THE EGG AND I ~ Tsar by Van Cleef & Arpels

7 NEW YORK VAN CLEEF AND ARPELS

Transfixed by the glittering  Fabergé Egg in the window Pasha felt nothing, not the snow on his face or his tears that froze before they reached his chin. All he could think of now, suddenly confronted by that relic of the Romanovs was the last time he saw him. He still remembered the date, February 23, 1913 a date that stood frozen in time as surely as the tears on his face.  That was the night of the Jubilee ball in the Winter Palace his uncle Prince Felix Yusupov had taken him to when he was just 19. The summer before the Great War, the war that would change everything in Russia.  No one recognized the fact that they were living in the twilight of their world that winter, not his uncle, not anyone in the imperial court. Tsar Nicholas II shook his hand and glittered before Pasha as brilliantly as the Faberge Egg sparkled before him in the window of  Van Cleef & Arpels this new winter of 1923.

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Yes he remembered him, the Tsar; he remembered them all, so many of them now dead. Some who had fled Russia, the living dead, were now without a country, their families or their fortunes. All gone now. There were the few who never even unpacked when they reached safety thinking they would return any day to Saint Petersburg. They lived in a dream world of fading lace and musty fur convincing themselves over tea and marron glacés that they were waiting to return to Russia.  In reality they were just waiting for the grave.

Yes he remembered him, the Tsar who had smiled and shook his hand and invited him to dance with his daughter, the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna. The scream of a train whistle cut the blue winter wind and Pasha blinked. Was it real or the nightmare whistle he heard most nights in his dreams, the whistle of the train from Moscow to Vladivostok? Yes, the same train that took the Tsar and his family to Tobolsk a year later.  Pasha and his Mother were lucky to escape and took what they could in jewels to buy their way from Vladivostok to Paris. An around the world trip that left them destitute.

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Church bells were ringing now and the snow was coming down harder in the Place Vendome. Pasha’s focus shifted and the Faberge Egg blurred and was replaced by the reflection of his face in the window. He wiped his eyes with the back of his gloved hand. He wasn’t one to look back or to be sad but to suddenly come upon the egg had thrown him. He would not walk this way to work again. Pasha pulled his overcoat collar up against the snow and turned to walk the rest of the way to Maxim’s where every night patrons pointed to the tall handsome maître d’ and said. “He used to be Russian royalty”. Yes he remembered the old days, and the Tsar. He always would.

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The Egg by  Fabergé

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This oldie but goodie is a new and exciting discovery for me. I used to wear the great leather scent, Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme years ago and loved it. Thinking I would order it again I mistakenly ordered Tsar. To my delight I find it as beautiful and wearable as Pour Homme. Tsar by Van Cleefs & Arpels created by Philippe  Bousseton 1989 and is perhaps his most famous fragrance. A bright bold and romantic Woody Aromatic that is as stunning a choice for a man of taste today as it was twenty four years ago. It has a gorgeous classicism about it that is timeless, a really beautiful bouquet from top notes to dry down.

With in the green deco inspired bottle with gold trim there is an array of top notes that spark and spin the air with a blend of Artemisia, rosemary, lavender, Neroli, coriander, green notes and cinnamon. The cinnamon is a great touch to the blast off of the first spray. It really adds a kick of chic to the opening. This opening says true and strong for a surprising bit of time.

Then the mid notes come in to play and it is a strong floral romp for a man’s perfume but a mix of green and earth works gloriously to keep it boldly masculine. Carnation, jasmine, lily of the valley and rose all bloom in chorus and find ground and strength from the geranium, juniper berries, tarragon and an earthy brilliant powdery orris root. Above it all is the fresh summery slightly humid infusion of pine tree. Just lush and radiant at this point.

With the dry down comes the kitchen sink of notes. A supple smart leather note creeps in with the sandalwood, lush stylish amber and a taste of creamy vanilla Tonka bean. Patchouli, musk and sharp cedar are aided in the demise of this perfume with a touch of biting green vetiver. Yes there is a lot going on here and it works so well.

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Van Cleef & Arpels ~ Place Vendome, Paris

It all speaks of grandeur and another world. An elegance that is now lost, a time when men dressed with thought to detail and style and smelled expensive, refined and beautiful. It is nice to know that in this age of Fresh, Fruity, Sugary middle of the road perfumes that you can still find a great and interesting perfume in a main stream house such as Van Cleef & Arpels, but then I am not surprised. The same house gave us the very beautiful and equally elegant Midnight in Paris.  Often these days the most interesting and exciting things happening in fragrance are on the niche end of the spectrum. One needn’t have to spend the precious dollar for fabulous niche fragrance when one can still find something interesting and stunningly beautiful here at Van Cleef & Arpels. And then there is the jewelry too!

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TSAR by Van Cleef & Arpels ~ Five Gold Stars *****

AN ANNIVERSARY ~ Scents Memory Celebrates!

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Well can you believe it? Scents Memory has been up and running for a whole year now. My Paper Anniversary. I want to thank all my 163 readers for following along on my olfactory journey.  It has been so much fun and work and then fun again and we will be going on to more reviews and assorted memories in the future.

However, it is Summer here in San Francisco so that means time to bundle up and put some logs on the fire and take a bit of a vacation.  So for the next few weeks I will be off doing some rest and recuperation and charging my creative batteries. So in the meantime check out some of my blog links for some good reading. Everything from Victoria Gent up in Sunny Seattle on EauMG though the delightful musings of Portia and the gang down south in Sydney at The Australian Perfume Junkies and of course my darling Vickie Lester at Beguiling Hollywood. And no blog jog would be complete without a pop over to London to for tea and a chat with The Perfumed Dandy. And for you fashionistas please check out Garance Dorés delightful blog and her husband Scott at his blog The Sartorialist.  There are lots more to check out so just look to your right and scroll down for more links.

So for now a nice warm scented bath and then off I sail in my barge of gold for my little stay at home vacation.

  See you all in a few weeks!

Love Always,

Lanier

 

 

NO.5 ~ Chanel No.5

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1920***

Martine Belfort, nearly asleep as she soaked in her tub, barely opened one eye at the offensive jangling urgency of the contraption on her vanity. Why she ever had installed a telephone in her bathroom escaped her for the moment.

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“Juju hold it up to my ear.”

The maid did as she was told.

“Allo? Allo Martine are you there?”  It was Cecile Duvall her dearest source of gossip and most distrusted friend.

“Cecile? Are you back in Paris already?  I thought you were in Cannes?”

“I am ma chère but I simply had to call you at once. The most amazing thing happened tonight at dinner.”

Martine closed her eyes and sank to her chin in the tub and nodded to Juju to turn on the hot tap to warm her up.

“Oh do tell, who is your infatuation this time, a duke or some American millionaire?”

“It is Coco Chanel!”

Martine shot up in the tub both eyes wide open. “You are having an affair with Chanel?”

“No no! Silly pet, I have news about her.”

“Oh I never liked that woman! What happened? Did she stay out in the sun too long and burned to a crisp?  Is she dead?”

“No, nothing like that my goodness what an imagination you have Martine. She was dining in the same restaurant as I tonight and I kept noticing a commotion at her table. People going over and bumping about and hovering over her, well, there seemed such a lot of excitement. Soon the entire restaurant was abuzz.”

“A buzz about what Cecile, get to the point.”

“Finally I couldn’t stand it any longer and I went over and said hello. You know to sniff around and see what on earth could be so fascinating.  Coco gave me a cool smile. She knows we are friends you and I and well, she was very cool but cordial. I kissed her cheek and then it happened.”

Mon dieu! What? What happened?”

“She must have spilled a whole bottle of perfume on the table cloth, and herself as well.”

“Common as dirt, that woman?”

“No Martine you don’t understand, she smelled amazing, and unlike anything I have ever smelled. It was so, so… SEXY! I was about to ask her what it was when the Grand Duchess Zina Vladimirovich and a few other Russian ladies interrupted me to ask her the exact same question.”

Martine looked over at her vanity packed with Patou, Guerlain Caron and Coty.

“Coco said it was just something she found in Grasse and that she couldn’t remember exactly where. Then she asked us did we like it? Did we think she should try and get more? Then suddenly it all clicked in my head. She is launching a perfume. It was a set up. She had perfumed the table like a trap. And my dear it worked, we all fell into it. I simply have to have it. Nothing else smells like it. Nothing!”

“Don’t be ridiculous Cecile, I doubt very much that Mademoiselle Chanel would dare to go up against all those big men and there giant perfume houses. And if she does she will be ruined.” She nearly snorted, “I for one would never wear it.


1921***

Martine Belfort had only one bottle of perfume on her vanity. Chanel No.5. All the smart women of Paris agreed that nothing other than No.5 would do.

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1920 FLAPPER BY B.J.MOON

 1945***

Sergeant Beau Henson stood for a very long time on the sidewalk at East Mountain Street looking up at the handsome Spanish revival house where she lived. This beautiful peaceful street in Glendale California was a million miles away from the horrors of Remagen and the battle where he lost his best buddy Jack Markgraf.  A soft breeze ruffled his hair and reminded him to put his cap back on. He was in full uniform and befitted his duty to his friend.

Marjorie Markgraf answered the door she was wearing a sundress and her hair was the color of corn silk. She looked much younger than twenty six.  She invited him in as if she had known him for years. They had Iced Tea and talked for a long time about Jack, and what he was like before the war. Marjorie asked Beau about his life and if he was married. She was sitting on the chair he knew had been Jacks favorite. In war you learn everything about your buddies’ lives back home down to who they first kissed, their favorite radio show to the name of their dog. Finally Marjorie asked how it happened and if Beau was with him. He told her the best lie he could. That Jack didn’t suffer. Then he told her a bit of the truth, that he was with him when he died.

“When we were in Pairs in 44’ there was just one thing he had to do. He had to get this for you.”

He took a little travel worn package out of his pocket and handed it to her.

“Jack said you always talked about going to Paris together someday and buying a bottle. We stood together in the rain all day in a line of G.I.s on the Rue Cambon so he could buy it and bring it home as a surprise. I saved it for you….”

Marjorie carefully opened the package; it was the first time she cried since the day the letter came from the Army telling her Jack would not come home.

She never opened the bottle but kept it next to Jack’s photograph on her vanity.

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1962***

It was there on her dresser, all alone and forgotten. There in that naked bedroom with no paintings on the walls, just an unmade bed, some shoe boxes and purses stacked by the door and a phone off the hook on the carpet by the bed.

Some happier years before back on Doheny Drive she said it was all she slept in and there were those photographs to prove it. She wrapped sensuously in sheets with the bottle on the nightstand each adding heat to the legend of the other.

Now she was cold and wrapped in a blanked in the back of an ambulance. The bottle of Chanel No.5 sitting on her dresser would be tossed out or possibly snatched as souvenir buy some policeman and taken home to his wife. In any case it was there, on the dresser when she died.

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2013***

“Chanel No.5… I don’t get it.”  Jackie Belfort said to her girlfriend as she reached for the tester of Coco Mademoiselle at the Macy’s perfume counter inspected it and then handed it to her friend Tiffany Markgraf.

“It smells ‘Old Lady’” she said. “I just don’t see what the big deal is. So what if Marilyn Monroe wore it.”

“I know” said Tiffany, “It smells soapy, just like Palmolive! Ewww!”  She put down the bottle of Coco Mademoiselle and picked up a bottle of No.5.

Jackie grabbed the No.5 from Tiffany and fingered the beveled edge. “It is a pretty bottle…..My great Grandmother wore it all the time. She said she even bought the first bottle when it came out. She said she was best friends with Coco Chanel. Can you imagine?”

“No kidding? How funny, my granny had a bottle next to a picture of my grandpa. But she never wore it. I can understand why. Not even Brad Pitt could get me to wear it.”  She spritzed a generous spray onto the Chanel tester paper.  “Ugh… Old Lady is right.”

“Oh My God, Tiffany have you smelled Miss Dior Cherie? Yummy!”   She snapped her bubble gum.

“Oh My God! It is so sweet and fruity!  I just love sweet and fruity, don’t you? And it has POPCORN too! Have you tried that new Jessica Simpson perfume?”

Oh My God, No! Let’s go to Saphora and find it!

As soon as they were gone the woman behind the counter who wasn’t much older than Jackie and Tiffany turned to the woman next to her.

“Barbarians.”

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The old lady is a survivor and for good reason. She is a classic for the ages and one that is often misunderstood by those who have no sense of history or what real perfume means and smells like. It may even be that she is for some an acquired taste like avocados or escargot. In other words some people have to grow up to grow into it. By that I don’t mean that it has anything to do with how old you are, on the contrary there are those who love this perfume from a very early age. I think it has to do more with where your nose is in its journey thought the worlds of Perfume.

What ever the case may be for you and Chanel No.5, love it or hate it, the perfume is something to be admired for its place in the history of perfume, for the woman who commissioned its creation and for the man Ernest Beaux who created it.

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 Of course it is all about the Aldehydes in the opening. This is the popping of the cork of the Dom Perignon of Aldehydes. It is fizzing white and glorious as it catapults the cork of Neroli, ylang ylang, lemon and bergamot across the room to ricochet off the walls and unleash the legendary florals at its heart.

In the heart notes the three floral sisters of Iris, lily of the valley, and rose are the frame for the most famous jasmine in the world. The star of the show, the Grasse jasmine picked at dawn just for Chanel.  A luxurious and earthy orris root brings a dark and sexy touch to the center notes in No.5, This is pure adult glamour that speaks in soft full tones of elegance and pure sophisticated style and grace.  The dry down is a creative and brilliant blending of Oakmoss, sandalwood, amber rich and glowing in the late stages. Also a very Parisian bit of sexy skank comes to play in the form of Civet. I always love a bit of animalic frolic in my florals. It keeps it real for me. Real in the sense of the classic French perfumes of the past and that a little naughty makes a good time even better. There is a touch of patchouli, musk, vanilla and vetiver down here too but the major factor is how the Civet plays with the Oakmoss, amber and the fading glory of the florals. It is really spectacular and I can see when I compare it from opening to fade-out to other perfumes that survive in some form from before 1921 how revolutionary and special Chanel No.5 was and still is.

The women, the “Old Ladies” if you will, who first wore it, were the most exciting and free generation of women in two thousand years. They sent their beau’s off to die in the trenches of the Great War. Those in America of the 48 states and in Great Britain won the vote.  With the help of Chanel they cut their hair and threw away the corsets, rolled down their stockings and raised their skirts to scandalous heights. They smoked and drank with the men, danced shocking dances like the Black Bottom, the Shimmy Shake and the Tango. They went to work and left the home in ways and numbers they never had before. They kept their families together and going forward thought the Great Depression and then sent their husbands and sons to die in World War II. They were the foundation of womanhood for the 20th Century and the mothers of feminism. Those were the women who first wore Chanel No.5 and made it a legend.

There are women I know who tell me that Chanel No.5 is the only perfume they can wear. And when you come to know and understand the complexity and brilliance of No.5 it is easy to understand that statement. It is also a perfume I grew up smelling on the women in my family. When I smell it today I don’t see the old women they have become but the beautiful young women they were and always will be in my heart.

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 CHANEL NO.5 FIVE PLATINUM STARS *****

MADAME PAGEAU AT THE CAFE ~ Voleur de Roses L’Artisan Parfumeur

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Madame Pageau always appeared at Café le Conti just as the Vesper bells of Notre Dame chimed. An old sweet lady, not elegant but rather grandmotherly she was loved by the waiters and the regulars alike. Each and every person who met her more than once at the café knew her story.

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    Every day at Vespers hour she would arrive by taxi to the café. Her employer always paid for the trip to and from his house at 56 Avenue Victor-Hugo. You see, Madame Pageau was the housekeeper for one of the most notorious men of Paris. Rene Michel Petriz, the highest paid and most desired gigolo in all of France.

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On this particular afternoon Madame Pageau was seated at her favorite spot on the sidewalk at the table which everyone knew as “Madame’s table”. She waited for her coffee and contemplated whether or not to take the three Italian Pistachio macaroons out of her Chanel bag (a beloved gift from Monsieur). Better not, she was saving them for bedtime.  Marcel, her favorite waiter smiled as he served her the coffee. There were three chocolate macaroons on the saucer.

“A little surprise for Madame.”  He was a shadow of a once very handsome man.

Madame Pageau touched his hand and smiled her thanks.

“And how is Monsieur Petriz? Well I hope?”

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“Very well Marcel thank you. And if you think I will tell tales just for those macaroons…..”

“Oh, No Madame! I had no intention.”

“Very well… Just so we understand each other.”  It was always the same pretense before she filled him in on the latest gossip.

After a few crumbs of scandal from Madame, Marcel retreated satiated with the excitement of such a glamorous life, a life he might have had if he had been bolder in his youth.

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Madame Pageau sipped her coffee and smiled in the knowledge that once again she had filled in new pages in the legend of her employer. It tickled her that every word was a lie designed to enhance his reputation.

He did not sleep in white silk pajamas sewn with gold thread imported from India. He did not own five hundred pairs of Ferragamo shoes; He was not the illegitimate son of Franco Nero and Brigitte Bardot. There was no single rose delivered each day by a spurned ex-king whose mistress he had bedded. He was not in fact bisexual. That would come later in life. It was true that he liked to hang out at Bar du Marché with gay boys of the left bank (a few he even kissed on a lark). Such was his vanity that it demanded attention from all quarters.

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Embrasser le beau mec au Bar du Marché. Pour le plaisir.

(photograph by Blaine Harrington)

 There were many gifts from clients but not on the scale Madame Pageau would have the world believe. It was true that he bought most of his own jewelry except for that huge canary diamond tie pin from the American actress.  He did not have his valet spay the sheets of his bed with Damascus rose scented perfume. On the contrary it was an orange and lemon eau de cologne. But Madame Pageau thought the rose was more romantic. It was true that all over Paris wealthy women luxuriated in the scent he left on their sheets for days after he was gone from their beds.  So as it always happened, today’s tales were spread along with all the others from Madame to Marcel and on to the rest of the city. The tales she spun had stolen the very heart of Paris.

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What Madame Pageau never told anyone was what he smelled like when he gave her a hug and called her “ma petite tante”. He smelled of tussled sheets the morning after, of champagne, sex, velvet jackets and expensive patchouli and plum perfume. There was always the faint presence of a woman near his skin. Rene Michel smelled like his father had smelled the one and only night she had met him all those years ago. This tiny detail of the legend no one knew but her. There were not enough macaroons in Pairs that could bribe from Madame Pageau the very true fact that she loved Rene Michel as if he were her very own son which of course he was.

Gregory Fitoussi

 Grégory Fitoussi as Rene Michel Petriz

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It is all about luxurious sex. Voleur de Roses by L’Artisan Parfumeur is a perfume of the body and the smells of being a bad boy all of which is sure to shock some in its honest sensuality. It is the lingering scent of a lover’s body when you crawl back into bed just after they have gone. It is daring, bold and utterly divine!  Created by the nose, Michel Almairac who has a great collection of creations to his name among which you will find seven in the Bond 9 house, six in Burberry, and such classics as Gucci Pour Homme and Minotaur by Poloma Picasso.

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photo by Holly Revell

Voleur de Roses is a woody oriental for men that a woman could wear with confidence. A brazen blending of three notes it is linear and lovely from start to finish. The brilliant mixing of patchouli rose and plum is deceptive in its simplicity. The opening is lush as the fragrance envelopes you like the arms of a lover. It holds you close for a good six to eight hours and like the sent of a lover is close to the skin after about two hours. Before it retreats to the flesh it projects about three feet. Voleur de Roses is not only sexy and warm but at its heart it is chic, urbanely rich and refined.

If you are a sensual person by nature, a person who luxuriates in your body and lives a life of grand passion then Voleur de Roses is a must for your collection. But be warned. If you dare to wear Voleur de Roses you may begin to write a blazing new page in your own life story. To have a reputation is ordinary to be come a legend is extraordinary.

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VOLEUR DE ROSES L’ARTISAN PARFUMEUR

FIVE PLATINUM STARS *****

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