Hothouse lilies white in the window seemed almost invisible against the falling snow beyond the arches of the portico along Rue Royale. Durocher’s was famous for the best flowers in Paris and the most beautiful blooms of roses and lilies flown in from the greenhouses in the South of France.
Madame Durocher looked beyond the lilies to the other side of the street where Noël Boulet stood in the snow watching the shop. She smiled, Poor boy, utterly and hopelessly crushed by his infatuation with Alizée, the young girl who helped Madame in the afternoons.
The door opened with a gust of snowflakes borne upon icy wind.
“Good day Monsieur, how can I help you?” Madame Durocher put her glasses that rested on a chain around her neck on the bridge of her nose then as was her odd custom dropped her head so as to look over the top of them.
“I would like an arrangement of Freesia and Lilly of the Valley; they are for my housekeeper.”
As Madame set about writing up the order for whom she knew, without asking his name, was Rene Michel Petriz. He and that actress were all over the news. She didn’t care much for his kind or that American Actress ether. “A notorious gigolo and a cinema harlot on the downslide of life.” she would say, if anyone cared to know her opinion.
Alizée came from the back of the shop carrying a huge bunch of Hyacinths for the client she was helping. Rene Michel at first barely took note of her. He turned to look at the lilies in the window and was amused to see a young man with his nose pressed against the glass. He was dreamily gazing at the girl with the Hyacinths. Rene Michel then turned his eyes back upon the subject of the boy’s adoration.
It amused him even more to note that she had barely noticed the boy. Her only reaction to his presence on the sidewalk under the portico was when she looked at him only once, to wrinkle her nose as if she smelled something slightly sour. Then without her even being aware of what followed, she smiled sweetly to herself. It struck Rene Michel that she was indeed, for a girl of maybe at the most 17, an exceptional beauty.
Madame presented him with his flowers perfectly wrapped in cellophane and white ribbons. “I hope your house keeper likes them Monsieur.”
He paid her and turned to leave. The boy in the window seemed now literally to be frozen to the glass.
Rene Michel could not let this moment pass. He turned back to the counter. Madame Durocher was gone only Alizée remained. She was arranging a small bouquet of Forget Me Nots. And all the while giving the boy outside a disapproving look.
“Why don’t you invite him in?” Said Rene in his most seductive professional voice. The one he used with his new clients. “He looks cold out there.”
She was taken aback. “Who?”
“That poor love struck young man at the window.”
“Oh Noël? He is a nuisance.” She smiled up at Rene and suddenly was caught simultaneously by his charm and good looks and being so caught it followed that she recognized him. A little gasp as she tried but failed to recover her composure. “He is just a boy.” She said softly. She dropped the bouquet and smiled into his hazel eyes that were ringed in gold.
“When I was young and just like that boy there was a girl like you in a little shop. Had she been kind to me rather than cruel, well both our lives might have been different. We might have been…happy.” He gave her a glittering smile. “Ah well I suppose it is the way of things Mademoiselle. To be so pretty and young and so quick to break a heart so carelessly. Au revoir. “
As he passed through the door out into the snow Alizée, looked after the handsome man who all of Paris adored as a scoundrel. Then her eyes shifted to Noël Boulet. He smiled his funny crooked smile, that when she narrowed her eye she could see was a rather handsome and kind smile. But still he was annoying. Sometimes.
“Madame my I go for my lunch early?”
“Yes I suppose but be back in half an hour.”
She walked out of the shop and turned to face a shivering, smiling, wonderstruck Noël. Alizée took his rough woolen gloved hand in hers. “Would you like to come with me for a cup of hot chocolate?”
The nose behind the new masculine fragrance by Houbigant, Cologne Intense is Luca Maffei. He is a young nose in the fragrance industry that is making a name for himself with such stunning fragrances as Perris Monte Carlo’s Oud Imperial and Rose de Taif. What he has created in Cologne Intense is something brilliant bold and breathtaking. The presentation of the fragrance which comes in both Eau de Parfum and Extrait Parfum is classically elegant. The 100 mil bottle is the same sophisticated masculine bottle that was created for Houbigant’s 2010 re-release of the exquisite Fougere Royale from 1882. The juice is darker in Cologne Intense which only adds a golden richness to the presentation. Just as the No.5 bottle is used for other perfumes by Chanel so it is that Houbigant is presenting this release in the same bottle as Fougere Royale. This smart marketing gives a certain instant house recognition. You see the bottle and you know the house at once. Class and sophistication are assured.
(Luca Maffei creator of my favorite fragrance release of 2015 ~ Photo Cafleurebon)
The parfum is classified as a citrus aromatic. I agree, it opens with sharp crisp summer freshness of Sicilian lemons, a bitter bite of Calabrian bergamot which sparks brilliantly on the skin then gives way to the wonderful green petitgrain and Moroccan neroli. It is a show of green citrusy skyrockets that shimmer as they rise and sparkle as they fall way to reveal the center of this fragrance.
Here within the heart in this classic a savory tarragon takes the center stage. It is richly blended into a complex dance with red pepper, a touch of lavender, and a whiff of Indian Jasmine. Oh that Jasmine is nice if subtle, as it should be. And the pepper is sharp adding depth to the tarragon and lavender. I love the middle of this fragrance but my love turns to obsession when we reach the dry down.
In the bottom notes I find a fine and creative blend by Luca Maffei that make this a truly memorable release of 2015. The two magical notes he introduces to the fragrance are a bitter Mat Tea and lush deep and hypnotic incense. The effect with the fading mid notes is sheer olfactory heaven. The longevity on my skin last between 6 to 8 hours. the sillage is at about 18 inches.
Cologne Intense is one of my top favorite releases of last year. It is a beautiful addition to the venerable and historic house of Houbigant that is both a tip of the hat to past classics, an era of refinement and grace but also embodies a youthful modern vibe.