A ROUGH PATCH ~ Tom Ford, Patchouli Absolu

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“That mink is going to come in handy when the road starts the climb.” He winked and then nodded to slats in the side of the truck. Lilly Chu looked through them and saw the wall of mountains that crossed the southern horizon from end to end. The full moon reflected off the snow covered peaks in a ghostly glow causing them to look like mountains on the moon. The mere sight of them made it seem even colder. She pulled the collar of her coat up around her chin. “Wherever we are it is coming in handy right now. Where are we?”

 moonlit tibet

“We are in the back of a sheep truck on the Friendship Highway the only way out of China into India. In short we are in Tibet. Before we reach the border crossing we will have to lie on the floor and cover ourselves with that hay.”

“Can’t we just use our passports?” The wet hay smelled of sheep dung.

“No, too dangerous now after Dunhuang and Shanghai.” He said in a voice as cold as the bodies of the two men who he killed there.

Lily had forfeited her canary diamond ring to bribe their way out of Dunhuang. She lost her luggage in the Gobi the only thing she had left was her mink. Not only were they being pursued by the hit men hired by those she had robbed back in the States but by the Chinese police as well.  They didn’t react well to foreigners killing thugs in China..

yellow-diamond

She shivered more from fright than cold. “I could certainly use a bath and some….”

He laughed. “Forget about it. If we make it to India alive you can bathe in a fountain of perfume.”

“Do I smell that bad?”

“I can’t smell anything but these sheep.” She looked at her Englishman who was her only chance of survival. “After all we have been through, won’t you, tell me your name?”

LILY CHU

“I told you before; who I am is not important Lily. My mission is get get you to safety.”

The truck hit a pothole sending the sheep into a panic. He reached out and pulled her back to his side of the truck as the headlights from passing cars lit his eyes.  The sapphire in them had turned to ice. She saw a flash of her reflection in his eyes. Sudden darkness and in the blackness he pulled her closer.

“Please tell me your name…” she whispered.

“If you insist, but once you know my name I will have to kill you.”

She laughed for the first time in days. He formed his hand into the shape of a gun and touched her lips with the tip of his index finger.

“My name is….”

The truck lurched again then a squeal of worn metal as the driver slammed on the breaks. The sheep began to scramble and scream. The doors on the back of the truck flew open in a blare of blinding light. All that Lily could see were the dull black barrels of automatic rifles pointed at her.

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     ***

Patchouli Absolu by Tom Ford is a challenge for me. A huge whack across the nose of dried patchouli leaves. It is bold and rude and at times a dirty. There is a bit of the back end of a truck full of sheep in there as well. It is a late night ride down a rough road to a rendezvous with a mean and dirty lover on the wrong side of town. And sometimes that can be just right.

Created in 2014 this eau de parfum develops in an interesting way. It opens with of rush of WOW that almost turned me off. At the opening top notes of Bay leafy, rosemary and Moss are burned to a crisp in a hot skillet. The only thing that really lingers is the moss, dirty wet moss that is steaming as it assaults the senses. Yes, a very hot skillet and when the mid notes hit with that huge patchouli, laid on and layered over Guaiac wood, Violet wood, Cashmere wood and Cypriol it is amazing. A flaming pyre that is almost stupefying in its swirl of lush crushed leaves and burning wood. There is a moment of familiar behind the redwood curtain patchouli oil and madras bedspreads, a bit of Humboldt County in the 1970’s that floated toward the surface to tease my memories of those day.  It took a few tokes of dreaminess and settled to the bottom and let the bad boy come out to play.

Here is where it rose above the old hippie patchouli and moved into a modern more sophisticated range with just a hint of danger. The base notes of Tonka bean, amber, musk and a tough long lasting but supple leather bring it all together without ever taking off the edge. There is that underlying feeling in the dry down that it could turn dirty again, rough you up and whisper things that only you want to hear at three in the morning. It is an exciting fragrance, a challenging fragrance, a damn sexy fragrance.

Long lasting, yes like a 20 year old boy on his first trip to the Bunny Ranch. Sillage is large and in charge. This is not a perfume that everyone can wear, but if you have the big boy pants to pull it off then you will shine. For the rest of us…well it’s Mister Toad’s wild ride through the patchouli patch on the way to Storyville.

Exciting, dangerous, big and bold Patcholui Absolu is something special, rare and wonderful. But I wouldn’t wear it on a first date, After all,  I am not that kind of guy. But on the third date yes!

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STARSHINE ~ JICKY by Guerlain

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Hot red lipstick kisses on cold white marble. Scott was suddenly moved to silent weeping  by that expression of love and farewell expressed by countless lips that had be pressed as near as possible to what was left of Marilyn Monroe.

The tears took him by surprise.

“Dude look he’s crying.”  Three angelic punked out skateboarders who on occasion glided into Westwood Village Memorial Park stood in a slouching tableau looking about as out of place as Roman Catholic priests on roller skates in a fashion show.

“Shush, be quiet man, he’s mourning her.”

The tears were not for the woman whose image graced his childhood bedroom walls, not really, it was more than that.  He had just six months ago divorced his husband and recently the one who loved him without question or judgement had passed. Miss Opal Gardner, his sweet dog. That was part of it yes, but deep down, below all of that recent pain, he could feel that he was morning something much more significant, something lost.

  ***

He heard the rumble of distaste that always accompanied his father’s entrance into the kitchen. His father would find Scotty every morning wrapped up in dreams of an escape to New York, submerged to his eyebrows in a world of movie made glamour behind is copy of Vogue magazine.

Scotty read Vogue and Andy Warhol’s Interview religiously and always at the breakfast table.  How could you not start a day in the suburbs of Philadelphia any other way? At least that was how little Scotty looked at it. Someday his middle-class truck driver dad would get it, would understand. Would not scowl and disapprove. Every morning with with his father’s rumble Scotty breathed in that hope. His father’s disapproval was once again deflected with the armor of glamour that was Vogue.

Vogue 1954 restored

Just about the only physical palpable magic at home was his mother’s perfume that enveloped him in layers of dreaminess. He would watch her applying her makeup for her Saturday night out.  Durring her fascinating transformation into something chic and glamorous he would wait for the final thrilling moment that Yves Saint Laurent shared with him in the forbidden exotic bottle. Opium! Yet this small amount of magic wasn’t enough for the outsider child who didn’t know how to make friends, who when he looked at Marilyn Monroe’s champagne shine knew that when he grew up, he wanted to be a hairdresser. He loved his parents and with an understanding beyond his years he knew that to them he was like a baby from Mars that was left on their front porch as a present they had no idea how to unwrap.

little scotty

The only place he truly could be himself, to step out of his star in disguise outfit he wore every day and shine was at his Godmother’s house.  The most magical place of his childhood. The walls of her bathroom were covered in autographs of old movie stars. Real autographs she had collected over the years. Judy, and Joan, Gable and Grable, Lana and Lucy. And so many more names he knew nothing about. But the glamour of that room and the magic in its walls seduced him. He made it his business to learn from is Godmother who each and every one of those stars where and just where they hung in the heavens of Hollywood. On Saturday mornings he would watch old movies on TV with her. It was his graduate school of glamour. The perfume that permeated her home, that enshrined the stars he came to love while watching with his Godmother the dreams they wove into his soul was, Shalimar.

“You know what Scotty,” She said to him one day while they watched Clark Gable and Marilyn drive off into the starry Nevada night.  “You have what Gable had. Something rare and beautiful. Starshine.”

***

The tryptic of skateboarders were gone now and he was alone with her. Maybe she wouldn’t mind if he took a selfie with her? Snap!

“Guardate qui è. Ora guarda bella con la rosa rossa. Giovane che si sa che è sepolto qui? Una grande stella, Marilyn Monroe.”

An old couple perhaps in their eighties sat down on the bench next to him and began a conversation with Scott as if he understood Italian. He smiled, he listened.

“ Siamo venuti da Italia a pagare il nostro rispetto per lei.”

It was suddenly joyous, Fellini had joined them and was directing the fadeout. Scott hugged the old couple.

“Puzzi meraviglioso. Si indossa Jicky.”

Scott laughed he somehow understood. “Yes I am wearing Jicky, It is a drug, it is a dream it is…magic.”

He said goodbye put his sad thoughts away and with Marilyn in his pocket walked out of the cemetery toward the next dream that waited for him in his blessed and lucky life.

300 x 200 me 2012

SCOTT PATRIC

 ***

Like Scott Patric said to the Italian couple, Jicky is a drug, a dream, it is magic. Created in 1889 by Aime Guerlain there are many stories associated with its creation. The most charming and melancholy is that he was inspired by lovely English girl Aime met while at university in England. But most likely he named it after his uncle Jacques whose nickname was Jicky. Aime is also the nose behind the beautiful Eau de Cologne du Coq, and several others from the Belle Epoch.

Yes it is of the gilded age, the belle epoch of Paris but it is anything but old and dated. Jicky is vibrant, rich and MODERN. Created in a time in perfumery when there were no genders applied to perfume…everyone wore Jicky. This fragrance in both its parfum and eau de toilet forms is spectacular on both men and women. It is of the now and always will be.

It opens with an herbal twang of rosemary blended in with mandarin orange, bergamot and lemon. Nice and safe yes? Not so fast there is something else, something coming up from eh bottom notes that just can’t wait to shine and sing. The spices and leather. List in the bottom they move forward in to the fading opening notes and take the lead of the middle notes.

The mid being a silky dark and dirty orris root that the leather notes latch on to. Brilliant. The spices from the base sift in with basil and Tonka creating a layer of swirling intoxicating vapors, a veil that blithely blankets each body it embraces creating a comforting caressing touch. A dry dusting of lavender on the petals of jasmine give it sparkle.

In the dry down the Leather and spices keep it warm and sensuous. There is sandalwood to add creamy smoothness along with a dash of vanilla, shimmering sunset amber and benzoin keep the embers of this masterpiece glowing long into the wee hours of its life.

Longevity for me is epic. Hours upon hours of bliss. The projection is at first impressive at about three feet then pulls in to about 18 inches for the long run. Perfect for a lady or gentleman who wants to give off an air of sophistication without the bullhorn. Jicky is something not everyone will love, it is different, challenging and more complex than most modern fragrances out there today. And yet for those of us who love the great classic perfumes of France it is essential.

Thanks to Scott Patric for sharing his memories of perfume and magic and for reminding me that Jicky is indeed wonder and bliss in a beautiful bottle.

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GOODMORNING STARSHINE!

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