THE FALL OF ROME ~ GOLD, Les Compositions Parfumees by Lalique

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Gold, she was completely covered in gold….

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She hardly noticed the fingers flitting from her collar to her cleavage as Irene’s hands plucked and pulled at her golden Isis winged cape adjusting it so it hung just so.  At the foot of the black fiberglass beast a line of men with highly oiled skin shuffled past in leather loincloths to their appointed place where the huge ropes waited to be lifted and hauled, their number was in the hundreds. Ahead of them stood the unfinished back of the Arch of Constantine, (set historically at the wrong place at the wrong time) a construction of pipes, scaffolding and plaster of Paris which had been standing a year already just waiting for this day. To the left of it were banks of lights and behind them electrical generators humming low and hot. A myriad of gaffers, technicians and gofers scurried and rushed to serve those machines and gigantic bulbs that would very soon all be turned on and turned toward her. All of this she barely noticed as Joe whispered last minute instructions in her ear. What she did notice was the low rumble of thousands upon thousands of voices beyond the arch. They sounded dangerous and hungry.

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“It’s time.” Joe said. He patted her hand then he and Irene climbed down from the gilded platform leaving her sitting there three stories high with a six year old Italian boy next to her who had no idea that a wave of vertigo was threatening to engulf her. Nor could he understand that she was in the eye of the biggest scandal to rock Hollywood in forty years. Only yesterday the Pope had denounced her publicly in an open letter in the Vatican newspaper as a wanton home wrecker and a sexual vagrant. Her falling in love with the married Richard Burton had even knocked the Cuban Missile Crisis off most of the front pages of the world’s newspapers. The sound of the mob rolled and rumbled ominously beyond the arch in what was a Roman Forum twice as large as the real one just six miles north of Cinecitta. The sound of it hit her in the pit of her stomach. There had been bomb threats that morning which she was not supposed to have known about, but she knew. Another wave of vertigo hit the pit of her stomach as the three thousand extras turned in unison to look toward her. Devout Roman Catholics all, and they all by now had read the Pope’s letter. Some of them might have rotten tomatoes, or rocks or a gun. She could barely make out Richard on the steps of the Senate house next to Rex. He was nervously fingering the hilt of his freshly sharpened gladius. Only then did she realize that she was clutching the little boys back for dear life. He was looking up quizzically at her as if he were about to ask her if she was alright. But he didn’t speak English so he said nothing. She smiled at him. She had to be brave for his sake and the sake of her own children and mother and father who were watching from the sidelines.

Suddenly Joe’s voice came thought a bull horn calling “Action!” The playback music began. Pounding drums deep and majestic that in turn where haunted by flutes and reeds. The three hundred men below began to strain against the ropes and slowly buy one inch then two the great black sphinx began to move laboriously forward toward the arch. All she could hear now were the drums. Was it the playback or was it the sound of her racing heart in her ears? The mob was deadly silent and waiting. Waiting for her. She set her eyes on Richard and concentrated on only him. Nothing else mattered, where she was, the scandal, the damnation of the world that had been hurled at her head faded to a blur and there was only him. No matter what was about to happen in the next moments, she knew he was worth it. They were screaming, they were shouting and they were surging forward as the beast of Egypt’s Queen cleared the arch baring between its paws a goddess of pure gold.

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“Here we go Bessie….” She thought. Then it hit her right between the eyes and shot straight into her heart. The three thousand Roman Catholics were waving and with smiles beaming, blowing kisses and cheering “Liz! Liz! Baci Baci!” kisses kisses. The sphinx came to a dead stop and she was surrounded by nothing but love. It was the most purely golden wonderful moment in a year of heartache, regret and madness. Her eyes were so filled with tears that she couldn’t see Richard until he was atop the gleaming stairs of the sphinx reaching up to her tears stained his beautiful pockmarked cheek. Joe was there too with wet eyes but the most surprising thing was to see that old crusty cameraman Leon Shamroy sitting beside the camera atop the crane crying and clapping.

In the summer of 1962 Elizabeth Taylor, sat on her golden throne atop a monstrous black sphinx at the center of her fame shimmering in the Roman sun in her 24 carat gold Isis costume. She had conquered Rome not to mention the Pope.

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 ***

Gold by Lalique is part of the Les Compositions Parfumees 2015 release. A collection of five perfumes that are all based on precious metals. This is a very interesting and exciting point of view for perfume. To create in scent the image, the essence and the emotions elicited by highly prized earthly elements that in essence have no real olfactory signature.  The other four perfumes are Electrum, Zamak, Bronze and Silver. It seems only fitting that we begin with gold.

The nose behind Gold is at this point a mystery. I could not find out who it is but perhaps that just adds to the glamour of this fragrance. A perfume that is smooth and polished to a brilliant shine. Almost austere but there is a warmth in it that like Gold itself draws one in with its fascinating glow. Enticing velvety and rich. There is a velvet buttery beauty to gold when it is polished to mirror brilliance. It is the element that can only be created in the universe when a star goes super nova. The death of a star creates our most precious metal here on Earth. Gold is so rare and prized that the ancient Egyptians believed that the skin of the gods was made of it. And of course if you drop the “L’ from gold in English, what do you have? God.

Gold opens with only two top notes, bergamot and lemon, this is I am told meant to create the brilliance of gold. In fact in the opening the spark of the two citrus notes is brilliant and illusive. It glitters on the skin but momentarily and then streaks away leaving the way open for the star of the perfume, a note that resembles the heavy beauty one finds in the finest of Italian gold jewelry. Before our star note arrives in the mid notes of the perfume there are satellite notes, lovely ones of Egyptian Jasmine and lily of the valley. They are soft and hum in the background like a Greek chorus announcing the arrival of the superstar. It enters as a gorgeous smooth hard edged iris note that if left on its own could very well be too dry, somber and severe. But there is a surprise in the bottom notes that gives the iris a warmth and beauty beyond expectations. The bottom notes are a gift to the iris. And this surprise package is wrapped in earthy patchouli. Within the box as the patchouli gives way is the gift of the perfumer that complements the iris, a stunning blending of vanilla and benzoin. Here is a creamy buttery mix that never goes sweet or cloying but in its marriage with the iris they turn Gold into a golden beauty.

This is a floral chypre that is elegant, smooth and perfect for almost any season. It has both masculine strengths and feminine curves. A uni-sex perfume that invites one in and enhances the beauty of the wearer with its brilliance and allure. When you wear Gold on your skin there is no reason to wear anything else.

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(ELIZABETH TAYLOR IN GOLD)

A KING AND ALL THEM JEWELS ~ DECO DIAMONDS by DSH Perfumes

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“Stop!”  May Morton screeched.

The dead fish in Ruthie Brown’s hand hovered over her head waiting to be slammed onto the front page of the London Times.

“Would you look at that luv…she looks so…frail.”

Ruthie look at the black and white photograph of The Duchess of Windsor in her widow’s weeds captured by some paparazzi as she looked out of a window of Buckingham palace.

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“Poor thing. Well she is finally where she wanted to be…in the palace. The Duke had to die to get her in. but there she is. ”

“Awww feel sorry for her do ya luv?” Ruthie said as she oddly and gently laid the flounder on the visage of the former Wallis Simpson of Baltimore Maryland. “Well I don’t.” she sneered and roughly wrapped the fish up.  “She got what she wanted. A King and all them jewels. Feel sorry all ya want May Morton but that woman nearly brought down the monarchy. I am with the Queen Mum when she said the two people who caused her the most trouble were Wallis Simpson and Hitler.”

As May Morton hurried out of Billingsgate fish market she passed a news stand. There one the front page of every newspaper and tabloid was the same sad photograph of the Duchess and that solitary crow. May paused to look at the photo. What was it like to be her she wondered? “A King…and all them jewels.” She whispered.

~

Wallis didn’t notice in the slightest the black crow on the balcony of the Villa Lou Viei where she was in hiding and safekeeping after the scandal broke in England the winter of 1937.

Her friend Katherine Rogers put a hand on her elbow. “Do you want to listen to it on the radio?”

“What did you say?” Wallis  turned from the open French doors toward the darkness of the villa’s interior.

“Lord Brownlow is going to read your statement of willingness to give up the King.”

Wallis’ eyes narrowed as her platinum spine stiffened giving her a more regal bearing. She looked down at the circlet of perfect Cartier diamonds and emeralds on her wrist, a gift from David.

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“No… I would rather be alone for a bit if you don’t mind.” She smiled. Katherine nodded and faded into the dark interior.  As Wallis stepped out in to the warm December sun of the South of France the crow watched her with his own rather regal eye as black and cold as obsidian.

Would he call? Would he stop her from leaving him? Or would she be left with only his glittering gifts of iced stones? Would the gamble pay off? The British Empire was collapsing and now many thought she was a part of that. She was sure now that his choice was either her or the throne.  But not both. It could never both.

Would she win?

The haunted call of the crow cut into her thoughts. She turned to see it jump for its marble perch and soar out over the cypress trees toward the Mediterranean. Absently she stroked the diamonds and emeralds on her wrist with the tips of her fingers and thought for the very first time of them as her children.

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    ***

Deco Diamonds by the dazzling Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH perfumes is part of her Brilliant Collection. These fragrances were created in conjunction with the Denver Art Museum’s Cartier Exhibit in 2014-15. The first of the four perfumes, Fumee D’or evokes the workroom of the famed French jewelry house.  The remaining three in The Brilliant Collection were inspired by three icons of glamour who wore Cartier with flair and style. Jacinthe de Sapphir was inspired by Marie the Queen of Romania who owned a Cartier sapphire bigger than the Ritz! Rubis Rose was inspired by the Cartier suite of ruby and diamonds given to Elizabeth Taylor by her first great love, Mike Todd. And the last Deco Diamonds found its inspiration in the cold and glittering glamor of the Duchess of Windsor.

Each of the perfumes in this line also are created in the style and manner of perfumes from the era each woman reigned as a jewelry icon. Dawn has a great talent in creating and an essential understanding of the classics and history of perfume which informs and illuminates her art above and beyond most independent niche houses. This is a perfume of the Jazz Age. As hot as Louis Armstrong’s trumpet solos from the sweltering midnight of Roseland Ballroom and as elegant and sophisticated as George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue as it lifted the roof off of Aeolian Hall in 1924. This is a delicious aldehydic jazz age cocktail that sings and swings.

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(Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and The Denver Art Museum)

The notes are classically composed and unfold as beautifully as any great perfume from the 20’s and 30’s would. Aldehydes are the shooting stars of the perfume… a meteor shower of glorious glamour augmented by sparking neroli and galbanum and a ripe wet fleshy peach. . And of course the flowers are so very artfuly arranged, gardenia, jasmine, honeysuckle dance a sensuous fox trot around an imperious and lush tuberose. But what gives the perfume the gravity of a classic is the addition of not one animalic note but two. Civet and hyrax frolic with a touch of nasty abandon though out the perfume. There is a lush symphonic dry down of jasmine sambac, ambergris, and sandalwood. All wrapped up in a great oak moss.

The perfume lasts a good long time on my skin. About 10 hours or so. This is in part due to Dawn’s understanding that the natural notes she uses from natural sources need a synthetic frame to support them. Like the structure of DNA the synthetic notes she uses hold the natural notes in perfume together and give then a longer life. A lesson taught early in the 20th century buy such perfumers as Ernest Beaux and not forgotten by smart perfumers of today.

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The sillage is as bold and commanding as the Duchess of Windsor was. To wear this perfume is to say that you are a person who knows what they want out of life and how to get it. This is a perfume of confidence that isn’t afraid to be strong and stylish.  This bold strength gives Deco Diamonds a masculine edge that I find very appealing. That kind of unisex bravado one finds in many stars of the 1930’s who donned slacks and made them fashionable for women.  To put simply, this is a perfume that, like the Duchess of Windsor wears the pants in the family.

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SPRING FORWARD ~ Tigerlily Trunkshow, Deco Diamonds by DSH and San Francisco Fragrance Salon

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Spring in The City is always exciting for those of us who life in San Francisco. And one of the signs that Spring is upon is is the San Francisco Fragrance Salon. Here is a little peek at the event as well as a look at Deco Diamonds by DSH Perfumes.

A COMEBACK…. “I hate that word! It’s a return!” Norma Desmond.

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I have been away from the written review since Novmeber 2014. This was due to my computer issues which have at last been adressed. More reviews are on the way but in the meantime here is something special from my YouTube review Channel. Get some popcorn, turn off the lights and hold on to your martini and gigolo… this one is scary.

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