ALONG THE SILK ROAD ~ Black Orchid by Tom Ford

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The scream was cut off by the diving hawk swift chop of his hand to the man’s wind pipe. The shocked look on the face was almost comical as he turned slowly toward Lily Chu, his dying eyes bugling. He staggered toward her with the knife still in his hand. Slashing at the air he fell at her feet.

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   The earth was soaked in blood and black orchids were falling from the sky in slow-motion. The hard glittering sapphire eyes of the killer just beyond the dead body narrowed their focus on her.

“I want to go home… my name is Margaret not Lily. I want to go home.”  The screaming returned and it would not stop. Then there was a terrible jolt that violently woke her.

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“Nightmare?” His British baritone glowed on the edge of warmth.

“It was that man you killed in Beijing.”  Lily looked out the window of the stolen automobile now covered up to the hubcaps in sand. The wind was screaming as it hit side of the car taking away the paint as the sand gouged it from the dead steel body and carried it off into dark desolation of the Gobi.

“We are going to die out here, aren’t we?” She whispered. “How can we be in a desert and be so cold?”  She pulled the mink closer around her neck. “I wish there was at least some light. She fingered the edge of the canary diamond ring now dead in the dark.

 fan bingbing as Lily Chu

“It’s just wind and sand and a broken axel… When the storm passes someone will come along and give us a lift to Dunhuang. Don’t worry, we’ll make it out of China”

“Yes but will I ever be safe? That man in Beijing was not working alone. They have some kind of hit out on me. They don’t want the money back. Forty million is nothing to them. They just want me dead for steeling it and making them look like fools.” She shivered. “It’s so damn cold.”

“Come here.”

She looked at his craggy face as handsome and cold as the marble likeness of a roman general.  “No…”

“Come here!” He snatched her by the lapels of her mink and pulled her to his side of the car. His arm locked her to his chest, hard and warm. She looked up to see that thing she had only seen twice before and now realized she wanted to see again. His smile. “Now maybe, just maybe we will survive the night.”  He whispered.

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“Let me go.”

He nuzzled his lips to her ear and nibbled her lobe.

In the morning Lily woke to silence and sun. He was gone.  In core shattering panic she scrambled from the car. She was about to scream for him when she heard him calling her name. She turned to see him at the summit of a sand dune. As she neared the top of the dune he reached out to pull her up to the crest.

“Look at this!” He pointed down the other side of the hill.

There in the middle of forgotten nowhere was a small oasis, a crystalline crescent lake and beside it in lush trees stood a beautiful Pagoda.

“You see, even in the most desolate place on earth there is beauty.” He encircled her shoulder with his strong sure arm.

When they reached the gate to the pagoda there were golden flowers carved into the door, and in the center one large black lacquered orchid

Lily’s eyes widened in horror…  Black orchids and blood soaked earth.

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Black Orchid by Tom Ford was created in 2006 by the fragrance house of Givaudan. This is a Swiss company that creates not only fragrance but has a perfumery school as well. They are known for, Valentino (1978), Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme (2008) and Fire and Ice by Revlon (1994) and of many for the house of Tom Ford, White Patchouli (2008). They have been around for a very long time and among the noses who have worked for them in the past are Maurice Blanchet who created the classic beauty Je Reviens for Charles Worth  and Jean Charles creator of Shocking by Elsa Shiaparelli (1937).

With the creation of Black Orchid, Givaudan and Tom Ford have come up with a luscious Oriental Floral perfume that leans deeply toward the gourmand with the sweet tooth.  It is delicious but with a bite of its own that comes into play with a slightly fleshy vegetate rot. Now this may sound off putting but to my nose it is not.

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It opens with flowers and citrus battling it out for your attention. Clean sparking Jasmine blended with a indolic mix of gardenia and ylang ylang are underscored by bitter bergamot and Amalfi lemons. There is a sweet mandarin orange mixed with a black currant and tuber that make it into a heavy thick jam. This is almost too much as that tuber gets the dirty dying rot accord going on quite strong

But fear not ye of the “clean is cool” school, that all fades off in about ten minutes and up come the fleeting middle notes of  Spices, fruits , lotus, and the imaginary orchid. Now we all know that the orchid flower has no scent. So what is this orchid note in the perfume? It is a synthetic lab created molecule that gives the fragrance a dusty powdery feeling. But really, let’s be frank, what is an orchid all about? It is something of a creepy beauty and has the felling of a flower that is made of living flesh. In “The Big Sleep” Sternwood tells detective Phillip Marlow about the orchids he raises in his hothouse.

Sternwood: You are looking, sir, at a very dull survival of a very gaudy life – crippled, paralyzed in both legs, very little I can eat, and my sleep is so near waking that it’s hardly worth the name. I seem to exist largely on heat, like a newborn spider. The orchids are an excuse for the heat. Do you like orchids?

Marlowe: Not particularly.

Sternwood: Nasty things! Their flesh is too much like the flesh of men, and their perfume has the rotten sweetness of corruption.

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The rotten sweetness of corruption is in the heart of this fatal poison and it spreads with lethal beauty as the dry down comes slithering up from the earthy bottom of this perfume. The earth from which this deadly flower grows is composed of disintegrating vetiver, decaying vanilla and humid wet sandalwood. Here the most dominating notes enter the perfume at about 30 minutes. Rich dark chocolate wrapped in Patchouli make it sweet, so sweet.  Infusing it all with sly glamour is oriental temple incense that intoxicates the skin and enchants the senses.

The sillage is immense and the perfume last on my skin into an epoch, over fourteen hours. This is not a perfume for little girls and boys beware if you dare to wear this one. This is a woman or mans perfume that bars nothing in the telling of its tale of danger, derringers and dark dames.  Black Orchid is a fem fatale, a noir beauty that is dangerous without regret. It has more treacherous curves than California’s Highway 1 in a rainstorm.

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BLACK ORCHID by Tom Ford 4 gold stars

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I GOT A LITTLE STORY I THINK YOU SHOULD KNOW…For Men Michael Kors 2014

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(painting by Zachary Johnson)

He was down. Way way down in the 20s on 8th Avenue in a little dive called, “Set Um’Up”. And you guessed it; the bartender’s name was Joe. Can you believe it?  It was three in the morning and it was just Joe and me and him. I hung around way after the place had cleared of its regular flies because of him.  He was big, BIG big. One of the biggest stars on Broadway, only nobody recognized him here cause of the puffy eyes and three days of stubble on that matinee face of his. The face that made the ladies pony up nearly two hundred dollars for the first row of  any show he was in.  Besides, what would he be doing here so far from the Upper East Side and the bright lights of, well you get the idea. His million dollar smile was nowhere to be seen. Cause he was down, way way down.

I was just close enough to hear his story as Joe poured him another scotch. It was on the rocks. He laughed when Joe pointedly shoved him the drink.

“I guess I like it that way,” Mister Broadway said. “my scotch and my love life….on the rocks.”

I fed the juke box some quarters and picked what I though would be the right kind of blue note.

A peanut hit me in the back of the head. “Thanks buddy…that was our song.”  He shot me a weak version of his star bright smile. “What are you drinkin’?”  He didn’t wait for my answer, too worse to care. He just went on bending our ear with the story.

“You see it isn’t easy finding love under the microscope of fame. You just can’t trust um’. Any of um. But this one Joe was solid. Not in the Biz. Don’t ever fall for someone who acts for a living guys. That brake up is over the bathroom mirror…most times. If not that then it is because of that old Star Is Born cliché. What are ya gonna do?  It is what it is. “

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“Yeah but this one was different, didn’t even know who I was when we met. I didn’t believe it at first. Thought it was an act to get next to me. You’d be surprised what some jerks do to date a star. Or, maybe you wouldn’t be surprised. But no Joe, it was the real thing. I mean the REAL thing….ya know?”

“Things were going great. As great as they can when you’ve swallowed the hook. As Margo Channing once said, the honeymoon was on. When there was a big show biz event did that matter? Nope “let’s go camping upstate? Or drive out to that little bed and breakfast at Montauk. I just want to be with you.”  We had even set a date…..you can do that now you know…when you fall in love too easily.” He lifted his half empty glass to his lips and scrutinized the ice. “It is what it is.”

“What happened?” I said and caught Joe rolling his eyes. He must have heard it all before.

“What happened?” His eyes got all cloudy. “Yeah, what happened?”

For a minute it got too quite, all except for Sinatra singing soft and low.

“Yeah, that’s my cue….I gotta go.” The wounded star slid of the bar stool and gave me a short last curtain bow. Then insinuated his way through the tables and stacked chairs to the door. He turned the door half open to the chilled black autumn morning.

“Thanks Joe.” He gave us a half hearted two fingers to the brow salute and then at last that million dollar smile that slays the ladies from the front row to the back of the top balcony. “Funny thing is….his name is Joe too.”

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***

For Men by Michael Kors after a rocky start has been re-released. The wait was worth it. It is a melancholy sophisticated love song singed around the edges with a bit of a broken heart. It is smoky and moody, lush a mix of cocktails and regret and in the end filled with a longing for something lost and just beyond ever finding again. It is beautiful.

This masculine fragrance is perfect for fall and winter. It is magnificent on a man but boy could a woman wear it well and smell great. It would be the olfactory equivalent to a woman wearing her boyfriend’s crisp white dress shirt with jeans. Or nothing but the shirt. Effortless and elegant on both sexes in ether a formal night out for theater and a late cold supper or on a sunny fall picnic in Central Park. It works so well for any setting. That’s what I love about Michael Kors clothes and his two fragrances in his men’s lineup.  The nose is Harry Freemont who also created among many fragrances CK One for Calvin Klein, Modern Muse for Estee Lauder and Grey Vetiver Eau de Toilette for Tom Ford, and of course the fist men’s fragrance for Michael Kors, Michael.

It opens with a dominant and beautiful star anise, which shines in a dark kind of glamour as the coriander, thyme and pepper buzz just below this star giving it that signature you will recognize from the opening of Michael from 2001. There bergamot that is there is very light and almost imperceptible to my nose but what is wonderful is the addition of the elemi that adds a smoky sweet melancholy to the opening and sets everything up for what is to come.

The fragrance moves into its mid notes with the most wonderful twisting tendrils of incense that rise up like a cobra from a snake charmers basket. But there is also something wonderful in that basket, a wreath of sage and the smoothest richest suede note I have smelled in a long time.  It is simply entrancing and here is where the beauty of the fragrance departs from the generic designer signature and enters into the realm of fine perfume in a classic style.

The dry down comes on with the masculine lines of fine polished wood, a nearly caramelized sandalwood, lush rich layers of patchouli and musk add just the right light to the fade out and final curtain of this fragrance.

Now for some the bad news comes here. The longevity on my skin is not great, around four to six hours. The sillage is moderate which depending on your taste and personal style can be a good or bad thing. But for me this is not a make or break issue since I am a proponent of the liberal and lively art of the re-apply.  Being a designer scent the cost is very reasonable for what you get. A beautiful men’s fragrance that can take you uptown, downtown and all around in great style.

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FOR MEN MICHAEL KORS Five Gold Stars.

Press play to hear Robbie Williams sing One For My Baby.

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