LES BALLET DES PENHALIGON’S ~ Launch of Iris Prima by Penhaligon’s

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 “And there are going to be bagpipes!” I told my friend Lane when I was describing the Launch which took place yesterday by Penhaligon’s of their new fragrance Iris Prima at Saks Fifth Avenue. Sometimes I get the details a little wrong.

My two perfume guru’s Hilary Randall and Michal Gizinski had invited me to meet them downtown so that we three could go together to the opening across Union Square at Saks. I popped in a half hour early to Barney’s to pick up Hilary and to smell the newly arrived line from Atkinson’s of London.  This house has been around since 1799 and was huge in the 1800’s. It is making a comeback and reintroducing classics from its illustrious past. I will do a proper write up on this exciting launch in San Francisco another time, but be alerted that these perfumes are something very special. (they will be officially available on Wednesday the 9th of this month.)

Hilary looked incredibly beautiful in what she called “my retired ballerina look.”  And she was spectacular in along dove grey skirt with a blouse of cream colored linen and lace. She had on yards of beautiful freshwater pearls, enough to choke Coco Chanel’s chauffeur. After a few quick sniffs of Atkinson’s we headed over to Neiman’s to pick up the third member of our perfume triumvirate. Michal always gracious and elegant cut a dashing figure as he greeted us. He was and is an indispensable addition when one is in the realm of new perfumes, art, literature and general fun.

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Union Square

   As we made our way around Union Square to Saks the three of us chatted about writers, perfume and the glorious Indian summer weather we are enjoying in San Francisco. The sidewalks were packed with tourists in tee shirts, flip flops and cut offs, I noticed the three of us caused a few heads to turn in our proper go to town duds.

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  When we entered Saks there wasn’t a bagpiper in sight. But there was a ballerina! Oh Ballerinas not bagpipes! See what I mean about the details? A lovely young lady in tutu and toe shoes offered us red ribbons scented with Penhaligon’s new perfume Iris Prima. It is a light lovely scent that opens with a brief pas de deux of bergamot and pink pepper. Its signature iris is on pointe and center stage with a lovely jasmine to support it. And in the dry down the corps de ballet comes on in the form of leather, sandalwood, vetiver, amber, vanilla and benzoin. It is quite a lovely floral woody with very little austerity one usually finds in iris perfumes. I would recommend it to someone new to perfume as a soft introduction to Iris.

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As the event unfolded we met with Penhaligon’s sales and marketing director and old acquaintance Brian Kurtz. Charming as ever Brian told us about the perfume. The inspiration he told us, came from the smells of the ballet, back stage and in the dressing rooms were the magic of the theater begins each night during the ballet season.  He also filled us in about the recent launch in New York City that was super spectacular. (See the video at the bottom)

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Brian Kurtz (left) and Michal Gizinski (right) discuss the finer points of Penhaligon’s

We were then joined buy some of the gang from the Facebook group, S.F. Sniff. It was becoming a really fun party as we greeted old perfume friends from around the Bay Area. Tama Blough from Ca Fleure Bon was in attendance and sporting a cute new hairdo.  I also got to meet briefly one of my favorite YouTube reviewers Sebastian Jara from Man Loves Cologne. I also got to catch up with the beautiful and always sunny Brooke from the East Bay.  We discussed our favorite new perfumes and how much we love to shop at ZGO in the Castro.

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Music filled the air and swelled to fill Saks to the rafters.  We turned to find a line of beautiful ballerinas coming up the circular stairs for the shoe department. They presented us with a charming dance sans bagpipes. It was the perfect touch of elegance to go along with this lovely new presentation from the always innovative and exciting house of Penhaligon’s.  I am so happy that there were ballerinas instead of bagpipes!

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For all of my Bay Area readers a reminder that this Saturday at Neiman Marcus there will be the Parris Monte Carlo launch at 1pm on the main floor. Be there if you can for what will be one of the perfume highlights of the year. Be sure to say hello to Michal Gizinski our host and meet Gian Luca and Elisabetta Perris who are the guiding forces behind the exhilarating Perris Monte Carlo Perfumes. 

(The beautiful and spectatcular presentation of Iris Prima at Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan)

Penhaligon’s web site: http://www.penhaligons.com/

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

Man Loves Cologne on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/manlovescologne?feature=watch

Ca Fleure Bon: http://www.cafleurebon.com/

Atkinson’s Perfumes web site: http://www.atkinsons1799.com/

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

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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”!

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   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.

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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.

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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!

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