Liaisons Secrètes ~ EAU D`HERMES & ACQUA DI PARMA COLONIA

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After World War II movies became more frank in subject matter. This was in part due to the changing mores of the returning vets and the women they came home to. After the horrors of war things would never be the same for them or for Hollywood. The other factor was the slow demise over the 50’s of the studio system and the rise of television as a threat to the box office. The censors began to relax and allowed more adult themes to be presented on the big screen. By the early 1960’s movies were well on there way to growing up. Taboo subjects such as prostitution, homosexuality and adultery were now subjects Hollywood was now eagerly taking on.

One of the more interesting and surprisingly un-judgmental of these films was the 1960 Colombia release, `Strangers When We Meet’. Produced by Kirk Douglas’ company Bryna Productions and Richard Quinn Productions and taken from the novel by Evan Hunter the film is a fascinating look into the suburban lives of a Los Angeles architect, his wife and the other woman in his life.

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Kirk Douglas gives a fine, understated performance as the architect Larry Coe. It is a stark contrast to his epic Spartacus of the same year. At a cross roads in his life Larry is given the chance to build the kind of house he always wanted to for upcoming novelist Ernie Kovaks while his company wants him to go on doing the same dull work they expect.  He fights for his chance to take the chance of a life time with the skill of a fine screen actor. Add to this his character’s  meeting one fall morning with Miss Novak at at school bus stop, and you have not only a fine actor living within a character but the beginning of a truly electric cinema chemistry. An impact of flesh and desire that jumps off the screen.

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As his wife, Barbara Rush is outstanding in one of her finest moments on screen. She is cold and withholding yet needy of her husbands love. Her finest moments come in her scenes with Douglas where they argue over their future and in her chilling confrontation with the lecherous Walter Matthau on a dark rainy afternoon. A scene that is so shocking in its brutal and frighting portrait of a man who thinks women are disposable sexual objects. Barbra Rush is amazing to watch as she struggles to thwart off Matthau’s creepy advances.

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As Maggie Gault actress Kim Novak turns in a nuanced and deeply felt performance. She is a woman that men have been hunting down all her life. Her beauty is something that brings her only sorrow and despair through a string of meaningless affairs. Her husband seems to be the only man who has no interest in sleeping with her and though she does love him he drives her away embarrassed by her open and honest desire for him. When Douglas says to her on their first meeting in a supermarket, “You’re not so pretty.” it throws her and intrigues her. Throughout the affair she embarks on with Douglas she is smart enough to know that this like all the others will ultimately lead nowhere. In the final frames of the film she is shown this very fact when faced with another leering man.

Kim Novak is so cool and remote at times that it seems the perfect fit for her, the role of Maggie. She is the kind of natural actress that when left alone with her instincts and the eye of the camera she surprises the viewer with the dark emotions that live just beneath her lovely features. One scene among many where she shines is when she is confronted with her past and has to tell the truth to Douglas about it. This too shines a harsh light on how men expect women to behave when it comes to previous encounters with other men.

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The cinematography is wonderful to see in the widescreen aspect and shows the great talent of cinematographer, Charles Lang who also shot such classics as `Charade’ and “Some Like It Hot’ and the stunning “One-Eyed Jacks”.The score by George Dunning is the perfect meeting of the romantic and dramatic. It stands along side his classic scores for “Bell, Book, and Candle”, “The World of Suzy Wong” and “Picnic.”Jean Louis one of the top designers of costumes for actresses of the period turns in just enough suburban glamour to keep the ladies in the cast looking wonderful.

Director Richard Quinn pulls it all together with his usual style. He presents us with not only a good drama but also an interesting look at the suburban life of Los Angeles in 1960. The locations are memorable, the glamorous old Romanoff’s restaurant, the stunning house that is built through the course of the film, and the beautiful beach at Malibu where the lovers rendezvous. This film stands along with “Suzy Wong,” “Bell Book and Candle”, and “How to Murder Your Wife” as some of his best work. The film holds up after Fifty plus years as a fresh and timely look at the relationships between husbands and wives and lovers who are always “Strangers When We Meet.”

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***

Illicit love has a scent, the scent of the forbidden, of excitement, and danger.  In Strangers When We Meet we are presented with two of the most photogenic and arresting faces of the early 1960’s. Both Kirk Douglas and Kim Novak were at the height of their careers, fame, and beauty.

As Larry Coe, a well-dressed, smart, and stylish Southern California architect Douglas brings a gentle yet powerful machismo to the role. What would he splash on in the morning, every morning before he went to the drafting table to design his dream house. My cinematic nose tells me that it would be a classic, something that in fact in this period in history was becoming a byword of elegance and sophistication in the Movie Colony at the time. Cary Grant wore it, as did Ava Gardner in the 50’s. Larry Coe would have certainly been drawn to its simple straight forward beauty. Acqua di Parma Colonia. Created in 1916 it would be a perfect Citrus for the sunny casual lifestyle in Bel Air.

Woody, fresh and spicy with dominant notes of blended Italian citrus, sharp eye opening lavender and rosemary it would be perfect for him.  There is a dash of rose and jasmine that waft over the senses in the middle and are fine-tuned by a sharp bright Lemon Verbena. A shimmering smooth sandalwood with an earthy snap of vetiver and the laundry fresh white musk just make it perfect for both men and women. The dry down is subtle and lush with amber and patchouli joining in on the woody beauty of that sandalwood.  It is a classic that works it’s magic every time.  And If Larry did wear it well, Maggie Galt would I’m sure find it a scents memory that would stay with her the rest of her life. His scent … bitter sweet and haunting.

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As Maggie Kim Novak is conflicted in her sensuality, both yearning and repressed. Banked fires smolder in her soul making her irresistible to most men. She is smoky, both in her voice and in her movement. She trails and lingers and wafts. What better scent for her than Eau D`Hermes.  Created by Edmond Roudnitska in 1951 this leather based fragrance also has a warm spicy edge to it. A mix of masculine and feminine that like Acqua di Parma’s Colonia make it very wearable for both women and men.

It opens with a bold blend of cinnamon, lime, lavender, and cardamom. And a surprising sprinkle of clover. Oh, boy but it’s beautiful even arresting in this opening. Like Novak herself it is almost too much of a good thing at first, but you sink into it and get lost in its heart. A heart made up of a glorious jasmine, geranium, and a brilliant slightly sweet tonka bean.

As it wears over a long period of time (up to 8 – 10 hours on my skin)  the vanilla comes up to warm it and keep the leather in its base supple as a fine cedar along with a dry white birch add vibrant vibrations to the smooth sandalwood dry down.   It is a classic that adds class to whoever wears it or to any occasion. Even when you are meeting an intimate stranger.

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***

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HAPPY 100th BIRTHDAY TO ACQUA DI PARMA COLONIA

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HAPPY 100th BIRTHDAY TO KIRK DOUGLAS BORN DECEMBER 9, 1916

THE FIRST MEETING OF DOUGLAS AND NOVAK IN THE OPENING SCENE OF

STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET.

CARELESS BEAUTY ~ Cologne Intense by Houbigant

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Hothouse lilies white in the window seemed almost invisible against the falling snow beyond the arches of the portico along Rue Royale.  Durocher’s was famous for the best flowers in Paris and the most beautiful blooms of roses and lilies flown in from the greenhouses in the South of France.

 

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Madame Durocher looked beyond the lilies to the other side of the street where Noël Boulet stood in the snow watching the shop. She smiled, Poor boy, utterly and hopelessly crushed by his infatuation with Alizée, the young girl who helped Madame in the afternoons.

The door opened with a gust of snowflakes borne upon icy wind.

“Good day Monsieur, how can I help you?” Madame Durocher put her glasses that rested on a chain around her neck on the bridge of her nose then as was her odd custom dropped her head so as to look over the top of them.

“I would like an arrangement of Freesia and Lilly of the Valley; they are for my housekeeper.”

As Madame set about writing up the order for whom she knew, without asking his name, was Rene Michel Petriz. He and that actress were all over the news. She didn’t care much for his kind or that American Actress ether. “A notorious gigolo and a cinema harlot on the downslide of life.” she would say, if anyone cared to know her opinion.

Alizée came from the back of the shop carrying a huge bunch of Hyacinths for the client she was helping. Rene Michel at first barely took note of her. He turned to look at the lilies in the window and was amused to see a young man with his nose pressed against the glass. He was dreamily gazing at the girl with the Hyacinths.  Rene Michel then turned his eyes back upon the subject of the boy’s adoration.

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It amused him even more to note that she had barely noticed the boy. Her only reaction to his presence on the sidewalk under the portico was when she looked at him only once, to wrinkle her nose as if she smelled something slightly sour. Then without her even being aware of what followed, she smiled sweetly to herself. It struck Rene Michel that she was indeed, for a girl of maybe at the most 17, an exceptional beauty.

Madame presented him with his flowers perfectly wrapped in cellophane and white ribbons. “I hope your house keeper likes them Monsieur.”

He paid her and turned to leave. The boy in the window seemed now literally to be frozen to the glass.

Rene Michel could not let this moment pass. He turned back to the counter. Madame Durocher was gone only Alizée remained. She was arranging a small bouquet of Forget Me Nots.  And all the while giving the boy outside a disapproving look.

“Why don’t you invite him in?” Said Rene in his most seductive professional voice. The one he used with his new clients. “He looks cold out there.”

She was taken aback. “Who?”

“That poor love struck young man at the window.”

“Oh Noël?  He is a nuisance.” She smiled up at Rene and suddenly was caught simultaneously by his charm and good looks and being so caught it followed that she recognized him. A little gasp as she tried but failed to recover her composure.    “He is just a boy.” She said softly. She dropped the bouquet and smiled into his hazel eyes that were ringed in gold.

“When I was young and just like that boy there was a girl like you in a little shop.  Had she been kind to me rather than cruel, well both our lives might have been different.  We might have been…happy.” He gave her a glittering smile.  “Ah well I suppose it is the way of things Mademoiselle. To be so pretty and young and so quick to break a heart so carelessly. Au revoir. “

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Photograph JOEL SAGET

As he passed through the door out into the snow Alizée, looked after the handsome man who all of Paris adored as a scoundrel. Then her eyes shifted to Noël Boulet.  He smiled his funny crooked smile, that when she narrowed her eye she could see was a rather handsome and kind smile. But still he was annoying. Sometimes.

“Madame my I go for my lunch early?”

“Yes I suppose but be back in half an hour.”

She walked out of the shop and turned to face a shivering, smiling, wonderstruck Noël.  Alizée took his rough woolen gloved hand in hers. “Would   you like to come with me for a cup of hot chocolate?”

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   ***

 

The nose behind the new masculine fragrance by Houbigant, Cologne Intense is Luca Maffei. He is a young nose in the fragrance industry that is making a name for himself with such stunning fragrances as Perris Monte Carlo’s Oud Imperial and Rose de Taif. What he has created in Cologne Intense is something brilliant bold and breathtaking. The presentation of the fragrance which comes in both Eau de Parfum and Extrait Parfum is classically elegant. The 100 mil bottle is the same sophisticated masculine bottle that was created for Houbigant’s 2010 re-release of the exquisite Fougere Royale from 1882. The juice is darker in Cologne Intense which only adds a golden richness to the presentation. Just as the No.5 bottle is used for other perfumes by Chanel so it is that Houbigant is presenting this release in the same bottle as Fougere Royale. This smart marketing gives a certain instant house recognition. You see the bottle and you know the house at once. Class and sophistication are assured.

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(Luca Maffei creator of my favorite fragrance release of 2015 ~ Photo Cafleurebon)

The parfum is classified as a citrus aromatic. I agree, it opens with sharp crisp summer freshness of Sicilian lemons, a bitter bite of Calabrian bergamot which sparks brilliantly on the skin then gives way to the wonderful green petitgrain and Moroccan neroli. It is a show of green citrusy skyrockets that shimmer as they rise and sparkle as they fall way to reveal the center of this fragrance.

 

Here within the heart in this classic a savory tarragon takes the center stage. It is richly blended into a complex dance with red pepper, a touch of lavender, and a whiff of Indian Jasmine. Oh that Jasmine is nice if subtle, as it should be. And the pepper is sharp adding depth to the tarragon and lavender.  I love the middle of this fragrance but my love turns to obsession when we reach the dry down.

 

In the bottom notes I find a fine and creative blend by Luca Maffei that make this a truly memorable release of 2015. The two magical notes he introduces to the fragrance are a bitter Mat Tea and lush deep and hypnotic incense.  The effect with the fading mid notes is sheer olfactory heaven. The longevity on my skin last between 6 to 8 hours. the sillage is at about 18 inches.

 

Cologne Intense is one of my top favorite releases of last year. It is a beautiful addition to the venerable and historic house of Houbigant that is both a tip of the hat to past classics, an era of refinement and grace but also embodies a youthful modern vibe.

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WINTER IN ROME ~ Mandarine Glaciale by Atelier Cologne

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Rene Michel Petriz had a flat look, dead eyes smiled at her. The rich American Actress who was on the beginning of her long slow decline from Goddess to “who was she?”, handed him a parting gift. She had enjoyed her fling with the Parisian Gentleman for hire and she understood that it was nothing more than a business arrangement. Besides the French and English Press had caught wind of her liaison dangereuses. It was time to pay him off and board the plane for Rome before she made a fool of herself on TMZ.  He took the red box from her not looking at it. Something from Cartier to add to his collection that might come in handy when his long slow decline began.

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Rolling along the partially closed Via Imperiale in the back of a Silver Cloud Rolls Royce Rosaline Roclaire looked out the window the view of the shattered ruins of the Imperial Forum whizzing past. She sighed and sank back into the lush warm cushion created by her grey Russian sable coat. Rome was not a disappointment even on a cold and overcast February it always made her happy. A good place to forget the loss of time and youth amid so many broken stones.  She noticed the street vendors along the side of the road selling postcards and tacky knick knacks in the cold.

“Alberto, stop the car.”

“But Signora there is no parking here.”

“Then pull over and let me out. I want to walk.”

“It is not wise, lots of tourists here. They will recognize you and you will be mobbed.”

“I don’t care, Stop the car!”

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photo by Giorgio Clamenti

She overpaid a sweet old man who had no idea she was the biggest movie star in the world for an accordion folded set of picture postcards of Rome.  Rosaline dropped the twelve Euro at the Forum gate then sauntered down the pitched path into the Forum between the temple of Antonius and Faustina and the stumps of marble that were all that was left of the Basilica Amelia. She pulled the collar of her sable up to her chin. The Roman winter air was much colder than It looked it, much colder. Despite Alberto’s warning the Forum was devoid of tourist. She was all alone. She wandered on taking in the shapes of crumbled temples and tried to imagine what they might have looked like two thousand years ago. Much more impressive than the false fronted forum she’d seen at Cinecitta, she was positively sure of that.

At the entrance to the Palatine she caught a glimpse of a little girl all in white running up the path ahead. She turned and smiled at Rosaline. And with a laugh she skipped ahead. There was something so familiar about the way the girl laughed.

“She must be very cold in that skimpy white dress and sandals.” Rosaline thought as she climbed up to the top of the hill where the fountain stood at the entrance of the Farnese Gardens its waters frozen over. There was music, in the distance beyond the gardens. Percussion and reeds, and then a voice singing in… was it Latin? She followed the sounds that led her to the ruins of the house of Augustus. She could just barely see down into part of what remained of the atrium.

“This way, come this way….”

 

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The music suddenly expired, she turned to see who had spoken to her. There was no one there. It began to snow. She walked on through the ruins of the imperial palaces. Snowflakes drifted down to settle on her hair, and the shoulders of her sable coat. She came to the lookout over the Circus Maximus and the Aventine Hill beyond. One of her favorite views of Rome. She lit a cigarette and watched the early rush hour traffic race along the Via Del Circo Massimo. Headlights flickered in the low light, taillights winked. She stood there dreamily alone and at peace for a long time as the snow fell. By the time she realized that it was getting dark the snow had completely covered the ground. She turned to go back. There before here were foot prints in the snow. Someone with very small feet had come up behind her and stood there watching her and was now gone.  Then she heard the little girl laughing from very far way.

“This way, come this way…”

She never found the little girl, she was always just turning a corner or running too fast and far ahead. Finally Rosaline did find her way back to the Excelsior on the Via Veneto where Paparazzi lay in wait for her.

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“Ah well,” she thought  “the little Parisian scandal has reached Rome.”  As they rushed screaming her name like hungry seagulls she smiled and endured the onslaught.

Rosaline looked back over her shoulder and swept her sable in a dramatic arc when she reached the top steps in the Port Coacher and struck a pose. She then gave the little boys of the Press a grand movie star go to hell glamour smile. The photos made the tabloids but she didn’t care, her walk in the ruins had been the most fun she had known in a very long time.

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***

A new presentation from Atelier Cologne last year (2015) one of four in their exclusive Collection Azur   release though Sephora (also available Atelier Cologne’s website), Mandarine Glaciale is a summer time fragrance perfect for a snowy winter day by which to conjure up the warm sunny shores of the Amalfi Coast in Italy.  It is romantic, enticing, and filled with passion and desire. All the things we find so appealing when the weather grows frosty. Not to say that Mandarine Glaciale is not right for the spring and summer. Well in fact this spicy bright as sunshine over Ischia fragrance is perfect all year round.

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It splashes across the skin in stunning opening notes of Delicious Mandarin orange, tart, succulent Sicilian Lemon, and bitter green Calabrian Bergamot all of these together are so reminiscent to me of the smells one gets in the spring and summer along the coast of Italy from Castellammare di Stabia to Positano.

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The heart of this fragrance is where we get a spicy bite, the romance of the fragrance dwells here. There is a sharp almost peppery Ginger that shoots into the air like Italian fireworks, a creamy Jasmine adds glamour, and greet sharp Petitgrain from Paraguay keeps it lively and sparkling. In the dry down there is a grassy earthy touch of Heart of Vetiver, a rich dark Oakmoss adds depth and weight, and it is all topped off with a very subtle touch of White Amber. This Amber gives a creamy sophistication to the ending of the fragrance leaving you wanting to spray it on again.

The nose behind this stunning fragrance is Burgundy born Jérôme Epinette

Jerome-Epinette-new-Pic-Aug-20121-001who was educated in the art of perfumery in Grasse at the Grasse Institute of Perfumery. He is known for such creations as Bal d’Afrique by Byredo, and Fougere by Jovoy Paris. He has done seven fragrances for Atelier Cologne as well including Sud Magnolia.

Mandarine Glaciale along with Sud Magnolia, Figuier Ardent, and Cedar Atlas all presented by Atelier Colognes in their Collection Azur.   Each fragrance was inspired by places in the south warmer climates. From the American South to Morocco, Southern Italy and the south of France. So there is certainly more beautiful fragrances to explore in the collection.

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For me it is a perfectly blended pure perfume not a cologne as is often the common mistake people make when it comes to Atelier Cologne’s fragrances.  The pure perfume therefore gives it a fine life on the skin of about six to eight hours. The sillage is moderate but when you get up close quite enticing, inviting and invigorating.  Mandarine Glaciale for me is a winner for any season. A Beauty that will be a part of my collection for years to come.

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Mandarine Glaciale Five Gold Stars *****

CALL ME IRRESPONSIBLE ~ CHANEL LES EXCLUSIFS NO. 22

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Red and white automobile lights glittered in the rain choked gutters, like discarded diamonds and rubies being swept into the parched sewers of the city.  Long into the morning the three globed very elegant Parisian streetlamps along Market Street shown in a warm glow of amber which added a ribbon of gold to the rubies and diamonds in the street. The rain danced in sheets across the wide road snatching dead sycamore leaves from the nearly barren trees to bring them down to earth.  The first rains of January were the best rains of the year. So all of San Francisco agreed and no one loved the gray skies and perpetual twilight of a rainstorm more than Matt Simmons.

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(Market Street ~ Artist  Hsin-Yao Tseng)

Wrapped in a long black Dior overcoat, with a white Pashmina scarf artfully arranged around his neck he made the dash across market at Stockton just as the yellow light turned red causing an Uber driver to swerve out of his path. The diver having just missed him peeled off toward “Twitterville” up at 10th in a shower of curses. Blithely unaware as the soundtrack of “Two For The Road” blasted through his earbuds he turned on to Eddy street. Diamond like raindrops sputtered from the ends of his Louis Vuitton Giboulées Umbrella. He felt filled with love for his city and radiated a joy for life that was infectious to almost everyone. This delight in life made him seem twenty years younger than fifty nine.

Seated at his favorite table in the warm cozy wood paneled old San Francisco glamour that was John’s Grill he ordered his usual, a Vesper martini.  He smilingly told Tommy  to make it three Vespers and that he would wait for his friends to arrive before ordering lunch.   Marie and Holly would be joining him for a fun run through the Union Square department stores on a perfume hunt. They usually met up about once a month to catch up, have lunch and go shopping. It was something to do on a Sunday.

maltese140.JPG The sign announcing John's Grill seen from the second story of the restaurant. The falcon statue was stolen nearby. A replica of the famous Maltese falcon used in the 1941 Humphrey Bogart film has been stolen from John's Grill restaurant in downtown San Francisco. {Brant Ward/San Francisco Chronicle}2/12/07

Tommy set the Vesper before him just as Matt noticed that there was beautiful piano music drifting down from the second floor.

“Live music in the afternoon Tommy? I thought that was only in the evenings. That wonderful Jazz I can’t get enough of.”

“We are trying it out on the weekends. You like it?”

“Lovely.”

Tommy vanished to the bar. As Matt sipped his cocktail he recognized the song. “Call Me Irresponsible” by‎ Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn. Matt began to hum along.

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(Artist~ Seth Couture)

Just as the martini glass reached his lower lip for a second sip everything seemed to slow down around him. The glass wavered in his hand. He looked down at the swirl of lemon peel. His hand was shaking.

Had it really been only four years? Were there days now when he forgot to think of him? It was true, he didn’t think of him the first thing upon waking anymore. Matt set the martini on the white table cloth, took out his wallet and opened it. Richard’s movie star smile beamed up at him through worn and brittle plastic.   Eyes as blue as the skies over Paris and that noble nose that gave his face gravity as well as beauty.  Everything was still now only the rain outside and the piano playing.  He could hear Richard singing to him over the phone from Manhattan his broad baritone just as he used to on Sunday mornings.  His voice would come cross the Catskills and zoom effortlessly over the Great Plains. It soared over the Rockies, dipped low into the deserts of Nevada and finally climbed the over the steep shear eastern Sierra’s caressing a high note so effortlessly only to slip sweetly, softly into Matt’s waiting ear in San Francisco.

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“Call me irresponsible, call me unreliable
Throw in undependable too.”

Matt recalled the dream they shared of Richard moving to San Francisco, the promise to marry and build a mature life together. The dream that never came true

“Do my foolish alibis bore you?
Well, I’m not too clever; I just adore you.”

Richard’s last three voice mails still lived Matt’s on phone, the last one from the hospital where he died so suddenly and unexpectedly.

“Call me unpredictable, tell me I’m impractical
Rainbows I’m inclined to pursue.”

Richard’s photo glowed more beautifully than the golden streetlights on Market and it was more precious than any diamonds and rubies that were ensconced behind the rain spattered windows of Bvlgari and Cartier.

“Call me irresponsible; yes, I’m unreliable
But it’s undeniably true: I’m irresponsibly mad for you.”

Holly’s voice broke the spell. The lights brightened and the world sped up again. Marie was just behind her with a big smile.

“Sorry we are late. What a storm! It is coming down like the end of the world out there. How are you darling man?”

Matt slowly and gently closed his wallet and placed it in his coat pocket over his heart.

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 ( Hsin-Yao Tseng)

***

It is a perfume of lost love and rainy afternoons. Of missed trains to warmer climates and of melancholy cocktails in the twilight when everything turns lavender in the last moments of the day. It is a beauty that rivals its creators most famous creation. No.5.  Rumor has it that it was in the lineup for Coco Chanel to try when she chose No.5 to be her first perfume launch. If that is true it is no surprise for Chanel No.22 crated by Ernest Beaux released only a year after No.5, in 1922 is a more somber, romantic and even wistfully sad cousin to No.5.

Where No.5 is stunningly glamourous and breathtaking, No.22 is of a less obvious beauty. It has mystery a, blue dreamy sad mystery.

It opens with a gorgeous Aldehyde note that is less of a blast than you get in No.5. It is more like a breeze coming up from a damp garden after a rainstorm. In this breeze are carried the lovely floral note of Lily of the Valley and a fresh sharp Neroli. It is a dewy sun dappled and perfect opening to the beauty that is to follow.

Ylang ylang dominates the middle where it shimmers in all its golden glory supported by the famous Chanel jasmine, a subtle rich rose is denuded of its thorns and then there is the tuberose. This is not your grandmother’s screechy tuberose. Now that may surprise you being that this fragrance is from 1922 but in its reissue of 2007 by Jacques Polge it is a stubble touch of the tuberose that comes to lay close to the heart of the fragrance.

The bitter note that gives No.22 is melancholy is in the dry down where a crunchy dry vetiver marries with a creamy vanilla note. This is for me where the dance of the rising vetiver and the dying flower notes make this such a stunning fragrance. Sorrowfully dreamy and beautiful in its somewhat dramatic case of the blues, it likes feeling slightly tragic for after all it has lived in the shadows of No. 5 all these years.  Like that old Frank Sinatra song, No. 22 is “Glad To Be Unhappy.”

The longevity of No. 22 is very long, lasting on my skin a good 12 to 14 hours. The projection is not overpowering but at about a foot to eighteen inches. It is noticeable in tight quarters for sure but on the street it has a subtle grace about it. It is balsamic, aldehydic and powdery but not overtly so. It is a powdery scent for the faint of heart who shy away from the powder perfumes in general.  And as with almost all of the Les Exclusifs line No.22 works well on a man or a woman. If that man or woman is in the mood to be blue and sophisticated with an air of mystery about them.

CHANEL LES EXCLUSIFS NO. 22 ~ FIVE STARS *****

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A SPLASH OF CAPRI ~ Smashingly Brilliant by Diana Vreeland

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“He just quit! Balenciaga just shut up shop and quit.” Mona Bismarck’s voice was on the teeter-totter of emotions between tears and laughter. “No darling QUIT, Can you HEAR me? We have a bad connection. Cristóbal says no one has style any longer. It’s the hippies I tell you! They’ve killed fashion!”

Diana could hear Mona on the phone from the cool blue of the villa’s interior. Her voice tumbled past the chiffon drapes seeming to almost push them out against the incoming warm breeze and across the terrace to where Diana stood. It was the end of an era no doubt about that, If you wore Balenciaga you were the only woman in the room – no other woman existed. But now that he was finished how boring it would be to hang on to the past, with all the magnificence of today and tomorrow opening before the world.

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    The Bay of Naples sparkled all blue sapphires and white diamonds in the sun and in the distance Vesuvius wore a broad sunhat of flat white clouds.  Diana smiled to herself and walk to the edge of the terrace to where the path lead down the steep cliffs to the roman sea of Catullus’s poetry and Tiberius’ treachery. As far as she was concerned the hippies had great style and it was born from being positively original. The 60’s were the most exciting decade since her youth bubbled over in the 1920’s. The music, the colors the street fashion and Mick Jagger’s Lips! Positively Marvelous!

1968, was it really only two years ago that Reed died? Her first time back to Capri since then. There were so many wonderful times with Reed in Capri. Mona’s hissing rising voice plucked at her ears like stinging harpies. She looked up at the statue of Augustus perched on the precipice arm stretched out over the tops of the juniper trees that clung to the cliffs below. He was pointing to Sorrento. Suddenly she had to get away.

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   When she reached the beach the heat of the day was at its zenith. That wonderful caressing heat that snaked across the sea from Africa laden with the smell of flowering Italian lemon trees and climbing geraniums. She kicked off her sandals at the edge of the water and pushed her Chinese red lacquered toenails into the cool water.  She wiggled them watching with great amusement the rubies that were her toes dance under the turquoise salted waters. All of this in the wonderful light of Capri…well lighting is everything in a color.  She’d said that often enough.

Down she sat on the small marble white pebbles keeping her toes submerged and looked across the bay to the mountain that loomed over Pompeii. That was where she and Reed first saw the fresco of the slave girl in “Capri” Sandals. The easy sensuality of those ancient shoes worn by a young girl frozen in ashy time had impressed her as timeless, beautiful and somehow tender. She shut her eyes and drifted into the past.

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“You smell like Capri Diana.”

She opened her eyes to see Reed coming out of the Tyrrhenian Sea, golden tan, young and in love with life and with her.

Still sometimes a little shy of him she smiled with reserve.  “I have been making my own perfume out of bergamot and suede and germanium petals. Do you like it? I think it will be the hit of 1928.”

“The height of vanity, making your own perfume.” He teased and followed it with a wink.

“I loathe narcissism, but I approve of vanity.”

With his intrinsic grace he descended to sit beside her looking every inch Apollo with his noble head blotting out the sun thus making it his crown. He leaned over and smelled her skin. “It is divine darling. Like summer after the rain.”

Diana watch him as he turned his face away and looked out over the bay. She wondered still that this marvelous man, had come into her life and found her as fascinating as she knew she was. “Do you like it here Reed?”

“No prohibition here and it is beautiful. I love it Diana.” He turned back to her.

“Prohibition. Insane idea. Try to keep me from taking a swallow of a cup of tea and I’ll drink the whole pot.”

Reed laughed. “You have wit my darling. That is one of your charms you know.”

“A funny person is funny only for so long, but a wit can sit down and go on being spellbinding forever. Witty talk is without question the most fascinating entertainment there is.”

He smiled and looked up at the ruins of the Villa Jovis.  “Do you like Capri?”

“Heaven on earth my love, utterly and completely divine. The only thing I find I like better than this island is London and like London only because it is so close to Paris. ”

“Then we shall come back again as often as we can.” Reed said as he turned back to her as a sunflower follows the sun. He leaned in to pull his young wife into his arms. She closed her eyes and inhaled.

“You also smell like Capri darling.” She said softly and looked up into his eyes “And it is smashingly brilliant.”

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(Reed and Diana Vreeland)

***

I have not been to Capri the island of the virgin daughters of Phorcys known as the Sirens.  But I have been very close, the Amalfi Coast. And if Capri smells anything like the junipers and lemon groves of Sorrento in spring then I know I would love it as much as Diana Vreeland did.

The new release Smashingly Brilliant by the house of Diana Vreeland was inspired by her love of Capri. Being the newest addition to the line this has burst upon the spring scene like the much anticipated release from winter’s grip that we have all been waiting for. This is a fragrance that will not merely carry one into spring, but on though the high heat of winter and into the lingering warm days of a fading fall. Smashingly Brilliant is the first fragrance from Diana Vreeland designed for both men and women. This is wonderful news, for though I truly believe that many in the line are uni-sex Smashingly Brilliant opens the doors to men of a less adventuresome nature. And that is great! This house should be discovered by everyone who loves magnificent perfumes.

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   The nose behind this Citrus Aromatic is Clement Gavarry who also created two of my other favorites in the line, Extravagance Russe and Simply Divine.   Amani Code, Prada Amber, Lovely Sara Jessica Parker and Black Violet Tom Ford are a few of his many highlights as a perfumer.

Clement Gavarry opens the fragance bright and sunny and very Italian with the top notes of Italian lemons, succulent Calabrian bergamot, summer warmed aromatic juniper berries and a true Italian touch, basil. It gleams and sparks on the skin, a real wake up happy and ready to go opening.

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   The heart note is a solo star center stage and in full spicy bloom. The aria in Vreeland Red that is a beautiful peppery geranium. It unfolds on the skin in stages like the blooms of the flower it comes from. Fluttering open at the rise of heat from the skin as the flowers do in the full glory of an adoring Mediterranean sun.

The geranium carries into the dry down that is as comfortable as a pair of those Capri sandals Mrs. Vreeland first saw in Pompeii. The suede note is soft and caressing on the skin and warms up the dry down in a creamy supple leather note. Not a hard biting leather but buffed relaxing leather like those fine perfect driving gloves one finally finds at Bergdorf Goodman or Neiman Marcus. A perfect fit on the skin. This wonderful leather is wrapped around fresh wood notes that add to the masculinity of this side of the scent. It is smart, bright and ready to go. Purely scintillating from top note to bottom.

Silage is low and close to the skin. With a fragrance like this made for the outdoors and sporting around in convertibles and on the tennis court who would want it any other way. For some the longevity may be an issue for on my skin it fades at between three and four hours. For me that is just the perfect excuse to refresh. In the words of Diana Vreeland, “Perfume is an extravagance.  But it’s odd that Americans, who God knows are an extravagant people, have never used scents properly.  They buy bottles, but they don’t splash it on.  Chanel always used to say, keep a bottle in your bag, and refresh yourself with it continually.”

And how refreshing Smashingly Brilliant is. Go ahead, splash it on!

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THE FALL OF ROME ~ GOLD, Les Compositions Parfumees by Lalique

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Gold, she was completely covered in gold….

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She hardly noticed the fingers flitting from her collar to her cleavage as Irene’s hands plucked and pulled at her golden Isis winged cape adjusting it so it hung just so.  At the foot of the black fiberglass beast a line of men with highly oiled skin shuffled past in leather loincloths to their appointed place where the huge ropes waited to be lifted and hauled, their number was in the hundreds. Ahead of them stood the unfinished back of the Arch of Constantine, (set historically at the wrong place at the wrong time) a construction of pipes, scaffolding and plaster of Paris which had been standing a year already just waiting for this day. To the left of it were banks of lights and behind them electrical generators humming low and hot. A myriad of gaffers, technicians and gofers scurried and rushed to serve those machines and gigantic bulbs that would very soon all be turned on and turned toward her. All of this she barely noticed as Joe whispered last minute instructions in her ear. What she did notice was the low rumble of thousands upon thousands of voices beyond the arch. They sounded dangerous and hungry.

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“It’s time.” Joe said. He patted her hand then he and Irene climbed down from the gilded platform leaving her sitting there three stories high with a six year old Italian boy next to her who had no idea that a wave of vertigo was threatening to engulf her. Nor could he understand that she was in the eye of the biggest scandal to rock Hollywood in forty years. Only yesterday the Pope had denounced her publicly in an open letter in the Vatican newspaper as a wanton home wrecker and a sexual vagrant. Her falling in love with the married Richard Burton had even knocked the Cuban Missile Crisis off most of the front pages of the world’s newspapers. The sound of the mob rolled and rumbled ominously beyond the arch in what was a Roman Forum twice as large as the real one just six miles north of Cinecitta. The sound of it hit her in the pit of her stomach. There had been bomb threats that morning which she was not supposed to have known about, but she knew. Another wave of vertigo hit the pit of her stomach as the three thousand extras turned in unison to look toward her. Devout Roman Catholics all, and they all by now had read the Pope’s letter. Some of them might have rotten tomatoes, or rocks or a gun. She could barely make out Richard on the steps of the Senate house next to Rex. He was nervously fingering the hilt of his freshly sharpened gladius. Only then did she realize that she was clutching the little boys back for dear life. He was looking up quizzically at her as if he were about to ask her if she was alright. But he didn’t speak English so he said nothing. She smiled at him. She had to be brave for his sake and the sake of her own children and mother and father who were watching from the sidelines.

Suddenly Joe’s voice came thought a bull horn calling “Action!” The playback music began. Pounding drums deep and majestic that in turn where haunted by flutes and reeds. The three hundred men below began to strain against the ropes and slowly buy one inch then two the great black sphinx began to move laboriously forward toward the arch. All she could hear now were the drums. Was it the playback or was it the sound of her racing heart in her ears? The mob was deadly silent and waiting. Waiting for her. She set her eyes on Richard and concentrated on only him. Nothing else mattered, where she was, the scandal, the damnation of the world that had been hurled at her head faded to a blur and there was only him. No matter what was about to happen in the next moments, she knew he was worth it. They were screaming, they were shouting and they were surging forward as the beast of Egypt’s Queen cleared the arch baring between its paws a goddess of pure gold.

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“Here we go Bessie….” She thought. Then it hit her right between the eyes and shot straight into her heart. The three thousand Roman Catholics were waving and with smiles beaming, blowing kisses and cheering “Liz! Liz! Baci Baci!” kisses kisses. The sphinx came to a dead stop and she was surrounded by nothing but love. It was the most purely golden wonderful moment in a year of heartache, regret and madness. Her eyes were so filled with tears that she couldn’t see Richard until he was atop the gleaming stairs of the sphinx reaching up to her tears stained his beautiful pockmarked cheek. Joe was there too with wet eyes but the most surprising thing was to see that old crusty cameraman Leon Shamroy sitting beside the camera atop the crane crying and clapping.

In the summer of 1962 Elizabeth Taylor, sat on her golden throne atop a monstrous black sphinx at the center of her fame shimmering in the Roman sun in her 24 carat gold Isis costume. She had conquered Rome not to mention the Pope.

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 ***

Gold by Lalique is part of the Les Compositions Parfumees 2015 release. A collection of five perfumes that are all based on precious metals. This is a very interesting and exciting point of view for perfume. To create in scent the image, the essence and the emotions elicited by highly prized earthly elements that in essence have no real olfactory signature.  The other four perfumes are Electrum, Zamak, Bronze and Silver. It seems only fitting that we begin with gold.

The nose behind Gold is at this point a mystery. I could not find out who it is but perhaps that just adds to the glamour of this fragrance. A perfume that is smooth and polished to a brilliant shine. Almost austere but there is a warmth in it that like Gold itself draws one in with its fascinating glow. Enticing velvety and rich. There is a velvet buttery beauty to gold when it is polished to mirror brilliance. It is the element that can only be created in the universe when a star goes super nova. The death of a star creates our most precious metal here on Earth. Gold is so rare and prized that the ancient Egyptians believed that the skin of the gods was made of it. And of course if you drop the “L’ from gold in English, what do you have? God.

Gold opens with only two top notes, bergamot and lemon, this is I am told meant to create the brilliance of gold. In fact in the opening the spark of the two citrus notes is brilliant and illusive. It glitters on the skin but momentarily and then streaks away leaving the way open for the star of the perfume, a note that resembles the heavy beauty one finds in the finest of Italian gold jewelry. Before our star note arrives in the mid notes of the perfume there are satellite notes, lovely ones of Egyptian Jasmine and lily of the valley. They are soft and hum in the background like a Greek chorus announcing the arrival of the superstar. It enters as a gorgeous smooth hard edged iris note that if left on its own could very well be too dry, somber and severe. But there is a surprise in the bottom notes that gives the iris a warmth and beauty beyond expectations. The bottom notes are a gift to the iris. And this surprise package is wrapped in earthy patchouli. Within the box as the patchouli gives way is the gift of the perfumer that complements the iris, a stunning blending of vanilla and benzoin. Here is a creamy buttery mix that never goes sweet or cloying but in its marriage with the iris they turn Gold into a golden beauty.

This is a floral chypre that is elegant, smooth and perfect for almost any season. It has both masculine strengths and feminine curves. A uni-sex perfume that invites one in and enhances the beauty of the wearer with its brilliance and allure. When you wear Gold on your skin there is no reason to wear anything else.

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(ELIZABETH TAYLOR IN GOLD)

I GOT A LITTLE STORY I THINK YOU SHOULD KNOW…For Men Michael Kors 2014

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(painting by Zachary Johnson)

He was down. Way way down in the 20s on 8th Avenue in a little dive called, “Set Um’Up”. And you guessed it; the bartender’s name was Joe. Can you believe it?  It was three in the morning and it was just Joe and me and him. I hung around way after the place had cleared of its regular flies because of him.  He was big, BIG big. One of the biggest stars on Broadway, only nobody recognized him here cause of the puffy eyes and three days of stubble on that matinee face of his. The face that made the ladies pony up nearly two hundred dollars for the first row of  any show he was in.  Besides, what would he be doing here so far from the Upper East Side and the bright lights of, well you get the idea. His million dollar smile was nowhere to be seen. Cause he was down, way way down.

I was just close enough to hear his story as Joe poured him another scotch. It was on the rocks. He laughed when Joe pointedly shoved him the drink.

“I guess I like it that way,” Mister Broadway said. “my scotch and my love life….on the rocks.”

I fed the juke box some quarters and picked what I though would be the right kind of blue note.

A peanut hit me in the back of the head. “Thanks buddy…that was our song.”  He shot me a weak version of his star bright smile. “What are you drinkin’?”  He didn’t wait for my answer, too worse to care. He just went on bending our ear with the story.

“You see it isn’t easy finding love under the microscope of fame. You just can’t trust um’. Any of um. But this one Joe was solid. Not in the Biz. Don’t ever fall for someone who acts for a living guys. That brake up is over the bathroom mirror…most times. If not that then it is because of that old Star Is Born cliché. What are ya gonna do?  It is what it is. “

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“Yeah but this one was different, didn’t even know who I was when we met. I didn’t believe it at first. Thought it was an act to get next to me. You’d be surprised what some jerks do to date a star. Or, maybe you wouldn’t be surprised. But no Joe, it was the real thing. I mean the REAL thing….ya know?”

“Things were going great. As great as they can when you’ve swallowed the hook. As Margo Channing once said, the honeymoon was on. When there was a big show biz event did that matter? Nope “let’s go camping upstate? Or drive out to that little bed and breakfast at Montauk. I just want to be with you.”  We had even set a date…..you can do that now you know…when you fall in love too easily.” He lifted his half empty glass to his lips and scrutinized the ice. “It is what it is.”

“What happened?” I said and caught Joe rolling his eyes. He must have heard it all before.

“What happened?” His eyes got all cloudy. “Yeah, what happened?”

For a minute it got too quite, all except for Sinatra singing soft and low.

“Yeah, that’s my cue….I gotta go.” The wounded star slid of the bar stool and gave me a short last curtain bow. Then insinuated his way through the tables and stacked chairs to the door. He turned the door half open to the chilled black autumn morning.

“Thanks Joe.” He gave us a half hearted two fingers to the brow salute and then at last that million dollar smile that slays the ladies from the front row to the back of the top balcony. “Funny thing is….his name is Joe too.”

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***

For Men by Michael Kors after a rocky start has been re-released. The wait was worth it. It is a melancholy sophisticated love song singed around the edges with a bit of a broken heart. It is smoky and moody, lush a mix of cocktails and regret and in the end filled with a longing for something lost and just beyond ever finding again. It is beautiful.

This masculine fragrance is perfect for fall and winter. It is magnificent on a man but boy could a woman wear it well and smell great. It would be the olfactory equivalent to a woman wearing her boyfriend’s crisp white dress shirt with jeans. Or nothing but the shirt. Effortless and elegant on both sexes in ether a formal night out for theater and a late cold supper or on a sunny fall picnic in Central Park. It works so well for any setting. That’s what I love about Michael Kors clothes and his two fragrances in his men’s lineup.  The nose is Harry Freemont who also created among many fragrances CK One for Calvin Klein, Modern Muse for Estee Lauder and Grey Vetiver Eau de Toilette for Tom Ford, and of course the fist men’s fragrance for Michael Kors, Michael.

It opens with a dominant and beautiful star anise, which shines in a dark kind of glamour as the coriander, thyme and pepper buzz just below this star giving it that signature you will recognize from the opening of Michael from 2001. There bergamot that is there is very light and almost imperceptible to my nose but what is wonderful is the addition of the elemi that adds a smoky sweet melancholy to the opening and sets everything up for what is to come.

The fragrance moves into its mid notes with the most wonderful twisting tendrils of incense that rise up like a cobra from a snake charmers basket. But there is also something wonderful in that basket, a wreath of sage and the smoothest richest suede note I have smelled in a long time.  It is simply entrancing and here is where the beauty of the fragrance departs from the generic designer signature and enters into the realm of fine perfume in a classic style.

The dry down comes on with the masculine lines of fine polished wood, a nearly caramelized sandalwood, lush rich layers of patchouli and musk add just the right light to the fade out and final curtain of this fragrance.

Now for some the bad news comes here. The longevity on my skin is not great, around four to six hours. The sillage is moderate which depending on your taste and personal style can be a good or bad thing. But for me this is not a make or break issue since I am a proponent of the liberal and lively art of the re-apply.  Being a designer scent the cost is very reasonable for what you get. A beautiful men’s fragrance that can take you uptown, downtown and all around in great style.

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FOR MEN MICHAEL KORS Five Gold Stars.

Press play to hear Robbie Williams sing One For My Baby.

THE POET ~ An Interview With Perfumer Mario Tomas

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It is always very exciting when a new perfumer hits the scene and doubly exciting for me when that perfumer is a local Bay Area artist. I have known Mario Tomas Gomez for about two years. I was privileged to be at dinner with him, Mik of Mik Moi and Hilary Randall when he decided to take the big leap and start his perfume house.

His official brick and mortar launch is this Saturday at Tigerlily Perfumery here in San Francisco. So to honor his blossoming as an olfactory artist I asked him a few questions.

Lanier: Where were you born?

Mario:  Born in Oklahoma City, OK raised both in OKC and Mexico City, Mexico

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

Mario: I always wanted to do something which allowed me to help others.

Lanier: who introduced you to perfume?

Mario:  I remember smelling different fragrances on different family members. These various olfactory experiences helped build my love for fragrances/perfumes.

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

Mario: It was the experience of blending my own creation at Perfumer’s Apprentice when they had a shop open in Santa Cruz, CA. It was a small shop that provided tea service while you created your own scent. Afterwards, I searched for a local perfume making workshop. I saw one offered by Yosh Han, the rest is history.

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Lanier:  what is the inspiration behind each of your scents?

Mario: El Poeta (The Poet): This fragrance conjures up another era; a time and place when debates on beauty, style and technique were hotly discussed over drinks at a crowded and smoky cafe. It too is unconventional. Artistic expression and flair is flaunted and appreciated. For those who walk a different path, it represents the cultural, artistic mavericks of a time gone by. It is Absinthe inspired, Bohemia in a bottle.

Corazon Blanco (White Heart): Corazon Blanco is my love note to my family and heritage of beautiful Mexico. I have deep and unforgettable roots in Mexico: the exotic flowers, spices and culinary delights of this region have lent themselves to my fond memories and recreation of such moments with this scent. They include my Grandmother making cinnamon tea, my Mother’s enjoyment of Cajeta (caramels) and adoration of gardenias, or the recollection of tequila from my cousin’s distillery.

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Lo Mejor di Mi #1: This citrus fragrance is homage to the citrus, aromatic family. Its great diversity of revitalizing notes will offer a fresh embrace that is meant to lift one’s spirit. It will envelop you in notes of bitter orange, pink and white grapefruit and blood orange that will delight and recharge your essence. Its hint of floral, woods and musk adds to its complexity and will have you fall in love at first smell.

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

Mario: It was Yosh Han and Shelley Waddington who helped me explore the art of blending.  Michael Coyle of MikMoi who gave me the helpful nudge to launch at the 3rd SF Artisan Fragrance Salon.

Lanier: What is your process in making a perfume?

Mario: Normally, first I will explore the single individual notes alone without any other notes.  Sometimes this can take less than a minute or sometimes days. Once I have all the fragrance notes I will be using, I explore fragrances already out on the market.  If I can bring something new, then I move to blending and testing out Jerry my husband or friends.

Lanier:  Do you have an idea of whom you are making your perfumes for. Who is that person, what is he or she like?

Mario:  I am creating scents for anyone who enjoys them. I may be inspired by a specific person, but I try to create scents that are enjoyed by both genders.

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

Mario: Getting my bottling and packaging finalized, transitioning from my State job into making perfume into a full-time event.

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20 smelly questions. (inspired by the ten questions asked by Bernard Pivot on the French television show “Bouillion de Culture”.

1.Who inspires you?

Anyone in my inner circle of friends and family.

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

My Nespresso machine.  Just kidding, gratitude for life.

3.What is your favorite sensation?

Smell and taste, they are connected.

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

Lovely.

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

Lovely

6.What is your least favorite perfume note?

I do not have one.  All notes can be blended to create a wonderful experience.

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

I think of myself as a very spiritual person and so that enters by thought process while creating.

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     8.What perfume turned you on this month?

Les Parisiennes Mademoiselle Eau de Parfum by Guerlain. If I was just to judge this perfume by only it’s notes or by the name alone,  it would be something I would have ignored.  Having experienced this scent without knowing what was being spritzed on me, I was able to enjoy the development without any prejudgment. I love wearing by itself or blending it with many of my other fragrances.

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

My biggest turn offs are acts in which one is inconsiderate of another.

10.Who excites you in the world of perfume?

The growth in interest of the art of fragrance making.

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

Some of the restrictions being placed on ingredients that have been used to create some of the most amazing perfumes.

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12.What natural smell in nature do you love?

I love the smell of cement and rain after a heavy rain in any season.

13.What smell in nature do you hate.

The smell of public urination one gets when walking out of some of the BART/Muni stations.

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

Either Cleopatra or Marie Antoinette.  Cleopatra was known to have the sails of her ships soaked in fragrance oils, so I can just image what “lovely” oil collection she owns. It was said that Marie Antoinette was know for her signature scent(s), when she tried to escape, it was her scent that was recognized which lead to her capture.

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(Conceptual painting by John De Cuir for Cleopatra’s Barge “Cleopatra” 1963)

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

Spanish.

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

Mierda

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

Ballet dancer.

18.What profession would you not like to do?

Anything that would not allow me to work with people.

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

“Welcome, you will enjoy this fragrant garden and all of its wonders.”

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

She will be wearing Guerlain’s Sous le Vent.

I would like to thank Mario for a wonderful and thought provolking interview The Launch for his perfumes witll be Saturday, November 1, 2014 from 5 – 9pm. If youi are in the San Francisco area do drop in and explore with me the wonderful olfactory world of Mario Tomas.

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TIGERLILY PERFUMERY

973 VALENCIA STREET

SAN FRANCISCO CA. 94110

510 230 7975

EMAIL INFO@TIGERLILYSF.COM

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 *****

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

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