A STRANGER IN THE NIGHT ~ Atelier d’Orient Rive d’Ambre by Tom Ford

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The great amber dragon skimmed and curved north from Hong Kong through the mountains of Guangdong province, its glowing cyclopean eye never wavered from the silver twin silk threads that were the path to Shanghai. Within the mechanical beast Lily Chu had fallen asleep to the clickety-clack of the dragon on the tacks. She was dreaming on the edge of sleep. Slowly she realized she was not alone in the bed. There was a body pressed up against her back. It was not human and not of this earth. She tried to roll over but the thing kept her pinned against the wall. As it pressed harder its hot breath was upon her neck just behind her right ear. She tried to scream when she felt the claws moving up along her spine.

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(Fan Bingbing as Lily Chu)

Eyes flashed open. A large strong hand instantly covered her mouth. The nightlight gave his eyes a terrifying neon glow. She tried to scream again and pushed against his muscular arm that held her paralyzed as if caught in a jade vice.

“Were you having a nightmare?” He smelled of bitter oranges and cognac. “Don’t scream Margaret and I won’t have to hurt you. Do you understand?”

She nodded in the affirmative.  He uncovered her lips slowly. He still held her pinned as securely as a prized exotic butterfly in a glass case.

“No Margaret, my name Lily Chu.” She said. “No Margaret…”

His low baritone laugh filled her ears blotting out any hope of pretense. “Now that is the worst Susie Wong impression I have ever heard.”  He unpinned her. “Sit up.”

She did as he commanded. “I am cold, may I have my coat?”

He tossed her the mink. As she pulled it on over her shantung silk pajamas she fumbled at the empty pocket.

“Looking for this?” She looked up to see her gun pointed precisely at the bridge of her nose.

“I have a great deal of money I can…”

His icy smile cut her resolve. “Your get right to the point, smart girl. The usual question would be, who are you and how did you get in here?  It is my job to get into locked rooms and who I am is not important. What is important is I know what you have done and that there are men after you because of what you have done.”

The gun pulsed ever so slightly to the beat of the blood running through his trigger finger.

“Are you a cop?”

“Not a cop, not a, what is it you call it, a private eye?  No, nothing as simple as that, I am here on an unofficial basis.”

“You’re not American… you’re Australian.”

There was a tiny quiver in the gun. “British.”

“Are you going to kill me for the money?”

“I don’t need the money.” He lowered the gun and with the index finger of his left hand touched her nose. He smiled almost warmly as his finger deliberately moved over her lips to her chin.

 

“I am here Lily Chu to help you get away with it.”

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***** 

 

Rive d’Ambre from Tom Ford’s his Atelier d’Orient line is a light elegant take on a classic eau de cologne with a twist tied up with a silken rope of mystery. The nose behind its creation is perfumer, Olivier Gillotin. He is known for creating 10 Corso Como, Cristobal for Balenciaga and Notorious for Ralph Lauren. Among his many perfumes is one of my favorites, Fath Pour L’Homme for Jacques Fath. (See my review Falling In Love With Fath)

 

Classified as an Oriental for men and women Rive d’Ambre opens with a sparkling pop of citrus notes like the clash of cymbals and wind chimes in an exotic modern symphony. These notes are linear and come at you in a heady bright jumble of lemon, bergamot and bitter orange. This plays around on the skin for about 20 minutes and slowly the course of the opening they calm and are absorbed into a cocktail of cognac and amber. Spices of cardamom and tarragon add dimension to the fragrance as it falls to the skin at about 5 hours.  In the dry down there is the warmth of tolu balsam and patchouli to cover and comfort the bones of what remains of the fragrance.

 

This is not a complex or challenging fragrance but that does not make it uninteresting. On the contrary it is surprising in where it goes from that familiar eau de cologne opening into an exotic warm range.  It is a perfect fragrance to wear in the tropics where the heat will open it up and add to its projection. In more temperate climates it would work best in summer. Rive d’Ambre is a light bright smart and sophisticated addition to the Atelier d’Orient collection by Mr. Ford.

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RIVE D’AMBRE FIVE GOLD STARS *****

(NOTE: PART ONE OF THIS STORY IS THE POST ENTITLED: ESCAPE TO SHANGHAI )

 

AMOUR À L’OPÉRA ~ Fougère Royale by Houbigant Paris

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Palais Gernier Opera

Painting of the Paris Opera by Frank Myers Boggs

He spoke French so impeccably that anyone outside of Paris would have taken him for a Parisian. The Parisians on the other hand knew he was not French. In fact they knew exactly who he was. Well at least the aristocrats of the city knew, after all it is there job, their stock in trade one could say to recognize European royalty on the spot.

 

At the instant the oddly handsome Prince Aleksander Kostka alighted from his carriage at the curb half of the assembly ascending the steps to the Palais Garnier Opera house turned in unison to look upon his dashing form.

 Prince Aleksander Kostka

    “Oh there he is, the Polish Prince of mystery.” Comtesse de Roussillion tuned whispered to her husband. “I have heard he can never go back to Warsaw. Some scandal so unspeakable that…”

 

”Bonsoir Comtesse, je suis enchante”

 

She stifled a startled squeak as her hand was enfolded by the Prince and swept up to his perfectly chiseled lips which  barely brushed the satin of her opera gloves. This sent a thousand twittering magpies to flight in her now overheated veins.

 

He dropped her hand and with a clipped bow of the head and accompanied by a bemused smile he took is leave of the middle-aged woman who was now on the verge of fainting fit.

 

“Détendez-vous mon cher, il est juste un prince pas un dieu.” Her husband hissed in her ear like an over stoked locomotive.

 GarnierOperaParis

The entire foyer of the Opera was abuzz with excitement as the Prince entered. He assumed it was about the revival of the opera La Juive. It was not. For just as a ship is unaware of the wake it leaves behind so too was he blithely in the dark of the effect he created where ever he went. Generally happy with a tinge of melancholy from time to time he moved though life content.

 

As his right foot touched the first landing of the grand staircase he was completely oblivious that his life was about to be shattered by a look. He paused to decide which branch of the stairs to take; she brushed past him in a cloud of mesmerizing perfume. In heavy cream and gold satin from the house of Worth she floated to the landing above. His eyes followed her as she appeared and disappeared behind the columns until she came to pause in the opposite balcony of the grand foyer and turned toward him. Her smile faded as the air between them was sucked into a whirlwind of déjà vu. The hundreds of people on the stairs moved in a frivolous dance around the Prince who saw none of them, he would really never see anyone else in the same way since she, this night had opened his eyes to a new world.

 

“Aleksi…Aleksi! How are you?”

 

The Prince looked down to see his old friend Patrice Aubchon standing in stiff evening dress before him.

 

“What are you looking at?” Patrice turned. “Ah yes, her.”

 

Who is she and what is that perfume.

 

Only the most notorious and expensive courtesan in Paris my friend. Mademoiselle Marianne Deasún, and leave it to her to wear the most shocking fragrance. It is something new, Fougere Royal I think it is called. Too many notes and too masculine for a woman if you ask me, but there is talk of course that a woman now and then is not beyond her range. Ah well there you have it. That perfume is the current mode de Paris, half the men in here are wearing it, and only one woman dares to.

 Marianne Deasún

Marianne’s amber and green eyes held his eyes in lock. His in turn intrigued her with their hint of turquoise in a sea of blue.

 

“She smells like nothing I have ever experienced.”

 

Too many notes! A woman should smell like just one flower, a rose or lily of the valley.  But I must admit, on her it somehow works.

 

“I must meet her. I must smell her skin, up close.”

 

The gong sounded signifying that the opera was about to begin, she reluctantly released him from her ocular embrace and turned to walk to her box.

 

“Goodbye Patrice… I will see you later.” The Prince broke off from his amused friend and took the stairs two at a time. In the grand foyer he saw her disappear into the hall which lead to the boxes. When he entered the hall it was just in time to see her trailing skirts sashay behind an open door which closed softly behind her.

 

At the door to her box he hesitated then peeked though the tiny window. The house lights had gone down and as the curtain on the stage ascended accompanied by the first notes of the opera  Marianne’s profile was etched in pink and amber light.

 

He knocked on the door and waited for an answer.

 

*****

 

Fougere Royal 2010 by Houbigant is the modern interpretation by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux of the game changing Fougere Royal of 1882 by the nose Paul Parquet.

The original Fougere Royal was the first modern perfume (and the very first fougere, meaning fern) created in an age of solifleurs it was a shocking and exhilarating blend of notes. Paul Parquet was the first nose in the history of perfume to isolate a scent molecule, the coumarin from the Tonka bean, thus ushering in a modern form of perfumery with the first use of a synthetic in a perfume.  To create a classic fougere one must add to the coumarin note, lavender and oakmoss. This trifecta of notes is the basis for the first truly masculine perfume group, the fougere.

Fougère Royale Paul Parquet

In the 1882 Fougere Royal the notes are; top, lavender, clary sage and bergamot. Mid notes of carnation, orchid, heliotrope, geranium and rose and bottom notes consisting of Tonka bean, musk, vanilla, oakmoss and coumarin.

 

In the new version by Rodrigo Flores-Roux (Donna Karan Gold, Atelier d’Orient Fleur de Chine for Tom Ford, and Fleur de Louis for Arquiste to name but three of his brilliant creations) he has created not a reformulation as such, but a modern interpretation of the classic.

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As it hits the skin there is a silky edged citrus created by bergamot that suddenly sparks brightly then gives way to green notes, chamomile, clary sage and lavender. (lavender the must have note number one for a classic fougere)  This combination is dramatic, compelling, mesmerizing. The first time I smelled this on my skin I was speechless at the beauty of this opening. It is fuller, richer and more sophisticated than most fougeres that I have smelled. Like a great piece of jewelry, it is a statement piece, a signature promising greater beauty to come.

 

Central notes of green carnation, greener geranium combine with a subtle rose and a whisper of lilac that is dusted with a magical spice note of cinnamon. The brilliance of this combo is shimmering in its effect. Here the fragrance roils and billows beautifully projecting just enough to be elegant never stepping over the line into bombastic. There is only one word for this as it transitions into the dry down. Opulent.

 

In the base the central notes that draws you in with their gravitational pull just as they radiate like a great massive star is the oakmoss and coumarin. The bold butch muscle of the fougere is found in these two notes (must have notes number two and three)  Flores-Roux has replaced the musk and vanilla of the original with a banked smoldering amber, stoked with patchouli, Tonka bean it smolders for hours.

 

The entire effect of Fougere Royal (2010) is amazing. It is built upon the first modern masterpiece and brought into the 21st century with grace, beauty and a new modernity by the house of Houbigant Paris under the direction of the Perris perfume family. (see my post Le Grand Prix ~ Perris Monte Carlo Perfume Event, San Francisco) . I must give special thanks to my friend Michal Gizinski of Neiman Marcus who first introduced me to this fragrance. He is a brilliant man who is one of my mentors and teachers in the art of perfume. If you are in San Francisco and you love perfume go to Neiman’s and talk to Michal and find out why we call him The Nose of Union Square. More about Michal soon as we are organizing an interview for Scents Memory.

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Paul Parquet father of the Fougere

Fougere Royal is a testament to the past, homage to Paul Parquet and his ground breaking creation. It is an example of true creative beauty by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux who has made so many beautiful perfumes.  And above all of this, it is a modern masterpiece of complexity, bold masculinity that stands as a formidable lighthouse in a sea of boring, watery clean laundry fresh fragrances.

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Fougère Royale by Houbigant Paris ~ Five Platinum Stars *****

THE GLAMOUR AND THE GLORY ~ Scent & Subversion by Barbara Herman Book Event

   SS B Herman book cover

 

Back from vacation and into the perfume social whirl of San Francisco Fumantics!  Last night at Books Inc. on Van Ness Avenue just north of our Belle Epoque inspired  Beaux-Arts Civic Center author and blogger (Yesterday’s Perfumes:http://www.yesterdaysperfume.com/ )   Barbara Herman came to read from her book Scent & Subversion: Decoding A Century of Provocative Perfumes. The event was a smashing success and Ms. Herman was a delight. Gallons of vintage perfume was sniffed and a ton of books were sold. Here is my video blog of the event.

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(Barbara Herman ~ photo from Basenotes)

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SMELLY FRIENDS! ~ 3rd Annual San Francisco Artisan Fragrance Salon

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Saturday March 15th I spent most of the day, a glorious spring in winter day here in San Francisco with many friends in the local fragrance community at the 3rd Annual San Francisco Artisan Fragrance Salon. Enjoy the video.

 

I am going up to Seattle for a week and when I return I will have more reviews!

 

ESCAPE TO SHANGHAI ~ Atelier d’Orient Shanghai Lily Tom Ford

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Margaret Fong watched as the typhoon rain made watercolor neon dragons race down the windows of the W Hotel Hong Kong. She sat in the window wrapped in a mink coat unable to sleep from the residue of adrenalin that had fueled her escape from San Francisco.  She could never go home again. What a strange circle completed its cycle to bring her to the place where her great grandfather many times over had left for America. 

She touched the hard as a diamond cold glass that protected her from the storm. Emerald skinned rain dragons with sapphire and ruby eyes seemed to turn a look at her from Victoria Peak.  Steam billowed from their nostrils as they took flight above the city then turned out over the harbor their glowing neon wings lighting the underbelly of the typhoon that battered Hong Kong. She smiled. She didn’t even know how to speak Cantonese.

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(Dragons borrowed from Skyfall)

She was rich now, richer than anyone in her family had ever been. The large canary yellow diamond on her finger winked at her with cool confidence. She brought her hand down from the window and licked the surface of the diamond then polished it with the sleeve of her mink. Perhaps it had been foolish to have bought it in the jewelry store downstairs. An impulse purchase when she arrived that morning just hours ahead of the storm. She glanced up at the television to see her face on the screen. She was the big story on a slow news day for CNN. She muted the sound.

Her next move had to be to stay on the move. A train would be better than a plane. But where to go, where does a woman who has just embezzled forty four million dollars from one of the richest high tec companies in the world hide?  She opened her purse and pulled out her newly forged passport and ID. The best that hot money could buy, Lily Chu Beijing, People’s Republic of China. She dropped the papers on the table and took out her scarlet lipstick and compact. The most beautiful girl from Galileo High School looked back at her in the tiny mirror.

Fan Bingbing as Lily Chu Escape to Shanghai(Fan Bingbing as Lily Chu)

That face had gotten her pretty far, her brains brought her the rest of the way; she decided not to freshen her mouth. She snapped the compact shut and looked back at the television. She was still on the screen. She grabbed the remote and changed the channel.

An old movie flickered in black and white fuzzy close-up glamour and filled the screen. She smiled in recognition of the images from the past. It had been one of her mother’s favorite movies because she loved Anna May Wong. Anna did nothing for Margaret; it was the glamorous blonde with the funny accent that had captured her imagination as a little girl. It was odd to see her now with her dialog in Cantonese subtitles at the bottom of the screen. The movie began to work its magic once again, even without sound. She flicked the mute button on just at Marlene Dietrich spoke to Clive Brook,

 Shanghai Lilly Marlene Dietrich

“It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily.”

The new Lily that was once Margaret laughed out loud. Maybe that was why she chose Lily for her alias; the name had stuck with her all these years. And Shanghai, that would be an interesting stop along her escape into the land of 1.3 billion. One quick phone call and she was booked on the midnight express to Shanghai.

The storm had subsided to a mere tropical annoyance as Lily Chu in dark glasses and wrapped in her new mink hurried though the Hung Hom station to catch her train to her future.  “Pardon me” she said as she brushed past a man in a black wool overcoat. He turned to watch her with icy sapphire eyes. Then with measured ease set out after her. Just as Lily settled into her compartment he train let out a low growl and then its high piercing whistle screamed.  As the wheels ground against the steel rails pulling the train out of the station, Lily had no idea that she was being followed to Shanghai.

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  *****

Tom Ford’s Shanghai Lily from his Atelier d’Orient line is an exotic, stunning entry into the Oriental Floral garden. It is languorous, lithe and liable to lead to trouble. I have no idea if the inspiration behind this perfume is the Marlene Dietrich character of Shanghai Lily from the Josef von Sternberg film “Shanghai Express” (1932). If not, well, this perfume certainly carries all the mystery and intrigue that is found in Dietrich’s portrait of a lady who one character describes as a “Coaster, a woman who lives by her wits along the China coast.”

The perfume is loaded with more notes than Lily’s steamer trunk is filled with French unmentionables.  They come at you all at once in a locomotive rush. Bitter orange, pink and black pepper, cloves, spices and incense kick of the exotic journey, I get a definite mince meat pie accord here that is delicious and long lasting.

In the center of the perfume there is exotica galore as the perfume continues its excursion along your pulse points. Floral notes push in on the opening notes layered over with a sensual labdanum, jasmine, rose and a hint of tuberose. It goes together with the spicy mix so well. And the peppers and cloves laid out in the opening meet up with olibanum, a light layer of barely perceptible vanilla and benzoin keep it from being too pretty.

The dry down at journey’s end is a solid base of cashmere wood, sassy castoreum, guaiac wood and vetiver. This combo keeps this perfume sexually ambiguous and as enticingly daring as Marlene Dietrich was in a man’s tux in the early 1930’s.  It is a well blended perfume that works to the advantage of both men and women. Lasting on my skin a good ten hours and leaving a va va voom sillage for those looking to make an entrance. And what an entrance this perfume makes. Pure star power all the way from opening credits to fade out, as directed by Tom Ford this Shanghai Lily is a box office hit.

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SHANGHAI LILY BY TOM FORD Four Gold Stars ****

(NOTE: PART TWO OF THIS STORY IS IN MY POST ENTITLED: A STRANGER IN THE NIGHT)

MAGIC IN THE NIGHT, SECOND STAR ON THE RIGHT ~ Tigerlily Pefumery Salon Event

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In the heart of San Francisco there is a vibrant, exciting on trend neighborhood, the Mission District. It is young, hip and along Valencia Street you can feel the eclectic vibrancy of this revived part of the old Latino area, the oldest part of San Francisco where the Spanish founded our city in 1776 as Yerba Buena. As Hilary Rayvis Randall, Mario Gomez and I sat having an amazing Puerto Rican dinner at Parada 22 Pop Up on the corner of Valencia and 22nd Street an anticipatory thrill was in the air. The three of us were about to embark upon an olfactory fairytale of fun and magic at Tigerlily. The one and only Antonia Kohl’s fabulous perfumery located at Love & Luxe just half a block away. That little half block walk from Parada 22 takes your imagination past the second star on the right and straight on till morning.

 SECOND STAR TO THE RIGHT

    This evenings Salon was all about new works by four Bay Area perfumer houses.   Mikmoi, L’Aromatica, Bruno Fazzolari and Cognoscenti. We hit the evening event at just before eight and were immediately welcome by our mistress of magic Antonia who made sure we were supplied with cocktails invented just for the salon. I went with a bright and light Vesper Fizz which was delicious and inspired by Mikmoi’s wonderful Vesper perfume. As we circulated among the glitterati of scent in attendance there was much to see and even more to put your nose to. Mik of Mikmoi was introducing his new line Elements of Escape; Bruno had his newest perfume which nearly stole my heart over my favorite by him, Au Delà. The wonderful Dannielle Sergent also was presenting her line and her newest addition to her house. And finally a new face to me was the lovely Loreto Remsing of l’aromatica. Her presentation is a wonderful line of seventeen handcrafted botanical fragrances that come both in oil roll on and alcohol based perfume. And of course we were surrounded by the beautiful jewelry of Love and Luxe.

Over the course of the evening I was able to smell perfumes from each line and chat with all the perfumers. Danielle was very excited to tell me all about the wonderful aldehyde and oakmoss that is No.8. Bruno and I got a chance to catch up as I re-explored his amazing art and perfume (a pioneer in the blending of fine art, painting and perfume) , Mik and his spouse Jasper took me through the new line. “Fire” was a wonderful Lapsang Souchong perfume and my favorite of the elements of his creation, and Loreto told me all about how she sources her ingredients. I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with any of these four artists as the evening was carried aloft on a magical carpet woven of incense, and roses.

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(Photo borrowed from Tigerlily Perfumery)

About an hour into the event fellow blogger and YouTube reviewer Sebastian Jara and his partner showed up. We had the most wonderful time as I took them around and introduced them to all the perfumers and Antonia. We ran into perfume star Ineke and Bill O’Such. When I told Ineke that Sebastian had just returned from a month touring the perfumeries and shops of France she regaled us with her stories of her and Bill’s time in Paris when she studied perfumery and their adventure in perfume was born.

In the perfume corner we met up with Tama Blough the Deputy Editor of Ca Fleure Bon and she took us through much of the perfume stock. Zelda by En Voyage was amazing, very 1920’s glam. We got to smell the Tauer perfumes that have been added to Tigerlily and I came away with my very own bottle of a really luxe and lovely Grain du Soleil by Fragonard. An Amber perfume so soft and calming you can wear it anywhere anytime. It has a great vanilla dry down that is scrumptious.

By ten thirty the Cinderella evening drew much too soon to a close and each and every one of us who attended left with a promise to ourselves to return again to the magical and wonderful Tigerlily. This enchanted place in the Mission, where dreams are kept in bottles on a shelf waiting to be discovered and loved by you. To find Tigerlily just rembember, you turn right at the second star on the right and straight on till morning. You can’t miss it!

CLICK THE VIDEO BELOW FOR MY YOUTUBE COVERAGE OF THE EVENT.

TIGERLILY PERFUMERY: http://loveandluxesf.com/news/

FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tigerlily-Perfumery/1403453396557812

MIKMOI: http://www.mikmoi.com/

BRUNO FAZOLLARI: http://brunofazzolari.com/scents/

COGNOSCENTI: http://www.cogno-scenti.com/

L’AROMATICA: http://www.laromaticaperfume.com/

MAN LOVES COLOGNE: http://www.manlovescologne.com/

CA FLEURE BON: http://www.cafleurebon.com/

TIGERLILY IS LOCATED AT LOVE & LUXE BOUTIQUE 1169 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110

FROM PARIS, SCENT WITH LOVE ~ The Fragrant Republic San Francisco Event

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Friday after work I hopped on the Muni underground and made my way to the Embarcadero Center for a very special evening of fragrance and fabulous fun. The event was the first San Francisco launch of the new perfume house The Fragrance Republic. The event was held at Vanity Beauty Lounge and hosted by co-founder Francois Duquesne.

Francois_DuquesneFrancois Duquesne

The Fragrance Republic is not only a perfume house that gives great perfumers a chance to shine under their own names but also an on line Fragrance Club along the lines of a fine wine club. Members receive each month a 15 mil bottle of perfume to sample with the option to buy a 100mil bottle if they like the perfume. Membership comes in many levels that fit almost every budget. This makes it affordable and fun. So far there are six in the line by perfumers Nathalie Feisthauer, Julie Masse, Cecile Matton, Amelie Bourgeois, Antoine Lie, and Karine Chevallier. Each perfumer has an impressive history of perfumes many of which you may own. Each perfume is number from one to six. The two that I fell in love with were FR 01/02 and FR 01/06.

Julie_NovFR 01/02 and Perfumer Julie Masse

01/02 is a succulent refined, lush rose absolute with a velvety tuberose absolute simmering in coco résinoïde. It is magnificent on my skin and  has nothing of the usual bite of white flower or the overt high drama from the tuberose that one expects. Just gorgeous, it is so wonderful on my skin and I had to take a bottle home with me after an hour of wearing it. Perfumer Julie Masse has created a rose I like and one that has class and an elegant charm that is both modern and reminiscent of the Belle Epoch. It is a perfume that embraces the history of perfume while looking to the future.

01/06 was the most popular scent of the evening. This perfume created by Karine Chevallier consists of Persian Lime, fig, vetiver and sandalwood a woody aromatic that has the chic masculine charm of Eau Sauvage. Just brilliant sunny woods filled with the smell of a summer cabin in the mountains.

KarineChevillerG Karine Chevallier

The guests who attended were the crème de la crème of the San Francisco scent society, including Bay Area perfume luminaries such as Ineke and her husband Bill O’Such, the ever evolving and glamorous Yosh, Mik of MikMoi. Also in attendance were the scent sommelier and perfume advisor Hilary Rayvis Randall, Tama Blough San Francisco Bay Area – ‎Senior Editor at CaFleureBon.com and Mario Gomez ‎Owner at Olfactory Ambassador Services who is soon to dazzle the perfume world with something wonderful. And I was thrilled to see  the very exciting and charmingly lovely Antonia Kohl owner of TigerLily Perfumery. Our guide and host Francois Duquesne charmed us all not only with perfume but with his fascinating stories and delightful wit.

cHilary Rayvis Randall, Antonia Kohl, Francois Duquesne, Yosh, and Tama Blough

The event was to run from four to seven p.m. but with the arrival of many friends from SF Sniff the party didn’t break up until eight. And it was a very reluctant end to the evening for all. But the party is scheduled to pick up where it left off tonight at TigerLily where Antonia will be throwing a soirée featuring perfumers Mik Coyle , Bruno Fazzolari, Loreto Remsing and Dannielle Sergent. Each perfumer will be presenting their award winning fragrance lines.Something tells me there will be a story to tell about TigerLily in tomorrow’s post.

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Hilary Rayvis Randall and Antonia Kohl

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Yosh, Mik and Ineke anticipate Saturdays Salon at TigerLily (photo borrowed from TigerLily)

FRAGRANCE REPUBLIC: http://www.fragrancerepublic.net/

GO TO “L” ~ For the Beguiling Vickie Lester.

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Esther: (Walks up to the pay window on the studio lot) Paycheck for Esther Blodgett please.

Paymaster: “Go to “L””

Esther: Now wait a minute!

Paymaster: You’re new here right? You got a new name, you’re Vickie Lester, V. I. C. K. I. E.   L. E. S. T. E. R. Got it? Go to the window marked “L”.

 GO TO L

Esther: (walking way she tries the name on) Vickie Lester? Vickie …Lester. (It’s a fit) Vickie Lester!

I was only four years old when A Star Is Born staring Judy Garland premiered at the Pantages Theater on Hollywood Blvd. I don’t remember the locally televised premier when I lived in that hell hole of a town outside of Los Angeles, called Fontana. I don’t remember going to see it at the movies either. What I do remember is seeing the film and falling in love with it at nine when it was played every night for a week on the Million Dollar Movie. It was all about Hollywood, that mythical place just 50 miles to the west. That place that I wanted to be, not where I was, wedged between Kaiser Steel and the stinking chicken ranches. Which ever way the wind blew…it smelled like rotten eggs.

 a-star-is-born-original

Each night when the Million Dollar Movie came on at eight p.m. and the great Warner Brothers logo appeared on the tiny black and white television, I was there pushing my imagination inside that t.v. tube to another universe. The WB faded to reveal the night lit diamonds scattered below the Hollywood hills that made up my dreams, and as the searchlights twinkled on and the orchestra swelled I knew I was going to see a real movie about an unreal place. And then there was her, the star being born night after night and that song, a song that has followed me all my life.

(Outtake of That Song)

That was the first time I heard the name Vickie Lester and over the years that passed since that spring of 1960, through war and assassination, protest and peace, disco and the devastation that is AIDS, and the man that got away her story and music have been with me. As the years piled up my Hollywood dreams were put away but whenever Vickie Lester showed up on the screen they were dusted off and tried on of a few hours of dreaming. What I never imagined was that one day I would meet Vickie and she would turn out to be more wonderful than in the Movies.

STAR IS BORN

When I was just beginning my blog I surfed around to find other blogs that might be of interest to follow. One day I happened upon Beguiling Hollywood by Vickie Lester. Vickie Lester! At once I knew that anyone who would write under that nom de plume had to have a great sense of humor. Then to my delight I discovered that not only did she have a great sense of humor but she was a Hollywood history buff, a lover of the eclectic electrically exciting architecture of Southern California and a great, great writer and storyteller.  And most fun of all, being an insider in that town of make-up and make believe she had stories. She knows the dirt and how to dish it veiled just enough to keep her audience guessing. “Did that really happen?”  She won’t say for sure, and neither will I.

In time and over many posts and then a phone call or two and finally a visit to her home on a very Mildred Pierce street in Los Angeles we became friends. So close in fact that I call her Sis and she calls her big brother. It is a friendship forged by dreams and elevated by mutual admiration and a great recognition of souls and love.

Today is Vickie Lester’s Birthday and I would like to share with you this hope. The hope that for each of you a star has been born somewhere out there in the world where dreams really do come true, some one you can always call a dear and beloved friend. A special someone who is better and more exciting than any movie star in the firmament of the Hollywood heavens, someone like Vickie Lester.

Happy Birthday Sis…

Me and Vickie Lester

(Vickie Lester and Lanier Smith smelling wildflowers in the Hollywood Hills. Photographed by Lane Tibbs.)

Please do visit Vickie Lester’s blog Beguiling Hollywood

http://vickielester.com/

And her novel It’s In His Kiss comes out in June!!

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(Times Square 1954)

DEJA VU ~ Portrait of a Lady by Frederic Malle

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Year after year she looks with serene beauty toward the horizon of eternity. She has been doing this for a while, long before the museum acquired her. In fact she has been facing oblivion peeking out from under that charming hat since 1782. She has hundreds, maybe thousands of tiny hairline cracks. But you can only see them when you are inches from her and they make her all the more beautiful. She has been spellbinding men for two hundred and thirty two years.

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     But there is one man, Nilson Quigley to whom she spoke to as to no other. He first saw her on a school field trip in the winter of 1934. That day when his eyes first met hers he recognized her. The effect of her gaze instantly rooted him to the foundations of the earth. His teacher had to drag him away scolding him to stay with the group.  As he looked back over his shoulder with tears staining his school blazer he knew he would never marry, have children or love anyone but her.

He has been coming back to see her ever since the day he fell in lover with her in 1934. He always goes on Sunday and sits on the bench across from her.  With twenty feet of highly polished hard oak floor between them, he would sit and think and try to remember. She had that effect on him. She whispered from behind the veil of receding years of time past, of meeting, parting and many goodbyes. None of them were ever a happy farewell. Now at 91 Nilson could feel another goodbye coming for him.

“Who is she?”  The young voice came from behind him.  With out turning around he answered.

“Lady Hamilton.”

The young lady came around the bench and sat next to him. “She is very beautiful in a surprisingly modern way. I think I remember an old movie about her, with Sir Laurence Olivier.”

“And Vivien Leigh, yes I have seen it too.” Nilson looked at the young lady. “Have we met?”

She squinted her pretty cornflower blue eyes, “I don’t think so. I just have that kind of face. Do you come here very often?”

“Every Sunday” He said looking back to the painting.

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“That may be why I look familiar. We probably pass each other all the time. I come on Sundays also, to meet a friend.” She laughed. “He never shows up. I keep coming back, never the less hoping to meet him.”

“That is not a very nice young man to stand you up like that.”

“Oh he doesn’t know he is standing me up. You see, I don’t know his name. We haven’t met yet.”

Nilson looked back at the young lady. She was smiling like a thousand suns right into his eyes. It was almost blinding.

“My name is Emma….” She held out her hand.

“Pardon me Sir the museum is closing.”  Nielson turned to the guard. “It’s time to go home.”

“Oh of course, I was just talking to Emma here….” He turned to find she was gone.

“Sir?” The guard leaned down. “Are you alright?”

Nilson’s eyes darted around the gallery in momentary panic. And then he smiled. “Perfectly fine young man. Time to go home.”

As he walked toward the doors that lead into the enfiladed galleries beyond he looked back at the painting of Lady Emma Hamilton. She was glowing like a thousand suns.

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LADY EMMA HAMILTON C. 1782 BY GEORGE ROMNEY

******

Frederic Malle presents Portrait of a Lady by perfumer, Dominique Ropion who has created other perfumes for Malle including the famous Carnal Flower and Geranium Pour Monsieur. It is an inspired perfume that for me it goes beyond the bounds of its inspiration. This rose perfume when it touches the skin becomes a portrait of whoever is wearing it. Man or woman, young or old, it is a dark mysterious floating veil that billows off the skin revealing aspects of romance and danger that is rooted in a solid perfume past which looks forward to the modern age.

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FREDERIC MALLE AND DOMINIQUE RIPION

Like a great painting its opening is in layers, Skin warming clove, cinnamon with a light touch of raspberry that is not jam but leafy. These  are the first notes that create the under painting. The introduction of black currant gives the perfume an animalistic touch that echoes the notes of great old perfumes from the early years of the 20th century. French boudoirs littered with memories of randy romps on a velvet chaise lounge are hinted at by this dirty little note.  Rose is the dominating center of the painting here and never gives up its place as the imperial note, the masterly brush stroke that leads the perfume on.

The rose is born aloft through the central structure of the perfume by a gorgeous blend of sandalwood, and earthy patchouli. Mystery and glamour are added in here by a luscious smoky incense that darken the patina of this olfactory painting.

There comes in the dry down sumptuous amber that is highly polished with notes of white musk and a glaze benzoin bring golden hues to the final touches of what is now an impressionist portrait of the wearer. The perfume lingers now close to the skin and is not diminished in its mystery one single bit as it finally recedes into the past leaving your skin and your brain wanting to revisit the experience all over again. It possesses the grand silage and longevity of perfumes from a bygone era.

For me this is a wonder because in nature I love the smell of roses but in the perfume world they rarely move me. Here I find that the rose is truer than most and quite stunning. This is a portrait for the ages, a modern classic that whispers of the past and promises a glorious future for a long time to come.

Vivien Leigh as Lady Hamilton

VIVIEN LEIGH AS “THAT HAMILTON WOMAN” 1941

I do want to thank Chase Roberts my go to Sales Associate to for Frederic Malle at Barney’s for pointing me toward this perfume. Without her guidance I would have passed this one right by. Chase is every inch a beauty and quite the portrait of a lady.

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PORTRAIT OF A LADY BY FREDERIC MALLE FIVE PLATINUM STARS *****

MONSIEUR PETRIZ WINTER HOLIDAY ~ Green by Byredo

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Even a gigolo needs a vacation. For Rene Michel Petriz it was time for an escape from Paris and the ladies who kept him in Charvet ties, Ferragamo shoes and luxuriously ensconced in his apartments at 56 Avenue Victor Hugo.

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Madame Pageau had seen him off in the snowy December cold with out a hint of a tear at Gere de Lyon. He knew his housekeeper was putting up a brave front she hated to have him out of her sight. On the night train to Nice he skipped dinner in the dining car where there was sure to be a woman or two and possibly a man who would to catch his eye with an invitation behind a smile. Instead he locked himself in his compartment and was asleep before Melun.  The next morning in Nice he picked up a 1966 Alfa Romeo Spider and hit the back roads rather than the A8 that would lead to his hideaway in the hills above Monte Carlo.

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He was surrounded by sudden Spring. The little red machine purred as he took the hairpin turns a hair to fast. Gravel was kicked into the sage by the back right tire and the wind in his face was liberating. It tore away all the cares of Paris and demands of his body. For two weeks he would luxuriated in being alone, completely and deliciously alone. He took a deep breath and smelled the green of the hills that climbed from the Mediterranean Sea up to the crystalline peaks of the Alps to the north. It smelled of green petitgrain, and almond trees growing on sage covered hills warmed by the unseasonably hot December sun.

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Everyone he knew, his clients, the boys from the Bar du Marche and anyone of consequence would be sprinkled across ski chalets and the slopes of Megève or Montgenèvre being frivolous in furs and trying desperately to have a good time.

“Bonjour Monsieur Petriz. Welcome back to Peillon.” The concierge of Hotel Auberge de la Madone greeted him as he had for the past ten years. He wore a violet boutonnière in his lapel and smelled of a perfume laced with Tonka.

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Peillon France

“Merci Henri, Peillon looks unchanged.”  Rene noticed that there was honeysuckle miraculously blooming in brightly lacquered terracotta pots just outside the windows.

“But of course Monsieur, we are close to the glitter of Monte Carlo but untouched by its extravagance. One might say that we are the simple country rose growing next to the glamorous jasmine.”

“Perfect Henri” He smiled more broadly and openly than he ever did in Paris and signed the ledger.

That afternoon he sat atop the highest hill above Peillon looking out to the south toward the sea beyond the last row of hills that separated him from Monte Carlo. To be left alone was a luxury he could barely afford. But for the next fourteen days isolation would be his.  Solace in solitude. The air was clean and green filled with memories of blessed beds of musk white sheets he shared with no one but those he met in sleepy dreams.  He fell back onto the grass and looked into the all encompassing sky and smiled once more as he never had in Paris. Rene Michel Petriz never looked, more handsome or more alive than now.

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*******

Green by Byredo is my favorite of the line. This green floral is said to be inspired by memories of the father of the creator of Byredo, Ben Gorham. Everyone should have such beautiful memories of their father.

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Ben Gorham

Green is a blend of what you would expect in green notes which meet in the most unexpected and charming way with a classic French perfume vibe. A kind of sensuous green oriental mash up that makes this a very exciting and vibrant olfactory experience. Pure magic if you ask me. Just a few sprays and you are transported to the south of France in early spring.

The top opens with fresh sunny petitgrain and sharp slightly bitter sage. It could be a hillside along the Mediterranean Sea  or a orange grove in Southern California. Where ever it is you want to be there. Super green and inviting these top notes fade off but never leave the perfume.

In the mid notes we get a spring garden with rose blooming in the afternoon and jasmine filling the night with its distinctive lush beauty. The honeysuckle and violet are intertwined into the rose and jasmine creating a cerebral vision of a classic floral perfume. It is glittering but not overly glamorous.

The dry down is clean and slightly woody with the arrival of a warm tonka, white scrubbed musk and hard edged but not too bitter almond. This brings in a bit of the barbershop for me and boosts the perfumes masculine edge making it a floral for men that is easy to wear. And on a woman it is stunningly beautiful a perfect example of what the real essence of perfume should be. Without gender and made to be loved.

The down side for me is the longevity that I find in all the Byredo perfumes. They seem to last only a few hours on my skin. But the good news for Green is that it is at the top of the spectrum in this respect. It last on my skin from four to six hours. And with me reapplication is not a problem but a fun ritual. I only mention this because for some longevity is an important issue when paying for expensive perfumes. The sillage is respectable at about three feet. With the short lifespan it does move toward a skin scent relatively quickly.  Having addressed those issues, for me Green is a winner. It is a green fragrance that an oriental lover can embrace, a perfect meeting of city and nature.

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Green by Byredo Four Gold Stars ****

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