Compositions Parfumees 2015 release. A collection of five perfumes that are all based on precious metals. This is a very interesting and exciting point of view for perfume. To create in scent the image, the essence and the emotions elicited by highly prized earthly elements that in essence have no real olfactory signature.  The other four perfumes are Electrum, Zamak, Bronze and Silver. It seems only fitting that we begin with gold.

The nose behind Gold is at this point a mystery. I could not find out who it is but perhaps that just adds to the glamour of this fragrance. A perfume that is smooth and polished to a brilliant shine. Almost austere but there is a warmth in it that like Gold itself draws one in with its fascinating glow. Enticing velvety and rich. There is a velvet buttery beauty to gold when it is polished to mirror brilliance. It is the element that can only be created in the universe when a star goes super nova. The death of a star creates our most precious metal here on Earth. Gold is so rare and prized that the ancient Egyptians believed that the skin of the gods was made of it. And of course if you drop the “L’ from gold in English, what do you have? God.

Gold opens with only two top notes, bergamot and lemon, this is I am told meant to create the brilliance of gold. In fact in the opening the spark of the two citrus notes is brilliant and illusive. It glitters on the skin but momentarily and then streaks away leaving the way open for the star of the perfume, a note that resembles the heavy beauty one finds in the finest of Italian gold jewelry. Before our star note arrives in the mid notes of the perfume there are satellite notes, lovely ones of Egyptian Jasmine and lily of the valley. They are soft and hum in the background like a Greek chorus announcing the arrival of the superstar. It enters as a gorgeous smooth hard edged iris note that if left on its own could very well be too dry, somber and severe. But there is a surprise in the bottom notes that gives the iris a warmth and beauty beyond expectations. The bottom notes are a gift to the iris. And this surprise package is wrapped in earthy patchouli. Within the box as the patchouli gives way is the gift of the perfumer that complements the iris, a stunning blending of vanilla and benzoin. Here is a creamy buttery mix that never goes sweet or cloying but in its marriage with the iris they turn Gold into a golden beauty.

This is a floral chypre that is elegant, smooth and perfect for almost any season. It has both masculine strengths and feminine curves. A uni-sex perfume that invites one in and enhances the beauty of the wearer with its brilliance and allure. When you wear Gold on your skin there is no reason to wear anything else.

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(ELIZABETH TAYLOR IN GOLD)

A KING AND ALL THEM JEWELS ~ DECO DIAMONDS by DSH Perfumes

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“Stop!”  May Morton screeched.

The dead fish in Ruthie Brown’s hand hovered over her head waiting to be slammed onto the front page of the London Times.

“Would you look at that luv…she looks so…frail.”

Ruthie look at the black and white photograph of The Duchess of Windsor in her widow’s weeds captured by some paparazzi as she looked out of a window of Buckingham palace.

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“Poor thing. Well she is finally where she wanted to be…in the palace. The Duke had to die to get her in. but there she is. ”

“Awww feel sorry for her do ya luv?” Ruthie said as she oddly and gently laid the flounder on the visage of the former Wallis Simpson of Baltimore Maryland. “Well I don’t.” she sneered and roughly wrapped the fish up.  “She got what she wanted. A King and all them jewels. Feel sorry all ya want May Morton but that woman nearly brought down the monarchy. I am with the Queen Mum when she said the two people who caused her the most trouble were Wallis Simpson and Hitler.”

As May Morton hurried out of Billingsgate fish market she passed a news stand. There one the front page of every newspaper and tabloid was the same sad photograph of the Duchess and that solitary crow. May paused to look at the photo. What was it like to be her she wondered? “A King…and all them jewels.” She whispered.

~

Wallis didn’t notice in the slightest the black crow on the balcony of the Villa Lou Viei where she was in hiding and safekeeping after the scandal broke in England the winter of 1937.

Her friend Katherine Rogers put a hand on her elbow. “Do you want to listen to it on the radio?”

“What did you say?” Wallis  turned from the open French doors toward the darkness of the villa’s interior.

“Lord Brownlow is going to read your statement of willingness to give up the King.”

Wallis’ eyes narrowed as her platinum spine stiffened giving her a more regal bearing. She looked down at the circlet of perfect Cartier diamonds and emeralds on her wrist, a gift from David.

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“No… I would rather be alone for a bit if you don’t mind.” She smiled. Katherine nodded and faded into the dark interior.  As Wallis stepped out in to the warm December sun of the South of France the crow watched her with his own rather regal eye as black and cold as obsidian.

Would he call? Would he stop her from leaving him? Or would she be left with only his glittering gifts of iced stones? Would the gamble pay off? The British Empire was collapsing and now many thought she was a part of that. She was sure now that his choice was either her or the throne.  But not both. It could never both.

Would she win?

The haunted call of the crow cut into her thoughts. She turned to see it jump for its marble perch and soar out over the cypress trees toward the Mediterranean. Absently she stroked the diamonds and emeralds on her wrist with the tips of her fingers and thought for the very first time of them as her children.

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    ***

Deco Diamonds by the dazzling Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH perfumes is part of her Brilliant Collection. These fragrances were created in conjunction with the Denver Art Museum’s Cartier Exhibit in 2014-15. The first of the four perfumes, Fumee D’or evokes the workroom of the famed French jewelry house.  The remaining three in The Brilliant Collection were inspired by three icons of glamour who wore Cartier with flair and style. Jacinthe de Sapphir was inspired by Marie the Queen of Romania who owned a Cartier sapphire bigger than the Ritz! Rubis Rose was inspired by the Cartier suite of ruby and diamonds given to Elizabeth Taylor by her first great love, Mike Todd. And the last Deco Diamonds found its inspiration in the cold and glittering glamor of the Duchess of Windsor.

Each of the perfumes in this line also are created in the style and manner of perfumes from the era each woman reigned as a jewelry icon. Dawn has a great talent in creating and an essential understanding of the classics and history of perfume which informs and illuminates her art above and beyond most independent niche houses. This is a perfume of the Jazz Age. As hot as Louis Armstrong’s trumpet solos from the sweltering midnight of Roseland Ballroom and as elegant and sophisticated as George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue as it lifted the roof off of Aeolian Hall in 1924. This is a delicious aldehydic jazz age cocktail that sings and swings.

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(Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and The Denver Art Museum)

The notes are classically composed and unfold as beautifully as any great perfume from the 20’s and 30’s would. Aldehydes are the shooting stars of the perfume… a meteor shower of glorious glamour augmented by sparking neroli and galbanum and a ripe wet fleshy peach. . And of course the flowers are so very artfuly arranged, gardenia, jasmine, honeysuckle dance a sensuous fox trot around an imperious and lush tuberose. But what gives the perfume the gravity of a classic is the addition of not one animalic note but two. Civet and hyrax frolic with a touch of nasty abandon though out the perfume. There is a lush symphonic dry down of jasmine sambac, ambergris, and sandalwood. All wrapped up in a great oak moss.

The perfume lasts a good long time on my skin. About 10 hours or so. This is in part due to Dawn’s understanding that the natural notes she uses from natural sources need a synthetic frame to support them. Like the structure of DNA the synthetic notes she uses hold the natural notes in perfume together and give then a longer life. A lesson taught early in the 20th century buy such perfumers as Ernest Beaux and not forgotten by smart perfumers of today.

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The sillage is as bold and commanding as the Duchess of Windsor was. To wear this perfume is to say that you are a person who knows what they want out of life and how to get it. This is a perfume of confidence that isn’t afraid to be strong and stylish.  This bold strength gives Deco Diamonds a masculine edge that I find very appealing. That kind of unisex bravado one finds in many stars of the 1930’s who donned slacks and made them fashionable for women.  To put simply, this is a perfume that, like the Duchess of Windsor wears the pants in the family.

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SPRING FORWARD ~ Tigerlily Trunkshow, Deco Diamonds by DSH and San Francisco Fragrance Salon

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Spring in The City is always exciting for those of us who life in San Francisco. And one of the signs that Spring is upon is is the San Francisco Fragrance Salon. Here is a little peek at the event as well as a look at Deco Diamonds by DSH Perfumes.

A COMEBACK…. “I hate that word! It’s a return!” Norma Desmond.

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I have been away from the written review since Novmeber 2014. This was due to my computer issues which have at last been adressed. More reviews are on the way but in the meantime here is something special from my YouTube review Channel. Get some popcorn, turn off the lights and hold on to your martini and gigolo… this one is scary.

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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(painting by Zachary Johnson)

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.

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