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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THE BEYOND ~ Au Delà by Bruno Fazzolari Editions

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Glinting in the winter morning light, freshly varnished and perfectly manicured nails drummed on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. They were exactly the same shade of Vreeland red as the magazine with a laughing Kate Hudson on the cover. She was unaware of this little serendipity of color as she looked out over her vast living room to the snow dusted terrace that hung twenty eight floors above 5th avenue.

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New Years Eve morning. L’Ascension by Olivier Massiaen was playing on the radio.  She sighed, and flipped open Harper’s Bazaar. A beautiful girl with a perfume bottle, The page turned. “Kate Hudson gets festive in this season’s hottest styles. Welcome to Holiday Glamour……”  And indeed the actress looked very festive and hot and stylish and all the rest. Turned page. Chanel models in Chanel, Page on to Dior bags followed by Louis Vuitton.  A blond having too much fun being a blond in Michael Kors. The smile that made Julia Roberts a mega star smiled over her shoulder from the page for Lancôme. Still a pretty woman.  Austere Armani, proud Prada, Gucci Gucci Gucci. Any other day it would have been fun, like it always was.  Magazine meandering usually ended up in a trip down 5th to Bergdorf, then Barneys and always Bulgari for a bauble. She tossed the magazine aside and sank back into the silk over stuffed pillows of her now back in style Michael Taylor sofa.

Another Sigh. The sun shifted and a beam bounced off the ice on the terrace banister, glance a crystal on the chandelier and hit the facets of her pale violet diamond Deco inspired engagement ring. All twelve of the flawless carats caught fire. She lazily wiggled her ring finger and watched Tiffany & Co. dance within the stone. She pushed against the pillows, rose up from the sofa and tightened the sash on her Stefano Pilati silk robe.

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The deep pile of the Nepalese rug caressed her toes as she sauntered to the terrace doors to look out to the West over Manhattan. She had hours to get ready before dinner at the Waldorf Astoria. Hours to think. The trees in the park encrusted from the ice storm the night before looked like a Swarovski forest from Doctor Zhivago. Beautiful and cold, it looked as if there were wolves down there howling at the silver plated sky. Only last month she had been warm in San Pancho under the November sun on the Nayarit coast of Mexico. She met Jane and Earl Miller and fell in love with them when she went to stay at their little hotel. Getting to know them as she lounged by the pool at Roberto’s Bungalows was when it began, slow and steady and building over Thanksgiving and into December. The realization that she wanted what they had. She couldn’t put her finger on just what made their marriage seem authentic and real. But she knew now that she would not find that kind of love staring at her across the well appointed table at the Waldorf on New Years Eve.

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Late in the afternoon as she applied the finishing touches to her make-up she felt terrible for what she was about to do.  She knew he would not understand, she understood that he thought he loved her. She realized nether he or she had any idea what love was really about. Finished dressing by five-thirty she called for her car, put the engagement ring into its box and into her purse. There was only one thing more to do. She looked at the array of perfumes on her vanity. She picked up the small unassuming bottle of Au Delà and applied it to her wrist and neck. The old world yet modern beauty of the perfume enfolded her, comforted her, and promised of life to live beyond tonight. It whispered very softly just behind her ear “…the beyond.” She smiled for the first time, just a tiny hint of a smile really. After Auld Lang Sine she would be free to find out who she really was.

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(Bienvenidos paraíso, Roberto’s Bungalows) 

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Au Delà by perfumer and artist Bruno Fazzolari is something very special. I first smelled it along with the other perfumes of his initial launch into the perfume world last March at San Francisco Artisan Fragrance Salon. You can read about that event in my post, “Meeting The Magicians ~ SF Artisan Perfume Salon 2013”.

Au Delà immediately struck me as a fabulous perfume that recalled the great days of the house of Dior in the early 50’s. It is so reminiscent of such beauties as the old original Miss Dior. Not the silly girl she has become today in her reformulations but the beautiful confident woman she was at the dawn of post war glamour. I have to give credit to Hilary Randal who was the one to pinpoint for me what I was smelling in that bottle of Au Delà that day back in March.

Bruno has in his collection all of which was released in 2013, Lampblack, Jimmy, Five, Monserrat,  It’s Better Not To Worry Abut It and Au Delà. Each are exquisite and should be explored by any and every perfume lover, but for me Au Delà is the masterpiece of the line. It is the goddess in a bottle, the essence of French chic created by and artist who grew up in both in France and the United States.

This perfume was inspired by one of the major French composers of the 20th Century, Olivier Massiaen. And in this inspiration there is music, glorious music. To equate this fragrance to the inspiration just listen to L’Ascension by Massiaen and you have the tones and notes of this perfume.

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(Au Delà is right for any woman with the slightest chic)

It opens with a simple clear, glowing note of coriander. This note is almost immediately obliterated by an unfolding song from a beautiful jasmine that is wreathed with Neroli and orange blossoms. This plays its melody with increasing sensuality as it is aroused by the arrival of the base notes of Amber, Oakmoss and something magical created by Bruno known as Immanence. Immanence is a fantasy note that is as ephemeral as a dream and as real as fairy dust. It is the God note that encompasses everything and exists in all creation. It is there in the base of the perfume and gives it wings, shimmering wings on which to fly.

NYC Man(Au Delà is perfect for a man with great personal style)

This Chypre is indolic, intoxicating and inspiring. It loves to live on the skin of both men and women and in so doing finds the essence of male or female sensuality in the meeting of perfume to flesh. Since its release Au Delia has won both the Gold Medal for Top Artisan Perfumer at the International Artisan Fragrance Awards and the Gold Medal at the San Francisco Artisan Fragrance Salon.

I found this award winning perfume to be sublime with a respectable sillage and good longevity. You can find it at Bruno’s Webpage and at Tigerlily in San Francisco. Tigerlily is the first brick and mortar store to carry Bruno Fazzolari Editions. For a debut perfumer Au Delà is exceptional and I look forward to watching Bruno Fazzolari’s journey as an up an coming perfumer.

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Au Delà by Bruno Fazzolari Editions  Five Gold Stars *****

BRUNO FAZZOLARI WEBSITE: http://brunofazzolari.com/

TIGERLILY: Love & Luxe

(Tigerlily pop-up)

1169 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA94110

Hours: 12 – 6 Wed, Thurs
11 – 7 Fri, Sat
12 – 5 Sun

415 648 7781
info@loveandluxesf.com

ROBERTO’S BUNGALOWS: http://robertosbungalows.com/

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Listen to L’Ascension by Olivier Massiaen

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