PASSPORT TO PERFUME ~ Interview with Fragrance Specialists Hilary Rayvis Randall and Michal Gizinski


Last Sunday morning I found myself in a sweet smelling spot. Vibrant morning light filled the beautiful little patio behind Antelope on Valencia Street where Tigerlily Parfumerie is located. The mornings in the Mission District of San Francisco always seem the brightest and warmest of all the neighborhoods in The City and never more so than in late Spring when the sleepy fog hangs over Twin Peaks not daring to descend any lower than Upper Market Street.


I was there to meet my friends and fragrance specialists extraordinaire Michal Gazinski and Hilary Rayvis Randall for a nosey perfume chat. Under a poppy orange umbrella we sipped on steamy cappuccinos and sampled lovely pastries and fresh nectarines.


Looking at this truly beautiful woman I have known for a little over two years I mulled over how we met.  I bumped into Hilary at a Diptyque launch for Volutes. Amidst the swirling notes of that perfume we clicked, over the following weeks we became good friends. Hilary speaks both French and Japaneses, was a teacher of English as a second language, she has even been a chef.  Food, Florals and French!  At all seems to have lead her to fragrance.  Most recently has represented many perfume  lines including L’artisan Parfumeur, Byredo, Arquiste at Barney’s and Dior Fragrances at Neiman Marcus. She also holds top honors as a nationally recognized fragrance specialist. She presently works at Barney’s New York on Stockton Street as well as being a fragrance consultant for Tigerlily. Hilary became my fragrance history teacher, my perfume guide and beautiful ambassadress to the ever blooming garden of fragrance I was discovering.

 Michal Gazinski jpg

Through Hilary I met Michal; she referrers to him as the “Nose of Union Square”. He is the man everyone goes to who is serious about perfume, those who want to know more than what is the hottest thing on the market today. Michal is a fascinating man, an actor, a gentleman, and impeccably stylish and sophisticated. Open, warm and a mesmerizing raconteur he is simply a wonderful guy. He can tell you just about anything about any perfume past of present.

Over the following months I met up with Michal at different events or just popped in to see what was new at Neiman Marcus. Though these meetings with both Michal and Hilary the idea was born to interview both of them.


Now at last we were together for the long anticipated interview. This sun was shining on us, our own personal key light. The stage was set and the curtain was rising on a new act for three fragrant friends.



Lanier: “Where were you born?”

Michal: Warsaw Poland

Hilary: Philadelphia Pennsylvania


Lanier: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Michal. As a very little boy I wanted to be a classical pianist.

Hilary: up to 10 a Ballerina, from 10- 12- Mortician 14-20 Geisha 20> Chef

Michal: from 10 up and Actor.


Lanier:  What opened the door to your life in the perfume industry?

Michal: My grandmother, the smell of her perfumes. Then in the 80’s a friend took me to Dior and introduced me to their perfumes. First in Grenoble then in Paris .

Hilary: My Mother,. She would descend the stairs in a cloud of Diorissimo. She was dramatic. She talked to me about her perfumes and taught me about them. Since she was a gardener and expert flower arranger, she would take me out in the garden and teach me everything about flowers and how they were transformed into fragrance.



Lanier:  How do you gauge a client?

Michal: I don’t judge. I never judge a book by its cover. I ask questions and over time I discover the personality, where they live, work, their lifestyle. I use my imagination to put all this together. I engage them in dialogue.

Hilary: You can’t judge a client. I ask questions and look for non verbal clues as well.  It is all about finding solutions. What do they own, what notes to they like. And what part of the world are they from. That plays a very large role in the process. Northern Europeans, Scandinavians generally prefer lighter florals; in the south they like heavier florals or Orientals. I try and see how adventurous they are.



Lanier: Are there skin palettes as there are color palettes for skin tones?

Hilary: No not by color if that is what you mean. The skin itself, the age of the skin. Older skin that has lost its oils needs a bolder scent. The skin’s natural oils are no longer there to support the fragrance’s diffusion. And self identity is important in choosing a perfume and the skin’s chemistry as it reacts to a perfume is important. Perfume is a form of communication that speaks to the right brain, the limbic system which houses emotion and memory. It is a non verbal way to present a part of yourself that may be the secret you, the part of you that can’t be expressed verbally.  Perfume is the invisible language. Its aura casts a spell !

Michal: Psychology is an important aspect. Why do we wear scent? Attraction plays a role for many clients, Perception of others, or how we want to present ourselves is a part of it.  There was a big change in perfume in the 90’s. People stopped smoking. A woman who smoked could wear Santos and it was beautiful. It might be too much on a non-smoker.

Fragrance involves people and can take them to a place they have never been. You wear a certain perfume that says “ Paris ” to you, and you are IN Paris.




Lanier:  What is your favorite type of client and least as well?

Michal: I like people so there are no favorites. My least, never mix perfume with politics. I once had a client from Texas who was looking for a perfume for his wife. When I presented him with a Cartier fragrance and explained it was French he said, “I don’t want anything French!”

One must be a diplomat with clients; we are the ambassadors of fragrance.

Hilary: My favorite clients are thoughtful, open to new ideas, non-judgmental. A person with imagination and who is confident in their choices and in their opinions. I like a good dialogue with a client based on trust. My least favorite would be someone with a closed mind. Also boasters, who come in and talk about how many hundreds of perfumes they have and lists of notes.



Lanier:  Who was your mentor in the world of perfume?

Hilary: My mother and Michal. Reading every book published on fragrance, all the blogs and being a chef for 15 years have contributed to my scent knowledge.

Michal: Not a person, but books and travel were my mentors. I grew up isolated in Poland . Imagine my wonder when I was first exposed to Yves St. Laurent’s Opium or No.5.



Lanier:  Where do you want to be in five years?

Hilary: I want to be sharing my passion for aromas, fragrance and food in a global venue.

Michal: I want to have more time, personal time to pursue my interest. I will be in San Francisco and still traveling.




20 smelly questions for Monsieur M and Madame H. (inspired by the ten question asked by Bernard Pivot on the French television show “Bouillion de Culture”.   


1. Who inspires you?

Michal: Marguerite Yourcenar

Hilary: My daughter , Sasha


2. What makes you want to get out of bed in the morning?

Hilary: The idea of learning something new that day, perhaps meeting someone intriguing!

Michal: Early morning is my favorite time of the day. The fresh air of a new day


3. What is your favorite sensation?

Michal: Looking at nature and feeling a part of it. Mendocino!

Hilary: Letting go when I drift off to sleep.


4. What is your favorite word to describe a perfume?

Hilary: Intoxicating

Michal: Magic


5. What is the most over used world to describe a perfume?

Hilary: Fresh

Michal: Sexy


6. What is your least favorite perfume note?

Michal: None

Hilary: None


7. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Hilary: Imagination

Michal: Fate


8. What perfume turned you on this month?


Michal: Kouros Sport

Hilary: Muguet by Guerlian (2014)

 Guerlain Muguet 2014

9. What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Hilary: Negativity ~ no sense of humor

Michal: Vulgarity ~ no sense of humor


10. Who excites you  in the world of perfume?

Michal: Olivia Giacobetti

Hilary: Edmund Roudnitska then, Bertrand Duchaufour now.


11. What turns you off about the industry side of perfume?

Michael: Money

Hilary: Focus group generated perfumes


12. What natural smell in nature do you love?

Hilary: Violet

Michael: Lilac


13. What smell in nature do you hate.

Michael: None

Hilary: Lavender!


14. What historical person do you imagine would have smelled Wonderful and why?


Hilary: Lady Murasaki ~ because of the beautiful bathing “ofuro/onsen” ritual of the Japanese with wonderful botanicals and incense.

Michael: Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette ~ because they appreciated perfume, had their own perfumers. On a side note: Catherine de’ Medici who was a great influence in perfume.


15. What is your favorite language other than your native tongue?

Michal: French

Hilary: French & Japanese


16. What is your favorite curse word in that language?

Hilary: Chienne

Michal: I would rather not say


17. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Michal: Classical musicianship. Any aspect of classical music; be it conducting or playing an instrument.

Hilary: Shakespearean Actor



18. What profession would you not like to do?

Hilary: Politician

Michal: Working in a slaughter house, or being a butcher.


19. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Michal: Relax honey.

Hilary: My dear, you look and smell fabulous!


20. What perfume would you like God to be wearing when he says that to you?


Hilary: Joy; vintage Joy from fifty years ago because I would know my mother was near and I would be with her once more after so many years.

Michal: En Passant. A heavenly scent.



I hope you enjoyed this time with Hilary and Michal. They are indeed extraordinary people. As Sales Associates in their stores they go beyond what is expected giving great service to every person who comes to see them. More than that, they are wonderful friends that I am privileged to know.


If you come to San Francisco drop by Barney’s for Hilary and Neiman Marcus for Michal and say hello. Bring your open mind and your nose ready for a fabulous journey. Let them be your guides, just as they have been and will continue to be mine. Tell them Lanier sent you.

MADAME PAGEAU AT THE CAFE ~ Voleur de Roses L’Artisan Parfumeur

lartisan parfumeur logo

Madame Pageau always appeared at Café le Conti just as the Vesper bells of Notre Dame chimed. An old sweet lady, not elegant but rather grandmotherly she was loved by the waiters and the regulars alike. Each and every person who met her more than once at the café knew her story.


    Every day at Vespers hour she would arrive by taxi to the café. Her employer always paid for the trip to and from his house at 56 Avenue Victor-Hugo. You see, Madame Pageau was the housekeeper for one of the most notorious men of Paris. Rene Michel Petriz, the highest paid and most desired gigolo in all of France.

Mother and son suprise

On this particular afternoon Madame Pageau was seated at her favorite spot on the sidewalk at the table which everyone knew as “Madame’s table”. She waited for her coffee and contemplated whether or not to take the three Italian Pistachio macaroons out of her Chanel bag (a beloved gift from Monsieur). Better not, she was saving them for bedtime.  Marcel, her favorite waiter smiled as he served her the coffee. There were three chocolate macaroons on the saucer.

“A little surprise for Madame.”  He was a shadow of a once very handsome man.

Madame Pageau touched his hand and smiled her thanks.

“And how is Monsieur Petriz? Well I hope?”


“Very well Marcel thank you. And if you think I will tell tales just for those macaroons…..”

“Oh, No Madame! I had no intention.”

“Very well… Just so we understand each other.”  It was always the same pretense before she filled him in on the latest gossip.

After a few crumbs of scandal from Madame, Marcel retreated satiated with the excitement of such a glamorous life, a life he might have had if he had been bolder in his youth.


Madame Pageau sipped her coffee and smiled in the knowledge that once again she had filled in new pages in the legend of her employer. It tickled her that every word was a lie designed to enhance his reputation.

He did not sleep in white silk pajamas sewn with gold thread imported from India. He did not own five hundred pairs of Ferragamo shoes; He was not the illegitimate son of Franco Nero and Brigitte Bardot. There was no single rose delivered each day by a spurned ex-king whose mistress he had bedded. He was not in fact bisexual. That would come later in life. It was true that he liked to hang out at Bar du Marché with gay boys of the left bank (a few he even kissed on a lark). Such was his vanity that it demanded attention from all quarters.


Embrasser le beau mec au Bar du Marché. Pour le plaisir.

(photograph by Blaine Harrington)

 There were many gifts from clients but not on the scale Madame Pageau would have the world believe. It was true that he bought most of his own jewelry except for that huge canary diamond tie pin from the American actress.  He did not have his valet spay the sheets of his bed with Damascus rose scented perfume. On the contrary it was an orange and lemon eau de cologne. But Madame Pageau thought the rose was more romantic. It was true that all over Paris wealthy women luxuriated in the scent he left on their sheets for days after he was gone from their beds.  So as it always happened, today’s tales were spread along with all the others from Madame to Marcel and on to the rest of the city. The tales she spun had stolen the very heart of Paris.


What Madame Pageau never told anyone was what he smelled like when he gave her a hug and called her “ma petite tante”. He smelled of tussled sheets the morning after, of champagne, sex, velvet jackets and expensive patchouli and plum perfume. There was always the faint presence of a woman near his skin. Rene Michel smelled like his father had smelled the one and only night she had met him all those years ago. This tiny detail of the legend no one knew but her. There were not enough macaroons in Pairs that could bribe from Madame Pageau the very true fact that she loved Rene Michel as if he were her very own son which of course he was.

Gregory Fitoussi

 Grégory Fitoussi as Rene Michel Petriz


It is all about luxurious sex. Voleur de Roses by L’Artisan Parfumeur is a perfume of the body and the smells of being a bad boy all of which is sure to shock some in its honest sensuality. It is the lingering scent of a lover’s body when you crawl back into bed just after they have gone. It is daring, bold and utterly divine!  Created by the nose, Michel Almairac who has a great collection of creations to his name among which you will find seven in the Bond 9 house, six in Burberry, and such classics as Gucci Pour Homme and Minotaur by Poloma Picasso.

 holly revell photo

photo by Holly Revell

Voleur de Roses is a woody oriental for men that a woman could wear with confidence. A brazen blending of three notes it is linear and lovely from start to finish. The brilliant mixing of patchouli rose and plum is deceptive in its simplicity. The opening is lush as the fragrance envelopes you like the arms of a lover. It holds you close for a good six to eight hours and like the sent of a lover is close to the skin after about two hours. Before it retreats to the flesh it projects about three feet. Voleur de Roses is not only sexy and warm but at its heart it is chic, urbanely rich and refined.

If you are a sensual person by nature, a person who luxuriates in your body and lives a life of grand passion then Voleur de Roses is a must for your collection. But be warned. If you dare to wear Voleur de Roses you may begin to write a blazing new page in your own life story. To have a reputation is ordinary to be come a legend is extraordinary.




For the next installment of the story go to: MONSIEUR PETRIZ WINTER HOLIDAY

FLIRTING WITH SPRING ~ CALIGNA by L’Artisan Parfumeur Launch Barney’s San Francisco

lartisan parfumeur logo

Pink winked at me this morning. In the east the sky was that very flirty shade you get on a clear spring morning. At least that’s how it looked to me when I peeked from under my duvet ready for my perfumed Saturday adventure to begin.

Spring has landed in Hayes Valley with the trees along Octavia Boulevard busting out with over-sized soft pink pompoms blooms so heavy they pull the branches downward. Warm at 6:30 in the morning is a rarity here.  At 65 degrees and climbing what passes for “summer” in foggy San Francisco comes twice a year, at spring and again in the early fall. When summer bakes the rest of California we are usually socked in with icy fog, our second winter.  So, early this unusually warm morning as I readied myself attend the launch of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s newest spring perfume, Caligna I felt the spirit of Maggie Prescott move me to “Think Pink”!


   Dressed for this spectacular spring morning I ascended from the Muni subway onto Market and Stockton decked out in beige slacks, canvas Converse sneakers and a think pink shirt. It was a glorious morning on Market just before 10 a.m. and still relatively quite for downtown. Market is magical in the morning, with the Ferry Building standing at attention at the Eastern foot of the street and Twin Peaks watching over the city from the west, the last great hills before the Pacific. With its newly leafed Kelly green Sycamore trees marching up one side and down the other the main artery to the heart of San Francisco was breathtakingly gorgeous. The beauty of it always knocks me out each time I come up out of the subway.

    No time to dally on the sidewalk this morning, on I forged to Barney’s just a short block up Stockton. I arrived at 10 just as the doors were opening. This launch of Caligna was to consist of a personal one on one presentation of the perfume by the Sales and Marketing Director, North America of L’Artisan Parfumeur, Brian Kurtz to a select group of Barney’s clients. I owe my spot to my perfume pal Mary Eddington who couldn’t be there and offered me her 10:30 spot. She is off in Paris and most likely at this very moment is in the flagship store of L’Artisan Parfumeur having a ball. Thanks to Mary I was about to have a ball myself.  Having arrived a tad bit early and not sure of just what was going to happen I went into Barney’s fragrance salon to wander around until my appointed time arrived.

I saw Hilary across the gleaming perfume counters talking to a tall handsome young man. I popped over to say hello and let them know that I would be back at 10:30. I apologized for being early but that was not a problem it turned out. Hilary introduced me to Brian and he kindly began my introduction to Caligna.

 Hilary and Brian Kurtz

Brian Kurtz and Hilary Rayvis Randal

   Brian was completely charming and warm as he told me the story of Caligna. This new perfume for spring 2013 is a part of the new Grasse Collection along with two equally new scented candles, Le Printemps and L’Eté. (L’Eté, “summer”, was my favorite!) The inspiration for Caligna was to capture the essence, indeed the feelings and smells of the beautiful countryside around the village of Grasse, the very birthplace of French perfume. The name comes from the provincial dialect of the area and means to “court” or “flirt”.

As Brian told me about the perfumer behind the fragrance, Dora Baghriche-Arnaud he opened small vials of essential oils and let me sample the individual notes that go into the fragrance. Dora Baghriche-Arnaud who grew up in the south of France over the course of a year meticulously selected scents that evoke the feeling of a warms spring morning in the Mediterranean climate of Grasse.


The Nose, Dora Baghriche-Arnaud

The fist ingredient he presented was Fig. The rich lush and flesh sensuous note was earthy and so delicious in its fruity fullness. Thus the stage was set by this quintessential Mediterranean fruit for the next notes that Mademoiselle Baghriche-Arnaud added into the elixir. The signature fragrance of the south of France and Italy was presented to my nose by Brian with an expectant smile, Clary Sage. This bright warm aromatic fragrance was somewhat familiar to me having grown up in Southern California where sage is everywhere. Not the elegant bright Clary Sage which is new to me but a sage none the less.  This note was sunny and wonderful. I didn’t want to go on to the next note but rather just stand there engrossed in the lovely pictures of southern France the Clary Sage brought to mind. Brian presented the next note on a blotter and explained that this was Jasmine, not your ordinary Jasmine but Jasmine Marmalade. It was brilliant and just the right note to add to the Clary sage and Fig. It smelled like the most amazing jam made of pure sweet luscious Jasmine flowers. I asked him how Dora had made it, what was in it to make it so magnificent. “Every Perfumer has his or her secrets that we will never know.” He said. I laughed “But of course.” I told Brian if they could only make a real marmalade of this I would eat it every morning on hot buttered French bread with a steaming bowl of coffee. Then the resin olibanum like Lentisk was presented bringing with it the olfactory equivalent of cool morning earth heated by a rising sun. This was enhanced by a lush full honey like Oak that rounded it out nicely.  Pine needles are part of the perfume as well but we had to skip that blotter since Brian forgot to bring along the vile. It was no effort for me to bring up my own scents memory of pine needles.


The Elegant Presentation of Caligna

At this point I would wait no longer and asked if I could test the perfume. Caligna to my nose is light and soft on my skin and the notes blended into a pure tingling effervescent pop of spring. Lovely and bright, luminous in fact, Caligna is really the perfect uni-sex perfume for springtime or even in the cold months to recall the joys of May in bloom in the south of France. Breakfast in early spring on a terrace in Provence sprang to mind and we all agreed that airline tickets to Grasse were in order.


L’Artisan Parfumeur Perfumes, Candles, Amber Ball and much more!

Brian, Hilary and I talked about the beauty of the perfume and the history of the entire line. So many wonderful perfumes are in L’Artisan Parfumeur’s line-up. If you haven’t tired their perfumes do yourself a favor, get thee to Barney’s pronto or the nearest store in your area that carries the line and try a bit of French magic.  Brian and Hilary share a great passion for perfume and it was a joy to visit with them and share my passion for perfume with them as well. When fume heads get together it is always a party! My half hour visit with the brilliant and fun Brian and the ever lovely Hilary stretched into a full hour, how lucky was I? There were more guest due at eleven so with many thanks and a little sadness that my magic time was over, I bid my hosts goodbye.  I was so honored and lucky to have had this opportunity to discover in a very special way this new and exciting perfume Caligna. I hope you get a chance to try it and all of the other incredible fragrances from L’Artisan Parfumeur.

As I headed off down Stockton Street I was whistling and feeling quite in the pink!


CHRISTMAS IN PARIS ~ Fou D’Absinthe L’Artisan Parfumeur

lartisan parfumeur logo

Snow flakes like Lalique crystal lace fell on the city catching a glint of glitter from the Eiffel Tower search light as it swept the sky. There was a cool blotter paper grey tint in the East behind the Louvre, a herald of the coming day. Finely crafted Italian shoes crunched the icy sidewalk as I walked alone up the gentle rise that is the Champs-Élysées.  The city was asleep on this Christmas morning.


I passed Guerlain’s festive windows that cast a glow of amber on the snow banking around the door. On I went, up toward the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile. Fouquet’s was closed and the red awnings fluttered their scallops as I passed as if to wave me on.


The street glinted and sparkled, the naked sycamore trees festooned for the holiday in no more than a negligee of colored lights. It was all lonely and lovely and cold.  Not where I should have been on this Christmas day in Pairs. Not were I longed to be.

The wheels of the cab spattered darkly stained snow up from the gutter as it carried me into Place Pigale. The spray hit the side of Le Cupidon nightclub as we spun past the multitude of “le sex shops” that line the Place then roared onto Rue Houdon. A few lights in the houses were coming on  as my cab snaked and turned north to the heart of Montmartre.


Within moments I was released from the smoky cab onto the Rue de Cardinal Dubois. There it was only an angel’s fight of stairs above me, As I pulled my overcoat close against the cold morning, Paris awakened behind me. Sacré-Cœur, its absinthe white walls met the snow and melt the flakes to wash the sacred heart clean. I was almost there.

Once Behind the church I passed la Place du Tretre now devoid of the many painters of postcard Paris. It looked in the snow like it must have a hundred and thirteen years ago, when it was young and the wild impressionist painters were creating a new art. I slid and nearly fell on the icy cobblestones as I turned down Rue de Calvaire and there it was.  The old street lamp lit the way across the tiny Place du Calvaire in front of the little café where I knew I could get the best Absinthe in town. A small group were seated inside and they turned to greet me as I blundered in shaking snow from my hair.

 chez plumeau

“Joyeux Noël!” they shouted and raised their glasses in toast. They had been here all night waiting for me.  A very slight man in a tall hat offered me a glass of cheer.

“Merci,” At the fist taste of the Absinthe the calendar slipped backward in time and it was a new Christmas day 1899. The little man who gave me the glass now offered me a chair at his table,

“Merci, Toulouse, and Merry Christmas my friend.” There in Chez Plumeau it was the best Christmas imaginable.


Fou D’Absinthe by L’Artisan Parfumeur is the perfect fragrance for Christmas!  A festive if dangerous drink, good friends and wonderful smells, it is all here in this wonderful perfume.  The fragrance is light and close to the skin on me so it is the type of perfume I must revisit, which I don’t mind at all. And if you have the body cream that in conjunction with the perfume makes it last longer. So a low silage and longevity make it a perfect scent for the office. Or the office Christmas Party!


Fou D’Absinthe (Crazy Absinthe) opens with a sensuous deep blackcurrant and the balancing act of the pungent and sweet angelica. Here is where the sinful fun begins. a rich Rum swirls into the wormwood note, the very thing Absinthe is made from is here meandering and slithering its way into the soul of this fragrance. What would Christmas be without a toast or two of the forbidden brew?

In the middle notes Christmas morning opens like festive packages one after another. There is sharp ginger as in the cookies, a pot of patchouli bubbles with a pinch of pepper, nutmeg and cloves. On the top of the Christmas tree a lovely licorice lick of Star Anise.

In the dry down we get to the where the Pagan and the Christian meet. Raw resinous fir trees and Pine needles of the Druids and their winter solstice ceremonies meet the catholic incense from the cathedral. The ending is magisterial, solemn and reflective. So in its way Fou D’Absinthe is anything but crazy. Rather it embraces all the joys of the season and then, just like Christmas it is gone at midnight. But then again…New Years Eve is just around the corner.

 paris christmas



the green fairy

Dame Kylie Minogue as the Green Fairy

The loveliest thing happened yesterday. My dear friend Hilary asked me to stop into Barney’s yesterday on my way downtown  to my dinner and movie date with friends. She said she had a special present for me.

When I wrote my review of Al Oudh by L’Artisan Parfumeur: Hilary who represents the perfume house at Barney’s sent the review along to the powers that be at L’Artisan Parfumeur headquarters in Paris.  It turns out they loved the review and sent along a thank you present just in time for Christmas.


Christmas in Union Square San Francisco

    I was gobsmacked by the gesture and floored when I opened the gift. The lovely people in Paris sent me a 100 m bottle of Fou D’Absinthe and to add to this delight they included a bottle of the Gel Parfume pour la Douche bath gel and Lait Parfume Pour le Corps bath milk.

I hugged Hilary and was quite frankly rendered a little tongue tied and speechless. What a lovely thing for the people at L’Artisan Parfumeur to do just because I wrote a favorable review for there perfume.  So you can bet I will be sending them a thank you note filled with gratitude and love.

An unbiased and clearheaded review is in store for Fou D’Absinthe, but I need a few days to clam down!


(Crazy Absinthe!) 

What a perfectly lovely Christmas and birthday season this has been. Thank you Hilary and L’Artisan Parfumeur.

Artisan, 32 rue Bourg Tibourg 01 compr.

L’Artisan Parfumeur in Paris

I DREAM OF GENIE ~ Al Oudh by L’Artisan Parfumeur Paris

Deep in the desert between the rose red city of the dead and Aqaba is the fabled Wadi Rum, where in I found myself standing before the tent of a Bedouin Sheikh. The great royal blue curtains heavy with gold embroidery and pearls the size of cherry pits parted to reveal the most inner sanctum of the cool spacious palatial tent. Here far from the Western world and deep into the mysterious desert of Jordan I entered upon a dream beyond those of Scheherazade, T. E. Laurence or even the great Darius of Persia.



I stood alone in listening to soft voices of the desert jinn carried from the heart of the desert upon the wind to my ears. They whispered scented words of magic and wishes and wonders beyond the dreams of kings. The wind rose and fluttered the roof of the tent and made the tent polls of myrrh wood to creak and sway gently. Tiny bells like rain on the hot sand broke the air and urged me on deeper into the tent. A brassier in the center of the tent burned in amber and crimson flame revealing just beyond it a small myrtle wood chest intricately studded in ivory and gold.  I knelt on cushions of indigo silk and with hesitant hands opened the box. Within lay a glittering glass bottle of golden liquid. As I reached for it the tent began to swirl in heady waves as though I and all about me were being lifted on the wings of a great bird to be carried to another world.

I opened the bottle and the air about me changed instantly and transformed the dry warm night of the desert into magic filled with music and desire. I blinked… there before me stood a Jinn. Magnificent in form and enticing in his smile he leaned toward me and winked. I was so startled by the apparition that I dropped the bottle spilling what remained of the golden juice.

“My son you have set me free and for this I grant you….” His voice was rich and deep and full of the promise of all things imagined and many more things undreamed of.

“Three wishes?” I managed to squeak out.

A well manicured brow shot up as he cocked his head to one side. “No! I give nothing so common as a wish for you my lord of my emancipation. But rather, I give this.”   He picked up the empty bottle held it out to me.

“An empty bottle?” very disappointed.

The Jinn chuckled causing the walls of the tent to flap lightly… and beyond them there were tiny silvery giggles from the moonless night.  He put the bottle to his lips and filled the chamber with his breath then capped it quick as lightning with a golden seven sided stopper. The Jinn held it before me and dropped it into my open hand. In a flash of fire and rain he was gone. I looked down at the bottle with its red Arabian grillwork and read the words emblazed in warm buttery gold letters. “Al Oudh ~ Eau de Parfum.”

The magic held within Al Oudh by L’Artisan Parfumeur Paris is indeed like a dream. It opens with the delicious delights of pink pepper, Dates, dried fruits, caraway, cardamom and orange blossoms. They hang in the air about six glorious seconds only to be violently embraced and seduced like Velma Banky by Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik.


A beatific incense, elegant agar wood (Oud) and rich dark sexy leather, make up the heady scrumptious almost religious concoction full of church and sin, sex and redemption that takes over here. This center is supported by iris, saffron, Neroli, and rose. Yes Al Oudh is a caravan of oriental exotics poised to poison you with delirious olfactory pleasures. This Parfum packs a punch not meant for those who prance and dance lightly in green fields covered in laundry lines of drying white cotton sheets and shirts. The ever evolving dry down meets this caravan of pleasure with its own treasures from the east. Sandalwood, Tonka beans, vanilla and the dirty sexy little civet come to the orgy with a grounding musk, rapturous patchouli, rich caramelized myrrh all encased in a fine Cedar.

Yet even hours into this fragrance you never loose the gloria in excelsis which is the trinity of incense, Oud and Leather.

A word to the wise on this one, as with most perfumes as compared to Eau de Toilettes a very little goes a very long way. So be gentle when you apply. For men one spritz will do the job. Two will kill at ten paces. And believe me boys it will last all day and well into the night so on longevity it is a stunner. Not for work only for special events or evening wear. As for silage there it gets gold stars too.

I must thank and acknowledge my friend Hillary at Barney’s New York who guided me to this wonderful perfume. Her expertise is without compare and she is both gracious and beautiful. If you are ever in San Francisco go by Barney’s and say hello to Hillary. She will be your very own personal Jinn and find you just the right fragrance to fulfill your every wish.


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