LE ROI DES DIAMANTS ~ Rahele by Neela Vermeire Creations

 

A thick blue mist clung to the tall trees like uncarded wool and muffled the predawn calls of the forest birds as they fluttered and fussed themselves to wakefulness. It moved slowly, lazily, like a taffeta silk encased courtesan through the lower wilder gardens making its way up to the chateau of Versailles. With cool fingers it caressed the cream-colored stone and pressed against the wavy glass of the windows. There it condensed into impersonal tears and sensuously slid down the glass to puddle on the windowsill. At one glowing window the little puddles reflected the candlelit room within the palace. A tiny image of the scene within shimmered in the puddle  of the only room in the palace where the occupant was awake. The Sun King was up before the Sun.

Louis XIV King of all France was sitting up in bed. Beside him gently mumbling in her sleep was his mistress Madame de Montespan. He paid not a note of attention to her and had completely forgotten to wake her to send her off before the courtiers were to arrive to  Rituality  wake and dress him.  The thing that held him in rapt attention, that had kept him awake since three in the morning was pinched between his thumb and index finger. A 115.16-carat blue diamond. It fascinated him by its uncut beauty.  The story of its travels and how Jean-Baptiste Tavernier had brought it and along with it  many fabulous tales from the court of Shah Jahan, the Emperor of Mogul India.

He turned the diamond this way and that to see how the light from the candles danced a merry minuet within the stone. The King threw back the bedclothes and slipped into his brocade robe then walked to the window. He held the diamond toward the blue misty imperceptibly brightening eastern sky to study it. He squinted his eyes and tired to pierce the heart of the diamond with his mind.

“Your majesty, this stone is but a pale shard in comparison to the beauty of India.” Louis recalled the voice of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier when the afternoon before he had presented the king for a certain price the priceless stone. “There are colors in India unknown in the west, the music of the court is like nothing you have ever heard. It is like the universe is singing with golden bells and  flutes of sandalwood and ivory. The women are unsurpassed in beauty and grace. The cities are vast and teaming with vibrant excitement. In the midst of all of this cacophony of smells and sights and sounds there is the great Taj Mahal. An edifice of such sparkling splendor that I am left with nothing but a melancholy  whisper in my heart when I think of it.”

The King smiled to himself and pressed the stone against the windowpane and moved his head toward it as if he were about to look into a spyglass. The world took on a violet blue hue. Cool and calm and of such beauty he wanted to live within the diamond forever.

There he stood his face pressed against the window lost within the magic of the stone.

“You shall my symbol of France, of the enduring monarchy that shall last forever.” He said softly to the stone. “You shall bring glory to my rein and prosperity to my people.”

“And how will I do all of that? I am just a woman.”

The king startled turned to see Madame de Montespan sitting up, her knees drawn up to her chin, arms encircling them. She was sleepy eyed and smiling.

“Indeed, how shall you do all of that my dear.” He put the diamond in his robe pocket and patted the pocket for luck.

“Come now my dear, the courtiers will be here any moment and you must be gone. After all there is my wife to consider.”

“What do you have in your pocket?” she demanded coyly.

“Nothing of consequence.”

“It’s that diamond. Oh, Louie please let me hold it.”

He laughed and walked to the edge of the bed and handed her the diamond. Her eyes danced across the stone in glittering madness captivated by the stone.

“Louis may I have it. Will you give it to me in a necklace or on a pin? Oh please!”

“No… I am the State, and this diamond is, in essence the heart of France. It belongs not to me but to France.”

“Oh! You are hopeless!”

“On the contrary, my dear. I am filled with hope.”

At that moment, the door to the King’s chamber silently opened just as the King leaned down to kiss Madame de Montespan. Three aristocratic heads of the King’s bedchamber peeked in. Eyes widened, the three heads then retreated and very gently closed the door. The royal dressing would have to wait.

***

Neela Vermeire Creations with perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour have over the years since the House was launched created perfumes that are inspired by India but with a French Flair and chic. The new fragrance Rahele (2016) is no exception. Travel is what Rahele means and this fragrance was sparked by three 17th Century French travelers to India. Jean Thévenot, Francois Bernier, and the man responsible for bringing the premier crown jewel of France to King Louis XIV and what became finally the Hope Diamond, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier.

Rahele is a foral woody and earthy fragrance that rises to an interesting level of stylish sophistication. It is bright, pure and ozonic to my nose. It does remind me of travel, that wonderful smell you experience when you first exit an international airport and breath in the air of a strange foreign city. It has a blend of both Western Europe and the Asian sub-continent. It is fluid each time I wear it. Some times I am in Paris and other times I am in  Jaipur.

We begin our trip with a bright almost ripe yet on the edge of green mandarin. Cardamom which falls on the spicy side complements the citrus.  Then from Ancient markets comes the once rare and precious spice note of cinnamon. I love how this plays against the slightly metallic violet leaf note in the opening.

The midway point of the trip with Rahele is a pure lush Indian garden after the monsoon. A peachy exotic Osmanthis is surrounded by the reddest of rose, a velvet rose in fact and completely devoid of thorns. A fleshy sensual magnolia note hovers above this garden, It is moist and nearly dripping in the heat and there in the heart of this rises up a sweet almost hypnotic jasmine.  The kind of jasmine that lifts the senses in the night. The earth below is introduced with purple notes of violet and rooty dry Iris. At this point the flower notes shimmer and move forward and recede in the most interesting way.

When we reach our final destination in the base there is a somber smooth finish of patchouli leaves that are packed in layers of oakmoss, silky aromatic sandalwood and resinous crisp cedar. This nearly finishes the perfume but all is not over. The dominating note here and what constantly rises though out the fragrance is a refined supple leather note. It never over powers the perfume but rather carries the perfume in subtle grace. It seems in the first hour to suddenly die, yet by hour two and beyond it returns to tease and tantalize for many hours to come. It in fact it  undulates on the skin. This is pure magic and quite interesting.

Indeed, subtlety is the hallmark of this elegant fragrance. By no means is Rahele ever overpowering or demanding. It is suggestive, intuitive, and lightly sensual. A perfect fragrance for both discerning men of taste and chic women of elegant refinement.

 (photo above and below from Fragrantica)

(Neela Vermeire)

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THE MAN IN THE BLACK MUSTANG ~ Feu Secret by Bruno Fazzolari

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The dead never return.

On the morning of March 27, 1964 Marie-Anne Lefèvre was started to see her husband in the small café in Megève. After all he had been dead for five years.

Claude was in the resistance during the War and it was his job to report on possible Nazi collaborators. He had mistaken Marie-Anne for a woman he was assigned to follow. He tailed after her expecting that she was going to meet her German lover at the Ritz, when in fact she was simply going to 31 Rue Cambon behind the Ritz to buy a bottle of perfume for her mother. As he followed he tried to ignore the sway in her walk and how her chestnut hair bounced as it caught the late Autumn sunlight. When his mistake became clear to him that he was after the wrong woman he followed her to the Place de la Concorde where with clever machinations around one of the fountains he managed to bump into her causing her to drop her shopping bag breaking the bottle of Sycamore. He took her back to Chanel and bought her a new bottle. Within the month, they were married.

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Since the end of the War they had lived a life of small luxuries and great charm for 15 years in Paris on the Rue d’Édimbourg. It was an exciting time they shared, He a leading actor in La Comédie-Française and she with her little art gallery L’oeil d’or on the Avenue George V near the Café Francis. It was a whirlwind of openings both theatrical and artistic that keep their relationship alive and vibrant. For each of their passions gave them an exciting day away which afforded a meeting in the evening filled with shared stories of glories and sometimes disappointments. Equal but separate lives that encompassed love without suffocating it. Then quite suddenly in the winter of 1958 Claude became ill. Within mere weeks he was gone.

Marie-Anne stayed on for the next five years in the apartment on the Rue d’Edimbourg until at fifty-eight she decided she had enough of the lights of Paris. She sold the gallery to a young assistant and transferred her life to the small ski resort of Megève. She moved in to a modest Chalet near the Résidence Maeva Le Mont d’Arbois. It was a quite solitary life of reading, a little writing to friends in Paris, afternoon walks and always the café in the morning for café au lait and croissants. And every day, each day without fail she thought of Claude.

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But this morning her somnambulistic existence was shattered. The trip bell over the door chimed, there was a shiver of cold air on her cheek as the door swung open. A crunch of snow encrusted boots as a man walked past her where she sat, his coat brushed her shoulder.  There was the conversant smell of Eucalyptus, pink pepper and vanilla. His smell. She ignored the olfactory recognition and continued to read her book as her coffee cooled.

The man ordered his coffee and even though he whispered his voice, a warm baritone nearly filled the room, It tugged at her right ear and she looked up from her book. At first, she only noted that he was a handsome man of about fifty-two. Well-proportioned and of medium height with wavy black hair that was slightly silver at the temples. She looked back down to her novel. The scent of the man grew slightly insistent and blended with the smell of roasted coffee beans and fresh warm pastry.  She looked up again, he was sitting facing the window as the sun broke through the clouds momentarily while the snow fell beyond his profile.  It was Claude’s profile almost to the exact slope of his forehead down to his strong neck and prominent Adam’s apple.  She starred only long enough to drink in the sight of this man who so resembled her love, her Claude. She pulled her eyes away and let them rest on the page of her book without reading a single word.

She sat there until he left without looking up again.  The trip bell rang and the door swung open, a blast of winter air and then it swung shut with a dull crunch of snow and old wood. She looked up again and watched as he walked across the square and got into a black Mustang. Sleek and wild surrounded by Peugeots, Ferraris and Citroens it rumbled a steamy exhaust and the red glow of its taillights winked. It was strange and beautiful and seemed to be made of sacred fire. When he drove away, Marie-Anne looked back down to her book. She re-read the top line on page 156 then closed the book.

Maybe she would see him again. But she hoped she would not.

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*   *   *

Someone asked me recently how I would compare classic fragrance to what is being made today and I immediately thought of Bruno Fazzolari. He is one of the new perfumers of the last five years who is on to something wonderful. A creative process in perfumery that is both modern and classical at the same time.

I first met Bruno at the SF ARTISAN PERFUME SALON 2013 where he was launching his line. I was immediately taken by the beauty and sophistication of his work, especially in Au Dela.  His work for a new perfumer was eons ahead of everyone else at that event. What I smelled in that particular fragrance was a time machine to 1947. I was smelling a timeless new perfume by Christian Dior. I was smelling a master’s work. Lighting in a bottle, and I knew I was there and very lucky to witness the birth of a star.17125439_1766590433656861_2798002693187043328_n

(BRUNO FAZZOLARI)

What Dior did in fashion by bringing glamour and yards of fabric back to the forefront of fashion after the horrors and austerity of World War II was to create the “New Look” a term coined by Carmel Snow of American Vogue to describe the romantic new movement of the mid-20th Century.  Bruno Fazzolari in a very real way in the early 21st Century, is doing what Dior did. He is creating the “Nouveau Sens” in perfumery. He is bringing romanticism and glamour to the niche market in a way that is both classic and modern. And I for one could not be more thrilled.

In his new fragrance, Feu Secret I find the magic has reached a new level of beauty and artistry. It is a dry and warm beauty. Opening with dangerous and bitter touch of hemlock which is punctuated with a sharp jab of green Spruce. This is a fleeting tease to the arrival of a warm burning leaves note of the most amazing eucalyptus. A smell I grew up with in Southern California where in the summer the Eucalyptus trees seem to give off a smoky smoldering scent.

The middle gets even better. A light spice not leaning toward ginger is provided by a turmeric note, spiced up with pink pepper. But here is the kicker, Iris. This note that usually takes on a lip stick, Max Factor quality is this time not in the back-stage dressing room on the dressing table waiting to go on at all. No, this Iris is wrapped up in that burning eucalyptus and the combination becomes the sacred heart of this fire. The supporting base notes of Himalayan cedar, burch tar and a rich thick as butter vanilla round out this fragrance and bring it all home in style.

It is completely wearable for any occasion from day to evening, Full enough for the colder months but certainly something I would wear in the height of summer, that fire, that smoke is so perfect for the season.

So to answer my friend who wanted to know what I love that is both modern and classic, J’dore Feu Secret. And I adore the work of Bruno Fazzolari, the master perfumer of San Francisco.

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