THE FOREIGNER ~ Samourai by Alain Delon

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Nino Rota’s music filled the theater in rolling swells of Italian grandeur. The camera followed a young man though the ornate room of Sicilian palace as he made his way and his goodbyes to the family who lived there. With a final farewell to the dour Concetta he hopped into a buggy and road off as the camera rose high over the gardens of the palace of Prince Don Fabrizio Salina. That was the first time I ever saw him and I knew at thirteen that I had just seen the most beautiful man in the world. The film was Visconti’s masterpiece, “The Leopard” and the young man was Alain Delon.

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(Alain Delon, Claudia Cardinale in Il Gattopardo 1963)

My parents were bored with the epic film and somewhere in the middle of the film we committed movie sacrilege and left the theater, very much against my will because the film and Alain Delon had captured my imagination. I would see him again and very soon.

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     I found him again in the dark of the Fox movie palace in Riverside. He was a gigolo boy toy in the delightful “The Yellow Rolls Royce”, And the following year there he was in the epic war film “Is Paris Burning?”  He even did a western, “Texas Across The River”. He was magic in French and Italian but the Americans didn’t know how to use his unique abilities when they turned their CinemaScope lenses on him. He was more or less just required to be beautiful as the camera dollied to a heart stopping close-up.

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    So to really enjoy his acting gifts I had to go to the little “Foreign” movie house behind the old Fox Theater.  There He was in Antonioni’s haunting “L’eclisse”, He stunned us as the deadly American who stole a rich boy’s identity in “Purple Noon” the first version of “The Talented Mr. Ripley” Then the brilliant and tragic “Rocco and His Brothers” sealed his fate as a talent to be reckoned with.

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(Rocco E I Suoi Fratelli 1960)

“Borsolano” a gangster film set in 1930’s Marselles followed and the dangerous and beautifully stylized “Un Flic.” But perhaps his most famous role was as the Parisian hit man Jef Costello in the gorgeous film “Le Samourai” It is no surprise then that in later years when Delon began is foray into fashion and perfume he should create Samourai as his most famous signature scent.

 

The opening of Samourai is so sharp and crisp is seems almost to make the sound of a steel samurai sword as it is pulled in one swift motion from its scabbard.  This Oriental perfume has a spare elegance in its notes, almost like a beautiful Japanese flower arrangement. The opening of pink pepper and cedar on paper is soft but on the skin it is sharp wood and a hint of the medicinal. This is almost like a preparation for the skin, a cleansing for what is to follow.

Slowly the flowers are arranged and it is indeed a masterful Japanese design of the florals and citrus. A sumptuous rose is the center around which is placed spray of sensuous jasmine and buds of lemon and bergamot. The base of the arrangement is rooted firmly in a bed of dry aromatic vetiver.  The entire arrangement is set on a raw unvarnished sandalwood table for solid support. Elegant and pure, not a clean or fresh scent but rather something of a mystery to be explored as it unfolds.

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     This perfume was created in 1995 and holds its age well, there are flankers that followed which I have not tried, and two “women’s” flankers as well. Not a silage bomb in the least. It is too elegant and smart to be so obvious. It casts its net at about a foot or so and trails in subtle tendrils of scent. On my skin it lasts about 6 hours and most definitely can be worn by both men and women. The bottle is really beautiful. A square which on its sides twists from left to right as it moves up from the base. This design makes it fit into the hand very securely. The aqua marine juice contrasts to the silver lettering on the bottle and the stunning silver cap. All together it is a beautiful presentation.

Alain Delon was and still is a beautiful man who at 78 is still acting and making magic for us on the screen and in the perfume lab.  His allure is so enduring that Dior now uses his face as the face of Eau Savage.

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SAMOURAI BY ALAIN DELON: FIVE GOLD STARS

…AND THE WINNER IS, ~ White Diamonds By Elizabeth Taylor

elizabeth taylor logo

Tomorrow night is the 85th Annual Academy Awards.  

I would like to present for your consideration. 

*****************

Yul Brynner ripped open the envelope paused with a half smile looked up and out across the audience in the packed Santa Monica Civic Auditorium to find her eyes.

ELIZABETH TAYLOR OSCAR NIGHT 1961

“And the winner is…..”

The scandal would have ruined any other actress’s career. Only a few years before Ingrid Bergman had been vilified and exiled to Italy for leaving her husband and daughter to marry Roberto Rossellini and other lesser stars had fallen from the heavens of Hollywood for much less.

Yet she is still here, dressed in Dior, sitting back in her chair not expecting anything, waiting to hear if she is going home with Oscar.

She was the little girl with the grown-up face who had won the hearts of America when she dressed as a jockey and won the Grand National at twelve years old, the teenage girl who found her place in the sun when she steamed up the screen with the hottest kiss ever filmed and uttered the line that would define her for many.

“Tell mamma, tell mamma all….”

She had taken West Texas on at twenty two and tamed a rebel in the bargain. She revisited F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Paris, went mad in the midst of the American Civil War. But when she was that cat Maggie on a hot tin roof all hell broke loose.

Suddenly a few summers before this Oscar night the most beautiful widow in the world had stolen Tammy’s husband. This sealed her image as a modern day Cleopatra and in so doing convincing a failing studio that she was the only woman who could save them by barging down the Nile in style. But first she had a debt to pay. Metro said she had to play a prostitute before they would release her to play a queen. She hated the role and swore she would sleep walk through it. She took no direction from her director and had her crooner husband inserted into the film. The first few days of shooting where a nightmare but something happened to change it all. Her innate professionalism took over and her forth Oscar nomination was the result.

The housewives of America where horrified and fascinated all in the same breath by her performance on screen and off, she was the home wrecker they loved to hate and envied for her beauty. After playing the Park Avenue call girl she was off to London to make history as the woman who nearly brought down the Roman Empire. It didn’t start out so well and in a month she had to be carried on set for her costume test ill with the flu. Within hours she was fighting for her life when the flu morphed into a deadly form of pneumonia. A London newspaper announced her death at the very moment she came back from the edge at the urging of Mike Todd.

“Go back baby. You have more to do. I’ll be waiting for you when it is time.”

The tracheotomy scar at the base of her neck would be her badge of survival, one of many.

The world suddenly realized what a loss her death would be too their collective dreams. They had almost lost that beautiful little girl, the girl who had everything they needed to remind them that there was still magic to be found in flickering images on a silvery screen.

“And the winner is, Elizabeth Taylor….Butterfield-8”

 ELIZABETH TAYLOR OSCAR NIGHT 1961 WIN

The Santa Monica Civic Center exploded in jubilation. They and the world had forgiven her.

“I lost that Oscar to a tracheotomy” Shirley MacLaine whispered as she joined in the applause.

When Elizabeth still weak from her ordeal in London reached the podium she was visibly moved.

“I don’t really know how to express my gratitude for this and for everything.  I guess all I can do is say thank you, thank you with all my heart.”

All was right with the universe; everything was back in place in the heavens. Our National Velvet had won the prize and come home to us. All that was left for Elizabeth Taylor to do now was to fly off to Rome to meet her new Mark Antony.

 Loris Loddi, Elizabeth Taylor, and others., in scene from CLEOPATRA, 1963

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White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor is one of the most popular perfumes on the market. It has been a huge seller for over twenty years and a winner of the Fifi award (the Oscars of the fragrance industry). It has eclipsed Taylor’s first perfume Passion and outlived the many flankers of rubies, sapphires and emeralds.

It is in my view the best of her line. This Floral Aldehyde is sure to be viewed by the younger audience as an old lady scent. That would be a mistake. White Diamonds is really a nod to a classic and classy approach to perfume. It smells vintage, rich, elegant and glamorous. This perfume is a star and she is at ease in her skin as a stunning beauty with a great sense of humor. And she owes a lot to Chanel No.5 in her make-up. In fact you might agree that White Diamonds is a Hollywood star playing the role of No.5.

When the lights come up on set the star walks on with a glorious blast of fizzy and fabulous aldehydes that flash a stunning set of gems made up of bergamot, Neroli, orange and lily. This opening is a glittering  Bulgari necklace that accentuated the lush fullness of her décolletage.

Then she gets down to the business she excels at, drama! Her violets flash purple lights and she throws out petals of roses and laughing narcissus. She smiles with wisps of ylang-ylang and sensuous jasmine.  Then all is banished by the queen, Egyptian tuberose. How can you resist her?

At the end of the shoot just before the assistant director calls a wrap. She settles into her director’s chair with a relaxing cocktail of fuzzy comfy oak moss, patchouli, musk, creamy sandalwood and warming relaxing amber.

Like all great stars White Diamonds has longevity. (It is long lasting in more ways than one. The bottle I have is from 1991 and smells wonderful.) She lasts for hours and hours, eight to ten hours tops and that is fabulous. She remains young on the skin like a dusting of Max Factor powder that stays smooth and creamy well into the night. Her projection is professional and no need for a body microphone. She lets you know she is in the room and all eyes are on her.

White Diamonds like Elizabeth Taylor is unforgettable.

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WHITE DIAMONDS, FIVE GOLD STARS

“There is no deodorant like success” Elizabeth Taylor

WHAT A SNOB! ~ Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker

It isn’t my fault! Chandler Burr and Katie Puckrik made me do it. HONIST!  You see since I have fallen into the pit of perfume I must have hit my head on a protruding rock on the way down and when I came too I found I was a bit of a perfume snob. Not mind you in the school of thought that goes: “It has to be expensive to be any good.” No the other kind of snob. If I noticed a gaggle of paparazzo following a bottle of perfume I could be seen rubbing the tip of my nose on the ceiling. You can loose a lot of skin doing that and trip over your Italian loafers and end up looking rather foolish not to mention narrow minded. So I turned a blind eye to Celebuscents by everyone from Alain Delon to Zazu Pitts.

(CHANDLER BURR)

http://www.chandlerburr.com/

I came to discover “Lovely” by Sarah Jessica Parker when I read Chandler Burr’s mesmerizing book, “The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris & New York.” I am sure you have all read it but if you are new to this like me then grab a copy or download it to your electronic reading device.  It is an education in the creation of two perfumes, “Un Jardin Sur Le Nil” by Jean Claude Ellena for Hermes and “Lovely” by Miss Parker for the house of Coty.  No recapping synopses here …go read the book and find out why I had to try “Lovely”. I wouldn’t want to ruin any part of that reading experience for you. (Un Jardin Sur Le Nil is on my must buy list).

 (KATIE PUCKRIK)

Now how does Katie fit into this? Well, anyone who reads her blog, or watches her very entertaining and extremely informed video reviews over at YouTube on her channel http://www.youtube.com/user/katiepuckriksmells?feature=results_main   will tell you that the lady in question smells. She smells real good. “Lovely” is in her top ten best female perfumes that men can wear. So that spoke to me. After all this His smells Her smells approach to perfume only began in the early part of the 20th century when the middle class was on the rise. The perfume houses wanted to grab the attention of men who might not want to smell “pretty” or like a Dandy. Before this segregation of scent was imposed on the world everyone who could afford perfume wore the same scent. Eau de Cologne Imperiale and Jicky were unisex!  As far as I am concerned if you love it, wear it! There is a certain thrill to being a daring pioneer of perfume. If Joel Cairo in “The Maltese Falcon” had the balls to wear Gardenia ….so can you.

 

“Lovely” opens like rain on predawn cobblestoned side streets in Soho. Not a clean rain but a bit dirty and risqué. The kind of rain you would love to walk in after an sweaty sexy all nighter in a dance club. The top notes of mandarin, bergamot shimmer lightly on the skin and are fleeting as they soak into the lavender and Brazilian rosewood which add a cosmopolitan sophistication. A dirty patchouli downs an Apple Martini grabs the hand of the bashful orchid and runs through the burst of rain down the street to hail a cab to midtown dry down. This is the woodsy central park of the fragrance with musk scampering in the early wet morning of Lovely though woodsy notes and cedar. As the sun dries the earth there is an echo of  balmy white amber which richly warms the skin to a new day.

Yes “Lovely” is confident. Self-assured and shows in its progression from opening to closing that it was indeed a labor of love in its creation. Thoughtful and not rushed it is more than lovely, it is superb.

It is all about what is in the bottle. Sure there are going to be lots of Celebuscents that are not good. Cheap thoughtless creations with a name tacked on who had nothing to do at all with the creation of the perfume. But somewhere in there in the midst of the rushing crush on the red carpet there may be a fragrance worth trying even in the glare of paparazzi flash bulbs exploding in a night filled with promise and possibilities.

FIVE GOLD STARS *****

“Ew!” ~ Touch by Fred Hayman

“Your advertising’s just dandy… folks would never guess you don’t have a thing to sell.” Bonnie Parker

 

     Faye Dunnaway might as well have been talking about Touch for Men by Fred Hayman when she said those lines to Warren Beatty in the classic 1967 film “Bonnie And Clyde”.

 
The bottle for Touch was so pretty and elegant that I was seduced by its classic apothecary bottle design. I bought it blind and on the promise of the notes it claimed to have. Three notes to be exact, Lavender, Spices, and Amber, a simple yet masculine Oriental Spicy, right up my alley. It sounded uncomplicated and elegant and like something that might hark back to the glamour of Beverly Hills in the 90’s when Fred Hayman was a big name people still remembered on Rodeo Drive.

Then it arrived….. I opened the package and took one look at the box.  Not good. It was rather gaudy… Oh well it was the 90’s after all.

I unboxed the bottle… Now it looked a little better with its oversized black cap and the red plastic “wax” seal with an H stamped on it in the center of the bottle… no name just the stamp. Well that was kind of classy; if you stood back a few feet and squinted. Then I opened the bottle.

I spayed it on and in a Newport Beach second I morphed into Summer Roberts from “The O.C.”

“It smells like Chino, Ew!!”

It stank like the inside of the plastic head of a Jerry Mahoney ventriloquist doll. I know because when I was 12 I smelled my cousin’s Jerry Mahoney Doll, and it smelled BAD. What is that, Lavender? I have never smelled lavender like that. Is it plastic flowers melting on a sidewalk in the summer?  The spices are from the back shelf of an old taco truck abandoned on the old I 5 just north of Gorman. Amber? No not amber but something akin to burning tires in a junk yard in the San Fernando Valley.

 

   It not only stank but it stank in the most obvious obnoxious way. IT WAS CHEAP!

Was this a joke? All I could think of was Divine in “Lust in the Dust.”

DIVINE: Yeah, I came here for the gold, because I’ve been poor all my life.
MAGRUERITA VENTURA: You’ve got it all wrong, honey. You’ve been cheap all your life.
DIVINE: Cheap?
[picks up a chair, and breaks it over Maguerita]
DIVINE: This furniture is cheap.

I have no idea how long it lasts because I had the hazmat team in here giving me the “Dr. No” decontamination scrub down about thirty minutes after the first spay.

Lets just put it this way, It had me, and not in a good way, at “Ew”.

(RACHEL BILSON ~ SUMMER ROBERTS EW)

NO STARS 

THE SECRETARY OF STYLE ~ Cassini for Men by Oleg Cassini

“Fashion anticipates … elegance is a state of mind.”

He was born in Pairs the son of a Russian Count and an Italian Countess. As a child he moved from Paris to Florence Italy where his mother opened her own design house. “I had to change my taste from caviar to linguini” He quipped later. As a young man he fled Italy after winning a duel arriving in New York in 1936 “with only a tuxedo, two tennis rackets and talent.”

 

(VERONICA LAKE IN “I WANTED WINGS”)

By the time he appeared in Hollywood in the early 40’s his talent at tennis lead him to a meeting with the head of Paramount studios who was looking for a new designer for his studio. The first film he designed for was the famous “I Wanted Wings” staring Veronica Lake and her peek-a-boo hairdo, which he claimed to invent. Some of his other films were, “The Razor’s Edge”, “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir”  and “The Shanghai Gesture” all staring his soon to be wife Gene Tierney. Over his lengthy career he designed for films such stars as Rita Hayworth, and Marilyn Monroe all the way to contemporary luminaries such as Kim Basinger and Taylor Swift. All of this would be enough to put him in the ranks of the greats yet the greatest achievements were yet to come.

(WITH WIFE NO.2 GENE TIERNEY 1948)

After World War II he opened a ready to wear design house in New York while still working in Hollywood. In 1961 he was appointed by Jacqueline Kennedy as her personal couturier for her new position as First Lady of the United States of America. He created a look for her that was international and timeless which resonates today as the look of Camelot. “All I remember about those days are nerves, and Jackie on the phone ‘Hurry, hurry, Oleg, I’ve got nothing to wear’,” (She loved French haute couture but was told that as first lady she would be wise to wear only American designs.) “I dressed Jackie to be a star in a major film, which she was, the most famous first lady of all time. I became her secretary of style”.

(SKETCH BY OLEG CASSINI OF HIS MOST FAMOUS CLIENT.)

In his time he married a movie star and had a famous affair with another star who would one day break her engagement to him to become her serine highness Princess Grace of Monaco. He created a look so classic that it is emulated by many today and he was the innovator of designer licensing. He brought color to men’s dress shirts. Vibrant hues where before only white was allowed.  He was in all essence the very first modern superstar American designer. He was the great Oleg Cassini.

(SHE DUMPED THE SON OF A COUNT & COUNTESS FOR A PRINCE)

(THE INAGURAL GOWN 1960)

One of the other things Oleg Cassini did in his pursuit to leave no stone un-turned was to create a few fragrances. One of which is Cassini for Men introduced in 1994. This is an Oriental Woody that opens brilliantly with notes of chamomile, mandarin orange, exotic apricot like osmanthus, basil and Brazilian rosewood. This rush of delight lasts about ten to fifteen minutes and it is really a glorious promise of things to come. The middle notes are sadly short-lived and the promise dies on the vine, Lavender, jasmine, lemon verbena and geranium become a muddle and die within an hour. The base notes for me barely make an appearance. The sandalwood is nil, with only traces of amber, musk and vanilla. The vetiver and incense for me never got a chance to dance by the time the ball was over. At best it could be used as an after bath or shower spritz. Within two hours the entire fragrance disappeared like a carnival in the night with the town sheriff in hot pursuit.

It is really a shame to see such a gorgeous presentation wither like the sunburned petals of a morning glory. For truly the bottle is a glamorous deco creation worthy of any star dressing room. But like too many Hollywood dreams it is made of smoke and mirrors and is forgotten by the time the lights come up.

“St. Francis of Assisi has always been an inspiration to me. He was a playboy, too.” Oleg Cassini

 

TWO SILVER STARS **

BOND IS BACK

 

VESPER

I just want you to know that if all that was left of you was your smile and your  little finger, you would still be more of a man than anyone I ever met.

BOND

Well, that’s because you know what I can do with that little finger.

With the celebrations in full swing for the 50th anniversary of the James Bond franchise it was inevitable that no stone would be left unturned. Eon Productions is about to enter the world of Fragrance with the release of “James Bond 007”.

The fragrance will only be available starting in August of 2012 at Harrods of London. The notes are fresh apples, cardamom, sandalwood, vetiver, lavender, coumarin and moss. It is classified as an aromatic-fougere.

International release is set for  September in North America, Europe, the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and the Far East. The fragrance will be carried in mid level department stores such as Sears and Kohls.

VESPER

You aren’t going to let me in there, are you? You’ve got your armor back on and that’s that.

BOND

I have no armor left. You stripped it from me . What ever is left….whatever I am….I am yours.

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Just for fun all eight, yes eight men who have played James Bond. From left to right, Barry Nelson as Jimmy Bond on the 1954 CBS television show “Climax” production of “Casino Royale”. Sean Connery the first official Bond. David Niven in the 1968 spoof of “Casino Royale”.  George Lazenby who only served Her Majesty’s secret service once. Roger Moore (no comment) . Timothy Dalton who gave Bond back his bite. Pierce Brosnan the Remington Steele Bond. Daniel Craig, who knows how to use his little finger to take Bond the closest to Ian Fleming’s original conception of James Bond.

Below, my painting of Daniel Craig as James Bond.

COMMAND PERFORMANCE ~

I was asked today by one of my followers TheEYEofFaith to post pictures of a life mask that I own of Elizabeth Taylor. And why? Well on  TheEYEofFaith’s wonderful blog Eye posted a wonderful picture wich I will borrow to show you below. (Eyeoffaith’s blog is here: http://theeyeoffaith.com/ )

(Angie Dickenson M.G.M. make-up department circa 1960)

I left this message:

“Right above Angie is the life mask of Elizabeth Taylor….I have a copy of it in my bathroom!!
The masks are from the M.G.M Studio make up department and were made to use for creating makeup prosthetics for films.”

EYE this is for you!

“Passion I see is catching” William Shakespeare

LAST TIME ON DYNASTY…..

KRYSTLE: Oh Blake… (She hesitates looking pensive, almost innocent and above all feeling unworthy of her new luxurious surroundings)  I can’t believe I am here, that we are going to be married.

Blake Carrington moves to her side and takes her in his arms.

BLAKE: “My Darling Krystle …”

A red Ferrari wheels at top speed into the Carrington dive and comes to a jarring stop spraying gravel onto the porch of the mansion. A woman with over padded shoulders and a huge picture hat (that obscures her features) emerges with urgent grace and impeccable style from the automobile. She flings open the front door, pushes the butler Joseph aside and marches down the hall to the Library.

The Library door slams open. Blake and Krystle startled from their kiss break apart and turn to see…

ALEXIS CARRINGTON: “YOU BITCH!”

Ah, the power fragrances of the 80’s. This was the decade that gave birth to the Celebrity fragrance and a few  fictional character scents as well.  The most famous being  Carrington. How did I miss this one? Maybe I was lucky that I did.

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