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 *****

PERFUME IS STYLE, IT IS VITAL! ~ Vreeland Perfumes Launch & The New Houbigant Perfume!

dianavreelandmemos_p122October 14, 2014 …Mark your CALENDAR! Here in San Francisco the official launch for the Diana Vreeland line is happening at Neiman Marcus Union Square. Alexander Vreeland founder of the perfume line and grandson of Mrs. Vreeland will be in attendance. D.V. ambassador, Tony Mendez will be our host and he has planed for us a fabulous afternoon under the dome at Neimans.

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But hold on to your atomizers! there is more going on in our beautiful city by the Bay.  October 11 at Neimans Michal Gazinski will be presenting the gorgeous new Houbigant perfume Iris des Champs. This  stunner is a real show stopper and sure to be a hit with an adoring perfume loving public. So if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area do pop in for both events. As we tumble into Fall the most glamorous perfumes of the year are making their entrance.

Here in my video review I talk more about these perfumes and the events as well as a marvelous fragrant dinner I attended with with a wonderful group of perfume creators and lovers which for a lack of a name I call the San Francisco Perfume Salon.

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IRIS DES CHAMPS by HOUBIGANT

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.

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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.

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    “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.

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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 *****

THE GLAMOUR AND THE GLORY ~ Scent & Subversion by Barbara Herman Book Event

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Back from vacation and into the perfume social whirl of San Francisco Fumantics!  Last night at Books Inc. on Van Ness Avenue just north of our Belle Epoque inspired  Beaux-Arts Civic Center author and blogger (Yesterday’s Perfumes:http://www.yesterdaysperfume.com/ )   Barbara Herman came to read from her book Scent & Subversion: Decoding A Century of Provocative Perfumes. The event was a smashing success and Ms. Herman was a delight. Gallons of vintage perfume was sniffed and a ton of books were sold. Here is my video blog of the event.

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(Barbara Herman ~ photo from Basenotes)

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LE GRAND PRIX ~ Perris Monte Carlo Perfume Event San Francisco

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Fall is the time when fashion and film present there best works. The same is true for the world of haute perfume. At least it seems so here in San Francisco. Last week we had the launch of Penhaligon’s Iris Prima at Saks Fifth Avenue and yesterday amid the Beaux Arts splendor of Neiman Marcus on Union Square we very lucky San Franciscans had the great honor of being presented two perfumes from the house of Perris Monte Carlo.

The event began at one o’clock. I arrived with Hillary Randall, my muse extraordinaire and guide through the looking glass of perfume. The theme for us was old world splendor and in tune as always we both dressed accordingly for a very regal and warm presentation by our visitors from the principality of Monaco. As Hilary and I walked though the rotunda we were greeted as always with friendly smiles and hellos from the associates at the Creed and Jo Malone counters along with the always lovely folks at Tom Ford. The delightful Suzetta across the way at Estee Lauder waved to us. And of course the ladies and gentlemen of the Dior Boutique looked smashing in there signature black and made us feel welcome with great warm waves and smiles.  Going to Neiman’s is always fun and part of the fun is the friendly people who work there. I know that much of this charming atmosphere is due to the General Manager of Neiman’s Alan Morrell. I have even seen Alan on the sales floor bringing coffee to patrons of the store and seeing to there comfort. That’s warm friendly Neiman Marcus for you.

 Nieman Marcus Rotunda, Plate 3

   The Perris Monte Carlo event took place just beyond the rotunda in the heart of the fragrance department. The S.F. Sniff gang were already there and being introduced by our host Michal Gizinski to the stars of the event. The buzz was that of pure joy and excitement and it was infectious. Michal presented Hilary and me to Elisabetta and Gian Luca Perris. Elisabetta is a stunning blonde with a most beautiful smile. And Gian Luca is athletically handsome man with open warm eyes.  This brother and sister team  of the house of Perris Monte Carlo could not have been more gracious and kind to each person they met.

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Gian Luca, Elisabetta, and Michal

As the event began to unfold I broke off to take some photos then popped over to say hello to Mik from Mik Moi perfumes and catch up a bit with Tama Blough, Brooke Baird, and Mario Gomez from S.F. Sniff along with the rest of the gang. Good friend Mary Edington popped up and there were hugs for everyone. Mary and I insinuated ourselves next to one of the three tables displaying the two new perfumes being launched by Perris Monte Carlo, Rose de Taif and Oud Imperial. There was a bit of sniffing of perfume blotters but in no time flat we got down to business and hit the flesh with the spray. You know how it is with perfume lovers, there is no fooling around. Like Tama said to me “You just have to have it on the skin to really appreciate perfume.”

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Hilary, Mary and Mik

The Rose de Taif was one of the most wonderful and true rose perfumes I have ever smelled. Gian Luca explained to us how the rose oil is extracted. The delicate roses are picked at dawn in Taif Arabia to ensure there purest beauty in fragrance. Like Grasse Jasmine that is the only time these precious roses can be picked. They are distilled in an alembic water process. For this perfume this water process is a bit different than elsewhere. The flowers are placed directly in the water and not separated by a filter. This method is what gives the unique and beautiful quality to the Taif Rose oil which it produces. It takes thousands upon thousands of roses to create just a tiny amount of oil for the perfume. The notes are, lemon, nutmeg, geranium in the top. The gorgeous Taif Rose is the heart of the perfume and the base notes are Damascus rose absolute and Rose Musk.

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He also shared with us some pure oils to smell that are used in the making of the two perfumes. This was my first time smelling pure authentic oud. It was the most amazing fragrance full of mystery and fifty centuries of history. You could sense the ages shift and shimmer as visions of the Middle East came into view in the minds eye. It was a magic carpet unfurling before me filled with all the tales of the east from Algeria to India.

So of course my next stop was Oud Imperial. Cumin and jasmine open the fragrance beautifully; the heart is Oud, incense, patchouli and saffron. And in the base is a beautiful sandalwood, Virginia Cedar, Vetiver from Java and Blackwood. On my skin there is an initial blast of petroleum that mellows quite fast into a warm mix of woods and incense. It carried me off to the deep spiritual sanctuary of an ancient Imperial Roman temple filled with mystery, gods and grandeur. It reminds you of how the smoke and incense of the East came west to conquer Europe again and again.  It has both a religious and sensual aspect to it that I find fascinating. It is eastern, enticing, and enchanting.   Oud Imperial is simply the best oud perfume I have ever encountered.

 Perris Monte Carlo Rose de Taif and Oud Imperial

Hilary asked Gian Luca about the oil concentration in the eau de perfumes. The rose is twenty two percent and the oud is eighteen percent. Yet these eau de perfumes were like pure perfume. Simply put they are stunning, lush and long lasting.

At this point Michal directed us to a very comfortable seating area behind the presentation display and with sparkling water and delicious homemade cookies we got to talk and compare the two fragrances. It is always so interesting to me how different a scent can be on my skin as opposed to others. Elisabetta and I talked with Mary about this phenomenon. Elisabetta told us that the chemistry of the skin can enhance a perfume. One persons PH can bring certain notes to the fore where as on another person an entire new story is told.

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Mario and Brooke

Slowly people began to drift away and the event began to wind down. Michal invited me to stay on and chat one on one with Gian Luca and Elisabetta. Well I was thrilled to be asked and charmed by them both so of course I accepted. I asked them how they got into the business of fragrance and discovered it is in their blood. The business has been in existence for fifty years and was founded by there father Michele Perris in Milan.  Gian Lucca entered into the industry in 1989 and Elisabetta early in this century. Talking to them I learned just how passionate they are about perfume when I asked Gian Lucca how he thought the sales for the event were going.

“That is not so important to us.” He told me. “What is important is the journey we are on. What we have learned along the way, and how much fun it is to create these beautiful perfumes.”  Now that was the answer of a true artist and visionary.

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Elisabetta and I talked about the history of gender in perfume and the changing perceptions of masculine and feminine beauty in the last five hundred years.  We both agreed that gender assignment to fragrance is a bit silly. Everyone should wear what they love. After all flowers are both male and female and the bees do the flirting and the hard work.

I discovered that Gian Luca is also an accomplished sailor in the team sport of Mach Racing. In 2007 he was awarded as helmsman of his team the UBS Match Race Award. The trophy was awarded to him by Prince Albert of Monaco. We talked a bit about sailing and he told me he learned to sail from his Father Michele who gave him his love of the sea. I told Gian Luca if he loved sailing he must take a look at the stained glass ceiling of the rotunda of Neiman’s. The rotunda and ceiling are all that remain of the old City of Paris department store that once stood on the site of Nieman’s. The central figure if the ceiling is the old City of Paris ship that brought the founder of the old department store to San Francisco from France in the 19th century and is forever commemorated in this work of art.

 Gian Luca and Prince Albert

Elisabetta and Gian both talked about how much they loved to visit San Francisco and how unique it is among American cities. We all agreed that it is very European in its style and feeling. The told me how much my city is like Monte Carlo in the fact that both cities are melting pots of many different peoples, cultures and cuisines. Throughout our talk Michal brought over patrons who were purchasing perfumes from the house of Parris. Gian and Elisabetta most kindly signed bottles for every person. One lovely woman told them how much she adores Quelques Fleurs Royale.

That reminded me as did Michal that the Perris’ also owns the house of Houbigant and 10 Corso Como. There were bottles of Quelques Fleurs, Fougere Royale (2010), Duc De Vervins, and Orange en Fleurs on the display behind us. So with their permission I asked them about there involvement in these perfumes. It was most interesting to learn how they went about recreating the famous 19th century Fougere Royale which was the first fougere in history created in 1882 and became the standard to which all fougeres are compared.

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Gian Luca told me they employed the considerable and brilliant talents of perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux who has created so many wonderful perfumes for everyone from Tom Ford to Arquiste. It was a long journey until they came to what is now Houbigant’s Fougere Royale. I asked them how they knew what the original smelled like. The Osmothèque at Versailles has samples of the perfume and were very generous in helping them in there quest to bring back this classic. Gian praised the talent and work of Rodrigo Floes-Roux and was very appreciative if his talents as an artist. You can’t speak of Houbigant without mentioning that it was the parfumeur of Marie Antoinette and it is said that during her attempted escape from Paris she had the coach stop at Houbigant to pick up a few bottles of perfume for the road. The house was also favored by Napoleon, Queen Victoria and Tsar Nicolas II of Russia.

 

Elisabetta and Gian Luca signing bottles of Perfume.

Before I left the event the wonderful Rami Zardeh who is always so welcoming and helpful in the fragrance department of Neiman’s assisted me in my purchase of a bottle of Oud Imperial. With my signed bottle of Oud Imperial in tow I bid a fond and reluctant farewell to our guests of honor and with many thanks to them and to Michal for a most wonderful afternoon of perfume, stories, and new friends. We all agreed as we shook hands that perfume has the unique ability to bring people together in the most wonderful way.

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Thank you Michal for a wonderful event!

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

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

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

LES BALLET DES PENHALIGON’S ~ Launch of Iris Prima by Penhaligon’s

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 “And there are going to be bagpipes!” I told my friend Lane when I was describing the Launch which took place yesterday by Penhaligon’s of their new fragrance Iris Prima at Saks Fifth Avenue. Sometimes I get the details a little wrong.

My two perfume guru’s Hilary Randall and Michal Gizinski had invited me to meet them downtown so that we three could go together to the opening across Union Square at Saks. I popped in a half hour early to Barney’s to pick up Hilary and to smell the newly arrived line from Atkinson’s of London.  This house has been around since 1799 and was huge in the 1800’s. It is making a comeback and reintroducing classics from its illustrious past. I will do a proper write up on this exciting launch in San Francisco another time, but be alerted that these perfumes are something very special. (they will be officially available on Wednesday the 9th of this month.)

Hilary looked incredibly beautiful in what she called “my retired ballerina look.”  And she was spectacular in along dove grey skirt with a blouse of cream colored linen and lace. She had on yards of beautiful freshwater pearls, enough to choke Coco Chanel’s chauffeur. After a few quick sniffs of Atkinson’s we headed over to Neiman’s to pick up the third member of our perfume triumvirate. Michal always gracious and elegant cut a dashing figure as he greeted us. He was and is an indispensable addition when one is in the realm of new perfumes, art, literature and general fun.

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Union Square

   As we made our way around Union Square to Saks the three of us chatted about writers, perfume and the glorious Indian summer weather we are enjoying in San Francisco. The sidewalks were packed with tourists in tee shirts, flip flops and cut offs, I noticed the three of us caused a few heads to turn in our proper go to town duds.

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  When we entered Saks there wasn’t a bagpiper in sight. But there was a ballerina! Oh Ballerinas not bagpipes! See what I mean about the details? A lovely young lady in tutu and toe shoes offered us red ribbons scented with Penhaligon’s new perfume Iris Prima. It is a light lovely scent that opens with a brief pas de deux of bergamot and pink pepper. Its signature iris is on pointe and center stage with a lovely jasmine to support it. And in the dry down the corps de ballet comes on in the form of leather, sandalwood, vetiver, amber, vanilla and benzoin. It is quite a lovely floral woody with very little austerity one usually finds in iris perfumes. I would recommend it to someone new to perfume as a soft introduction to Iris.

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As the event unfolded we met with Penhaligon’s sales and marketing director and old acquaintance Brian Kurtz. Charming as ever Brian told us about the perfume. The inspiration he told us, came from the smells of the ballet, back stage and in the dressing rooms were the magic of the theater begins each night during the ballet season.  He also filled us in about the recent launch in New York City that was super spectacular. (See the video at the bottom)

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Brian Kurtz (left) and Michal Gizinski (right) discuss the finer points of Penhaligon’s

We were then joined buy some of the gang from the Facebook group, S.F. Sniff. It was becoming a really fun party as we greeted old perfume friends from around the Bay Area. Tama Blough from Ca Fleure Bon was in attendance and sporting a cute new hairdo.  I also got to meet briefly one of my favorite YouTube reviewers Sebastian Jara from Man Loves Cologne. I also got to catch up with the beautiful and always sunny Brooke from the East Bay.  We discussed our favorite new perfumes and how much we love to shop at ZGO in the Castro.

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Music filled the air and swelled to fill Saks to the rafters.  We turned to find a line of beautiful ballerinas coming up the circular stairs for the shoe department. They presented us with a charming dance sans bagpipes. It was the perfect touch of elegance to go along with this lovely new presentation from the always innovative and exciting house of Penhaligon’s.  I am so happy that there were ballerinas instead of bagpipes!

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For all of my Bay Area readers a reminder that this Saturday at Neiman Marcus there will be the Parris Monte Carlo launch at 1pm on the main floor. Be there if you can for what will be one of the perfume highlights of the year. Be sure to say hello to Michal Gizinski our host and meet Gian Luca and Elisabetta Perris who are the guiding forces behind the exhilarating Perris Monte Carlo Perfumes. 

(The beautiful and spectatcular presentation of Iris Prima at Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan)

Penhaligon’s web site: http://www.penhaligons.com/

Sebastian’s Blog Man Loves Cologne: http://www.manlovescologne.com/

Man Loves Cologne on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/manlovescologne?feature=watch

Ca Fleure Bon: http://www.cafleurebon.com/

Atkinson’s Perfumes web site: http://www.atkinsons1799.com/

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LA SERENISSIMA WINKS ~ 10 Corso Como Uomo by 10 Corso Como

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William and Charlie always took a vacation from each other in the middle of their vacation. When they ware abroad this practice helped to keep their friendship fresh and happy while in such close quarters. On this particular trip the “Your on your own day” happened on a Wednesday and it happened in Venice.

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For there stay, William rented an apartment on the Piscina Sant Agnese near the wooden bridge on the Academia side of the Grand Canal. There was only one key to the apartment. So it was agreed on this Wednesday that one of them would hold the key and return to the apartment at two just in case the other needed to pop in to freshen up in la stanza da bagno.

Out the door and at Calle Chisea William said “goodbye” and went left and Charlie said “see you later” and went right.

“Gondola Mister?”  The handsome blond gondolier that Charlie saw every morning at Ponte San Vio called out to him and tipped his hat followed by a graceful bow that set his gondola to seductively sway at its moorings.

“Grazie no Signor.”  At one hundred fifty a pop Charlie knew it was a luxury he would have to pass up.

The gondolier winked. “Maybe domani?”

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Charlie laughed and began to whistle “Meglio Stasera” and in so doing turned his morning outing into a Pink Panther adventure sans inspector Clouseau.

At two thirty-five Charlie realized that William was most likely not coming back to the apartment. He decided to have a small glass of Lemoncello. At two forty five he had another and realized he hadn’t eaten lunch yet. At three with William a no-show Charlie headed for Campo San Barnaba for a bite of of something to soak up the Lemoncello that was making him feel just on the edge of silly.

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Sitting under a square white umbrella in the clear luminous light of the campo where years ago Katherine Hepburn fell into the canal in “Summertime” Charlie savored the best lasagna he had ever tasted.  He called the waiter over and ordered third glass of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. When the forth glass of wine was set before him he saw William coming across the campo from the Ponte dei Pugni he nearly knocked over his wine when he jumped up to wave to his friend he hadn’t seen in seven hours.

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Reunited and refreshed they each bubbled over with stories of there exciting day. Another glass of wine was ordered. After lunch they crossed the Grand Canal on a traghetto, the poor man’s gondola. Feeling a wee bit tipsy from the wine and the Lemoncello Charlie sat down to keep from re-enacting Hepburn’s tumble into the indubitably questionable waters of the Grand Canal.

“Signore! No sit!”

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By five that evening Charlie was somewhat recovered and able to stand in a traghetto, when William suggested it, he was very agreeable to a having a cocktail. Why not they were after all on vacation weren’t they? Besides that, there was an hour or three to kill before dinner. The view from the tables outside at the Accademia Foscarini Bar e Pizzeria was the money shot of the day and the friends agreed it would be a stunning spot to rest their feet and lubricate the liver. They ordered Negronis. Charlie had never seen such a huge cocktail tumbler in his life.

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The May sky which was streaked with rose and amber over the Grand Canal an hour before was now spangled with stars as they headed out to dinner at Osteria San Barnaba. Fueled with Negronis and un grande amore vivo e tutte le cose italiane, the two friends charmed the waiters at the Osteria. By one in the morning they were sharing a gasoline like drink called Grappa with their waiter Antonio and singing “Volarie” off key but with great feeling. At two A.M. Antonio bid them buona notte on the street outside the Osteria.

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Shoulder to shoulder, very fuzzy and smudged at the edges William and Charlie wandered through the sleeping city.  Suddenly they stumbled upon the immense splendor and expanse of the dark choppy Giudecca Canal. Bobbing gondolas glimmered a rich dark shellac in the moonlight. There was not a sound but for the soft slapping of the water against the stone stairs that led down into the ink blue waters.  William had fallen moodily silent and was looking intently at the wet velveteen waters as they slapped the ancient stones.

“Don’t do it.” Charlie said. “It is so beautiful and it would be a dramatic end…a death in Venice, but don’t jump in.”

William smiled. “I wasn’t thinking that, I was thinking of The Wings of the Dove.”

Charlie put his arm around his best friend. And at that moment the sky above the Giudecca exploded in a glittering shower of fireworks.

“Look William, it is all for us.”

“La Serenissima is winking.” William said softly.

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Gondoliers watch the fireworks from Venice across the Giudecca

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10 Corso Como Uomo by 10 Corso Como is a beautiful Spicy Oriental for men. The house of 10 Corso Como which is dedicated to art, fashion and design was founded in Milan by Carla Sozzani a gallery owner and publisher. It began as a gallery in 1990 and has since grown to include fashion, food and a hotel. The philosophy behind this house is to present the world of art, music, design, cuisine and fashion to reflect the inspiration of world cultures.

The perfume opens in a clear spicy zing of ginger ringing with notes of bergamot and mandarin orange. This is a lovely crisp and eye-opening scent, not shocking to the system but rather delightful and warm in its opening presentation.

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Accademia Foscarini Bar e Pizzeria

The dominant note in the perfume enters rather fast to join in the sparkle created by the ginger and as the bergamot and mandarin fade to the back this lively Pepper takes center stage. Along the way in the heart of the fragrance the peeper is joined by a shy Ylang-Ylang and a bashful jasmine. Together these two floral notes smooth the pepper and ginger out and lead the way to a really nice dry down.

In the base notes there is a clean Musk that never gets soapy but stays true along with the Cedar to a classic masculine oriental feel. This is added by a light shimmering veneer of amber and vanilla.

Overall the perfume lasts about eight hours on my skin and has a noticeable sillage in the first few hours. I must thank Michel Gizinski at Neiman Marcus for introducing me to this wonderful fragrance. Michel is an incredible ambassador of fragrance, so knowledgeable and eager to share the world of fragrance with his clients. He has been dubbed “The Nose of Union Square” and indeed he is the go to man for many San Franciscans who are into perfume. The nose knows!  And because of this lovely man, I always find myself coming back to 10 Corso Como Uomo when I am looking for something sophisticated, unusual, and neo-classical in feeling.

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10 Corso Como Uomo ~ 5 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!
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 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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