THE FAIRY GODMOTHER OF 5TH AVENUE ~ Quelques Fleurs L’Original by Houbigant

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When she swept past the doorman at Bergdorf Goodman she smelled of Prell shampoo and crisp starched linen.  He smiled and nodded as he held the door open for her, she was one of his favorites of the working girls who breezed over from Madison Avenue on their lunch hour and out again in less than fifteen minutes. She was as fresh and just as pretty as any young ingénue on or off Broadway.

1961

There were so many of them hurrying along 5th Avenue, secretaries and stenographers from the advertising houses and the book publishers. Between 11:30 and 2:00 p.m. they hit all the department stores from Bonwit Teller to Bergdorf’s with one thing on there minds; a free spritz of some exotic and impossibly expensive perfume. June Ramsey was no exception. She smiled at the doorman. He winked at her, like he always did.

She worked at Harper and Row in the secretarial pool for $75 a week. For her perfumes were a luxury she could not afford unless it was some horrid eau de toilette from Woolworth’s. She was not a Woolworth’s kind of girl.

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“If you want to smell like Chanel No.5 but can’t afford it honey, just dab some Palmolive dishwashing liquid behind your ears. Smells just like it!” Louise from accounting had given her that tip one day during a coffee break.

“No June that is so cheep! Do what I do. Make Bergdorf’s perfume counter part of your daily toilette routine.” Maggie from the reading department whispered so that Louise would not hear her dig. “And especially if you have a big date!”

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She stood at the counter looking at the assortment of romances bottled and packaged for dreams. There was Shalimar, No.5, L’Interdit, all exquisite, but somehow not right for tonight. June fingered the buttons on her home sewn Simplicity “Chanel” suit and closed her eyes.

“Having trouble deciding?”  June opened her eyes. There next to her was an exquisitely dressed woman of 50 or so. She smelled amazing and looked every inch very, very Upper East Side.

“Oh! Yes, I mean no… I am just looking.”

The woman nodded and then picked up a bottle of perfume and showed it to June. “This is my favorite for a very special night out. Like the one you are heading for tonight I am guessing.”

“How did you guess? It is a first date; he is taking me to see that new show, “Camelot” at the Majestic.”

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“I am good at reading people.  Here why don’t you try it? It is called, Quelques Fleurs.”

“Well, I… I can’t afford it. $30 a bottle.” She sighed

“A sample spray can’t hurt your pocketbook,” She smiled mischievously. “Besides, all the girls who work around neighborhood sneak a spray. I bet you do too. And you never know what a perfume like this one might add to your first date.”

“Alright, maybe just one little spritz.”

“Close your eyes my dear….”

 

When June walked out of Bergdorf’s the doorman caught a whiff of her perfume. He grinned and looked back into the store. Mrs. Goodman was afoot and playing fairy godmother to the working girls again.  He chuckled at the thought of just how surprised that young lady would be when she opened her purse.  There she would find a bottle of Mrs. Goodman’s favorite perfume beautifully wrapped in Bergdorf Goodman tissue paper with a kind note tucked neatly in among her lipstick and Kleenex.  Mrs. Goodman always had the girls close there eyes when she sprayed them. That was when she made the drop!

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***

 

Quelques Fleurs L’Original was created by the nose of Robert Bienaime for the house of Houbigant in 1913. It is still in production today and presented by the house with great attention to the finest absolutes in its notes and to the preservation of the original beauty of the perfume.

I have to thank my dear friend at Niemen Marcus, Michal Gizinski for giving me a sample of this amazing perfume to try out. He, as I have said before is one of my great teachers in the realm of perfume. I am ever thankful for his guidance and generosity.

Just imagine it, this perfume is one hundred and one years old and yet as fresh and romantic and relevant today as it was in the twilight of the Edwardian era.

The top notes are orange blossom, green notes, tarragon, and bergamot, lemon and citrus. This burst on the skin fresh and bright as spring’s first flowers is gorgeous. It is a rush to the senses of white blossoms from rows and rows of orange trees and lemon on warm hillside groves. If you have ever been in such a grove you know just how beautiful this arrangement can be.

Then the heat of your skin awakens the garden that lies in the mid notes. A really stunning and photo realistic rose that truly to me smells of fresh cut roses, not that sharp synthesized rose I usually smell in perfume. But a real rose. The tuberose ads a generous helping of high glamour along with a indulgently lush jasmine. Oh does it ever sing! Behind these notes there are traces of lilac, heliotrope, creamy ylang-ylang. And intertwined are rapturous hints of lily-of-the-valley, violet and iris and even an earthy dash of one of my favorite notes, the austere silvery orris root. You have the entire garden here from deep within the earth up to the sky. “Hey buds below, up is where to grow!”

Then finally in the dry down we find the woods and the animals of the garden,  Covered in Honey a civet romps among the roses, This little sexy cat is musky and sweetened by a dash of vanilla, tonka bean and amber. All of this is warmed by a creamed smooth sandal wood and the sharp masculine notes of Oakmoss.  It is a classic French romp in the sheets if you ask me. Sweet but not cloying, and a little dirty and not afraid to be just what it is, a real perfume for a person who knows how to be a flesh and blood sensual voluptuary who is madly in love with life.

As with most of the old school classic perfumes it is very long lasting on the skin. I got twelve good hours out of it and the sillage is impressive. They are going to know you are wearing a masterpiece when you wear Quelques Fleurs L’Original.

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Quelques Fleurs L’Original Five Platinum Stars *****

AMOUR À L’OPÉRA ~ Fougère Royale by Houbigant Paris

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Palais Gernier Opera

Painting of the Paris Opera by Frank Myers Boggs

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

 

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

 Prince Aleksander Kostka

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

 

”Bonsoir Comtesse, je suis enchante”

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

“Aleksi…Aleksi! How are you?”

 

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

 

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

 

Who is she and what is that perfume.

 

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

 Marianne Deasún

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

 

“She smells like nothing I have ever experienced.”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

He knocked on the door and waited for an answer.

 

*****

 

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

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

Fougère Royale Paul Parquet

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Paul Parquet father of the Fougere

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

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

PERRIS MONTE CARLO COMES TO TOWN! ~ Fragrance Event At Neiman Marcus San Francisco.

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This October 12th at Neiman Marcus San Francisco there will be a very special fragrance event. Our ambassador of fragrance at Neiman’s Michal Gizinski will be presenting the brilliant Gian Luca and Elisabetta Perris to San Francisco. The Perris Family are the force behind the perfume house of Houbigant Paris, Corso Como and the creators of Perris Monte Carlo Perfumes.
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Along with such classics as Quelques Fleur l’Original,  Fougere Royale from Houbigant and the sensational perfumes of 10 Corso Como they will be sharing with us 

the much anticipated arrival to our city of two very exciting perfumes of very special merit.

These exceptionally singular perfumes are only two of five new fragrances to come from this exciting perfume house. We will be able to enjoy the glamour and beauty of Rose de Taif and the deep sensual allure of Oud Imperiale.  Rose de Taif is made from the very rare Taif rose which is grown in Arabia high in the mountains at above 4,000 feet. The combination of the altitude and mountain rain makes this particular rose a much sought after flower for the creation of perfume.  Its cherished blossoms are picked only at dawn to preserve the oils within it at its most lush and beautiful. The extraction of the oil is very unique and time intensive.
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(Photo from Parfums Perris Monte Carlo) 
Just to give you a hint of what Rose de Taif perfume is all about, the top notes are lemon, nutmeg, and geranium. The heart is the gorgeous Taif Rose, and the base notes are Rose Damas absolute and Rose Musk. If you are a rose perfume lover you are not going to want to miss this event!
 burning oud wood )
 In the equally enticing Oud Imperial the top notes are Jasmine and Cumin, The heart unfolds with Oud, incense, patchouli, and saffron. And the dry down consists of sandalwood, Cedar, Javanese Vetiver and Blackwood. The oud used in this perfume is of the best quality and costs $27,000 a pound.
 
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area be advised to mark your calendar for October 12, 2013 (time to be advised in an upcoming post) to join our host Michal Gizinski of Neiman Marcus and Gian Luca and Elisabetta Perris for the olfactory event of the season. 
OUD IMPERIAL ROSE DE TAIF
(Photo from Parfums Perris Monte Carlo)

PARFUMS PERRIS MONTE CARLO
CEDIP SAM – 5 Avenue des Citronniers, MC 98000 MONACO
– Tel: +377. 93.50.72.12– Fax: +377.93. 50. 21. 45–
contact@perrismonte carlo.mc

Perris Monte Carlo Facebook :  https://www.facebook.com/PerrisMonteCarlo

Houbigant Webpage: http://www.houbigant-parfum.com/

10 Corso Como Webpage: http://www.10corsocomo.com/

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(Beautiful Monte Carlo)

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