THE VIEW FROM THE 20TH FLOOR ~ Simply Divine by Diana Vreeland Perfumes

o.2020

From his perch on the 20th floor there was only one thing on his mind and it was her. The city stretched south down 5th ave. in 5am slumber, winking its traffic lights from red to green in a slow jazz syncopation.  The glow of Times Square was pushing up the side of buildings just over there. A smear of red dawn smudged the eastern sky like the rouge on her cheeks. It was too late for cocktails and too early for coffee. The fireworks were long gone yet he wanted to celebrate. He wanted to kiss her. It was the 5th of July 1924 and she had changed everything.

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Only last month he stood every night in the same spot as he did now. Drinking martinis and feeling blue. He had it all, old money, good manners, and he was handsome, but always blue around the edges and a little lonely. He watched the couples dancing at El Morocco and the frantic beauties that hopped into cabs in the rain heading for 21. He didn’t particularly need romance but he felt something was missing; someone extraordinary was not in his life and the fact of it left him down and in the depths.

On the turn of a tango just last night the girl dancing with the Argentinean gigolo caught his eye and smiled.  He had seen her earlier in the evening when she passed his table at the Cotton Club on her way to the powder room. As she glided by the silage of her perfume tickled him behind his left ear. She was not beautiful in an obvious way like the dime a dozen pretty things of Manhattan. In fact her looks were perfectly funny. But when she smiled he could see she had style. Style to burn and charm enough for the rest of his life.

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When the Duke Ellington orchestra shook off the tango to slip lightly into a slow foxtrot he cut in on the Argentinean. As he guided her backwards around the edge of the dance floor the foxtrot tuned into a waltz that in turn lead them to a night of terpsichorean rapture. As they polished the parquet floor till their feet were sore he came to realize just how extraordinary she was. She had that something extra, a pizzazz that was electric.  At four in the morning he took her home and said good night under the red awning of her apartment building.

The east sides of the city’s towers were turning from grey to rose with the first light of the sun. It hit him with such a force, the realization that he would marry her, and after tonight he would never be blue again.  As a thousand suns winked at him from as many windows, he recalled her parting words to him just as she disappeared into her building.

“You, my dear, are simply divine.”

***

 Reed and Diana Vreeland

Simply Divine by Diana Vreeland is and extraordinarily beautiful perfume. It evokes a more romantic age of the 1920’s and yet is quite vibrant and modern. It is a class act that is as sophisticated as cocktails in smart evening clothes and as chic as a Renaissance red cap is with black jeans and a black tee shirt. It has a shimmering vibrancy that is inviting to both men and women. It is gorgeous, an instant classic.

This floral fragrance is all about the garden. Smelling it on the spray nozzle or on paper it is purely white flowers. The scent is dominated by tuberose, but not your everyday tuberose. On the skin, on my skin it turns to the greens of the garden and the flowers fall back and take a secondary place. It is very much like a country garden in high summer where the heat invigorates the lush green leaves and they fill the air. It is not a summer fragrance. No this one is for the fall and winter. And in wearing it in those seasons it is a remembrance of summers past. The nose behind Simply Divine is Clement Gavarry, who is also known for among others, Black Violet by Tom Ford, Armani Code, Prada Amber and Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker. He also created Extravagance Russe for Diana Vreeland.

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It opens with very bright green leaves and a dash of nutmeg. This combo is immediately married to the tuberose and the three notes entwine and complement each other for the entire performance of the perfume. Orange blossoms and jasmine are there in the background to lend the idea of the rest of the garden but overall it is green.

In the dry down the base notes come up with powdered sandalwood and lush cashmere wood. There is a vanilla hint that is lent to the base by tonka bean. And it is all held in place to the end by a clean slightly soapy layer of musk.

On my skin it plays overtly uni-sex. It lasted well over twelve hours and the silage bubble reached out about two feet for most of the day. It is a green fragrance that hangs in a place between a classic floral and a Chypre which will make it accessible to men who don’t mind being simply divine. When I wore this perfume it garnered more complements than I have every gotten on from almost any other perfume. Women loved it and men wanted to know what it was and were they could get a bottle.

I am really impressed with the entire line of perfumes by the house of Diana Vreeland. And it was hard to choose which one to purchase. They like the woman who inspired them are bold, commanding and impressive. These perfumes have something to say and what they talk about is always interesting. In the end I realized that if you are going to dive into the Diana Vreeland pool you have to jump head first into the deep end. So I chose the most spectacular of the five in the line.Simply Divine.

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Alexander Vreeland

Diana Vreeland was called the Empress of Fashion, the editor in chief of both Harpers Bazaar and Vogue she changed the face of fashion in America and the world. As Lauren Hutton said about her, “She was an upside down original!” The man behind the perfume line is Alexander Vreeland, the grandson of Mrs. Vreeland. His life long intention has been to create something that captures the essence of his beloved and extraordinary grandmother. How perfect a way to do this is perfume? I had the great privilege to be able to tell Alexander Vreeland that he had succeeded in his dream to honor her and that he has done his grandmother proud.

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SIMPLY DIVINE Five Platinum Stars *****

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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 *****

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