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!) 

DEJA VU ~ Portrait of a Lady by Frederic Malle

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Year after year she looks with serene beauty toward the horizon of eternity. She has been doing this for a while, long before the museum acquired her. In fact she has been facing oblivion peeking out from under that charming hat since 1782. She has hundreds, maybe thousands of tiny hairline cracks. But you can only see them when you are inches from her and they make her all the more beautiful. She has been spellbinding men for two hundred and thirty two years.

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     But there is one man, Nilson Quigley to whom she spoke to as to no other. He first saw her on a school field trip in the winter of 1934. That day when his eyes first met hers he recognized her. The effect of her gaze instantly rooted him to the foundations of the earth. His teacher had to drag him away scolding him to stay with the group.  As he looked back over his shoulder with tears staining his school blazer he knew he would never marry, have children or love anyone but her.

He has been coming back to see her ever since the day he fell in lover with her in 1934. He always goes on Sunday and sits on the bench across from her.  With twenty feet of highly polished hard oak floor between them, he would sit and think and try to remember. She had that effect on him. She whispered from behind the veil of receding years of time past, of meeting, parting and many goodbyes. None of them were ever a happy farewell. Now at 91 Nilson could feel another goodbye coming for him.

“Who is she?”  The young voice came from behind him.  With out turning around he answered.

“Lady Hamilton.”

The young lady came around the bench and sat next to him. “She is very beautiful in a surprisingly modern way. I think I remember an old movie about her, with Sir Laurence Olivier.”

“And Vivien Leigh, yes I have seen it too.” Nilson looked at the young lady. “Have we met?”

She squinted her pretty cornflower blue eyes, “I don’t think so. I just have that kind of face. Do you come here very often?”

“Every Sunday” He said looking back to the painting.

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“That may be why I look familiar. We probably pass each other all the time. I come on Sundays also, to meet a friend.” She laughed. “He never shows up. I keep coming back, never the less hoping to meet him.”

“That is not a very nice young man to stand you up like that.”

“Oh he doesn’t know he is standing me up. You see, I don’t know his name. We haven’t met yet.”

Nilson looked back at the young lady. She was smiling like a thousand suns right into his eyes. It was almost blinding.

“My name is Emma….” She held out her hand.

“Pardon me Sir the museum is closing.”  Nielson turned to the guard. “It’s time to go home.”

“Oh of course, I was just talking to Emma here….” He turned to find she was gone.

“Sir?” The guard leaned down. “Are you alright?”

Nilson’s eyes darted around the gallery in momentary panic. And then he smiled. “Perfectly fine young man. Time to go home.”

As he walked toward the doors that lead into the enfiladed galleries beyond he looked back at the painting of Lady Emma Hamilton. She was glowing like a thousand suns.

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LADY EMMA HAMILTON C. 1782 BY GEORGE ROMNEY

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Frederic Malle presents Portrait of a Lady by perfumer, Dominique Ropion who has created other perfumes for Malle including the famous Carnal Flower and Geranium Pour Monsieur. It is an inspired perfume that for me it goes beyond the bounds of its inspiration. This rose perfume when it touches the skin becomes a portrait of whoever is wearing it. Man or woman, young or old, it is a dark mysterious floating veil that billows off the skin revealing aspects of romance and danger that is rooted in a solid perfume past which looks forward to the modern age.

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FREDERIC MALLE AND DOMINIQUE RIPION

Like a great painting its opening is in layers, Skin warming clove, cinnamon with a light touch of raspberry that is not jam but leafy. These  are the first notes that create the under painting. The introduction of black currant gives the perfume an animalistic touch that echoes the notes of great old perfumes from the early years of the 20th century. French boudoirs littered with memories of randy romps on a velvet chaise lounge are hinted at by this dirty little note.  Rose is the dominating center of the painting here and never gives up its place as the imperial note, the masterly brush stroke that leads the perfume on.

The rose is born aloft through the central structure of the perfume by a gorgeous blend of sandalwood, and earthy patchouli. Mystery and glamour are added in here by a luscious smoky incense that darken the patina of this olfactory painting.

There comes in the dry down sumptuous amber that is highly polished with notes of white musk and a glaze benzoin bring golden hues to the final touches of what is now an impressionist portrait of the wearer. The perfume lingers now close to the skin and is not diminished in its mystery one single bit as it finally recedes into the past leaving your skin and your brain wanting to revisit the experience all over again. It possesses the grand silage and longevity of perfumes from a bygone era.

For me this is a wonder because in nature I love the smell of roses but in the perfume world they rarely move me. Here I find that the rose is truer than most and quite stunning. This is a portrait for the ages, a modern classic that whispers of the past and promises a glorious future for a long time to come.

Vivien Leigh as Lady Hamilton

VIVIEN LEIGH AS “THAT HAMILTON WOMAN” 1941

I do want to thank Chase Roberts my go to Sales Associate to for Frederic Malle at Barney’s for pointing me toward this perfume. Without her guidance I would have passed this one right by. Chase is every inch a beauty and quite the portrait of a lady.

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PORTRAIT OF A LADY BY FREDERIC MALLE FIVE PLATINUM STARS *****

FALL FRAGRANCE FUN! ~ A Day With S.F. Sniff

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Saturday October 19th was the semi-annual meeting of the fragrant Facebook group known as SF Sniff. The day started off for me at 8:30 am at Café de la Presse where I met Hilary Randall for breakfast. Lovely Laura my new favorite waitperson at Café de la Presse (and in all of San Francisco in general) took great care of us. Café de la Presse is my morning hang out on weekends when I am downtown. With its authentic Parisian ambiance and the incredible magazine stand in its center it is like a slice of Paris with American waitpersons. They are so attentive bright and cheery at the Café and serve in double time the best breakfast in town. (The almond croissants are killer!)

I walked Hilary to work at Barney’s (we would see her later on) and then headed over to Fresh on Grant Avenue to meet up with the SF Sniff gang.

Our itinerary for the day was Fresh, Gump’s, Hermes, Diptyque, the Chanel Boutique then a break for lunch (a scrumptious ironic twist back to Café de la Press). After lunch we hit Neiman’s, and finished off with a real party at Barney’s where we ran into Mario Gomez and his partner and Mik of Mik Moi and his soon to be (this coming Monday) husband Jasper. We wound down the day at the fabulous food court at San Francisco Center. To my surprise everyone pulled out bags of samples and unwanted perfumes and there was a huge swap! Our feet may have been barking like dogs but our hearts were full of friendship, joy and the mutual love of great perfumes.

I got to meet some old fragrance acquaintances from SF Sniff and some new ones too including Sebastian Jara from Man Loves Cologne dot com. I have to thank our great leader of SF Sniff Tama Blough for organizing the event and being ever graceful and charming throughout our olfactory adventure. And we could not have had all that fun with out the glowing, welcoming participation of everyone at the stores we hit, including Hilary, Christina, Chase, and Sue at Barney’s as well as Irene, Rami, Suzetta and Fati at Neiman’s. And the wonderful folks at Diptyque were a highlight  And of course a very special shout out and tip of the hat to the entire team at Fresh who gave us not only tea and cookies but a spectacular beginning to our fragrant journey across the perfume palaces of San Francisco.

What follows is a photo essay of the epic ten and one half hour day.

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GRANT AVE. EARLY MORNING

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THE MANNEQUINS WORE PRADA

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THE DRAGON GATE ENTRANCE TO CHINATOWN

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MARATHON RUNNERS ON GRANT AVE.

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THE BEST PLACE TO GET FRENCH AND ITALIAN MAGAZINES

CAFE DE LA PRESSE

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THE ENGAGINGLY BEAUTIFUL HILARY

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MY FAVORITE MADEMOISELLE LAURA

FIRST STOP, FRESH!

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TAMA, TEA, AND COOKIES AND FABULOUS FRAGRANT FRIENDS!

WHAT COULD BE BETTER?

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IF I AM NOT MISTAKEN THIS IS TRISH FROM FRESH WHO WAS SO HELPFUL

AND INFORMATIVE ABOUT THE FRESH LINE.

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HERMES

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CHANEL

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ALEXANDER SAMPLES DIPTYQUE, SEBASTIAN FELL IN LOVE WITH VOLUTES.

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A PEEK AT BULGARI! ON THE WAY TO NEIMAN’S a9o

THE DOORS WERE WIDE OPEN FOR US AT DIOR.

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SMELLING THE ATKINSONS LINE AT BARNEY’S NEW YORK.

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THE SWAP!

IN THE END WE ALL GOT TO GRAB SOMETHING WONDERFUL.

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PHOTO STOLEN FROM B.B. BAIRD (FORGIVE ME SWEETIE?)

Sebastian Jara’s blog Man Loves Cologne:  http://www.manlovescologne.com/

Sebastian’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZZFHNMNvhKOefgISblmxuw

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.

 

(WADI RUM JORDAN)

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.

(THE FIRST VALENTINO, RUDOLPH ~ THE SHEIK 1921)

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.

FIVE PLATINUM STARS *****

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