THE QUEEN OF LOVE ~ Pour L’Amour by Vicky Tiel

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Once many years ago, late into the Alexandrian night when the city was asleep and the waters of the Mediterranean shimmed under the impersonal gaze of the universe something magical happened. I have heard tales of others who have seen it. Yet I have never had occasion to meet anyone who could share their story with me.  Never having told anyone before I wonder if it is wise to tell you now?  For no one could possibly believe such a tale born of the stars, and the dust of fallen empires and of love.

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    It was the summer of 1922 and I had just arrived in the city from England on my way to the Valley of the Kings. I was to be a part of the last expedition in search of undiscovered tombs. Lord Carnarvon had sent for me to aid the expedition with more supplies and money. On this particular night before I was to take the train to Upper Egypt I could not sleep and against the advice of the hotel concierge I went for a stroll along the Grand Cornice that runs along the Eastern Harbor in the direction of Cape Lochias. The night was redolent with the smell of jasmine and amber marble dust that had baked in the sun the day before. It was heady and intoxicating as it mixed with the scent of vanilla and peppered spices that seemed to hover like holy incense over the city in the moonless heat of midnight.

I wandered in a dream like state onto the Cape where once the royal enclosure of the Ptolemies had ruled the city.   Enveloped by a sense of wonder at being for the first time in Egypt I didn’t see the fallen column in my path and stumbled over it.  I fell face first knocking myself out when my forehead met the earth.

“With no moon to watch over you young man, you should be more careful in the dark.” A woman’s voice spoke in a strange archaic Greek.

I opened my eyes. Not knowing how long I had been unconscious I looked about for the owner of the voice. There sitting on the fallen column was a woman, not of great beauty but instead possessed by great charm and presence. Yet beyond this charm was her voice, it was a lilting music that captured my imagination. Rising and falling in perfect harmony it possessed the beauty of a small chamber orchestra.

“You are not cut but you are going to have a rather large bump on your forehead.”

I sat up and rubbed my eyes. She seemed to glow around the edges of her form and at moments became almost transparent.

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“Who are you?” I asked rubbing the growing nub on my head.  She ignored me and looked out past the entrance to the Eastern Harbor to the open sea.

“This ships should be coming soon. And the end with them.”

“The end?”

She smiled as she watched the horizon. “Why is the beacon not burning in the lighthouse?” She looked back at me. “Not a bad thing really. Without the light the ships might crash on the rocks and sink and  with them Rome’s ambitions.”

Suddenly I was very cold, and as the icy hand of realization touched my shoulder I understood what was happening.

“Where is Antony?” I said softly.

Her smile faded at the corners of her mouth. “Wandering the beaches by day looking for his lost army, in the taverns at night singing sad songs, and all because of me.”  She reached out to touch my hand, her fingers passed through me. “Have you ever been in love?” She looked very tired.

I glanced but for a moment past her to the east knowing that Octavian would come over the Delta to take the city and not by sea. Not as Caesar had, when she was young and the future held hopes of Empire. Now the future was behind her and turned to stony history.

“Love?” I said. “I don’t think so; no I have never really been in love.”antony-cleopatra

Her soft laughter was soothing and beautiful.  “I thought years ago that a goddess was above love. I was wrong. Loving him was not in the plan, but young man love has its own plan that is greater than us all. In the first moments of falling into Antony’s fire the Goddess was destroyed. I was divine no more and became a woman utterly lost in the divinity of love.”

In the distance toward the end of the Cape there was soft ghostly merry music of lutes, lyres and a man singing slightly off key.

“Ah….my love calls” She stood up and I could see the stars glittering through her body where her heart no longer lived. “I must go and make things ready for the victor and all things right with my Antony.”

She started to walk toward the sea and to fade in her progress to eternity.

“Your Majesty!”

She turned.  “Why did you put such trust in him? Why do you go to him now? Now that it is all lost, your kingdom, your freedom, your life?”

She was turning to a starry mist and I could just make out the traces of her last smile. “for love…. For love…..for love.”

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All the treasures we found later that following November in the tomb of Tutankhamun were nothing in comparison with the beauty of that night in Alexandria. The night when I met a Queen who gave everything for love.

*******

Pour L’Amour the new fragrance by Vicky Tiel is something special. Vicky is thrilled to say that this fragrance is her best fragrance yet, her most sensual, magical and erotic even. What makes it an elixir of sensuality is the inclusion of four aphrodisiacs and one very secret ingredient. That ingredient being a note that since the late 1700’s has only been used in men’s fragrance. What could that note be?  Whatever the answer is, for she refused to tell even me, this fragrance is presented in joy, with flair and all wrapped up in Vicky’s mantra of Love.

Love life, love yourself, love every aspect of this existence. It is all for love, live for love, Pour L’Amour.

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VICKY TIEL

The perfume opens with a glittering citrus cocktail of sparkling bergamot, and tangy Mandarin orange. The note of Quince is added to give the fragrance a tropical fruitiness. Not a sickly sweet tropical fruit, a mixture of apple and pear but lush and ripe and juicy splash of this really beautiful note. The Quince may indeed be one of the aphrodisiacs of the perfume as it was the favorite fruit of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite.

The top notes set the scene immediately for the mid notes and burn of in a passionate blaze to reveal a gorgeous patchouli leaf that lends an exotic eastern flavor to a fully blooming white Jasmine Sambac. This luxurious center is framed by golden peppery notes of Freesia, this patchouli and the pepper/spicy freesia keep the fragrance from going too indolic and lend it a rather strong unisex quality.

Well into the sixth to seventh hour the dry down of the base notes kicks in. A creamy warm amber is blending into a rich vanilla bean and smothered in the most soothing and smoothly polished sandalwood. The vanilla gives the dry down a touch of gourmand which is interesting and makes the dying notes sweet but without regret for its fading. Rather it invites one to reapply the perfume and begin the romance anew.

Over all it is a lush Oriental that captures in olfactory style the felling of a grand passion. Beautify rendered it is well worth checking out. It is a full and adult perfume that gives me great joy in its unapologetically charming nod to classicism in the perfume world. It is time for perfume to become sophisticated and alluring again. Leave the fresh clean watery fragrances to be but mere after bath splashes. Pour L’Amour is arresting of the senses and demands adoration, It will command the room without overwhelming it or the person who wears it. It is magnetic and whispers a promise of grand passion, a love that my even topple an empire and turn a goddess into a woman.

I have to agree with Vicky Tiel, this is her best fragrance yet.

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At this time Pour L’Amour is only available on HSN. (Home Shopping Network)

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HUMMINGBIRDS IN AUGUST ~ Hummingbird by Zoologist

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At fifty-three beats per second the wings of the hummingbird warmed the air around the Honeysuckle flowers ten degrees higher than the 98.6  that was the normal temperature in most boys. Twelve-year-old Craig Thomas leaned on the window sill of his best friends Ricky De Fiore’s bedroom window watching the tiny bird flit and flutter about the yellow and fuchsia colored flowers.  Ricky sitting on one of the twin beds behind him was setting up the Monopoly board for the game they were about to play.

Clackity clang! The old swamp cooler in the back of the house complained as it tried to cool the sweltering small tract house. Then came the bang! Mrs. Di Fiore called from the kitchen where she was stewing plums, for Rickey to go out back and reattach the fan belt that keep the antiquated contraction going.  The temperature instantly began to climb in the room. Craig flung open the window scaring off the Hummingbird. He leaned out into the dry oven heat of that summer of 1962. There was not even a hint of a breeze up from Huntington Beach . Only the the smell of roses, lilacs and peony flowers that grew at the front of the house distracted Craig slightly from the sweltering August air.

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The sounds of kids playing down the street bounced of the sides of the houses on the block. The Good Humor ice-cream truck’s song floated along the curbs from three blocks away. By the eighth week of summer vacation It was all so predictable and boring. Spending every day at Ricky’s playing games and watching What’s My Line, Soupy Sales, and Rocky and Bullwinkle in the afternoon. Just about the only exciting thing to happen so far that summer was when his neighbor Mr. Ramirez got locked in his backyard bomb shelter for a week and everyone including his wife thought he had left town for another woman over in Tarzana.  Craig’s eyes drifted to the corner of Robin Avenue just as a 1955 pink Thunderbird raced around the corner. “Johnny Angel was blasting from the car radio.

Kiki Beaumont who was the prettiest girl in Westminster was behind the wheel. Most of the kids in the neighborhood thought she was cool because she had a summer job at Disneyland as Cinderella. Craig thought see wasn’t that pretty and besides, she was kind of stuck on herself. Sitting beside her, shirtless and glistening in the sun was Ricky’s brother, Tony De Fiore. Black hair still wet from the beach, tanned and muscular. He had a smile that was more dazzling than Ricky Nelson’s. And best of all, he was nice to Craig. Wispy voiced Shelley Fabares whispered “Johnny Angel” from the car radio. Craig took it all in, the car, the song, the girl, and Tony. The temperature jumped to 102.

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With an unlit cigarette clamped in his mouth Tony looked angry.  Kiki stared straight ahead expressionless beneath her sunglasses. The T-Bird purred undeterred by whatever had gone wrong at the beach. Shelley was still lamenting her Johnny Angel. Tony reached over and cut her off with an violent twist of the radio nob.

“It’s my favorite song.”  Kiki said between clenched teeth.

“I hate it. It’s stupid. They play it too much.”

“Get out of my car!”

With panther grace Tony took the cigarette from his mouth and put it behind his ear, opened the car door and rose to his five-foot eleven-and-a-half-inch glory. The sun’s rays ran like rain over his shoulders and back. His tan line peeked out just above the waistline of his black 501 jeans.

“Oh my goodness!” Craig thought. “Are they breaking up?”

“The Beach Boys rule.” Tony said with utterly cool conviction.

Blue smoke jetted from the burning tires of the T-Bird and in a shrieking streak of pink Kiki and her favorite song were gone. Tony looked down the street after her. Craig studied the back of his neck where it met the ear.  A tiny bead of sweat formed then let go to slide down to the trapezius and disappear over the edge of it to travel unseen over his chest.  The Good Humor Ice-cream song was coming around the corner.  Children ran into the street with dimes are quarters at the ready. The clackity clang sound of the swamp cooler came back on. Tony turned around and caught Craig watching him. He frowned and looked even more angry than he had in the T.Bird. The bottom of Craig’s stomach turned queasy and dropped in fear.

Then Tony smiled his teen idol smile then winked. “Girls! Why do we need them?”

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“I ah, I don’t know Tony.” Craig squeaked.  He watched as Tony walked toward the house gripped by the strange new feelings the mere sight of the seventeen-year-old teenager was causing in his heart.

“What ya looking at?” Ricky was standing behind him.

“Nothing.” Craig slammed down the window. “Let’s play Monopoly.”

 

  ***

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From the house of Zoologist comes a new Eau de Parfum, Hummingbird. The nose behind this fragrance is the wonderfully talented perfumer Shelley Waddington. She has in the past created some of my favorite fragrances for her own house, En Voyage.  The great neoclassic Zelda, New York Man and Fiore de Bellagio to name but three. Creator of the house of Zoologist, Victor Wong found in Shelly the perfect perfume to create this floral, gourmand laced with succulent fruity undertones.

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Perfumer Shelley Waddington

The fragrance opens in springtime beauty with a dominating lily-of-the-valley as fresh and bright a morning. There is a warmed by the sun Southern California vibe to it when the nature sweet notes of pear and juicy plum come in to play with hints of apple, cheery and citruses. Low tones of lilac rose and violet leaf add florals to set the scene in a garden any hummingbird would love.

As it progresses to the heart of the garden and the birds begin the ballet of wings and nectar as a gorgeous photo real honeysuckle opens to the air. Redolent with a honey that is natural, not cloying it is lush. Mimosa sweet and clear is joined by a luxurious full bloomed peony, this flower brings Dior like glamour to the fragrance. Full and voluminous. It enhances the other florals, the shy tulip and the sexy addictively yummy ylang-ylang. Here the garden of the hummingbirds is in full throttle glory.

At about an hour to an hour and a half the fragrance drops into a skin scent. Rich and cozy the sweetness fades into notes of woods. There is dry hay like coumarin. Cool even dryer moss, and blends of austere white woods and musk. The Amber in the scent is subtle adding a touch of warmth the way paving stones on a garden path reflect the heat of the sun at twilight. There is a creaminess in the sandalwood which is boosted by a dollop of whipped cream. Yes, whipped cream!

It takes a really well made Fruity floral gourmand to win me over as I am normally not a fan of the genre. Most are too sweet, to immature, too common in this age of sugar water passing as perfume. Yes, most hummingbirds will fall for sugar water feeders in a garden over real flowers because it is so easy. Yet there is always one or two birds with refined taste who seek out the true nectar of nature. Hummingbird by Zoologist is made of real flowers, and ripe fruit without the candy and sugar that I detest. This Hummingbird has won my heart.

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MY INTERVIEW WITH SHELLEY WADDINGTON

JOHNNY ANGEL ~ SHELLEY FABARES

AT THE WINTER PALACE ~ Melancholy No. 60/3 by Nimere Parfums

Nimere

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“Paris polishes pretty young things.” Countess Zoya Semyonova poked the old Count with the end of her fan.

“What my dear?” Slumped in his chair he sputtered. In a near dozing state he did not uncross his arms and barely looked up from under his bushy grey bristle brows.

“Oh you are impossible! I was talking about Tatiana Korneva. After her parents died her Aunt Sonja took her to Paris for a year. And now at 16 just look at her. She has returned to Petersburg a woman of charm and grace.”

The Count cast his lazy eyes in the direction of the young lady under the Countess’ scrutiny.  “Oh yes the Korneva girl. Lots of money there and not so bad to look at either.”

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Tatiana Korneva

 

“Oh yes my dear!” The Countess smirked. “Let’s not forget the family fortune. It is a shame she has no title otherwise the Tsar’s son might take an interest. Well the best her Aunt Sonja can hope for is a match with a no account forgotten prince or country count further down the line.

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Tatiana and her Aunt were seated at a medium sized tea table near the French doors of the blue salon in the Winter Palace. They were taking tea with a small gathering of one hundred or so of Princess’ Anna’s closest friends. Tatiana barely knew the Princess but somehow with her Aunt’s influence found herself at the Tsar’s youngest daughters table, a rather plain girl of nearly eighteen.

“How did you find Paris? Was it lovely?” Princess Anna said in French. Punctuating her question with a sweet smile she waited for Tatiana’s response.

“Oh yes quite lovely Your Imperial Highness.” Natalie placed her tea cup onto the saucer before her. Schooled by her Aunt in Court etiquette she waited for the next question. Then without guile she blurted.  “But not as lovely at Saint Petersburg is in the winter.”  Aunt Sonja kicked Tatiana’s foot under the table.

The Princess laughed truly delighted in the girl’s boldness. “Ah yes I quite agree. Our harsh winters turn Petersburg into a wonderland. And Papa must have all those winter balls just to keep us warm. What is the theme for tonight’s ball? Oh I can’t remember. Tell me my dear, did you fall in love in Paris? The city has a reputation not unlike that of Cupid for putting pretty girls like you in romantic danger. Were there any young men who captured your heart.”

Tatiana was about to speak when she noticed a flash of gold and amber behind the Princess. She glanced to the French doors beyond her. There dressed in imperial uniforms where two men, one dark and the other blond. They were laughing and jostling each other in a contest to see who would open the door and enter first. At a flash of white teeth, the Earth’s spinning slowed to the beat of her heart. The sound of its beating filled her ears. A glint of sky blue eyes through the glass of the doors were quickly overtaken by hazel eyes, and the baritone song of the two men laughing rang out.

Tatiana quickly looked bat to the Princess. “No your Imperial Highness, I have….”   The door suddenly burst open with an explosion of laughter.  The two men nearly stumbled into the salon.   “I have never been in love.”

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Prince Pyotr

The Princess turned to the commotion behind her. “Petya! Georgiy! Whatever are you boys up to?”  The two men snapped to attention. But could not contain their smiles. Tatiana look from one handsome face to the other and could not decide which of the two men was more beautiful. There was a jolt within her chest as each of the men’s eyes carelessly passed over her. Their smiles like summer sun warmed the room turning it from blue to shimmering yellow. She blinked.

The Princess motioned the two men to her side.

“Honestly such ruffians. Ladies you all know my brother Prince Pyotr and my cousin Prince Georgiy.”  in unison the two men snapped their boots and gave a quick warm nod of the head to the ladies in general.

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Prince Georgiy

As an afterthought the Princess continued. “Oh, but I don’t believe you have met Miss Korneva. Tatiana, this is Petya and Georgiy. Two more useless boys I have never known. And look at you both. Snow on your boots and in your hair. And your uninforms are wet! Where you wrestling in the snow? And you are making a puddle on Papa precious parquet floor! Oh! I give up!”

Pyotr and Georgiy advanced around the table to Tatiana. They bowed and one and then the other took her hand to kiss. They smelled wonderful like tobacco and spices. Then in a flash of clairvoyant clarity she knew that one of them was going to make her very, unhappy. It would be the most beautiful unhappiness she would ever know. But which of the two would she love? she did not yet know.

“May I ask you Miss Korneva, are you coming to the ball tonight?” Prince Pyotr asked.

‘Yes you must Miss and promise all your dances to me.” Said Prince Georgiy.

 

 ***

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From the old Russian imperial city of St. Petersburg comes the perfume house of Nimere Parfums. The Venice of the north as it has been called was founded and built in Baroque splendor by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703.  The city is famed for great art, architecture and history. Drama and beauty are the mortar between every stone in every building of this magnificent city. It is fitting that this house founded by Parfumeur Nikolay Eremin should come from such a place.  Mr. Eremin was kind enough to send me sample of the entire line and a few vials of new works. I have to say I as supremely impressed with the wide range of options from the classical to the very modern. There is something for everyone to love from the house of Nimere.

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Perfumer Nikolay Eremin

I have spent several months as Fall melted into Winter exploring the line. And at one point broke a vial of Eva while opening it and thus cutting a finger in the process. So that fragrance which I loved was lost to memory as it spilled over my desk.  The challenge for me was to narrow down the remaining fragrances to those I truly fell in love with. Among those were Sweet Kiss, a coconutty sweet rich perfume, Melancholy No. 60/3, Time Stood Still No.81 an animalic classically sexy fragrance, Killing Beauty, No Name H.M #2 (a new perfume) and Court Intrigues a masculine beauty smelling of leather boots freshly polished, spices and dry austere woods.  What I landed on finally for this review was Melancholy No. 60/3

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Founder of St. Petersburg, Tsar Peter The Great

   The perfume was inspired by a great love story of  between King Edward VIII and Wallace Simpson. In particular, the love letters from Wallace to the king. (some of which were scented with spilt perfume) For me this perfume registers in the olfactory sense of the beauty of classic perfumes from the late 1800’s to the late 1930’s. Complex, hypnotic in the way the perfume unfolds and blooms on the skin. The life it has on the skin is sensual, romantic and slightly dangerous and naughty. It is in fact everything that a love affair possesses.

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Melancholy No,. 60/3 opens with a fresh spicy Indian Calamus, this note embraces with a carmine red, languorous Saffron from an Eastern Bazaar. It smells expensive right off the top. A rich exotic, near erotic opening that would have shocked the more prudish noses of the early 20th century. Without the traditional citrus in the opening this perfume has flesh impact. It is an erotic invitation to plunge head long into the sensual.

The heart of the fragrance is indigo in color shot through with gold treads like a veil from the far East. And like a veil it floats in floral rhapsodic blending of purple iris earthy and low. A powdery lighter purple of the more elevated violet. jasmine like nuances of a golden Ylang Ylang are tied deep into a green lush Palmarose note. Over this and rising from some deep desire buried and smoldering deep within Melancholy rises tendrils of heady incense. As it develops the florals are enhanced to near intoxicated perfection by this mysterious smoke.  The flowers are in fact by the arrival of the dry down, drunk on the incense.

In the final stage of the perfume we find a fascinating and quite crowed house of notes. Woods from the Cedar, Guayak, Sandalwood, and the Araucaria tree. More commonly know as a Monkey Puzzle Tree. These woods give the romantic feminine side of the perfume a strong twist toward the masculine. And that is nice because if makes the fragrance all the more interesting. There is a great patchouli here as well as a dry Nagarmotha (related to papyrus) the classic Oak Moss and vetiver vie for supremacy but are mellowed out my creamy not too sweet vanilla, and its cousin Tonka bean. All of this in the dry down is made all the more stunning by the soothing amber beauty of  Tolu Balsam. The perfume lasts on my skin around a good solid seven hours. the projection is at about eighteen to twenty five inches for around three hours. then if falls in upon itself to become an invitation at skin level.

Whatever story you find in Melancholy No. 60/3, be it the forbidden love of a king for a commoner or the fresh first stirrings of erotic young love this perfume is something truly lovely. More beautiful that I can describe it brings me back to my tiny vial seeking yet another story, another romance to explore, to burn out, lose and find again in my ongoing love affair with Perfume.

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You can contact Niemere Parfums on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/NimereParfums/

Or email Nikolay Eremin for sales information at: ereminn75@mail.ru

THE ROOF OF THE WORLD ~ Jasmin Rouge by Tom Ford

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Annapurna Massif Panorama

An explosion of laughter came over the gun barrels sending a damp chill up Lily Chu’s back. The voice belonged to a short rough man dressed not as Chinese military but in mountain garb of a Nepalese bandit. He was clean shaven and wore wire rimmed glasses.   A trickle of clammy sweat escaped Lily’s temple and ran down her jaw to her neck.

“Your horses and escort await my old friend!” the bandit spoke like an Eaton College man.

“Aatish! So you found us after all, I was beginning to doubt that you would make it over the border undetected by the Chinese. “

Lily turned eyes wide to her British protector. “You know this man?”

“He winked at her. Like I said, you will need your mink. Come on!”  They were surrounded by the small band of men and lead away from the truck and into the dark foothills.

“Whos is he? How did he find Us? How did ….Wait!” She ran after him determined to get an answer.

Hours later just before dawn Lilly, wrapped up in her mink under which was a dirty stinking pair of men’s trousers, a wool shirt that itched and Yak hat, clung to the neck of mountain horse as they approached the border from China to Nepal. She dared not look down into the gorge below. If she did she was sure she would faint.  The hooves of the horse ahead of her clattered on the rough stones sending loose rocks plunging to the river below, the wind howled and whipped around her with the ferocity of an irate yeti.

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At a somewhat wider part of the mountain path her companion rode up next to her giving her horse a start. Lily buried her face in the horses main and held on even tighter.

“What are you doing?”

He laughed without humor. “Relax we are fine…for now.”

“For now?”

He pointed to the rope suspension bridge ahead. “On the other side  is Nepal. We will walk over, then the horses will be brought over by the smallest men. You must be very quiet. There may be Chinese solders about. Aatish thinks we are being followed. They more likely than not just might try to shoot us off the bridge. We have to get across before the Sun comes over the ridge and makes us even better targets.” Lilly followed his eyes up and up to the highest point of the highest mountains she had ever seen. Ice and snow made pink in the pre-dawn glow loomed in impersonal splendor.

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When they reached the bridge the wind was at its most ferocious. She could hear the cry of discernable pain from the ancient ropes as they strained to hold the swaying contraption together. The floor of the bridge was of wooden slats that did not meet or touch. She looked down only once through the cracks.”

Lily hesitated.

“You can do it.” He said. “After all, I promised you a bath in perfume on the other side.”

She looked at him with a smile of brave relief. “Yes you did and I am keeping you to your promise.”

He smiled back. Suddenly the sound of a galloping horse from the rear of the line and shouts echoed off the cliffs surrounding them.

“RUN! The Chinese are behind us!” Aatish yelled.

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Their horses raced the short distance to the bridge. Lily jumped from her mount onto the narrow ledge she was too frightened to be afraid. She looked back to see a line of mounted Chinese soldiers just coming around the last bend along the sheer cliff side. The British man took her by the hand and together they charged onto the bridge. Gun fire erupted, bullets ripped into the frayed ropes. There were distressing pings and snapping sounds like strings on a huge cello snapping. The bridge lurched and began to swing violently just as the first rays of the sun hit the far side of the gorge.

 

 ***

Tom Ford’s lush oriental fragrance Jasmin Rouge from the private blend collection is something a mix of romance and danger, an enveloping adventure.  Crated in 2011 by one of my favorite noses Rodrigo Flores-Roux who is also known for his beautiful works for Carlos Huber’s Arquiste line. A few of his creations being among my favorites are Fleur de Louis and Flor y Canto which I have reviewed previously. Also I have a weakness for the stunning Oeillet Bengale by Aedes de Venustas and so many more. He is a truly great modern olfactory artist.

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(Rodrigo Flores-Roux)

What he has created her is a lush voluptuous romantic poem of superlative blending, a perfume that opens with the clear rose hues of dawn and flowers into the full rush of dazzling Jasmin, amber and leather beauty. Exotic and enticing it floats and flows about the body like an entwining spell. It has a classism that speaks to me and that I have not found in many Tom Ford presentations.

The opening is bright with bergamot, and mandarin. These citrus notes are sprinkled with the king of ancient spices, cinnamon, and a springy sharpened ginger note. Upon his lively opening is added an aromatic cardamom, black and white pepper top of the top with a zing.

In the mid notes we have the eponymous Jasmine. This is a Sambac Jasmine that comes from the Himalayas. This sweet flower from Nepal, India and Bhutan is also used in tea. Here in Jasmine Rouge the white flower, the queen of perfumery is married with exotic yellow ylang ylang, golden Spanish Broom, neroli blossoms that keep the bright glow of the opening going along with the aid of a dry Clary Sage. Arberous, leathery and with a hint of lavender this Clary Sage sets us up for what is to come. This blending brings out sense of high drama in low tones, it whispers promises and desires too deep to explore and yet draws you onward to the denouement of the fragrance.

The base is brilliant. The voluptuous sensuality of a ripe labdanum is rubbed deep into the almost boozy amber. Warmed by the skin the leather here is thick and sensual and rises with the pulse point heat to warm a rich delectable Mexican Vanilla…and still there is the hint of cinnamon that only enriches the entire dry down. There is an infusion of arid wood notes that give the perfume a decidedly austere and very elegant finale.

The longevity for me is about 6 hours at full bloom and then becomes a skin scent for another six hours, I put it on at 6 p.m. on my last wearing and the next morning at 6 a.m. the fragrance still lingered on my wrists.  The sillage is moderate at about 18 inches. It becomes a skin scent me at about two hours.

Overall a delightful sexy experience can be found here in Jasmin Rouge. Strong enough for a femme fatal and butch enough or her intended hero.

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CARELESS BEAUTY ~ Cologne Intense by Houbigant

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Hothouse lilies white in the window seemed almost invisible against the falling snow beyond the arches of the portico along Rue Royale.  Durocher’s was famous for the best flowers in Paris and the most beautiful blooms of roses and lilies flown in from the greenhouses in the South of France.

 

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Madame Durocher looked beyond the lilies to the other side of the street where Noël Boulet stood in the snow watching the shop. She smiled, Poor boy, utterly and hopelessly crushed by his infatuation with Alizée, the young girl who helped Madame in the afternoons.

The door opened with a gust of snowflakes borne upon icy wind.

“Good day Monsieur, how can I help you?” Madame Durocher put her glasses that rested on a chain around her neck on the bridge of her nose then as was her odd custom dropped her head so as to look over the top of them.

“I would like an arrangement of Freesia and Lilly of the Valley; they are for my housekeeper.”

As Madame set about writing up the order for whom she knew, without asking his name, was Rene Michel Petriz. He and that actress were all over the news. She didn’t care much for his kind or that American Actress ether. “A notorious gigolo and a cinema harlot on the downslide of life.” she would say, if anyone cared to know her opinion.

Alizée came from the back of the shop carrying a huge bunch of Hyacinths for the client she was helping. Rene Michel at first barely took note of her. He turned to look at the lilies in the window and was amused to see a young man with his nose pressed against the glass. He was dreamily gazing at the girl with the Hyacinths.  Rene Michel then turned his eyes back upon the subject of the boy’s adoration.

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It amused him even more to note that she had barely noticed the boy. Her only reaction to his presence on the sidewalk under the portico was when she looked at him only once, to wrinkle her nose as if she smelled something slightly sour. Then without her even being aware of what followed, she smiled sweetly to herself. It struck Rene Michel that she was indeed, for a girl of maybe at the most 17, an exceptional beauty.

Madame presented him with his flowers perfectly wrapped in cellophane and white ribbons. “I hope your house keeper likes them Monsieur.”

He paid her and turned to leave. The boy in the window seemed now literally to be frozen to the glass.

Rene Michel could not let this moment pass. He turned back to the counter. Madame Durocher was gone only Alizée remained. She was arranging a small bouquet of Forget Me Nots.  And all the while giving the boy outside a disapproving look.

“Why don’t you invite him in?” Said Rene in his most seductive professional voice. The one he used with his new clients. “He looks cold out there.”

She was taken aback. “Who?”

“That poor love struck young man at the window.”

“Oh Noël?  He is a nuisance.” She smiled up at Rene and suddenly was caught simultaneously by his charm and good looks and being so caught it followed that she recognized him. A little gasp as she tried but failed to recover her composure.    “He is just a boy.” She said softly. She dropped the bouquet and smiled into his hazel eyes that were ringed in gold.

“When I was young and just like that boy there was a girl like you in a little shop.  Had she been kind to me rather than cruel, well both our lives might have been different.  We might have been…happy.” He gave her a glittering smile.  “Ah well I suppose it is the way of things Mademoiselle. To be so pretty and young and so quick to break a heart so carelessly. Au revoir. “

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Photograph JOEL SAGET

As he passed through the door out into the snow Alizée, looked after the handsome man who all of Paris adored as a scoundrel. Then her eyes shifted to Noël Boulet.  He smiled his funny crooked smile, that when she narrowed her eye she could see was a rather handsome and kind smile. But still he was annoying. Sometimes.

“Madame my I go for my lunch early?”

“Yes I suppose but be back in half an hour.”

She walked out of the shop and turned to face a shivering, smiling, wonderstruck Noël.  Alizée took his rough woolen gloved hand in hers. “Would   you like to come with me for a cup of hot chocolate?”

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   ***

 

The nose behind the new masculine fragrance by Houbigant, Cologne Intense is Luca Maffei. He is a young nose in the fragrance industry that is making a name for himself with such stunning fragrances as Perris Monte Carlo’s Oud Imperial and Rose de Taif. What he has created in Cologne Intense is something brilliant bold and breathtaking. The presentation of the fragrance which comes in both Eau de Parfum and Extrait Parfum is classically elegant. The 100 mil bottle is the same sophisticated masculine bottle that was created for Houbigant’s 2010 re-release of the exquisite Fougere Royale from 1882. The juice is darker in Cologne Intense which only adds a golden richness to the presentation. Just as the No.5 bottle is used for other perfumes by Chanel so it is that Houbigant is presenting this release in the same bottle as Fougere Royale. This smart marketing gives a certain instant house recognition. You see the bottle and you know the house at once. Class and sophistication are assured.

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(Luca Maffei creator of my favorite fragrance release of 2015 ~ Photo Cafleurebon)

The parfum is classified as a citrus aromatic. I agree, it opens with sharp crisp summer freshness of Sicilian lemons, a bitter bite of Calabrian bergamot which sparks brilliantly on the skin then gives way to the wonderful green petitgrain and Moroccan neroli. It is a show of green citrusy skyrockets that shimmer as they rise and sparkle as they fall way to reveal the center of this fragrance.

 

Here within the heart in this classic a savory tarragon takes the center stage. It is richly blended into a complex dance with red pepper, a touch of lavender, and a whiff of Indian Jasmine. Oh that Jasmine is nice if subtle, as it should be. And the pepper is sharp adding depth to the tarragon and lavender.  I love the middle of this fragrance but my love turns to obsession when we reach the dry down.

 

In the bottom notes I find a fine and creative blend by Luca Maffei that make this a truly memorable release of 2015. The two magical notes he introduces to the fragrance are a bitter Mat Tea and lush deep and hypnotic incense.  The effect with the fading mid notes is sheer olfactory heaven. The longevity on my skin last between 6 to 8 hours. the sillage is at about 18 inches.

 

Cologne Intense is one of my top favorite releases of last year. It is a beautiful addition to the venerable and historic house of Houbigant that is both a tip of the hat to past classics, an era of refinement and grace but also embodies a youthful modern vibe.

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WINTER IN ROME ~ Mandarine Glaciale by Atelier Cologne

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Rene Michel Petriz had a flat look, dead eyes smiled at her. The rich American Actress who was on the beginning of her long slow decline from Goddess to “who was she?”, handed him a parting gift. She had enjoyed her fling with the Parisian Gentleman for hire and she understood that it was nothing more than a business arrangement. Besides the French and English Press had caught wind of her liaison dangereuses. It was time to pay him off and board the plane for Rome before she made a fool of herself on TMZ.  He took the red box from her not looking at it. Something from Cartier to add to his collection that might come in handy when his long slow decline began.

ca. 1960s, New York City, New York, USA --- French actress Anouk Aimee wearing hip-length coat made from the tails of Russian sable; bracelets by Jack Gilbert. --- Image by © Condé Nast Archive/Corbis

Rolling along the partially closed Via Imperiale in the back of a Silver Cloud Rolls Royce Rosaline Roclaire looked out the window the view of the shattered ruins of the Imperial Forum whizzing past. She sighed and sank back into the lush warm cushion created by her grey Russian sable coat. Rome was not a disappointment even on a cold and overcast February it always made her happy. A good place to forget the loss of time and youth amid so many broken stones.  She noticed the street vendors along the side of the road selling postcards and tacky knick knacks in the cold.

“Alberto, stop the car.”

“But Signora there is no parking here.”

“Then pull over and let me out. I want to walk.”

“It is not wise, lots of tourists here. They will recognize you and you will be mobbed.”

“I don’t care, Stop the car!”

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photo by Giorgio Clamenti

She overpaid a sweet old man who had no idea she was the biggest movie star in the world for an accordion folded set of picture postcards of Rome.  Rosaline dropped the twelve Euro at the Forum gate then sauntered down the pitched path into the Forum between the temple of Antonius and Faustina and the stumps of marble that were all that was left of the Basilica Amelia. She pulled the collar of her sable up to her chin. The Roman winter air was much colder than It looked it, much colder. Despite Alberto’s warning the Forum was devoid of tourist. She was all alone. She wandered on taking in the shapes of crumbled temples and tried to imagine what they might have looked like two thousand years ago. Much more impressive than the false fronted forum she’d seen at Cinecitta, she was positively sure of that.

At the entrance to the Palatine she caught a glimpse of a little girl all in white running up the path ahead. She turned and smiled at Rosaline. And with a laugh she skipped ahead. There was something so familiar about the way the girl laughed.

“She must be very cold in that skimpy white dress and sandals.” Rosaline thought as she climbed up to the top of the hill where the fountain stood at the entrance of the Farnese Gardens its waters frozen over. There was music, in the distance beyond the gardens. Percussion and reeds, and then a voice singing in… was it Latin? She followed the sounds that led her to the ruins of the house of Augustus. She could just barely see down into part of what remained of the atrium.

“This way, come this way….”

 

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The music suddenly expired, she turned to see who had spoken to her. There was no one there. It began to snow. She walked on through the ruins of the imperial palaces. Snowflakes drifted down to settle on her hair, and the shoulders of her sable coat. She came to the lookout over the Circus Maximus and the Aventine Hill beyond. One of her favorite views of Rome. She lit a cigarette and watched the early rush hour traffic race along the Via Del Circo Massimo. Headlights flickered in the low light, taillights winked. She stood there dreamily alone and at peace for a long time as the snow fell. By the time she realized that it was getting dark the snow had completely covered the ground. She turned to go back. There before here were foot prints in the snow. Someone with very small feet had come up behind her and stood there watching her and was now gone.  Then she heard the little girl laughing from very far way.

“This way, come this way…”

She never found the little girl, she was always just turning a corner or running too fast and far ahead. Finally Rosaline did find her way back to the Excelsior on the Via Veneto where Paparazzi lay in wait for her.

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“Ah well,” she thought  “the little Parisian scandal has reached Rome.”  As they rushed screaming her name like hungry seagulls she smiled and endured the onslaught.

Rosaline looked back over her shoulder and swept her sable in a dramatic arc when she reached the top steps in the Port Coacher and struck a pose. She then gave the little boys of the Press a grand movie star go to hell glamour smile. The photos made the tabloids but she didn’t care, her walk in the ruins had been the most fun she had known in a very long time.

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***

A new presentation from Atelier Cologne last year (2015) one of four in their exclusive Collection Azur   release though Sephora (also available Atelier Cologne’s website), Mandarine Glaciale is a summer time fragrance perfect for a snowy winter day by which to conjure up the warm sunny shores of the Amalfi Coast in Italy.  It is romantic, enticing, and filled with passion and desire. All the things we find so appealing when the weather grows frosty. Not to say that Mandarine Glaciale is not right for the spring and summer. Well in fact this spicy bright as sunshine over Ischia fragrance is perfect all year round.

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It splashes across the skin in stunning opening notes of Delicious Mandarin orange, tart, succulent Sicilian Lemon, and bitter green Calabrian Bergamot all of these together are so reminiscent to me of the smells one gets in the spring and summer along the coast of Italy from Castellammare di Stabia to Positano.

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The heart of this fragrance is where we get a spicy bite, the romance of the fragrance dwells here. There is a sharp almost peppery Ginger that shoots into the air like Italian fireworks, a creamy Jasmine adds glamour, and greet sharp Petitgrain from Paraguay keeps it lively and sparkling. In the dry down there is a grassy earthy touch of Heart of Vetiver, a rich dark Oakmoss adds depth and weight, and it is all topped off with a very subtle touch of White Amber. This Amber gives a creamy sophistication to the ending of the fragrance leaving you wanting to spray it on again.

The nose behind this stunning fragrance is Burgundy born Jérôme Epinette

Jerome-Epinette-new-Pic-Aug-20121-001who was educated in the art of perfumery in Grasse at the Grasse Institute of Perfumery. He is known for such creations as Bal d’Afrique by Byredo, and Fougere by Jovoy Paris. He has done seven fragrances for Atelier Cologne as well including Sud Magnolia.

Mandarine Glaciale along with Sud Magnolia, Figuier Ardent, and Cedar Atlas all presented by Atelier Colognes in their Collection Azur.   Each fragrance was inspired by places in the south warmer climates. From the American South to Morocco, Southern Italy and the south of France. So there is certainly more beautiful fragrances to explore in the collection.

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For me it is a perfectly blended pure perfume not a cologne as is often the common mistake people make when it comes to Atelier Cologne’s fragrances.  The pure perfume therefore gives it a fine life on the skin of about six to eight hours. The sillage is moderate but when you get up close quite enticing, inviting and invigorating.  Mandarine Glaciale for me is a winner for any season. A Beauty that will be a part of my collection for years to come.

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Mandarine Glaciale Five Gold Stars *****

CALL ME IRRESPONSIBLE ~ CHANEL LES EXCLUSIFS NO. 22

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Red and white automobile lights glittered in the rain choked gutters, like discarded diamonds and rubies being swept into the parched sewers of the city.  Long into the morning the three globed very elegant Parisian streetlamps along Market Street shown in a warm glow of amber which added a ribbon of gold to the rubies and diamonds in the street. The rain danced in sheets across the wide road snatching dead sycamore leaves from the nearly barren trees to bring them down to earth.  The first rains of January were the best rains of the year. So all of San Francisco agreed and no one loved the gray skies and perpetual twilight of a rainstorm more than Matt Simmons.

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(Market Street ~ Artist  Hsin-Yao Tseng)

Wrapped in a long black Dior overcoat, with a white Pashmina scarf artfully arranged around his neck he made the dash across market at Stockton just as the yellow light turned red causing an Uber driver to swerve out of his path. The diver having just missed him peeled off toward “Twitterville” up at 10th in a shower of curses. Blithely unaware as the soundtrack of “Two For The Road” blasted through his earbuds he turned on to Eddy street. Diamond like raindrops sputtered from the ends of his Louis Vuitton Giboulées Umbrella. He felt filled with love for his city and radiated a joy for life that was infectious to almost everyone. This delight in life made him seem twenty years younger than fifty nine.

Seated at his favorite table in the warm cozy wood paneled old San Francisco glamour that was John’s Grill he ordered his usual, a Vesper martini.  He smilingly told Tommy  to make it three Vespers and that he would wait for his friends to arrive before ordering lunch.   Marie and Holly would be joining him for a fun run through the Union Square department stores on a perfume hunt. They usually met up about once a month to catch up, have lunch and go shopping. It was something to do on a Sunday.

maltese140.JPG The sign announcing John's Grill seen from the second story of the restaurant. The falcon statue was stolen nearby. A replica of the famous Maltese falcon used in the 1941 Humphrey Bogart film has been stolen from John's Grill restaurant in downtown San Francisco. {Brant Ward/San Francisco Chronicle}2/12/07

Tommy set the Vesper before him just as Matt noticed that there was beautiful piano music drifting down from the second floor.

“Live music in the afternoon Tommy? I thought that was only in the evenings. That wonderful Jazz I can’t get enough of.”

“We are trying it out on the weekends. You like it?”

“Lovely.”

Tommy vanished to the bar. As Matt sipped his cocktail he recognized the song. “Call Me Irresponsible” by‎ Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn. Matt began to hum along.

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(Artist~ Seth Couture)

Just as the martini glass reached his lower lip for a second sip everything seemed to slow down around him. The glass wavered in his hand. He looked down at the swirl of lemon peel. His hand was shaking.

Had it really been only four years? Were there days now when he forgot to think of him? It was true, he didn’t think of him the first thing upon waking anymore. Matt set the martini on the white table cloth, took out his wallet and opened it. Richard’s movie star smile beamed up at him through worn and brittle plastic.   Eyes as blue as the skies over Paris and that noble nose that gave his face gravity as well as beauty.  Everything was still now only the rain outside and the piano playing.  He could hear Richard singing to him over the phone from Manhattan his broad baritone just as he used to on Sunday mornings.  His voice would come cross the Catskills and zoom effortlessly over the Great Plains. It soared over the Rockies, dipped low into the deserts of Nevada and finally climbed the over the steep shear eastern Sierra’s caressing a high note so effortlessly only to slip sweetly, softly into Matt’s waiting ear in San Francisco.

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“Call me irresponsible, call me unreliable
Throw in undependable too.”

Matt recalled the dream they shared of Richard moving to San Francisco, the promise to marry and build a mature life together. The dream that never came true

“Do my foolish alibis bore you?
Well, I’m not too clever; I just adore you.”

Richard’s last three voice mails still lived Matt’s on phone, the last one from the hospital where he died so suddenly and unexpectedly.

“Call me unpredictable, tell me I’m impractical
Rainbows I’m inclined to pursue.”

Richard’s photo glowed more beautifully than the golden streetlights on Market and it was more precious than any diamonds and rubies that were ensconced behind the rain spattered windows of Bvlgari and Cartier.

“Call me irresponsible; yes, I’m unreliable
But it’s undeniably true: I’m irresponsibly mad for you.”

Holly’s voice broke the spell. The lights brightened and the world sped up again. Marie was just behind her with a big smile.

“Sorry we are late. What a storm! It is coming down like the end of the world out there. How are you darling man?”

Matt slowly and gently closed his wallet and placed it in his coat pocket over his heart.

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 ( Hsin-Yao Tseng)

***

It is a perfume of lost love and rainy afternoons. Of missed trains to warmer climates and of melancholy cocktails in the twilight when everything turns lavender in the last moments of the day. It is a beauty that rivals its creators most famous creation. No.5.  Rumor has it that it was in the lineup for Coco Chanel to try when she chose No.5 to be her first perfume launch. If that is true it is no surprise for Chanel No.22 crated by Ernest Beaux released only a year after No.5, in 1922 is a more somber, romantic and even wistfully sad cousin to No.5.

Where No.5 is stunningly glamourous and breathtaking, No.22 is of a less obvious beauty. It has mystery a, blue dreamy sad mystery.

It opens with a gorgeous Aldehyde note that is less of a blast than you get in No.5. It is more like a breeze coming up from a damp garden after a rainstorm. In this breeze are carried the lovely floral note of Lily of the Valley and a fresh sharp Neroli. It is a dewy sun dappled and perfect opening to the beauty that is to follow.

Ylang ylang dominates the middle where it shimmers in all its golden glory supported by the famous Chanel jasmine, a subtle rich rose is denuded of its thorns and then there is the tuberose. This is not your grandmother’s screechy tuberose. Now that may surprise you being that this fragrance is from 1922 but in its reissue of 2007 by Jacques Polge it is a stubble touch of the tuberose that comes to lay close to the heart of the fragrance.

The bitter note that gives No.22 is melancholy is in the dry down where a crunchy dry vetiver marries with a creamy vanilla note. This is for me where the dance of the rising vetiver and the dying flower notes make this such a stunning fragrance. Sorrowfully dreamy and beautiful in its somewhat dramatic case of the blues, it likes feeling slightly tragic for after all it has lived in the shadows of No. 5 all these years.  Like that old Frank Sinatra song, No. 22 is “Glad To Be Unhappy.”

The longevity of No. 22 is very long, lasting on my skin a good 12 to 14 hours. The projection is not overpowering but at about a foot to eighteen inches. It is noticeable in tight quarters for sure but on the street it has a subtle grace about it. It is balsamic, aldehydic and powdery but not overtly so. It is a powdery scent for the faint of heart who shy away from the powder perfumes in general.  And as with almost all of the Les Exclusifs line No.22 works well on a man or a woman. If that man or woman is in the mood to be blue and sophisticated with an air of mystery about them.

CHANEL LES EXCLUSIFS NO. 22 ~ FIVE STARS *****

NO 22

THE EMPTY VIAL ~ Don D’Amour by FL Parfums

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“Did you hear about Tawny Sommers?” Autumn Gold said looking over the rim of her second martini glass in mid lunch at the Garden Court.

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Desperate to shed a few pounds before the San Francisco Symphony Gala she was once again on a Martini and Salad diet.

“Yes I did!” Dodi Turner nearly dropped her fork loaded with Lobster Bisque. “She’s left John, and she is moving down from the ranch in Saint Helena to live all alone in that monstrosity on Broadway.”

Autumn waved to the waiter for a third martini.  “That House!” It sat there for decades empty like a moldering Florentine palazzo. Nobody would buy it. The only thing I can remember ever happening there was the decorator showcase a few years back. It must have cost a fortune to redecorate when John bought the house from the Mitchell family for Tawny . ”

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‘Oh darling you are too young to remember,” Dodi said knowing full well that Autumn was old enough to remember The Flood. “But that’s the house Lori De Leo said her husband Marvin had the guy hold up in whom she claimed Mavin hired to have her murdered. It is right across the street from their old place. What an over the top messy circus that divorce was.  She is a Princess in some tiny Eastern European country now.” Dodi tossed a cool disapproving look at the complexly tattooed arm of the waiter as he delivered Autumn’s drink. “But back to Tawny and our divorce du jour, you can’t deny that old place has the best views of the Golden Gate.”

~   ~   ~ 

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Tawny could smell the fresh flowers in the foyer as she climbed the stairs at 2901 Broadway. Echoing laughter floated up from the kitchen. The staff must be having lunch, she thought.  Other than her butler, maids and the cook she was completely alone in the house. She loved the place, as big and ridiculous as it was there was something very warm and safe about it. It was all she needed now. Now that her fifteen year marriage was finally and blessedly finished. What a relief to be alone.  Yes she had all she needed.

Sitting at her dressing table on the following morning of her return she applied the finishing touches to her staying in look. A little mascara and lipstick. That was all she needed. She thought about what to do next. Did she want to date right away or develop a mysterious reputation as the gorgeous ex-Mrs. Sommers who never left here mansion on the far end of Broadway at the top of Pacific Heights?  Did she want to do volunteer work at the de Young Museum or maybe at a hopsital?

What perfume to wear today? Her usual favorites sat before her their bottles glinting in the warm lamp light that gave a little sunshine glow to the foggy morning.

Yes what to do next…what to do? Should she go to New York on a shopping spree? Visit her parents in Rome? They always spent the spring in Rome.

She opened the curved and carved drawer of the Louis XV dressing table …the drawer where she keep her most precious things. And began to rummage though it…where was it? The one thing she needed today.

Maybe she wouldn’t travel just yet. Maybe too soon to see other men. Maybe she would redecorate the house. Ann Getty has a design business. No, too fussy. Maybe Cheryl Du Cote, she has fabulous taste. Where is that Perfume?

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Fingers digging in the drawer she began to panic. Where is my Don D’Amour? Buried in the back under an old handkerchief of her grandmother’s she felt the tiny glass vial. Relief, safe, home. It was all she needed. That very special little sample bottle of perfume she had been sent by her friend Marjorie in New York. Tawny smiled and thought I really must get a full bottle. There is something about it that touched her same way Puccini’s music touched her. She pulled the vial from the drawer and found that it was empty.

She held the glass vial up to look at it…not a drop was left, it was bone dry. She opened it, hoping that there would be a glorious whisper of the fragrance still inside. Tawny put her nose to the lip of the vial and found the faintest memory was still there. She began to cry.

It was all she really needed

***

Don d’Amour is a fragrance created by Fabio Luisi for his line FL Parfums. Fabio is a most interesting person. By night he is a perfumer who creates with passion wonderful perfumes in his home overlooking Central Park in New York. And by day he is a Grammy Award winning conductor and musician. He is currently the principle conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York. This man is always busy making beauty from the invisible, music and perfume.

Fabio sent me samples of his entire line of 24 perfumes to test and review. It has been a huge adventure and taken some time to explore them all. For now I am going to review the one that is most interesting to me. Don d’Amour.

This perfume is a woody chypre from his “private collection” series.  Consisting of only four notes it is masterful, classical within a modern theme and very lovely. My favorite of the entire line.

It opens rich and with a lush rose, full and vibrant and something of a dark rose as if it is blooming at midnight. This is complemented by an expensive smooth and velvety tobacco. An almost boozy tobacco that carries a fruity edge. There is added to this the hypnotic beauty of a really gorgeous amber that brings an elevated sophistication and elegance to this perfume. All is supported by layers and layers of crinkly yummy patchouli. Here is a blending of the feminine and the masculine, the rose and the tobacco that along with the other two notes make this wearable for both men and women.

The sillage is fine, not too in your face but rather an elegant invitation to follow the source of that marvelous perfume. Longevity on my skin clocked in at between six and seven hours. Here in this area it works beautifully in expressing just what you want and need in a fine perfume.

Don D’Amour is perhaps the most elevated, elegant and evocative of the perfumes in the FL house. To me it is at the pinnacle of olfactory beauty. Something rare and precious. It sings on my skin and opens my mind to the world of both dreams and imagination. There is something indeed musical in the notes and creation of Don D’Amour that I find stunning and at times moving.  Truly a wonderful experience in the realm of perfume created by a truly talented nose.

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CBS Video about Fabio Luisi

LINK TO FL PARFUMS

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A ROUGH PATCH ~ Tom Ford, Patchouli Absolu

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“That mink is going to come in handy when the road starts the climb.” He winked and then nodded to slats in the side of the truck. Lilly Chu looked through them and saw the wall of mountains that crossed the southern horizon from end to end. The full moon reflected off the snow covered peaks in a ghostly glow causing them to look like mountains on the moon. The mere sight of them made it seem even colder. She pulled the collar of her coat up around her chin. “Wherever we are it is coming in handy right now. Where are we?”

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“We are in the back of a sheep truck on the Friendship Highway the only way out of China into India. In short we are in Tibet. Before we reach the border crossing we will have to lie on the floor and cover ourselves with that hay.”

“Can’t we just use our passports?” The wet hay smelled of sheep dung.

“No, too dangerous now after Dunhuang and Shanghai.” He said in a voice as cold as the bodies of the two men who he killed there.

Lily had forfeited her canary diamond ring to bribe their way out of Dunhuang. She lost her luggage in the Gobi the only thing she had left was her mink. Not only were they being pursued by the hit men hired by those she had robbed back in the States but by the Chinese police as well.  They didn’t react well to foreigners killing thugs in China..

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She shivered more from fright than cold. “I could certainly use a bath and some….”

He laughed. “Forget about it. If we make it to India alive you can bathe in a fountain of perfume.”

“Do I smell that bad?”

“I can’t smell anything but these sheep.” She looked at her Englishman who was her only chance of survival. “After all we have been through, won’t you, tell me your name?”

LILY CHU

“I told you before; who I am is not important Lily. My mission is get get you to safety.”

The truck hit a pothole sending the sheep into a panic. He reached out and pulled her back to his side of the truck as the headlights from passing cars lit his eyes.  The sapphire in them had turned to ice. She saw a flash of her reflection in his eyes. Sudden darkness and in the blackness he pulled her closer.

“Please tell me your name…” she whispered.

“If you insist, but once you know my name I will have to kill you.”

She laughed for the first time in days. He formed his hand into the shape of a gun and touched her lips with the tip of his index finger.

“My name is….”

The truck lurched again then a squeal of worn metal as the driver slammed on the breaks. The sheep began to scramble and scream. The doors on the back of the truck flew open in a blare of blinding light. All that Lily could see were the dull black barrels of automatic rifles pointed at her.

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     ***

Patchouli Absolu by Tom Ford is a challenge for me. A huge whack across the nose of dried patchouli leaves. It is bold and rude and at times a dirty. There is a bit of the back end of a truck full of sheep in there as well. It is a late night ride down a rough road to a rendezvous with a mean and dirty lover on the wrong side of town. And sometimes that can be just right.

Created in 2014 this eau de parfum develops in an interesting way. It opens with of rush of WOW that almost turned me off. At the opening top notes of Bay leafy, rosemary and Moss are burned to a crisp in a hot skillet. The only thing that really lingers is the moss, dirty wet moss that is steaming as it assaults the senses. Yes, a very hot skillet and when the mid notes hit with that huge patchouli, laid on and layered over Guaiac wood, Violet wood, Cashmere wood and Cypriol it is amazing. A flaming pyre that is almost stupefying in its swirl of lush crushed leaves and burning wood. There is a moment of familiar behind the redwood curtain patchouli oil and madras bedspreads, a bit of Humboldt County in the 1970’s that floated toward the surface to tease my memories of those day.  It took a few tokes of dreaminess and settled to the bottom and let the bad boy come out to play.

Here is where it rose above the old hippie patchouli and moved into a modern more sophisticated range with just a hint of danger. The base notes of Tonka bean, amber, musk and a tough long lasting but supple leather bring it all together without ever taking off the edge. There is that underlying feeling in the dry down that it could turn dirty again, rough you up and whisper things that only you want to hear at three in the morning. It is an exciting fragrance, a challenging fragrance, a damn sexy fragrance.

Long lasting, yes like a 20 year old boy on his first trip to the Bunny Ranch. Sillage is large and in charge. This is not a perfume that everyone can wear, but if you have the big boy pants to pull it off then you will shine. For the rest of us…well it’s Mister Toad’s wild ride through the patchouli patch on the way to Storyville.

Exciting, dangerous, big and bold Patcholui Absolu is something special, rare and wonderful. But I wouldn’t wear it on a first date, After all,  I am not that kind of guy. But on the third date yes!

Patchouli-Absolu-from-£142-androgeonous-

STARSHINE ~ JICKY by Guerlain

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Hot red lipstick kisses on cold white marble. Scott was suddenly moved to silent weeping  by that expression of love and farewell expressed by countless lips that had be pressed as near as possible to what was left of Marilyn Monroe.

The tears took him by surprise.

“Dude look he’s crying.”  Three angelic punked out skateboarders who on occasion glided into Westwood Village Memorial Park stood in a slouching tableau looking about as out of place as Roman Catholic priests on roller skates in a fashion show.

“Shush, be quiet man, he’s mourning her.”

The tears were not for the woman whose image graced his childhood bedroom walls, not really, it was more than that.  He had just six months ago divorced his husband and recently the one who loved him without question or judgement had passed. Miss Opal Gardner, his sweet dog. That was part of it yes, but deep down, below all of that recent pain, he could feel that he was morning something much more significant, something lost.

  ***

He heard the rumble of distaste that always accompanied his father’s entrance into the kitchen. His father would find Scotty every morning wrapped up in dreams of an escape to New York, submerged to his eyebrows in a world of movie made glamour behind is copy of Vogue magazine.

Scotty read Vogue and Andy Warhol’s Interview religiously and always at the breakfast table.  How could you not start a day in the suburbs of Philadelphia any other way? At least that was how little Scotty looked at it. Someday his middle-class truck driver dad would get it, would understand. Would not scowl and disapprove. Every morning with with his father’s rumble Scotty breathed in that hope. His father’s disapproval was once again deflected with the armor of glamour that was Vogue.

Vogue 1954 restored

Just about the only physical palpable magic at home was his mother’s perfume that enveloped him in layers of dreaminess. He would watch her applying her makeup for her Saturday night out.  Durring her fascinating transformation into something chic and glamorous he would wait for the final thrilling moment that Yves Saint Laurent shared with him in the forbidden exotic bottle. Opium! Yet this small amount of magic wasn’t enough for the outsider child who didn’t know how to make friends, who when he looked at Marilyn Monroe’s champagne shine knew that when he grew up, he wanted to be a hairdresser. He loved his parents and with an understanding beyond his years he knew that to them he was like a baby from Mars that was left on their front porch as a present they had no idea how to unwrap.

little scotty

The only place he truly could be himself, to step out of his star in disguise outfit he wore every day and shine was at his Godmother’s house.  The most magical place of his childhood. The walls of her bathroom were covered in autographs of old movie stars. Real autographs she had collected over the years. Judy, and Joan, Gable and Grable, Lana and Lucy. And so many more names he knew nothing about. But the glamour of that room and the magic in its walls seduced him. He made it his business to learn from is Godmother who each and every one of those stars where and just where they hung in the heavens of Hollywood. On Saturday mornings he would watch old movies on TV with her. It was his graduate school of glamour. The perfume that permeated her home, that enshrined the stars he came to love while watching with his Godmother the dreams they wove into his soul was, Shalimar.

“You know what Scotty,” She said to him one day while they watched Clark Gable and Marilyn drive off into the starry Nevada night.  “You have what Gable had. Something rare and beautiful. Starshine.”

***

The tryptic of skateboarders were gone now and he was alone with her. Maybe she wouldn’t mind if he took a selfie with her? Snap!

“Guardate qui è. Ora guarda bella con la rosa rossa. Giovane che si sa che è sepolto qui? Una grande stella, Marilyn Monroe.”

An old couple perhaps in their eighties sat down on the bench next to him and began a conversation with Scott as if he understood Italian. He smiled, he listened.

“ Siamo venuti da Italia a pagare il nostro rispetto per lei.”

It was suddenly joyous, Fellini had joined them and was directing the fadeout. Scott hugged the old couple.

“Puzzi meraviglioso. Si indossa Jicky.”

Scott laughed he somehow understood. “Yes I am wearing Jicky, It is a drug, it is a dream it is…magic.”

He said goodbye put his sad thoughts away and with Marilyn in his pocket walked out of the cemetery toward the next dream that waited for him in his blessed and lucky life.

300 x 200 me 2012

SCOTT PATRIC

 ***

Like Scott Patric said to the Italian couple, Jicky is a drug, a dream, it is magic. Created in 1889 by Aime Guerlain there are many stories associated with its creation. The most charming and melancholy is that he was inspired by lovely English girl Aime met while at university in England. But most likely he named it after his uncle Jacques whose nickname was Jicky. Aime is also the nose behind the beautiful Eau de Cologne du Coq, and several others from the Belle Epoch.

Yes it is of the gilded age, the belle epoch of Paris but it is anything but old and dated. Jicky is vibrant, rich and MODERN. Created in a time in perfumery when there were no genders applied to perfume…everyone wore Jicky. This fragrance in both its parfum and eau de toilet forms is spectacular on both men and women. It is of the now and always will be.

It opens with an herbal twang of rosemary blended in with mandarin orange, bergamot and lemon. Nice and safe yes? Not so fast there is something else, something coming up from eh bottom notes that just can’t wait to shine and sing. The spices and leather. List in the bottom they move forward in to the fading opening notes and take the lead of the middle notes.

The mid being a silky dark and dirty orris root that the leather notes latch on to. Brilliant. The spices from the base sift in with basil and Tonka creating a layer of swirling intoxicating vapors, a veil that blithely blankets each body it embraces creating a comforting caressing touch. A dry dusting of lavender on the petals of jasmine give it sparkle.

In the dry down the Leather and spices keep it warm and sensuous. There is sandalwood to add creamy smoothness along with a dash of vanilla, shimmering sunset amber and benzoin keep the embers of this masterpiece glowing long into the wee hours of its life.

Longevity for me is epic. Hours upon hours of bliss. The projection is at first impressive at about three feet then pulls in to about 18 inches for the long run. Perfect for a lady or gentleman who wants to give off an air of sophistication without the bullhorn. Jicky is something not everyone will love, it is different, challenging and more complex than most modern fragrances out there today. And yet for those of us who love the great classic perfumes of France it is essential.

Thanks to Scott Patric for sharing his memories of perfume and magic and for reminding me that Jicky is indeed wonder and bliss in a beautiful bottle.

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GOODMORNING STARSHINE!

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