Pink winked at me this morning. In the east the sky was that very flirty shade you get on a clear spring morning. At least that’s how it looked to me when I peeked from under my duvet ready for my perfumed Saturday adventure to begin.
Spring has landed in Hayes Valley with the trees along Octavia Boulevard busting out with over-sized soft pink pompoms blooms so heavy they pull the branches downward. Warm at 6:30 in the morning is a rarity here. At 65 degrees and climbing what passes for “summer” in foggy San Francisco comes twice a year, at spring and again in the early fall. When summer bakes the rest of California we are usually socked in with icy fog, our second winter. So, early this unusually warm morning as I readied myself attend the launch of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s newest spring perfume, Caligna I felt the spirit of Maggie Prescott move me to “Think Pink”!
Dressed for this spectacular spring morning I ascended from the Muni subway onto Market and Stockton decked out in beige slacks, canvas Converse sneakers and a think pink shirt. It was a glorious morning on Market just before 10 a.m. and still relatively quite for downtown. Market is magical in the morning, with the Ferry Building standing at attention at the Eastern foot of the street and Twin Peaks watching over the city from the west, the last great hills before the Pacific. With its newly leafed Kelly green Sycamore trees marching up one side and down the other the main artery to the heart of San Francisco was breathtakingly gorgeous. The beauty of it always knocks me out each time I come up out of the subway.
No time to dally on the sidewalk this morning, on I forged to Barney’s just a short block up Stockton. I arrived at 10 just as the doors were opening. This launch of Caligna was to consist of a personal one on one presentation of the perfume by the Sales and Marketing Director, North America of L’Artisan Parfumeur, Brian Kurtz to a select group of Barney’s clients. I owe my spot to my perfume pal Mary Eddington who couldn’t be there and offered me her 10:30 spot. She is off in Paris and most likely at this very moment is in the flagship store of L’Artisan Parfumeur having a ball. Thanks to Mary I was about to have a ball myself. Having arrived a tad bit early and not sure of just what was going to happen I went into Barney’s fragrance salon to wander around until my appointed time arrived.
I saw Hilary across the gleaming perfume counters talking to a tall handsome young man. I popped over to say hello and let them know that I would be back at 10:30. I apologized for being early but that was not a problem it turned out. Hilary introduced me to Brian and he kindly began my introduction to Caligna.
Brian Kurtz and Hilary Rayvis Randal
Brian was completely charming and warm as he told me the story of Caligna. This new perfume for spring 2013 is a part of the new Grasse Collection along with two equally new scented candles, Le Printemps and L’Eté. (L’Eté, “summer”, was my favorite!) The inspiration for Caligna was to capture the essence, indeed the feelings and smells of the beautiful countryside around the village of Grasse, the very birthplace of French perfume. The name comes from the provincial dialect of the area and means to “court” or “flirt”.
As Brian told me about the perfumer behind the fragrance, Dora Baghriche-Arnaud he opened small vials of essential oils and let me sample the individual notes that go into the fragrance. Dora Baghriche-Arnaud who grew up in the south of France over the course of a year meticulously selected scents that evoke the feeling of a warms spring morning in the Mediterranean climate of Grasse.
The Nose, Dora Baghriche-Arnaud
The fist ingredient he presented was Fig. The rich lush and flesh sensuous note was earthy and so delicious in its fruity fullness. Thus the stage was set by this quintessential Mediterranean fruit for the next notes that Mademoiselle Baghriche-Arnaud added into the elixir. The signature fragrance of the south of France and Italy was presented to my nose by Brian with an expectant smile, Clary Sage. This bright warm aromatic fragrance was somewhat familiar to me having grown up in Southern California where sage is everywhere. Not the elegant bright Clary Sage which is new to me but a sage none the less. This note was sunny and wonderful. I didn’t want to go on to the next note but rather just stand there engrossed in the lovely pictures of southern France the Clary Sage brought to mind. Brian presented the next note on a blotter and explained that this was Jasmine, not your ordinary Jasmine but Jasmine Marmalade. It was brilliant and just the right note to add to the Clary sage and Fig. It smelled like the most amazing jam made of pure sweet luscious Jasmine flowers. I asked him how Dora had made it, what was in it to make it so magnificent. “Every Perfumer has his or her secrets that we will never know.” He said. I laughed “But of course.” I told Brian if they could only make a real marmalade of this I would eat it every morning on hot buttered French bread with a steaming bowl of coffee. Then the resin olibanum like Lentisk was presented bringing with it the olfactory equivalent of cool morning earth heated by a rising sun. This was enhanced by a lush full honey like Oak that rounded it out nicely. Pine needles are part of the perfume as well but we had to skip that blotter since Brian forgot to bring along the vile. It was no effort for me to bring up my own scents memory of pine needles.
The Elegant Presentation of Caligna
At this point I would wait no longer and asked if I could test the perfume. Caligna to my nose is light and soft on my skin and the notes blended into a pure tingling effervescent pop of spring. Lovely and bright, luminous in fact, Caligna is really the perfect uni-sex perfume for springtime or even in the cold months to recall the joys of May in bloom in the south of France. Breakfast in early spring on a terrace in Provence sprang to mind and we all agreed that airline tickets to Grasse were in order.
L’Artisan Parfumeur Perfumes, Candles, Amber Ball and much more!
Brian, Hilary and I talked about the beauty of the perfume and the history of the entire line. So many wonderful perfumes are in L’Artisan Parfumeur’s line-up. If you haven’t tired their perfumes do yourself a favor, get thee to Barney’s pronto or the nearest store in your area that carries the line and try a bit of French magic. Brian and Hilary share a great passion for perfume and it was a joy to visit with them and share my passion for perfume with them as well. When fume heads get together it is always a party! My half hour visit with the brilliant and fun Brian and the ever lovely Hilary stretched into a full hour, how lucky was I? There were more guest due at eleven so with many thanks and a little sadness that my magic time was over, I bid my hosts goodbye. I was so honored and lucky to have had this opportunity to discover in a very special way this new and exciting perfume Caligna. I hope you get a chance to try it and all of the other incredible fragrances from L’Artisan Parfumeur.
As I headed off down Stockton Street I was whistling and feeling quite in the pink!