New shoes clicking along the sidewalk up Stockton Street gave rhythm to my excitement as I approached Neiman Marcus for the opening night of La Collection Privée Christian Dior and the new Dior Boutique. I was on my own for the event and as always in such cases a bit shy on entering into the social swirl of such abundant and easy glamour and glitz. I took a few moments to warm up to the idea as I snapped a few shots of the glass encased rotunda of one the most beautiful department stores in Union Square.
With eminent rain bearing down on the city from the Gulf of Alaska I decided it was just about the right time to go in. The first floor of the rotunda of Neiman’s is ringed with glittering boutique after glittering boutique. The usual suspects are lined up around this arena of glam, Chanel, Guerlain, Tom Ford. As you move along on what feels a little like a circular fashion show catwalk around the rotunda, all eyes from behind crystal and chrome counters turn to greet you…and always the eyes are smiling.
There just past Chanel in about the best spot possible (not too close to the door and not buried beyond the rotunda) is the brand new Dior Boutique. The New Look has arrived at Neiman’s and it is as fresh and beguiling as it was in 1947. Dior never looked better than here in gleaming black and white. A gorgeous elegant design has been executed in small yet comfortable space. Within it accommodates the stunning showcase of the perfume line as well as a very efficiently laid out makeup demonstration area in the center. Even with the event in full swing it was easy to move around. The lighting is superb and with mirrored ceilings it is defused and flattering.
Music filled the rotunda provided by a lovely violinist which added a touch of Baroque elegance to the entire feeling of the affair. Accompanied by a cascade of classical notes Hillary Rayvis Randall, turned to greet me, stunning in black with her hair up like Scarlett going to Ashley Wilkes Birthday party she was the picture of sophistication. The last time we had met about three weeks ago she had informed me that “Something wonderful” was in the works and this was it! Always gracious and the perfect hostess Hilary, introduced me to the delightful perfume collector Mary Eddington.
(HILARY AND MARY EDDINGTON)
Champagne and canapés appeared as Hilary invited me to smell Mary’s wrist where she had just sprayed Ambre Nuit and on her thumb a bit of Mitzah. This was my first introduction to the Privée line. I wrapped my nose around the scent from Mary’s presented for inspection wrist and I fell into the garden of earthly delights. The Ambre Nuit was all amber, pink pepper and roses. The Best Rose I have ever smelled in perfume and the Mitzah is all about incense cinnamon, spices and honey.
“It is like passing from a cloistered rose garden into a cathedral at Easter Mass.” I noted.
As Hilary excused herself to greet new arrivals Mary and I got down to the business of “How did you first get into perfume?” On this question we met on common ground. It was all about our mothers and exploring the wonders of their perfume vanities as little children Dusty late afternoon sunlight streaming through gauzy curtains that fell upon mirrored dressing tables loaded down with glittering scrumptious treasures. Mary told me how almost excruciatingly exciting it was to go shopping in San Francisco when she was a little girl. Entering in open mouthed wonder the old and long gone venues such as The White House, and The City of Paris, and how the glamour of it all was near to overwhelming. She was hooked at a very early age. If I recall correctly her first love was Jicky by Guerlain. We also shared stories of meeting Andre from Jacqueline Perfume shop and how he was really a San Francisco treasure. It turns out I was not the only person afraid to go into Jacqueline. But our fears were unfounded; if you have a passion for perfume Monsieur Andre will sense that and take you on a tour of his enchanted garden.
We agreed that we both loved the adventure of perfume and the excitement of discovery of a new scent. The fun involved in opening notes and exploring and deciphering notes as a perfume unfolded in three acts. I mentioned that I had heard that Diorella was a great fragrance that was not only suited for a woman but worked well on a man. That led us to a bottle. It was very nice but as we explored together Mary and I both agreed that Dioressence was perhaps better on my skin. That explosion of aldehydes gets me every time. Hilary was across the display where the Privée stars were lined up in their dazzling colors in their simple chic gloriously huge bottles. She invited us to join her.
(SOME LAUGHTER AFTER I CAUGHT THE WOMAN ON THE RIGHT SPRAY HER ANKLE WITH DIOR AND I SAID, “WASN’T IT COCO CHANEL WHO SAID TO PUT PERFUME WHERE EVER YOU WANT TO BE KISSED?”)
When I mentioned that I liked the Mitzah on Mary Hilary said with an impish twinkle: “I have just the thing for you, Oud Ispahan.” Oh yes Hilary knows my love for Orientals and she was right. Oud Ispahan was singing to me its song of sensuous seduction. Like the most wonderful rendition of Bali Hai in French!
From there Mary and I sampled on cards each and every bottle of the Privée line. Some stand outs for me were Vetiver, a woody wonder. Cologne Royal, classic citrus eau de cologne. New Look 1947, Parisian perfection rich and seductive and of course Mitzah and Oud Ispahan.
As the evening began to wind down Hilary presented us with some samples of those we liked and Mary went home with full bottles of Ambre Nuit, Mitzah and Dioressence. When Mary took her leave we both agreed it had been a great pleasure meeting over the perfume counter. We hugged goodbye and a new friend was found.
Not quite ready to leave myself I sniffed around some of the other Dior fragrances that had yet to be explored, Jules, La Dolce Vita, and Dior Homme. Yet after so many wonders I was on overload and a veritable walking perfume sampler.
Thanking Hilary for the wonderful evening that I didn’t want to end she held me back for a moment.
“Did you notice that gentleman who was speaking in French behind you a moment ago; I want you to meet him. He is the best Nose in all of Union Square.”
She caught his attention I turned to see a very tall handsome fellow with a beaming smile heading over to us. Hilary introduced me to Michal Gizinski, and mentioned to him that I was the writer of the Scents Memory blog. She added that the two of us should meet and perhaps do an interview.
“Oh yes I would love that, anytime!” He said.
“So would I,” I agreed. “In fact I would love to interview both of you. Pick your brains about how you came to perfume, what it means to you learn a little about what you know.”
We shook hands and it was agreed that an interview would be a delightful prospect. So stay tuned on that front for upcoming posts with Hilary Rayvis Randall and Michal Gizinski
With a wave and a wink I was off and out the door. New shoes clicking along the sidewalk off Stockton Street and in a layered cloud of Dior magic I embraced the beauty of the night and the joy one finds in meeting new friends.
The line up of La Collection Privee Christian Dior
NEW LOOK 1947