GREED ~ Parfume by Francesco Vezzoli


LOVE AMONG THE RUINS ~ Lanvin L’homme by Lanvin


One of the most beautiful spots in Paris is hardly known outside of its neighborhood. The old roman arena still can be seen if you know where to look. Once the scene of violent gladiatorial combat it is set in a small grove of trees on the left bank surrounded by quiet charming homes and apartments. This theater of death is now a place of contemplation and peace. Only the locals go there so imagine my joy in finding this treasure. Small, elegant and very Lutetian, Lutetian? Yes Lutetia Parisorum or as we know it, Paris has been a city of Gallic elegance and creativity for over two thousand years.

When a master nose such as Alberto Morillas puts his creative mind to a unique scent for a world famous fashion and perfume house, sometimes, if you are lucky alchemy strikes like heat lightning and a masterpiece is born. Morillas is an incredible perfumer who over the last thirty years has created some of the most beloved and enduring scents around today, Giorgio Armani Sensi, Givenchy Pi, Bulgari White Tea, and Colonia Intensa by Acqua di Parma are just the tip of his creative iceberg. Here with the house of Lanvin a perfume house most noted for Arpege and My Sin, Monsieur Morillas has indeed created a stunningly remarkable men’s fragrance. It is simply Lanvin L’homme.

The intriguing blue-violet juice is held captive in a bottle of such clever and irreverent design. It looks like a hand grenade. But it is no power bomb but rather a light refreshing and always charmingly seductive arrangement of notes. It puts me in mind of a dewy spring morning at the old roman arena in Pairs. Sitting there in this respite of green in the center of the city is so refreshing. Just like Lanvin L’homme it is a very personal and special place.

L’homme’s opening is subtle with Neroli, Lavender and Bergamot taking the highroad. Then within moments of this lovely beginning you drop down into the brightly delicious recipe of mint, pepper, a really lush sage and cardamom. The long and sensationally sensuous final fade out of drying down is a slow low stirring of the exotics which I so love, sandalwood, musk, amber and a rich creamy vanilla. Pure and simple, this one is yummy! It projects well and lasts a good 8 hours or so on me. This creative cloud of perfume perfection is a real find for any man who wants something truly special in his collection. Never cloying always masculine and confident Lanvin L’homme is a 90’s winner from one of the masters of the perfume world.

It is the perfect scent to wear when you find yourself in a beautiful Roman ruin contemplating the history and beauty of ancient Lutetia of the Parissi.

Five + Platinum Stars *****

MOTHER AND THE MOVIE STAR ~ Vince Camuto for Men

My mother had style. One summer in 1977 I went up to visit my mother in Washington State where she now lives. And on this particular afternoon about which I am going to tell you we went into Seattle to Pioneer Square for lunch and a little sightseeing. You know, “Underground Seattle” and all of that tourist stuff that we love to do in other cities but loath to do in our own.


  We entered a smart eatery on the Square and were seated in the greenhouse which was covered with lilac vines. Our seat was by the door and we faced into the dinning room. It must have been a ladies who lunch convention for the entire room was packed with middle-aged women dressed to the nines. I was the only man in the room except for a man  facing us alone on the other side of the greenhouse seated next to the door to the interior dining room and the kitchen.

As mother and I settled into our seats and were handed those huge old fashioned menus you can hide a Buick behind we noticed an air of excitement in the room. The place was positively atwitter. Like when a tomcat gets into the giant birdcage at the zoo. The tomcat in this case was the lone gentleman facing us.

I lowered my menu to see what all the hubbub was about.

“Mother don’t be obvious but isn’t that Cesar Romero over there?”

Mother peeked over her menu. “Why yes Lanier, I think it is.” The menu went back up. “I am having the Salmon, what about you?”

Cesar Romero was a romantic Latin matinee idol of the movies back around the time when my mother was a little girl, the 1930’s. That day in Seattle he certainly had not lost one iota of his charm or Movie Star looks. He was indeed impossible not to notice, and he was making sure that the entire room knew he was there. He must have carried his own personal key light where ever he went and it was always turned on. You could not ignore him. There he was a real 24 carat Hollywood Star like they didn’t make anymore.



The women in the restaurant were making regular pilgrimages to his table and nearly curtsying as they asked for his autograph. He was gracious to each of them and gave his signature on napkins and old envelopes with a blazing smile.  Mother lowered her menu and that was when he saw her. One eyebrow shot up and his tractor beam of white hot glamour narrowed from the entire room to just her. He spent the entire lunch trying to get her attention. All eyes shifted to our table and the twittering doubled.  Mother played it cool and never gave him an inch. For me this was a revelatory treat. My mother could play a movie star like he was a smitten teenaged boy. Neither of us even acknowledged what was happening. By the end of lunch the trickle of ladies to Mr. Romero’s table had subsided. They were transfixed over cold plates just waiting for something to happen.

The check came. Despite my protest mother insisted on paying for lunch. When we rose to leave the place was like a tomb. It was so quiet you could hear a mouse pass gas. Suddenly there was the sound of wooden table legs scarping across the floor. Everyone turned toward the sound. Cesar Romero was standing at his table. He bowed elegantly to my mother. The ladies some with their mouths agape all turned their heads to my mother. At the door to the square she half turned and gave him a hint of a smile and a nod then swept out with me in her wake.

Safely outside we burst into laughter. Then it hit her.

“My god! That was Cesar Romero!”

“And he was flirting with YOU!”

“You don’t suppose I could have had an affaire with Cesar Romero do you?” She said all giggles and suddenly sixteen again.

“Maybe mom, but what you just had in there was probably a lot better than an affaire.”

We laughed about it all the way home.


Vince Camuto the new men’s cologne by American shoe designer Vince Camuto is just the kind of fragrance you would imagine a man like Cesar Romero would wear. From the uber masculine glamour of it’s leather clad bottle design with its silver “wax” seal and gun metal top and cap it is a stunner to look at. It would look good in the dressing room of any star from 1930 to today.

The bold gorgeous bottle gives the impression that you are in for a big show, “Major Studio Premiere Tonight” kind of thing. This Woody Aromatic perfume opens brightly and all smiles for the camera with a delicious pop of pepper, bergamot and mandarin orange.  At first I thought, oh here we go this is going to be a powerhouse masculine scent. But no, the opening is misleading. Like popping flashbulbs at a 1940 movie premiere it’s what comes after the red carpet entrance that counts. The three starlet openers of pepper, bergamot and mandarin drop way within twenty minutes, enter the real stars of lavender, nutmeg and a new fresh smooth leather.  It becomes subtle and soft like beautiful Spanish leather boots. It takes its time and holds back just enough to be enticing. Like a big close-up at just the right moment. The leather is sumptuous and sensuous how appropriate considering the house of Camuto is all about shoes. It moves closer to the skin in the dry down of musk, patchouli, vetiver and wood keeping the subtle masculine aura alive though to the fade out and…. The End.

Vince Camuto has a wonderful old world meets old Hollywood feeling. It is made of elusive star shine and a dash of the stuff that dreams are made of. Like Romero’s tractor beam of glamour Vince Camuto narrows its focus fairly quickly and then stays on track for about seven hours of wear. Never pushy or loud or the kind of fragrance that calls out for the paparazzo’s attention, I find that Vince Camuto does not wear you. When you wear it, you, not the fragrance are the star.





While I am working on some new reviews this NEWS FLASH!!

Today at work one of my co-workers popped up at my desk all out of breath. “You are in the Chronicle News Paper!”

She handed me this clipping.


Now as we all know from my previous post I was downtown last night, sure, I was in the 800 block of Market Street…BUT I was at a screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.  The theater just happens to be in the same block and the scene of the crime. I have wittnesses, Yes it was dark but it wasn’t me.  Honest!!!



(UPI, AP, San Francisco: Fumehead and blogger Lanier Smith avoids the press leaving his home as news breaks of cologne heist in San Francisco. When questioned Smith snapped “Why don’t you ask John Robie where HE was last night?”)


(Famous “Cat” burglar John Robie…has he switched from the French Rivera to San Francisco? Has his taste moved from diamonds to perfume? At press time he could not be reached for comment. )

AUTUMN IN NEW YORK ~ Perry Ellis for Men 1985

The setting sun turns the high end apartment buildings along  5th Avenue Petra rose in the late Fall. Low slung in the western sky over New Jersey it casts long shadows from the Metropolitan Museum across the avenue as taxis stream past blinking in and out of the sunlight. In the brisk air of the fading afternoon young bright men are dashing for a cab to head out for supper and a club or leaving a note with the doorman at the apartment of the fresh young thing they just have to see again. The smell of rain is in the air. Off of 5th Avenue along any block in the upper 60’s walk gentlemen of infinite experience who take more time in their pleasures. Men with the kind of style and grace one only acquires as life scrapes along leaving beautiful scars that tell the tale. The year  is 1985 and wealth and luxury have not been this desirable to the masses or so easy since the 1920’s. The signature scent of the day is Perry Ellis for Men.

Perry Ellis opens sweetly romantic and young. The carnation mixes with the leather and rose to give it a youthful yet effortless sophistication. There is a bit of bergamot mixed in with galbanum and oak moss to add a well rounded dry down and the vanilla shimmers with a bit of sweet luxury in the blended notes. It is a good starter for a young man who wants to try something a little more daring than a citrus or the standard “clean laundry” aura that is all the rage today. This smell is masculine, authoritative without being chauvinistic or arrogant. And not everyone or every guy who lives on his block will be wearing it. That is the nice thing about the old school classics, what is old can be new again.

As with most men’s fragrances from the 1980’s it is powerful and should be respected as such. The projection is substantial but not invasive. This gentleman has staying power galore. Eight to ten hours is the norm. Good for any evening occasion be it La Traviata at Met or a club in Soho.  It may be a bit heavy for daywear unless you are in showbiz.

If you are going for that 80’s elegance with out the “Dynasty” over kill then, think rich, preppy, Upper East Side Manhattan…it could even carry within its fragrant promises a few dangerous liaisons.

Four Gold Stars ****

VOLUTES MAKES A SPLASH! ~ Diptyque premiere party San Fancisco


Travel…within a journey

“Diptyque is delighted to invite you to the exclusive preview of the latest fragrance addition to its fragrance range”

September 12th 2012

171 Maiden Lane

San Francisco


With great excitement my friend Lane and I rounded the corner off the clattering hubbub of Stockton Street into the cool shade of the little shopping canyon of   Maiden Lane on our way to an olfactory party!   With our noses set on ready we came into view of the red Diptyque banner fluttering lightly in the early evening breeze. This was our very first perfume event and we had no idea what to expect.

Upon entering Diptyque at five thirty we found the boutique alight with many of their famous fragrant candles which added to the wonderful unique scent of the store. So unique is the smell that they bottle it as “34” or by its formal name of 34 Boulevard Saint Germain (the address of the original Paris boutique). It is a wonderful smell.

Beautiful in a smart little back dress, Bo welcomed us and directed us down the stairs to where our hostess and store manager Madeline Thies was serving drinks. Always chic and smiling Madeline welcomed us and proceeded to make us feel that our arrival was the whole point of the evening! Now that is hospitably San Francisco style.


In the center of the lower level was the star of the evening, a beautifully designed table where the new fragrance Volutes stood center stage in its classic clear oval Diptyque bottle. It was surrounded by bowls filled each with a raw sample of the ingredients that go into making the juice. Tobacco leaves, iris, frankincense, pink and black pepper, saffron, hay, immortelle, myrrh, opopanax and some others I am sure I missed.  What a clever and great presentation. Lane and I smelled some of the samples yet nether of us was quite ready to test the fragrance we need a little time to get our olfactory bearings.

Our noses lead us back up to the street level where we met up with Bo again. Lane explained to her that he had been doing his research and wanted to test a few scents, L’Eau de L’Eau, L’Eau des Hesperides and L’Eau de Tarocco.  Miss Bo was so wonderfully helpful and informed on the scents. She amazed me when she told us that construction workers in the area really love Hesperides. Now that is some incredible information and why shouldn’t construction workers love to smell nice too?  We smelled it on paper first but before long each scent found its way to three different spots on Lane’s arms. We stood there for some time enjoying the smells and trying to decide which suited him best.

Madeline checked in with us and replenished our drinks and enticed us both to try some of the very delectable assorted sweets at the bar. Wonderful tiny fruit and chocolate tarts that were scrumptious. We found ourselves back downstairs and at the Volutes table where we met the handsome Gregory from the Pairs boutique. He filled us in on the history of Volutes. The fragrance was inspired by the childhood memory of one of the original founders of Diptyque. Who in fact at 95 still lives in an apartment on the third floor above the boutique at 34 Boulevard Saint Germain. The inspiration was a trip he took with his parents by ship from France to Indochine. He was fascinated by the ship with its swirls of smoke from its toweling smokestacks and the glamorous women who came on deck each evening to smoke their exotic Khedive cigarettes, the blue smoke swirling about them like exotic veils. Add to that memory the smells of the spices of the ports of Alexandria, and Bombay, Colombo, Bangkok, and finally Saigon.  Decades later the journey became Volutes.  With that incredible tale from the effervescent and charming Gregory it was time to try a sniff of the main attraction.


It opened like a box of aromatic Egyptian cigarettes and then began to unfold like a Scheherazadian tale of the orient, smoky mystery layered with danger and romance. Volutes means swirls and it does exactly that! Over the evening it bloomed and created a wonderfully rich vale of incense. Even with his three fragrances on Lane had to try it too. That is when we discovered that it smells different on different skins. At this point we found ourselves huddled over the table in exclamatory delight which caught the ear of two other guests at the event. And so Volutes introduced us to Hilary  and her friend from South  Africa, Adrienne.  The four of us set off on a conversation of what we found delightful and interesting in this new fragrance. We all agreed that Volutes is perhaps the most complex and exotic of the line. As for me, I have to say that I enjoy Diptyque and I am still exploring their line but when I smelled Volutes I flipped! Sold to the tall guy with the red shirt! Lane noticed that on my skin it smelled very masculine yet on Hilary it was wonderfully feminine. This amazing transformative aspect of the scent by this point in the evening did not surprise me.

Hilary told me that she works at Barney’s NY here in San Francisco and also represents the Diptique line there as well as L’Artisan Parfumeur, Arquiste, Aedes de Venustas. She graciously invited me and Lane to stop in for a visit. I have only been into Barney’s once and I can tell you there perfume department is amazing. So there we have another story in the making with the beautiful and gracious Hilary. If you are in the area do stop in to Barney’s and say hi to Hilary.


Before we knew it the evening regrettably was winding down and we had to say our goodbyes to the lovely Hilary and her equally beautiful friend Adrienne. I met Madeline at the bar and told her that she had just made a sale with me of the Volutes. It was so captivating that I had to have it on the spot. As Madeline bagged my purchase she informed us that there will be another event in October and that we were invited. Thank you Madeline! It will be a holiday candle event and a whole new area for my nose to explore! Just as we said goodbye to everyone who had been so kind and gracious Madeline did the sweetest thing. She gave us each a surprise goodie bag! Like I said before, San Francisco hospitality at its best, and I have to add Parisian charm grace, and style too!

Thank you to Madeline, Gregory, Bo and the other sales associates we didn’t have a chance to meet (Next time!) for a wonderful and unique evening in the heart of the sweetest smelling street in San Francisco.

When in San Francisco be sure to visit Diptyque at 171   Maiden Lane 94108

Phone: 415 402-0600

A CRIME OF PASSION ~ Nautica Voyage

At the bracing first spay of Nautica Voyage it puts me in mind of sailing on a crisp bright spring morning on San Francisco Bay. Fog rolling like cotton ball breakers over the Golden Gate tasting of salt and meeting the low East Bay heat from the interior.  It swirls crisp and cold up over the water until it evaporates near Alcatraz Island. This is pretty typical for a spectacular spring day on the bay. Summer on the bay is colder still and only in fall is it really more like summer anywhere else but here. Well, like we say here in The City…If you don’t like the weather wait three days.

But Nautica is not all sunny spring or foggy summers. There is another side I picked up on from this fragrance, one of danger and excitement.

In the depth of winter there is another place that I find entrancing if a bit dangerous, Highway 1 just south of Pacifica on the way to Half Moon Bay. Devils Slide it is called and for a very good reason. In the fog or shattering rain the Slide is a thrill ride not easily forgotten. Every winter when the rains come some, of or all of it shears off with a great thunder crack of angred earth. Wrenched from its perch hundreds of feet above the storm torn Pacific it crashes into the sea taking everything that is on it with it down to the icy fingers of Poseidon. (He winters in California…I thought you knew that.)  And when I ride along this patch of the highway as a passenger in the midst of a winter squall I peer over the edge of the cliffs and grip the sides of the car seat wondering if we will survive the ride. It is on the worst teetering leaning parts of the curves of Devil’s Slide that I remember this is where Lana Turner and Anthony Quinn pushed Efrem Zimbalist Jr.’s car with him in it off the cliff in “Portrait in Black” I have never passed that spot without thinking that scene in the film. The wet rainy smell of the sea and the sage on the hills around this spot on Devil’s Slide is wonderful. Yet still, it is a lovely spot for a little murder.


The first spay from the beautiful bottle delivers a very brisk and cool Green Apple opening that delights the nose.  The middle notes are watery with sweet Mimose and Water Lily. The Mimose is not too sweet and just a hint of fruitiness. Once out of the water and on the beach you meet with the notes of amber, musk, cedar and Oakmoss. This is where that sage like scent that I mentioned comes in.  Nautica Lasts on my skin a good 7 to 8 hours and at the dry down the projection is not intrusive. At the end it is very close to the skin yet still can get a nice complement at the end of the day

(It was all just make believe! Lana with director Michael Gordon at Devil’s Slide.)

Nautica Voyage was a blind buy for me. What attracted me initially was the beauty of the bottle. How shallow am I? Very! Let’s face it; I have a fondness for beautiful things. But back on point now, I was pleasantly surprised by the truly refreshing fragrance. It is a great spring or summer scent. In winter it should only be worn to commit a crime of passion.

Four Solid Silver Stars ****


Of all the wonderful places to shop in San Francisco for perfume there is one place that holds legendary status among natives of the ant hill by the Golden Gate. Parfumerie Jacqueline has stood on the intersection of Geary   Boulevard and Grant Avenue since the early 1970’s and in that time it has garnered a vivid and colorful reputation. I have heard many stories of the formidable owner and his brusque manner with customers. One woman claimed to be rushed out of the store when she mentioned that she bought fragrance on EBay.  Over time I was attracted to the store, for the legend goes that it is a treasure trove of sumptuous scents and fabulous fragrances. Simultaneously I grew more and more terrified to enter the lair of the fire breathing dragon of Perfume.  I even shared some of my fears with the lovely Natalie of the delightful fume blog “Another Perfume Blog ~too much is just enough”. I called him Mr. Jacqueline and she thought that was a good name since nether of us knew his real name. Further more Natalie encouraged me to bite the bullet and enter where angels fear to flutter even a pin feather of one wing.

Two weeks ago I took my best friend Lane around on a sniffathon and we passed Parfumerie Jacqueline. I told Lane I was afraid to go in the shop for fear of being manhandled in some way or beaned on the head with a giant perfume factice bottle for being unversed in his expertise. On the way back up Geary we passed the store and Mr. Jacqueline was standing just outside the entrance to his shop and glowering at all who passed. I grabbed Lane by the arm and rushed him past the gargoyle by the door. “He looks just the way I imagined he would from Natalie’s description!” I whispered. Then we both laughed at the truth of my statement and sauntered into over to Diptyque where wonderful Madeline showed us some incredible offerings of scent.

Last evening on my way home from work I peeked into the window of “Stacks” a marvelous breakfast only restaurant on Hayes and Octavia in the HayesValley where I live. I have never been inside since it is usually an hour wait to get a table on the weekends. Hat pushed back and nose smushed against the glass, my myopic eyes strained for a view beyond the dark glass. Slowly the place came into focus. It looked so glamorous with huge, I mean Gigantic terra cotta pots in the center of the plush dinning room over flowing nearly to the height of the twenty foot ceiling with flowers. Lovely banquets like an old Hollywood movie around the corner windows. Lush reds and greens and glass objects sparkled everywhere. “Okay Lanier” I thought. “Tomorrow you are getting up at 6:15 and dressing for breakfast at “Stacks”. You will be there promptly at 7am.”  By the time I had crossed the street and traversed the half a block to my door I had talked myself into making a day of it with at trip downtown after breakfast to sniff things out. After all we all know the best shopping hours on the weekends are between ten and noon.


   Somehow it is very easy to get up early to an alarm clock on a Saturday morning when you have something fun planned. Breakfast was wonderful, that is after they made the second batch. The busboy ran into the waiter at the kitchen pickup window and my blueberry pancakes and scrambled eggs were momentarily airborne then ended up making an interesting pattern on the carpet. But that was okay since I had my coffee and my iPad with Quintessentially Perfume open to the chapter on Maison Dorin. (So much to learn there by the way!)

After breakfast I waked across Patricia Green and down the alley past the coffeeholics lined up in front of Blue Bottle and on to the Muni station on Market. I really had no planed route today but I did know I wanted to pick up a bottle of the new men’s perfume Vince Camuto at Macy’s so there was a starting point. My toe was in the water, cue the theme from Jaws, I was now in range of Perfume Jacqueline.

Thrilled as only a perfume addict can be with my new acquisition AND free Vince Camuto duffle bag with purchase to boot I drifted aimlessly out the door and up Stockton Street to Geary. I decided to hop over to Hermes on Grant Avenue to see if they were open. I had never been in and I wanted to smell Un Jardin Sur Le Nil since I had just finished The Perfect Scent by Chandler Burr. (Sarah Jessica Parker’s Lovely is in the mail at this very moment.)  I was met with smiles and a very warm welcome my Lydia Ho a lovely sales associate who was well versed on the perfume stock. When I asked if I might smell Sur Le Nil she was most gracious. As she prepared a scent card for me I mentioned Jean Claude Ellena and she smiled knowingly,  “Have you read Chandler Burr’s book?” She had me pegged!  I tried Un Jardin En Mediterranee as well. Charming Lydia whom I called Linda, OY, sent me off with an arm blast full of Jardin Sur Le Nil and a genuinely kind smile. I am defiantly going back to Hermes.  What was my impression of Sur Le Nil? Quick shot, it reminded me of the swimming pools surrounded by exotic flowers that I swam in as a teenager in Southern California.

With my nose lodged in the crook of my arm and again in a fog I wandered back down Grant to Geary. The insistent Jaws theme pumped up here only I couldn’t hear it, I was in too deep.  I came too at the window of Jacqueline looking at the fascinating collection of perfume factices filled with colored water. A biting fear chomped into my gut as I entertained the thought of maybe just maybe going in. Fear won out and I turned to flee and nearly ran head on into two blonde women who were most definitely most assuredly going right straight into the jaws of Jacqueline. I thought that if I went in on their wake I might go un-noticed and get to at least look around.


  There was a great sucking noise and everything began to swim around the corners of my vision as I entered. There he was! Mr. Jacqueline himself looking rather small behind the counter and yes he was scowling at Les Blondes!  I was so utterly unnerved and on the edge of panic when I noticed a shelf of imported soaps. I decided to look them over and listen in on Les Blondes and Mr. Jacqueline’s conversation.

“Can you tell us where Market Street is?” OH DRAT they are tourist and not shopping and he is going to annihilate them!  I grabbed a bar of La Toja soap which was attached to two others and made a horrid clattering as it skittered over the glass case. I tried to look like I was studying them as if they were part of the Elizabeth Taylor Jewelry collection. Well I thought, just buy this and get the hell out of here.

I heard the door to the street shut…..Les Blondes had beat it. Then suddenly and most dangerously alone with him I slowly turned just as he said. “Good Afternoon.”  He came into focus and he was beaming the most beatific smile I have seen in a long time. He was happy to see me!

“Ummm, Good afternoon. I think I will just get this for now.” I sputtered.

“That sir is an excellent choice. What may I ask is the kind of soap you usually use?”

“Ummm…I can’t remember what it is called but it comes from Italy and it comes in a round tin and it is creamy and lemony and …..I like it.” Was all I could think to say…I was so dumbfounded by his charming manner. Was this a trap; was it the smile of the shark before he bites?

“Oh well here let me show you some soaps I have on order that you might like. This soap, La Toja by the way is from a very old recipe first used by the Romans….” He pulled out a soap catalog and we began to talk.

For the next twenty minutes I learned that his father was American and his mother was French, he was born in Albany New York but grew up in the center the Gallic heart of France. His family didn’t leave France when the Nazi’s came because of German submarines were sinking so many ships to America.  He told me that during World War II they made their own soap. I learned what his chores were on the farm in the summer, he milked the cows and cut the hay. He told me that the French would not accept him as French because of his father. He surprised me when he told me he was 82 since he looks so much younger. His wife is THE Jacqueline and she began the store and their two boys went to Berkeley. He was so sweetly eager to tell me his story.  I asked him his name.

“My name is Andre.”

I heald out my hand and shook his and told him my name and how pleased I was to meet him. The phone rang and we said our goodbyes.

“Goodbye Andre, I will see you soon.”

So today, a familiar old lesson came up to be learned once again by me. You know what it is so I won’t spell it out. But I will say this. Isn’t it interesting all the doors that are opened by our passion for perfume?




UN HOMME DE MYSTÈRE ~ L’Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme

Late evening in the Café Camille, Marais Pairs:

(Café Camille by Lanier Smith. Mixed Media)

The erudite waiters were all in blanched linen shirts, black wool pants and crisp spotless cotton aprons as they elegantly attended the thinning clientele. The noisy American tourists had left and only a few neighborhood regulars lingered over coffee or a dying bottle of wine. As I sat there drinking in the night from the sidewalk table I caught a whiff of something so utterly delicious, a euphoria of blending and slowly unfolding scents. It was chocolate, but not of this earth for it was richer and deeper than the darkest cocoa bean could ever produce. Then I realized that it was something more like a bouquet of jasmine dipped in warm dark chocolate and sprinkled over with anise and lavender….and a little slice of orange on the side. It was so impossibly rich and enticing and sensual. Then sadly it began to fade like a gypsy’s dream until it was finally gone. Only then did I realize that the man who just walked past my table toward the Place Des Vosges was the source of that incredible scent. If only I could know what it was that he was wearing?

Days later as I sauntered past 68 Avenue des Champs Élysées I picked up the silage of this siren like fragrance. I turned to see the man from a few nights before in the Marais. He slipped into the doors of the Guerlain Perfumery. Without hesitation I spun on my heel and followed him into the palace de scent. Nowhere to be seen, he had again eluded me. As I turned I caught in the smallest corner of my eye a glimpse of him. He stood at the counter talking to an impossibly chic sales girl. In his well manicured hand he was holding a golden bottle up to the light. It glimmered, it winked in deepest gold, and he turned and smiled at me as if he knew what I was after…. “L’Instant” he said in less than a whisper.


L’Instant by Guerlain is so incredibly wonderful. I was immediately enveloped in a vale of coco and jasmine on the opening notes. Not feminine at all as one might expect but so confidently masculine in the blending in of anise, cedar and Indian sandalwood that take over the bulk of the middle. It is never overpowering but still commanding and insinuates a certain confidence that is very Parisian. The dry down is incredible. Lapsang Tea and Hibiscus seed and musk it is almost oriental in feeling. But all the way through and what got the most comments from those who noticed is that scrumptious rich dark chocolate that never quite leaves. Very long lasting, great silage, an all around winner that drew praise from both women and men. Guerlain is the master of luxe and elegant fragrances of such depth and complexity that really makes them stand out as a top fragrance house of impeccable distinction.

Five Platinum Stars ****

THE SECRETARY OF STYLE ~ Cassini for Men by Oleg Cassini

“Fashion anticipates … elegance is a state of mind.”

He was born in Pairs the son of a Russian Count and an Italian Countess. As a child he moved from Paris to Florence Italy where his mother opened her own design house. “I had to change my taste from caviar to linguini” He quipped later. As a young man he fled Italy after winning a duel arriving in New York in 1936 “with only a tuxedo, two tennis rackets and talent.”



By the time he appeared in Hollywood in the early 40’s his talent at tennis lead him to a meeting with the head of Paramount studios who was looking for a new designer for his studio. The first film he designed for was the famous “I Wanted Wings” staring Veronica Lake and her peek-a-boo hairdo, which he claimed to invent. Some of his other films were, “The Razor’s Edge”, “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir”  and “The Shanghai Gesture” all staring his soon to be wife Gene Tierney. Over his lengthy career he designed for films such stars as Rita Hayworth, and Marilyn Monroe all the way to contemporary luminaries such as Kim Basinger and Taylor Swift. All of this would be enough to put him in the ranks of the greats yet the greatest achievements were yet to come.


After World War II he opened a ready to wear design house in New York while still working in Hollywood. In 1961 he was appointed by Jacqueline Kennedy as her personal couturier for her new position as First Lady of the United States of America. He created a look for her that was international and timeless which resonates today as the look of Camelot. “All I remember about those days are nerves, and Jackie on the phone ‘Hurry, hurry, Oleg, I’ve got nothing to wear’,” (She loved French haute couture but was told that as first lady she would be wise to wear only American designs.) “I dressed Jackie to be a star in a major film, which she was, the most famous first lady of all time. I became her secretary of style”.


In his time he married a movie star and had a famous affair with another star who would one day break her engagement to him to become her serine highness Princess Grace of Monaco. He created a look so classic that it is emulated by many today and he was the innovator of designer licensing. He brought color to men’s dress shirts. Vibrant hues where before only white was allowed.  He was in all essence the very first modern superstar American designer. He was the great Oleg Cassini.



One of the other things Oleg Cassini did in his pursuit to leave no stone un-turned was to create a few fragrances. One of which is Cassini for Men introduced in 1994. This is an Oriental Woody that opens brilliantly with notes of chamomile, mandarin orange, exotic apricot like osmanthus, basil and Brazilian rosewood. This rush of delight lasts about ten to fifteen minutes and it is really a glorious promise of things to come. The middle notes are sadly short-lived and the promise dies on the vine, Lavender, jasmine, lemon verbena and geranium become a muddle and die within an hour. The base notes for me barely make an appearance. The sandalwood is nil, with only traces of amber, musk and vanilla. The vetiver and incense for me never got a chance to dance by the time the ball was over. At best it could be used as an after bath or shower spritz. Within two hours the entire fragrance disappeared like a carnival in the night with the town sheriff in hot pursuit.

It is really a shame to see such a gorgeous presentation wither like the sunburned petals of a morning glory. For truly the bottle is a glamorous deco creation worthy of any star dressing room. But like too many Hollywood dreams it is made of smoke and mirrors and is forgotten by the time the lights come up.

“St. Francis of Assisi has always been an inspiration to me. He was a playboy, too.” Oleg Cassini



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