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

REBEL IN THE SNOW ~ Alfred Dunhill Desire for Men

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(Claudia Cardinale and David Niven in “The Pink Panther)

Ah the cultivated, stately, refined fragrances of Dunhill, The Class Act for fragrance from London. Mature, chic, reliable and yet dashing in a David Niven “Pink Panther” kind of way. Is that what we have here in Desire by Dunhill, a fragrance as suave as champagne and quail in some resplendent chateau in Cortina D’Ampezzo with a run away Middle Eastern Princess who just happens to be the divine Claudia Cardinale? NO!

Could it be a chance encounter in Megeve between urbane Cary Grant and the ever ready to ski in mink Audrey Hepburn?  NO!

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(Think Mink! Old style winter fun in Megeve.)

This fragrance is surprisingly youthful and vigorous with a hint of the rebel about it. No skiing in Cortina in a mink hat and champagne at the ski lodge,  but rather snowboarding in Megeve with acrobatics over an open bonfire! It is as bright as an apple martini in a hip flask and just as dangerous.

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(Total fun in Megeve)

It blasts out of the interestingly designed red flacon all ripe green apples and various blends of citrus. This gives it its initial youthfulness and vim. In its heart is a playful blend of Rose, Patchouli and Teakwood. I just flipped over this stunning combo. This is where it shows its unique stamp of being as sexually charged as a suddenly ripped shirt in the heat of the moment. You might expect this rebel to rock but no he is into a cool progressive jazz grove. Who says you can’t be young and have sophistication in your back pocket? At the dry down things mellow out into a lush vanilla with musky edges that trail ever so slowly out over the last hours to the fragrances’ demise.

Desire lasts six to seven hours on my skin and projects well for the first four then moves close to the skin. There it whispers at the nape of your neck or on the edge of your sleeve  of danger and desire and of things unsaid. Not for anyone over say, thirty five or so. But hold on! What am I saying?  I think anyone has the right to wear what ever he likes no matter his age. So rock on Men, no matter how young or old you may be. It really is all about what YOU like.

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Four Gold Stars ****

HIGH OCTANE SOPHISTICATION ON THE FRENCH RIVERA ~ Faconnable for Men

Grace Kelly and Cary Grant casually tearing along in a sporty convertible along the cliffs above Cannes in “To Catch A Thief”.

One lovely gloved hand of Miss Kelly lightly caressing the steering wheel at sixty miles an hour; is there anything more alluring or jam packed with high voltage glamour and seduction?

This is the epitome of what we think of as classic French Rivera high octane sophisticated élan. The lifestyle of the rich and famous before Robin Leach leached the soul out of it.

   There still remains an inkling of this lost allure within the elegantly crafted bottle of Faconnable for Men. One spray of this elixir of masculine elegance and you are transported to the south of France. It is twilight cocktails on the terrace of the Casino at Monte Carlo in a white Tux, a swim out to the float of the beach of the Carleton Hotel. It is the grand staircase and red carpet of the Cannes Film Festival. It is serious as a high stakes game of Baccarat and as much fun as fireworks after midnight with a barefoot bejewled movie star at your side.

It opens bright and arrestingly with its well chosen top notes of mint, orange blossom and mandarin orange that does give it a smell of a well made martini.  That dissipates quickly into a lush intoxicating Mediterranean garden of jasmine geranium and rose. Toward the end of the middle Sandalwood announces the dry down followed shortly by rich amber and an ethereal musk that whirl seductively around the sandalwood in a smoky slinky dance. It lasted all night on my skin and I awoke The next morning with traces of the dry down still in evidence.

(CARY GRANT ~ A REAL GROWN UP)

Now listen boys, this one is for grown ups! Faconnable for Men is too subtle and complex for simpler younger tastes unless you are a young man who really wants to stand apart as original, daring and smart. In that case welcome to the world of men of confidence, wit, grace and disarming charm.


5 Platinum stars *****

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