“UN-SHINED SHOES ARE THE END OF CIVILIZATION!” Diana Vreeland ~ DV Perfume Launch at Neiman Marcus.

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You better believe I had my new shoes polished to within an inch of blinding the populace when I went today to Neiman Marcus for the launch of Diana Vreeland Perfumes. It was an amazing event hosted by Tony Mendez the rep for the line at Neimans. He pulled out all the stops as you will see in the video. The documentary on Mrs. Vreeland “The Eye Has To Travel” was even running on a widescreen television. Well it was Absolutely Marvelous!

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 My review of the perfume I chose from the line will be up later this weekend. But in the meantime, won’t you join me?

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UNFORGETTABLE ~ Iris des Champs by Parfums Houbigant Paris

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The rap of his camel crop on the rim of her pith helmet brought her into focus. His sun bleached blue eyes narrowed to a cutting beam and frightened her. He handed her the canteen with a scruffy scowl.

In this place where there is no word for ice and snow the North Africans call it, the anvil of the Sun, the part of the Sahara where nothing lives.  Here dying men see many things real and unreal. The few who have survived tell of smelling the beautiful scent of austerely cool flowers dappled in dew in the heat driven deliriums of the desert.

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“We are going to have to get rid of that ridiculous luggage of yours.” He said.  “The camels are more important, and the porters too.”

“My Louis Vuitton?”  She said trying to focus on the shimmering horizon. A field of purple flowers shot through with yellow seemed for a moment to be there, far in the distance. It looked like fields near the villa she had stayed in last spring in Tuscany.

“If you want to live to see the next oasis Miss Lord, then yes, your Louis Vuitton.”

Against everyone’s advice Kelly Lord had hired the cold distant and dangerous Daniel Taggart to lead her across the Sahara to find the lost perfumed city of Mjal Eeyrys. The place where the legend says perfume was first created five thousand years ago. He had strongly advised her not bring her frivolous fashions on an expedition but to pack light and dress for the heat. This was not a society safari that most of the Newport 400 whom she was intimate with indulged in, but a life and death proposition. Scorpions and cobras had not the slightest interest in what was the height of fashion of the 1932 Paris season. A Chanel suit or a Schiaparelli ensemble was taboo when tomb hunting. She thought at the time the tall cool blond man was absurd. She never went anywhere without looking her best.

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Things had changed after 500 miles under a cloudless sky and over the blistered sands. She was shedding her silks to find out just what kind of woman she was.

“All right then…” She looked as his craggy bronzed face. It was the kind of hard chiseled face she would have never found attractive back home in Philadelphia. “Dump it, dump it all.”  She said feeling giddy and free.

He turned in his saddle and called back to the porter’s in Arabic. At once they began to cut the leather bound Paris fancies loose.

“Wait!”   She called. “Not the smallest bag, the one with the Houbigant perfume and the negligee.”

He looked at her and for the first time all day gave her that crooked smile she was learning to like.

“I might need that… you never know.”

He snapped his crop on the camel’s rump and shouted. “Yalla Yalla” The camel bellowed and galloped ahead.  He looked back over his shoulder to Kelly. He was still smiling.

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Yesterday October 11th I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time with Michal Gizinski and Hilary Randall at the Houbigant launch at Neiman Marcus San Francisco of the gorgeous new scent Iris des Champs. I do want to clarify here that when I mentioned in my video in the previous post about the dinner I attended hosted by Michal and I said he worked for several companies in fact what I meant was that he is the representative for Houbigant, 10 Corso Como and Perris Monte Carlo exclusively at Neiman’s.

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The presentation of the eau de perfume and the essential Parfum was beautifully arranged with Iris and the stunning bottles and boxes. The royal blue and yellow are the colors and on the inside of the wonderful box and along the inside purple and yellow irises are the theme of the design.

I did get to sample the eau de perfume at the San Francisco Perfume Salon dinner last week and it was wonderful to smell it again yesterday as Michal and Hilary took be through the journey of the Iris.

Iris is one of the most expensive ingredients in perfume because it is so difficult to extract the scent from the flower. In truth the fragrance is extracted from the root of the flower called rhizomes, not the flower itself. At harvesting there is barely any scent at all from the rhizomes. They are gently unearthed cleaned and cut by hand, then dried in the sun. After this first drying process they are placed in cloth bags for further drying and aging. This stage takes three years after which they are distilled into a butter like form called beurre d’iris. Only then does the wonderful note of Iris emerge to enchant and captivate the nose. The entire process takes up to 5 years to complete from planting to the creation of the beurre. Now we move on to the making of the perfume which in and of itself is a very time consuming process.

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Iris des Champs opens with a hint of bergamot, a light rose, accompanied by muted notes of lily of the valley that ring softly and lovely in the background as they are joined by a few shakes of pink pepper. This is all very brief and subtle like a flourish of muted French horns announcing the arrival of Le Roi Iris étincelant.

The king Iris enters from the very beginning of the perfume and with his court of beauties in attendance, Jasmine and ylang ylang. He shines from a throne of sandalwood and amber, as he holds court over the skin in magisterial beauty. In the later part of his reign, the dry down is a beautiful blend of vanilla that creams the sandalwood and amber and mellows into a sleepy slumber on a woody bed laid over with a soft duvet of musk.

Iris is a magnificent note that is often found in women’s perfumes but always to me gives them a cool austere masculine strength. It has made an appearance in men’s fragrance before, such as Dior Homme.  This note like the blue fire from the moon in the 1965 film “She” burns cold and does not consume but rather gives an immortal grandeur and life to a perfume. It is often called the powdery cool blonde of the perfume world when the note is included in a perfume of a feminine bent. In point of fact Hilary Randall found in her encounter with Iris des Champs and scent image of  the inside of Grace Kelly’s Hermes bag that she carried on the day she steamed into the harbor of Monaco to marry Prince Rainier.

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Yes I too see that, a hint of leather that one often gets from Iris. It gives this perfume strength and authority with out overpowering its beauty. Yes there is a powdery aspect to it but gentleman isn’t it time to embrace the powder. It is after all a staple of the barbershop experience.

Iris des Champs, which translates to filed of iris is the perfect perfume for any woman of elegant sophistication who posses an air of grace and élan. Or any young lady who aspires to project those attributes. And for men?

The baritone beauty of Johnny Hartman singing “Unforgettable” comes to mind when I smell this perfume and in that song I find one last image. Kelly Lord and Daniel Taggart are floating across a moonlit terrace in the South of France in an effortless foxtrot that leads to a kiss under the stars. In their search for the lost city of Mjal Eeyrys they found an unexpected match in each other. And in the iris blue morning while she sleeps, he finds her bottle of Iris des Champs and smiles. As he sprays it on his sunburned chest, he too becomes, unforgettable.

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Iris des Champs ~ Five Platinum Stars *****

PERFUME IS STYLE, IT IS VITAL! ~ Vreeland Perfumes Launch & The New Houbigant Perfume!

dianavreelandmemos_p122October 14, 2014 …Mark your CALENDAR! Here in San Francisco the official launch for the Diana Vreeland line is happening at Neiman Marcus Union Square. Alexander Vreeland founder of the perfume line and grandson of Mrs. Vreeland will be in attendance. D.V. ambassador, Tony Mendez will be our host and he has planed for us a fabulous afternoon under the dome at Neimans.

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But hold on to your atomizers! there is more going on in our beautiful city by the Bay.  October 11 at Neimans Michal Gazinski will be presenting the gorgeous new Houbigant perfume Iris des Champs. This  stunner is a real show stopper and sure to be a hit with an adoring perfume loving public. So if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area do pop in for both events. As we tumble into Fall the most glamorous perfumes of the year are making their entrance.

Here in my video review I talk more about these perfumes and the events as well as a marvelous fragrant dinner I attended with with a wonderful group of perfume creators and lovers which for a lack of a name I call the San Francisco Perfume Salon.

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IRIS DES CHAMPS by HOUBIGANT

ARRANGE TO BE BORN IN PARIS! ~ Diana Vreeland Perfumes!

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For those of you who don’t know, yes I have a YouTube review channel. (One wonders, What won’t he NOT stoop too?) In any case here is my take on the just released perfumes by Alexander Vreeland of the new Perfume line Diana Vreeland.  Something more in depth is bound to show up here on the blog in a week or so as I get to know these (3 out of the 5) better. In the meantime enjoy my rambling and endless ums and ahs.

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BUONA SERA E BENVENUTI A BARNEYS! ~ Acqua di Parma Launch at Barney’s

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Last Thursday night I co-hosted the launch of Acqua di Parma at Barney’s NY here in San Francisco. I was invited by Michael Rogers the rep for the line at the exclusive department store to help set up the event and introduce him and the line to the Barney’s customers.

Here is what I had to say about the Acqua di Parma that night.

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As far back as I can recall I have found a fascination with the lands that are kissed by the salty waves of the Mediterranean. The golden glamour of Egypt, the mystery that is Marrakesh, the fallen heroes of Hellas, and the place where God met man in so many different languages, but of all these lands one claimed my heart when I was very young. There in the middle sea stretching down from Europe toward Africa like an exquisite Ferragamo boot is Italy.

In dark Cinemascope dreams, painted in lush strokes of Technicolor….as a little boy in the front row of the Fox Theater I found the map to my heart’s home. It was the 1950’s and after the horrors of World War II Hollywood went on location and in so doing took me and the rest of America on a grand tour. “Roman Holiday” made a Vespa ride through the eternal city the hart of bitter sweet romantic possibilities.  “Summertime” gave us Venice as we had never dreamed it could be, at any age.  De Sica showed us “The Gold of Naples”,

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Luchino Visconti swept across a Sicily now gone with the wind in “The Leopard” and Fellini gave us “8 ½” thousand ways to  re-imagine our dreams, It all happened in the darkness of that old theater. A darkness that to me was brighter than sunflowers in Tuscany and as fragrant as Parma violets.

 

In the midst of this boom of movie making in Italy the imported Hollywood stars I was watching on the screen, like Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, Ava Gardner

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and David Niven discovered the Perfume house of Acqua di Parma. They fell in love with unique beauty of the fragrance first created in 1916, Aqua di Parma Colonia.

 

Think of it, 98 years ago. Hemmingway was driving an ambulance in the Alps, Paris was the last stop before Hell and the world was fighting for inches in trenches in the Great War to end all wars. Out of that terrible time came this beautiful fragrance and many more to follow.

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It survived World War I, this cologne fist created to scent newly sewn Italian suits and men’s handkerchiefs. The great depression didn’t diminish its beauty. And then it was liberated by the Allies on April 25, 1945 to a new world with a new look of glamour and sophistication. It became so interconnected with Old Hollywood that to this day it carries a cache of chic not many other houses can match. In one very real sense Acqua di Parma is Hollywood on the Tiber in a bottle.

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But it is much more than that to me. It is the smells of Italy. In each bottle from the Colonia of 1916 to the newest of the Blu Mediterranio it is there. The leather scented air of Florence, the Lemoncello nights of Positano. It is there in that little deco bottle. From the twisted juniper trees on high Sardinian cliffs to the rich gourmand blend of pasta and wine that is Rome. It is there.

 

When I finally made my way to Rome, to see it for myself, to be immersed in my own dream, and to wake every morning and realize it was better than any movie, it was real.  I smelled the trampled earth of the Circus Maximus after the rain, and a smoky incense swirl that meets the air when a church door opens, the flowers cut fresh at the foot of Giordano Bruno in the Campo di Fiori, and the shimmery slippery wet cobblestones of the via del Corso. Italy is fragrance, it is perfumed by history. These smells are the essence of Italy and as I breathed them in I knew at once that I had come home at last.  Now it is your turn to find your story in the bottle, your turn to smell Italy and become a part of the dream.

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We had a nice turnout and everyone enjoyed Michael’s presentation of all of the fragrances of the line. He was so engaging and entertaining. I was so impressed by the time and effort he put in to the presentation. The table was beautiful and there were even samples of the ingredients for everyone to smell. Every aspect of Acqua di Parma is hand made. Even the beautiful boxes the fragrance come in. Of particular interest were the new Leather and Oud fragrances. At the end of the event every guest received a goodie bag packed with samples to try out at there leisure.

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(Michael Rogers of Acqua di Parma)

 It was so much fun to be a part of this wonderful launch and I want to thank Michael and Christina and the entire fragrance department staff who are always hospitable and wonderful. And welcome to Barney’s Acqua di Parma!

 

If you are in the San Francisco area, do drop by Barney’s and say hello, smell some incredible fragrances and tell them I sent you.

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Barney’s NY San Francisco

77 O’Farrell Street

(415) 268-3500

FESTA DI PARMA! ~ Join Me at the Acqua di Parma Event at Barney’s San Francisco

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I have some very exciting news for my fragrance friends in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Barneys New York in San Francisco, is proud to announce the Acqua di Parma fragrance collection has arrived in the fragrance department.

 To celebrate the arrival of this magnificent fragrance house, Michael Rogers the new fragrance specialist for Aqua di Parma at Barney’s NY San Francisco and I will be hosting a very exciting event at Barney’s

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Please join us on Thursday, July 31st at 6pm in the Fragrance Department on the Lower Level for a special event to showcase the newest Acqua di Parma fragrances Leather and Ginepro di Sardegna.  We will be providing personal consultations to help you discover your perfect scent and receive a special gift for attending plus a deluxe gift with purchase. 

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Steeped in tradition, renowned for its elegance and refinement, Acqua di Parma represents exquisite Italian quality, craftsmanship and masterful fragrance blends. Created in Parma, Italy in 1916, iconic Colonia was discovered by silver screen legends of the 1930’s who helped establish the brands the symbol of Italian chic. Comprised of the highest quality ingredients, both fresh and understated, Acqua di Parma’s fragrances remain exclusively hand crafted in Italy today.  

 

So do please join Michael Rogers and me, Lanier Smith for an exciting fragrant and fun filled evening at Barney’s. Ci vediamo alla festa!

Annex - Grant, Cary (Charade)_NRFPT_06(Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn ~ Two devoted fans of Acqua di Parma!) 

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 THE ABC’s OF MICHAL AND HILARY

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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

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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?

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Michal: Kouros Sport

Hilary: Muguet by Guerlian (2014)

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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.

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 *** 

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.

AMOUR À L’OPÉRA ~ Fougère Royale by Houbigant Paris

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Palais Gernier Opera

Painting of the Paris Opera by Frank Myers Boggs

He spoke French so impeccably that anyone outside of Paris would have taken him for a Parisian. The Parisians on the other hand knew he was not French. In fact they knew exactly who he was. Well at least the aristocrats of the city knew, after all it is there job, their stock in trade one could say to recognize European royalty on the spot.

 

At the instant the oddly handsome Prince Aleksander Kostka alighted from his carriage at the curb half of the assembly ascending the steps to the Palais Garnier Opera house turned in unison to look upon his dashing form.

 Prince Aleksander Kostka

    “Oh there he is, the Polish Prince of mystery.” Comtesse de Roussillion tuned whispered to her husband. “I have heard he can never go back to Warsaw. Some scandal so unspeakable that…”

 

”Bonsoir Comtesse, je suis enchante”

 

She stifled a startled squeak as her hand was enfolded by the Prince and swept up to his perfectly chiseled lips which  barely brushed the satin of her opera gloves. This sent a thousand twittering magpies to flight in her now overheated veins.

 

He dropped her hand and with a clipped bow of the head and accompanied by a bemused smile he took is leave of the middle-aged woman who was now on the verge of fainting fit.

 

“Détendez-vous mon cher, il est juste un prince pas un dieu.” Her husband hissed in her ear like an over stoked locomotive.

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The entire foyer of the Opera was abuzz with excitement as the Prince entered. He assumed it was about the revival of the opera La Juive. It was not. For just as a ship is unaware of the wake it leaves behind so too was he blithely in the dark of the effect he created where ever he went. Generally happy with a tinge of melancholy from time to time he moved though life content.

 

As his right foot touched the first landing of the grand staircase he was completely oblivious that his life was about to be shattered by a look. He paused to decide which branch of the stairs to take; she brushed past him in a cloud of mesmerizing perfume. In heavy cream and gold satin from the house of Worth she floated to the landing above. His eyes followed her as she appeared and disappeared behind the columns until she came to pause in the opposite balcony of the grand foyer and turned toward him. Her smile faded as the air between them was sucked into a whirlwind of déjà vu. The hundreds of people on the stairs moved in a frivolous dance around the Prince who saw none of them, he would really never see anyone else in the same way since she, this night had opened his eyes to a new world.

 

“Aleksi…Aleksi! How are you?”

 

The Prince looked down to see his old friend Patrice Aubchon standing in stiff evening dress before him.

 

“What are you looking at?” Patrice turned. “Ah yes, her.”

 

Who is she and what is that perfume.

 

Only the most notorious and expensive courtesan in Paris my friend. Mademoiselle Marianne Deasún, and leave it to her to wear the most shocking fragrance. It is something new, Fougere Royal I think it is called. Too many notes and too masculine for a woman if you ask me, but there is talk of course that a woman now and then is not beyond her range. Ah well there you have it. That perfume is the current mode de Paris, half the men in here are wearing it, and only one woman dares to.

 Marianne Deasún

Marianne’s amber and green eyes held his eyes in lock. His in turn intrigued her with their hint of turquoise in a sea of blue.

 

“She smells like nothing I have ever experienced.”

 

Too many notes! A woman should smell like just one flower, a rose or lily of the valley.  But I must admit, on her it somehow works.

 

“I must meet her. I must smell her skin, up close.”

 

The gong sounded signifying that the opera was about to begin, she reluctantly released him from her ocular embrace and turned to walk to her box.

 

“Goodbye Patrice… I will see you later.” The Prince broke off from his amused friend and took the stairs two at a time. In the grand foyer he saw her disappear into the hall which lead to the boxes. When he entered the hall it was just in time to see her trailing skirts sashay behind an open door which closed softly behind her.

 

At the door to her box he hesitated then peeked though the tiny window. The house lights had gone down and as the curtain on the stage ascended accompanied by the first notes of the opera  Marianne’s profile was etched in pink and amber light.

 

He knocked on the door and waited for an answer.

 

*****

 

Fougere Royal 2010 by Houbigant is the modern interpretation by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux of the game changing Fougere Royal of 1882 by the nose Paul Parquet.

The original Fougere Royal was the first modern perfume (and the very first fougere, meaning fern) created in an age of solifleurs it was a shocking and exhilarating blend of notes. Paul Parquet was the first nose in the history of perfume to isolate a scent molecule, the coumarin from the Tonka bean, thus ushering in a modern form of perfumery with the first use of a synthetic in a perfume.  To create a classic fougere one must add to the coumarin note, lavender and oakmoss. This trifecta of notes is the basis for the first truly masculine perfume group, the fougere.

Fougère Royale Paul Parquet

In the 1882 Fougere Royal the notes are; top, lavender, clary sage and bergamot. Mid notes of carnation, orchid, heliotrope, geranium and rose and bottom notes consisting of Tonka bean, musk, vanilla, oakmoss and coumarin.

 

In the new version by Rodrigo Flores-Roux (Donna Karan Gold, Atelier d’Orient Fleur de Chine for Tom Ford, and Fleur de Louis for Arquiste to name but three of his brilliant creations) he has created not a reformulation as such, but a modern interpretation of the classic.

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As it hits the skin there is a silky edged citrus created by bergamot that suddenly sparks brightly then gives way to green notes, chamomile, clary sage and lavender. (lavender the must have note number one for a classic fougere)  This combination is dramatic, compelling, mesmerizing. The first time I smelled this on my skin I was speechless at the beauty of this opening. It is fuller, richer and more sophisticated than most fougeres that I have smelled. Like a great piece of jewelry, it is a statement piece, a signature promising greater beauty to come.

 

Central notes of green carnation, greener geranium combine with a subtle rose and a whisper of lilac that is dusted with a magical spice note of cinnamon. The brilliance of this combo is shimmering in its effect. Here the fragrance roils and billows beautifully projecting just enough to be elegant never stepping over the line into bombastic. There is only one word for this as it transitions into the dry down. Opulent.

 

In the base the central notes that draws you in with their gravitational pull just as they radiate like a great massive star is the oakmoss and coumarin. The bold butch muscle of the fougere is found in these two notes (must have notes number two and three)  Flores-Roux has replaced the musk and vanilla of the original with a banked smoldering amber, stoked with patchouli, Tonka bean it smolders for hours.

 

The entire effect of Fougere Royal (2010) is amazing. It is built upon the first modern masterpiece and brought into the 21st century with grace, beauty and a new modernity by the house of Houbigant Paris under the direction of the Perris perfume family. (see my post Le Grand Prix ~ Perris Monte Carlo Perfume Event, San Francisco) . I must give special thanks to my friend Michal Gizinski of Neiman Marcus who first introduced me to this fragrance. He is a brilliant man who is one of my mentors and teachers in the art of perfume. If you are in San Francisco and you love perfume go to Neiman’s and talk to Michal and find out why we call him The Nose of Union Square. More about Michal soon as we are organizing an interview for Scents Memory.

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Paul Parquet father of the Fougere

Fougere Royal is a testament to the past, homage to Paul Parquet and his ground breaking creation. It is an example of true creative beauty by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux who has made so many beautiful perfumes.  And above all of this, it is a modern masterpiece of complexity, bold masculinity that stands as a formidable lighthouse in a sea of boring, watery clean laundry fresh fragrances.

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Fougère Royale by Houbigant Paris ~ Five Platinum Stars *****

THE IMAGINARY LUNCH ~ L’Orchidée Terrible by Imaginary Authors

IA-logo360 Jessie StreetDOWNTOWN SAN FRANCISCO and 360 JESSIE STREET

Thrown into the hubbub holiday downtown crowd in the just after noon madness of  New Years Eve Robert was hungry. Usually he had an idea of where he would have lunch on a launch into a shopping excursion.  Yet this wasn’t really an excursion but rather a hop off on his way home on the holiday half day to pick up a few needed items at the new Super Walgreens on Powel Street. His stomach reminded him that it needed more than a muffin from Pazzo and three cups of coffee if it was going to allow him to buy some shampoo and then window shop at Bloomingdales.

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The Food Court at the Westfield San Francisco Centre was overstuffed with Christmas Break teenagers. He passed on through. Mels Dinner? Not in the mood for burgers and American Graffiti memorabilia. As he strolled through the perfume solon of Bloomingdales to the back door to Mission Street he suddenly thought of the perfect place to lunch.

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Just off of busy 5th Street at 360 Jessie Street Robert was standing at the door to The Cavalier reading the menu posted behind glass.  It looked very inviting and reasonable of an upscale menu. Oysters on the Half, Wild Mushroom Pie. Pork and Beef Bangers! The hostess was smiling at him though the open doors within the cozy darkness of the interior.

“Just one for lunch.”  he said with a well practiced “male model” smile. That’s who he would be for lunch he decided as the decidedly very beautiful young woman lead him into the main dining room.

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“Is this your first time with us?” she asked as they reached the table under the tall arching windows.

“Yes, I am thinking of bring friends here so I thought I would try it out on my own.”

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He tossed his Michael Kors tote onto the black leather banquet and settled in next to it. As he shuffled off his black wool Brooks Brother’s overcoat he looked around the room. The place was new but looked old, and English and very well appointed with a long elegant bar in the front room, shinny black oak walls hung with horsy etchings of very British horsey bent. The back room was more of the same but with a red instead of black leather banquet that ran along the wall. Robert was intrigued with what looked like stable doors opposite where he sat. Tall blond waiters slid the doors open just wide enough to disappear momentarily and then reappear to sally forth into the dining room like runway models on a mission.

“My name is Alan” Robert looked up to half smiling and very poised young waiter who placed the menu and wine list in front of him. “Would you like some water sir?”

After he ordered Lamb Scrumpets, only to be gently reminded that they were appetizers, Robert settled on Fish and Chips. He watched Alan glide away and thought that he was so graceful that he just might be the most elegant waiters in the City.  He opened his tote and pushed aside his copy of hit book of the season, L’Orchidée Terrible by his favorite French author, Audrey Blavot he found his mini iPad and jumped onto Twitter.

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Ditta Von Teese was tweeting about a photo shoot.  Make up master Wayne Goss was thanking his YouTube subscribers for a wonderful year. Ralph Lauren, Paris Review, Nina Garcia were ringing in the new year early. Sarah Colonna hoped that 2014 would bring the Angels to the World Series and a win. Then He popped up!

“I used to spend countless hours picking out which outfit I was going to throw up all over on New Years Eve.”

It was Roberts’s favorite Hollywood Twitter Wit, Tony Gee.

Tony Gee: My New Years resolution is to just continue being fabulous.

RobertSF: @TheTonyGee that is not a resolution, that is a manifesto!

Tony Gee: @RobertSF you speak the #truth.

RobertSF: @TheTonyGee At lunch at The Cavalier and it is #TonyGeefabulous! Handsome waiters, want a photo?

TonyGee: Need I ask?

1

TonyGee: Why is the waiter trying to escape?

RobertSF: That’s the back room.

TonyGee: What kind of place is this that has a back room?

RobertSF: A San Francisco kind of place. The Cavalier is the new IN spot in the City.

TonyGee: if you are there it is the IN spot.

RobertSF: You must come up sometime for lunch.

TonyGee: I will hire a private jet.

RobertSF: You will make a sensation when you enter the joint.

TonyGee: I make a sensation where ever I go even if it is just to the bathroom.

RobertSF: Oh yes, I forgot, you must be so very tired of causing glamour riots.

TonyGee” not at all, in fact I thrive of inciting glamour riots.

 1a

When lunch arrived Robert sent Tony an Instagram of what he was about to consume. They had a wonderful time, the two friends who had never met in real life being WI-FI wits over fish and chips followed by piping hot coffee and doubly delicious Double Crusted Crumble. The age had arrived when one can lunch with someone who isn’t even there.

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

Nowadays, when you can have lunch with a friend who isn’t there, you can also wear a scent inspired by a book that doesn’t exist.  The perfume house of Imaginary Authors is all about just such an imaginative approach to perfume. Each scent is named after a book and has a back story centered around the book and its author. Now that is taking the idea of fragrance as a story in a bottle to the maximum level. What could be more fragrant fun than that?

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AUDREY BLAVOT

1919 – 1999

Josh Meyer is the nose behind the house and I am happy to report that his work is beginning to find a lot of love with fragrance bloggers and YouTube reviewers. The big hits right now are Memoirs Of A Trespasser, and the just released Cape Heartache. Both are lovely to say the least, but I want to give some love to another in the line. The tragically beautiful L’Orchidée Terrible.  The “book” on which this perfume is inspired by is the tale of Honey Martine, English fashion model on a glamorous downward spiral in the fashion houses of Paris in the 1950’s.  And it quite possibly could be a thinly disguised autobiography of the author Audrey Blavot. Now what more could you ask for from an inspiration? High Glamour, high tragedy and haute couture are the order of the day.

The perfume opens with a nod to Ernest Beaux and the French Style with brilliant streamlined and modern aldehydes which do not fizz like champagne but pop like flashing paparazzi flashbulbs to announce the arrival of a star to center stage.  Clad in the synthetic but lovely note of Satin our star slithers over the skin awash in notes of golden honey, with a spray of muguet in her upswept hair. This is all in service to a sweet powdery orchid whose beauty is undeniable and the star note of the perfume.   What holds it all together and keeps it from careening into what would be a tragic over sweetness is the base of clean and warm white musk. It is scrubbed in white musk. It is very unique and at times angular, like the legendary supermodel of the 1950’s Dovima. The angularity of this perfume is what makes it so modern and fresh. L’Orchidée Terrible is all high cheekbones, poise and chic with a hint of danger in the undertones.

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Dovima

It remains linear on my skin and after the first hour moves in close lasting about seven hours. Like most niche perfumes L’Orchidée Terrible is marketed for both men and women. But to me it is walking the catwalk in heels and a ball gown.  But I suppose on the right guy on the right occasion it can be white tie and tails. Where ever it falls on the gender scale with your nose it is a beauty that should be explored. In fact the entire house of Imaginary Authors invites discovery and exploration.

L’Orchidée Terrible by Imaginary Authors Five Gold Stars *****

Orchidee

IMAGINARY AUTHORS: http://www.imaginaryauthors.com/

THE CAVALIER: http://thecavaliersf.com/

Address: 360 Jessie St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone:(415) 321-6000
FOLLOW TONY GEE ON TWITTER
HE IS LOADS OF FUN!
@theTonyGee

BEAR WITH ME ~ 24 Old Bond Street by Atkinsons 1799

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The coach for London, top heavy with luggage and all but two of its passengers clinging to the roof seats trounced violently south from Cumberland. It swayed and dipped like HMS Brunswick in a storm causing all topside to take on a very unflattering shade of Neptune green. All aboard were extremely relived to see at long last London appear along the hazy horizon. A Miss Herbert thanked God silently into her handkerchief and the country Parson beside her let loose a curse of such vulgarity that the coachman blushed.

 James_Pollard_-_The_London-Faringdon_Coach_passing_Buckland_House,_Berkshire_-_Google_Art_Project

The reason for all this discomfort and the subjects of the Parson’s curse were traveling quite comfortably in the compartment below.

A young gentleman with all his dreams of success in the capital wrapped up in his breast pocket inside his treasured floral recipes. A tub of rose scented bear grease balm separated him from a large ferocious looking Bear. The young gentleman’s name was James Atkinson and the bear was George.

“I still say James I should have sat up on the roof.”  George said being quite the gentleman bear. “That poor lady up there in the wind and the rain, you know she lost her bonnet along with her breakfast just past High Wycombe and it’s all because of me.”

James smiled at his very best furry friend who, it should be noted only spoke to him when no one else was around.  “It’s not your fault that people do not trust that you are quite well behaved in company George. Oh I say! Look! You can see the spires of the city!”

 Westminster

They each popped there heads out of the windows on either side of the carriage to get a better look.  Miss Herbert who just happened to look down at that moment let out a shriek at the sight of George and promptly fainted onto the Parson’s lap. A farmer in the flanking field dropped his scythe and rubbed his eyes at the sight of a bear in the passing coach.

“Are you excited James?” George asked as they both settled back into there quite comfortable seats.

“You know I am George. An entire new life is waiting for us in London. Together you and I will create a new world of bouquets for the ladies and gentlemen of quality. The old Eau de Colognes of the Continent will rule England no more.”  He patted his breast pocket.

“I have faith in you my friend and I know that together, you and I will take the city by storm.”  George said with a growly grin.

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And in due course James and George did even better than their dreams dictated. Within weeks at their new shop at 44 Gerard Street the pomades, balms and fragrances created form James recipe book began to catch attention. It was George who stood by the door and greeted every patron and in so doing created a sensation. But the real stars of the day were the new and very British fragrances created by James Atkinson.

For London society it became quite the most popular thing to “Brave the Bear” and visit the perfume shop. There they sampled and wore such delights as The British Bouquet, The Sandringham Bouquet, Woodland Bouquet. And over time the luminaries of the age became patrons of James Atkinson. Beau Brummell the first Dandy of the day, was a fan and in turn introduced Atkinsons to his friend the Prince of Wales who was also called George (Prinny to his nearest and dearest)

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“A little too much powder your Majesty…”

In 1826 Prinny who was now King George IV granted a royal warrant to Atkinsons making it the perfumer to the King and Court. There is a rumor that at this time the gentleman bear George was presented at court where at the royal ball he danced with the seven year old Princess Victoria. It is reported that she said many years later of the encounter. “We found Georgie to be quite fuzzy and a fine dancer.”

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Young Victoria

In very fact the young Queen Victoria, whose wedding bouquet inspired the creation of The Nuptial Bouquet by James was enamored of Atkinsons. Napoleon was a fan boy. By 1832 when the new shop at 24 Old Bond Street opened  others who fell under the olfactory spell where the Who’s who of the 19th century, Duke of Wellington, Admiral Nelson, Lady Hamilton, Prince Tomasi Di Lampedusa, Queen Margherita di Savoia, the Tsarina of Russia and Sarah Bernhardt.

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That Hamilton woman and Lord Nelson

They caused a scandal but they smelled great doing it.

When George the gentleman bear passed from the realm in 1835 everyone who mattered attended the funeral at St. Paul’s. He had come to London with his friend James find fame to make there fortunes. And indeed that’s exactly what they accomplished. The fantasy became real and the reality became legend.

Isn’t it amazing what a man and a bear can do?

*********

ATKINSONS BEAR

It is very exciting to discover that the famous and venerated old British perfumery of Atkinsons founded in 1799 is reborn in a re-launch of the house this year. The line has just arrived at Barney’s NY in San Francisco and I was amazed by the beauty of each and every one of the five fragrances in the line. They are as follows, (The Legendary Collection) The Odd Fellows Bouquet, The Nuptial Bouquet, The British Bouquet, Fashion Decree Woman, and from the Emblematic Collection, 24 Old Bond Street.

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24 Old Bond Street is a gorgeous Oriental, smart, and captivating fragrance.  Sartorial beauty and elegance are the order of the day with this masculine Eau de Cologne. It opens with a bracing, invigorating blast of Gin like Juniper that sinks swiftly into a mellow tea note. Here we are reminded of the British Raj and a time when the colonial empire turned under an ever shining British sun. This tea spiced with juniper melts into a lovely subtle English rose bringing a touch of Tudor spring to the elixir. With the tea at the fore and the rose and juniper at the aft we stay here for a comforting while until from below comes a lovely boozy whisky. This is a fine whisky note aged in old English oak barrels, to a rich smoky beauty. Whisky and cigars in a Mayfair gentleman’s club is the final scene we are left with in the dry down.

The entire life of the cologne is brief but glorious. It is after all an Eau de Cologne in the old style and one should not expect a wild bear of a fragrance. This bear is a gentleman not a beast. The sillage is moderate and I in fact like it that way. 24 Old Bond Street is a ideal after bath or shower cologne that will add a perfectly executed beginning to any gentleman’s (or ladies) toilet. It also comes in a Bath and Shower Essence, a body lotion, soap and scented candle.  It is a personal and up-close eau de cologne that inspires confidence and maybe a bit of romance as well.

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Atkinsons at Harrods London

borrowed from Atkinsons Facebook page

So if you are in the mind to “Brave the Bear” do visit Atkinsons 1799 and explore this marvelous historical house re-borne.

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24 OLD BOND STREET ~ FIVE GOLD STARS *****

ATKINSONS WEB PAGE: http://www.atkinsons1799.com/

LIKE THEM ON FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Atkinsons-1799/176796825822798

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