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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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***

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HAPPY 100th BIRTHDAY TO ACQUA DI PARMA COLONIA

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

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

STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET.

OVER THE TOP ORGY IN ROME! (Movie Memory)

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Che bella citta Roma! Vincent Minnelli’s “Two Weeks In Another Town” is pure glamour, trash, camp and Hollywood glitz. In other words it is great fun. Don’t go into it expecting anything more than over the top soap opera with the suds on overflow and you won’t be disappointed.

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Rome takes center stage in the film and is shown in all its “La Dolce Vita” glory of 1962. So much was happening there at this time. The birth of the paparazzi, the filming of “Cleopatra” and the international “Jet Set” had just landed in Rome to make it the fun capital of the world. The film captures all of this with high gloss and a tip of the fedora to Fellini who had first shown a light on the goings on along the Via Veneto a few years earlier.

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Kirk Douglas plays a down and out movie star just released from a mental institution / rehab center when he is invited to fly to Rome by his old director and ex friend Edward G. Robinson to take a small comeback part in his epic being filmed at the famed Cinecitta Studios. Well I don’t want to spoil the fun so all I will say is that there are plenty of gorgeous Italians running amok and lots of fabulous jewels bedecking Cyd Charisse. Tons of locations throughout the Eternal City and even an orgy! But the highlight of the film is the climactic scenic drive through the streets of Rome that Douglas takes Miss Charisse on after the orgy. That drive has to be seen to be believed! Words fail me at the sheer joy of this over wrought fun fest.

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Trust me, it isn’t anywhere near the brilliance of “The Bad and The Beautiful” of which it is a kind of follow up on, But it is beautifully bad in the very best way.
The DVD says remastered. But don’t expect Blu-ray quality, it is fine nothing spectacular in it’s re-mastering. But the color is good and the picture is clear.

***

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All those jewels and great gowns on Miss Charisse lead me to wonder what perfume her character would have worn? Well, it has to be nothing less than, Caleche Parfum by Hermes, a heady floral aldeyhyde with seductive notes of Iris, Gardenia, Jasmine, Ylang-Ylang, Sandalwood and Amber. Those are just the notes that stand out to me. A lush, even cinematicly dramatic fragrance that is perfect of a night of abandon in Rome.

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HUMMINGBIRDS IN AUGUST ~ Hummingbird by Zoologist

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At fifty-three beats per second the wings of the hummingbird warmed the air around the Honeysuckle flowers ten degrees higher than the 98.6  that was the normal temperature in most boys. Twelve-year-old Craig Thomas leaned on the window sill of his best friends Ricky De Fiore’s bedroom window watching the tiny bird flit and flutter about the yellow and fuchsia colored flowers.  Ricky sitting on one of the twin beds behind him was setting up the Monopoly board for the game they were about to play.

Clackity clang! The old swamp cooler in the back of the house complained as it tried to cool the sweltering small tract house. Then came the bang! Mrs. Di Fiore called from the kitchen where she was stewing plums, for Rickey to go out back and reattach the fan belt that keep the antiquated contraction going.  The temperature instantly began to climb in the room. Craig flung open the window scaring off the Hummingbird. He leaned out into the dry oven heat of that summer of 1962. There was not even a hint of a breeze up from Huntington Beach . Only the the smell of roses, lilacs and peony flowers that grew at the front of the house distracted Craig slightly from the sweltering August air.

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The sounds of kids playing down the street bounced of the sides of the houses on the block. The Good Humor ice-cream truck’s song floated along the curbs from three blocks away. By the eighth week of summer vacation It was all so predictable and boring. Spending every day at Ricky’s playing games and watching What’s My Line, Soupy Sales, and Rocky and Bullwinkle in the afternoon. Just about the only exciting thing to happen so far that summer was when his neighbor Mr. Ramirez got locked in his backyard bomb shelter for a week and everyone including his wife thought he had left town for another woman over in Tarzana.  Craig’s eyes drifted to the corner of Robin Avenue just as a 1955 pink Thunderbird raced around the corner. “Johnny Angel was blasting from the car radio.

Kiki Beaumont who was the prettiest girl in Westminster was behind the wheel. Most of the kids in the neighborhood thought she was cool because she had a summer job at Disneyland as Cinderella. Craig thought she wasn’t that pretty and besides, she was kind of stuck on herself. Sitting beside her, shirtless and glistening in the sun was Ricky’s brother, Tony De Fiore. Black hair still wet from the beach, tanned and muscular. He had a smile that was more dazzling than Ricky Nelson’s. And best of all, he was nice to Craig. Wispy voiced Shelley Fabares whispered “Johnny Angel” from the car radio. Craig took it all in, the car, the song, the girl, and Tony. The temperature jumped to 102.

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With an unlit cigarette clamped in his mouth Tony looked angry.  Kiki stared straight ahead expressionless beneath her sunglasses. The T-Bird purred undeterred by whatever had gone wrong at the beach. Shelley was still lamenting her Johnny Angel. Tony reached over and cut her off with an violent twist of the radio nob.

“It’s my favorite song.”  Kiki said between clenched teeth.

“I hate it. It’s stupid. They play it too much.”

“Get out of my car!”

With panther grace Tony took the cigarette from his mouth and put it behind his ear, opened the car door and rose to his five-foot eleven-and-a-half-inch glory. The sun’s rays ran like rain over his shoulders and back. His tan line peeked out just above the waistline of his black 501 jeans.

“Oh my goodness!” Craig thought. “Are they breaking up?”

“The Beach Boys rule.” Tony said with utterly cool conviction.

Blue smoke jetted from the burning tires of the T-Bird and in a shrieking streak of pink Kiki and her favorite song were gone. Tony looked down the street after her. Craig studied the back of his neck where it met the ear.  A tiny bead of sweat formed then let go to slide down to the trapezius and disappear over the edge of it to travel unseen over his chest.  The Good Humor Ice-cream song was coming around the corner.  Children ran into the street with dimes are quarters at the ready. The clackity clang sound of the swamp cooler came back on. Tony turned around and caught Craig watching him. He frowned and looked even more angry than he had in the T.Bird. The bottom of Craig’s stomach turned queasy and dropped in fear.

Then Tony smiled his teen idol smile then winked. “Girls! Why do we need them?”

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“I ah, I don’t know Tony.” Craig squeaked.  He watched as Tony walked toward the house gripped by the strange new feelings the mere sight of the seventeen-year-old teenager was causing in his heart.

“What ya looking at?” Ricky was standing behind him.

“Nothing.” Craig slammed down the window. “Let’s play Monopoly.”

  ***

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From the house of Zoologist comes a new Eau de Parfum, Hummingbird. The nose behind this fragrance is the wonderfully talented perfumer Shelley Waddington. She has in the past created some of my favorite fragrances for her own house, En Voyage.  The great neoclassic Zelda, New York Man and Fiore de Bellagio to name but three. Creator of the house of Zoologist, Victor Wong found in Shelly the perfect perfume to create this floral, gourmand laced with succulent fruity undertones.

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Perfumer Shelley Waddington

The fragrance opens in springtime beauty with a dominating lily-of-the-valley as fresh and bright a morning. There is a warmed by the sun Southern California vibe to it when the nature sweet notes of pear and juicy plum come in to play with hints of apple, cheery and citruses. Low tones of lilac rose and violet leaf add florals to set the scene in a garden any hummingbird would love.

As it progresses to the heart of the garden and the birds begin the ballet of wings and nectar as a gorgeous photo real honeysuckle opens to the air. Redolent with a honey that is natural, not cloying it is lush. Mimosa sweet and clear is joined by a luxurious full bloomed peony, this flower brings Dior like glamour to the fragrance. Full and voluminous. It enhances the other florals, the shy tulip and the sexy addictively yummy ylang-ylang. Here the garden of the hummingbirds is in full throttle glory.

At about an hour to an hour and a half the fragrance drops into a skin scent. Rich and cozy the sweetness fades into notes of woods. There is dry hay like coumarin. Cool even dryer moss, and blends of austere white woods and musk. The Amber in the scent is subtle adding a touch of warmth the way paving stones on a garden path reflect the heat of the sun at twilight. There is a creaminess in the sandalwood which is boosted by a dollop of whipped cream. Yes, whipped cream!

It takes a really well made Fruity floral gourmand to win me over as I am normally not a fan of the genre. Most are too sweet, to immature, too common in this age of sugar water passing as perfume. Yes, most hummingbirds will fall for sugar water feeders in a garden over real flowers because it is so easy. Yet there is always one or two birds with refined taste who seek out the true nectar of nature. Hummingbird by Zoologist is made of real flowers, and ripe fruit without the candy and sugar that I detest. This Hummingbird has won my heart.

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MY INTERVIEW WITH SHELLEY WADDINGTON

JOHNNY ANGEL ~ SHELLEY FABARES

AT THE WINTER PALACE ~ Melancholy No. 60/3 by Nimere Parfums

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“Paris polishes pretty young things.” Countess Zoya Semyonova poked the old Count with the end of her fan.

“What my dear?” Slumped in his chair he sputtered. In a near dozing state he did not uncross his arms and barely looked up from under his bushy grey bristle brows.

“Oh you are impossible! I was talking about Tatiana Korneva. After her parents died her Aunt Sonja took her to Paris for a year. And now at 16 just look at her. She has returned to Petersburg a woman of charm and grace.”

The Count cast his lazy eyes in the direction of the young lady under the Countess’ scrutiny.  “Oh yes the Korneva girl. Lots of money there and not so bad to look at either.”

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Tatiana Korneva

 

“Oh yes my dear!” The Countess smirked. “Let’s not forget the family fortune. It is a shame she has no title otherwise the Tsar’s son might take an interest. Well the best her Aunt Sonja can hope for is a match with a no account forgotten prince or country count further down the line.

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Tatiana and her Aunt were seated at a medium sized tea table near the French doors of the blue salon in the Winter Palace. They were taking tea with a small gathering of one hundred or so of Princess’ Anna’s closest friends. Tatiana barely knew the Princess but somehow with her Aunt’s influence found herself at the Tsar’s youngest daughters table, a rather plain girl of nearly eighteen.

“How did you find Paris? Was it lovely?” Princess Anna said in French. Punctuating her question with a sweet smile she waited for Tatiana’s response.

“Oh yes quite lovely Your Imperial Highness.” Natalie placed her tea cup onto the saucer before her. Schooled by her Aunt in Court etiquette she waited for the next question. Then without guile she blurted.  “But not as lovely at Saint Petersburg is in the winter.”  Aunt Sonja kicked Tatiana’s foot under the table.

The Princess laughed truly delighted in the girl’s boldness. “Ah yes I quite agree. Our harsh winters turn Petersburg into a wonderland. And Papa must have all those winter balls just to keep us warm. What is the theme for tonight’s ball? Oh I can’t remember. Tell me my dear, did you fall in love in Paris? The city has a reputation not unlike that of Cupid for putting pretty girls like you in romantic danger. Were there any young men who captured your heart.”

Tatiana was about to speak when she noticed a flash of gold and amber behind the Princess. She glanced to the French doors beyond her. There dressed in imperial uniforms where two men, one dark and the other blond. They were laughing and jostling each other in a contest to see who would open the door and enter first. At a flash of white teeth, the Earth’s spinning slowed to the beat of her heart. The sound of its beating filled her ears. A glint of sky blue eyes through the glass of the doors were quickly overtaken by hazel eyes, and the baritone song of the two men laughing rang out.

Tatiana quickly looked bat to the Princess. “No your Imperial Highness, I have….”   The door suddenly burst open with an explosion of laughter.  The two men nearly stumbled into the salon.   “I have never been in love.”

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Prince Pyotr

The Princess turned to the commotion behind her. “Petya! Georgiy! Whatever are you boys up to?”  The two men snapped to attention. But could not contain their smiles. Tatiana look from one handsome face to the other and could not decide which of the two men was more beautiful. There was a jolt within her chest as each of the men’s eyes carelessly passed over her. Their smiles like summer sun warmed the room turning it from blue to shimmering yellow. She blinked.

The Princess motioned the two men to her side.

“Honestly such ruffians. Ladies you all know my brother Prince Pyotr and my cousin Prince Georgiy.”  in unison the two men snapped their boots and gave a quick warm nod of the head to the ladies in general.

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Prince Georgiy

As an afterthought the Princess continued. “Oh, but I don’t believe you have met Miss Korneva. Tatiana, this is Petya and Georgiy. Two more useless boys I have never known. And look at you both. Snow on your boots and in your hair. And your uninforms are wet! Where you wrestling in the snow? And you are making a puddle on Papa precious parquet floor! Oh! I give up!”

Pyotr and Georgiy advanced around the table to Tatiana. They bowed and one and then the other took her hand to kiss. They smelled wonderful like tobacco and spices. Then in a flash of clairvoyant clarity she knew that one of them was going to make her very, unhappy. It would be the most beautiful unhappiness she would ever know. But which of the two would she love? she did not yet know.

“May I ask you Miss Korneva, are you coming to the ball tonight?” Prince Pyotr asked.

‘Yes you must Miss and promise all your dances to me.” Said Prince Georgiy.

 

 ***

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From the old Russian imperial city of St. Petersburg comes the perfume house of Nimere Parfums. The Venice of the north as it has been called was founded and built in Baroque splendor by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703.  The city is famed for great art, architecture and history. Drama and beauty are the mortar between every stone in every building of this magnificent city. It is fitting that this house founded by Parfumeur Nikolay Eremin should come from such a place.  Mr. Eremin was kind enough to send me sample of the entire line and a few vials of new works. I have to say I as supremely impressed with the wide range of options from the classical to the very modern. There is something for everyone to love from the house of Nimere.

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Perfumer Nikolay Eremin

I have spent several months as Fall melted into Winter exploring the line. And at one point broke a vial of Eva while opening it and thus cutting a finger in the process. So that fragrance which I loved was lost to memory as it spilled over my desk.  The challenge for me was to narrow down the remaining fragrances to those I truly fell in love with. Among those were Sweet Kiss, a coconutty sweet rich perfume, Melancholy No. 60/3, Time Stood Still No.81 an animalic classically sexy fragrance, Killing Beauty, No Name H.M #2 (a new perfume) and Court Intrigues a masculine beauty smelling of leather boots freshly polished, spices and dry austere woods.  What I landed on finally for this review was Melancholy No. 60/3

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Founder of St. Petersburg, Tsar Peter The Great

   The perfume was inspired by a great love story of  between King Edward VIII and Wallace Simpson. In particular, the love letters from Wallace to the king. (some of which were scented with spilt perfume) For me this perfume registers in the olfactory sense of the beauty of classic perfumes from the late 1800’s to the late 1930’s. Complex, hypnotic in the way the perfume unfolds and blooms on the skin. The life it has on the skin is sensual, romantic and slightly dangerous and naughty. It is in fact everything that a love affair possesses.

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Melancholy No,. 60/3 opens with a fresh spicy Indian Calamus, this note embraces with a carmine red, languorous Saffron from an Eastern Bazaar. It smells expensive right off the top. A rich exotic, near erotic opening that would have shocked the more prudish noses of the early 20th century. Without the traditional citrus in the opening this perfume has flesh impact. It is an erotic invitation to plunge head long into the sensual.

The heart of the fragrance is indigo in color shot through with gold treads like a veil from the far East. And like a veil it floats in floral rhapsodic blending of purple iris earthy and low. A powdery lighter purple of the more elevated violet. jasmine like nuances of a golden Ylang Ylang are tied deep into a green lush Palmarose note. Over this and rising from some deep desire buried and smoldering deep within Melancholy rises tendrils of heady incense. As it develops the florals are enhanced to near intoxicated perfection by this mysterious smoke.  The flowers are in fact by the arrival of the dry down, drunk on the incense.

In the final stage of the perfume we find a fascinating and quite crowed house of notes. Woods from the Cedar, Guayak, Sandalwood, and the Araucaria tree. More commonly know as a Monkey Puzzle Tree. These woods give the romantic feminine side of the perfume a strong twist toward the masculine. And that is nice because if makes the fragrance all the more interesting. There is a great patchouli here as well as a dry Nagarmotha (related to papyrus) the classic Oak Moss and vetiver vie for supremacy but are mellowed out my creamy not too sweet vanilla, and its cousin Tonka bean. All of this in the dry down is made all the more stunning by the soothing amber beauty of  Tolu Balsam. The perfume lasts on my skin around a good solid seven hours. the projection is at about eighteen to twenty five inches for around three hours. then if falls in upon itself to become an invitation at skin level.

Whatever story you find in Melancholy No. 60/3, be it the forbidden love of a king for a commoner or the fresh first stirrings of erotic young love this perfume is something truly lovely. More beautiful that I can describe it brings me back to my tiny vial seeking yet another story, another romance to explore, to burn out, lose and find again in my ongoing love affair with Perfume.

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You can contact Niemere Parfums on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/NimereParfums/

Or email Nikolay Eremin for sales information at: ereminn75@mail.ru

THE ROOF OF THE WORLD ~ Jasmin Rouge by Tom Ford

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Annapurna Massif Panorama

An explosion of laughter came over the gun barrels sending a damp chill up Lily Chu’s back. The voice belonged to a short rough man dressed not as Chinese military but in mountain garb of a Nepalese bandit. He was clean shaven and wore wire rimmed glasses.   A trickle of clammy sweat escaped Lily’s temple and ran down her jaw to her neck.

“Your horses and escort await my old friend!” the bandit spoke like an Eaton College man.

“Aatish! So you found us after all, I was beginning to doubt that you would make it over the border undetected by the Chinese. “

Lily turned eyes wide to her British protector. “You know this man?”

“He winked at her. Like I said, you will need your mink. Come on!”  They were surrounded by the small band of men and lead away from the truck and into the dark foothills.

“Whos is he? How did he find Us? How did ….Wait!” She ran after him determined to get an answer.

Hours later just before dawn Lilly, wrapped up in her mink under which was a dirty stinking pair of men’s trousers, a wool shirt that itched and Yak hat, clung to the neck of mountain horse as they approached the border from China to Nepal. She dared not look down into the gorge below. If she did she was sure she would faint.  The hooves of the horse ahead of her clattered on the rough stones sending loose rocks plunging to the river below, the wind howled and whipped around her with the ferocity of an irate yeti.

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At a somewhat wider part of the mountain path her companion rode up next to her giving her horse a start. Lily buried her face in the horses main and held on even tighter.

“What are you doing?”

He laughed without humor. “Relax we are fine…for now.”

“For now?”

He pointed to the rope suspension bridge ahead. “On the other side  is Nepal. We will walk over, then the horses will be brought over by the smallest men. You must be very quiet. There may be Chinese solders about. Aatish thinks we are being followed. They more likely than not just might try to shoot us off the bridge. We have to get across before the Sun comes over the ridge and makes us even better targets.” Lilly followed his eyes up and up to the highest point of the highest mountains she had ever seen. Ice and snow made pink in the pre-dawn glow loomed in impersonal splendor.

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When they reached the bridge the wind was at its most ferocious. She could hear the cry of discernable pain from the ancient ropes as they strained to hold the swaying contraption together. The floor of the bridge was of wooden slats that did not meet or touch. She looked down only once through the cracks.”

Lily hesitated.

“You can do it.” He said. “After all, I promised you a bath in perfume on the other side.”

She looked at him with a smile of brave relief. “Yes you did and I am keeping you to your promise.”

He smiled back. Suddenly the sound of a galloping horse from the rear of the line and shouts echoed off the cliffs surrounding them.

“RUN! The Chinese are behind us!” Aatish yelled.

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Their horses raced the short distance to the bridge. Lily jumped from her mount onto the narrow ledge she was too frightened to be afraid. She looked back to see a line of mounted Chinese soldiers just coming around the last bend along the sheer cliff side. The British man took her by the hand and together they charged onto the bridge. Gun fire erupted, bullets ripped into the frayed ropes. There were distressing pings and snapping sounds like strings on a huge cello snapping. The bridge lurched and began to swing violently just as the first rays of the sun hit the far side of the gorge.

 

 ***

Tom Ford’s lush oriental fragrance Jasmin Rouge from the private blend collection is something a mix of romance and danger, an enveloping adventure.  Crated in 2011 by one of my favorite noses Rodrigo Flores-Roux who is also known for his beautiful works for Carlos Huber’s Arquiste line. A few of his creations being among my favorites are Fleur de Louis and Flor y Canto which I have reviewed previously. Also I have a weakness for the stunning Oeillet Bengale by Aedes de Venustas and so many more. He is a truly great modern olfactory artist.

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(Rodrigo Flores-Roux)

What he has created her is a lush voluptuous romantic poem of superlative blending, a perfume that opens with the clear rose hues of dawn and flowers into the full rush of dazzling Jasmin, amber and leather beauty. Exotic and enticing it floats and flows about the body like an entwining spell. It has a classism that speaks to me and that I have not found in many Tom Ford presentations.

The opening is bright with bergamot, and mandarin. These citrus notes are sprinkled with the king of ancient spices, cinnamon, and a springy sharpened ginger note. Upon his lively opening is added an aromatic cardamom, black and white pepper top of the top with a zing.

In the mid notes we have the eponymous Jasmine. This is a Sambac Jasmine that comes from the Himalayas. This sweet flower from Nepal, India and Bhutan is also used in tea. Here in Jasmine Rouge the white flower, the queen of perfumery is married with exotic yellow ylang ylang, golden Spanish Broom, neroli blossoms that keep the bright glow of the opening going along with the aid of a dry Clary Sage. Arberous, leathery and with a hint of lavender this Clary Sage sets us up for what is to come. This blending brings out sense of high drama in low tones, it whispers promises and desires too deep to explore and yet draws you onward to the denouement of the fragrance.

The base is brilliant. The voluptuous sensuality of a ripe labdanum is rubbed deep into the almost boozy amber. Warmed by the skin the leather here is thick and sensual and rises with the pulse point heat to warm a rich delectable Mexican Vanilla…and still there is the hint of cinnamon that only enriches the entire dry down. There is an infusion of arid wood notes that give the perfume a decidedly austere and very elegant finale.

The longevity for me is about 6 hours at full bloom and then becomes a skin scent for another six hours, I put it on at 6 p.m. on my last wearing and the next morning at 6 a.m. the fragrance still lingered on my wrists.  The sillage is moderate at about 18 inches. It becomes a skin scent me at about two hours.

Overall a delightful sexy experience can be found here in Jasmin Rouge. Strong enough for a femme fatal and butch enough or her intended hero.

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CARELESS BEAUTY ~ Cologne Intense by Houbigant

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She was taken aback. “Who?”

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

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

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

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Photograph JOEL SAGET

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

“Madame my I go for my lunch early?”

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

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

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   ***

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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WINTER IN ROME ~ Mandarine Glaciale by Atelier Cologne

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

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

“Alberto, stop the car.”

“But Signora there is no parking here.”

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

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

“I don’t care, Stop the car!”

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photo by Giorgio Clamenti

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

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

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

“This way, come this way….”

 

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

“This way, come this way…”

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

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

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

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***

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

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

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

The nose behind this stunning fragrance is Burgundy born Jérôme Epinette

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

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

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

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Mandarine Glaciale Five Gold Stars *****

A SPLASH OF CAPRI ~ Smashingly Brilliant by Diana Vreeland

  DV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“You smell like Capri Diana.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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(Reed and Diana Vreeland)

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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UNA NOTTE A ROMA ~ Le Gemme Bvlgari Haute Parfum

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Slick and glittering of ruby and emerald reflected from the traffic lights, the Via Veneto was empty after the predawn spring rain. Nick Abbot walked down the steps of the Excelc6ior Hotel and trough the porte-cochère filled with the thrill of his first morning in Rome. He could not sleep from the excitement that keep waking him to whisper “five days in Rome…why are you sleeping?”

On the sidewalk near to where he remembered Marcello had returned Ekberg to the Hotel in black and white a half a century or more ago, he smiled. It really was Rome…and it felt like coming home.  He looked up the street. Café de Paris was half hidden by the sycamore trees its sapphire blue neon swirling. The sidewalk before it held the memory of Valentino as a youth bumping into destiny and Giancarlo Giammetti on that very spot.

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Beyond was the ancient Porta Pinciana gate in the Aurelian walls that opened onto the Borghese gardens. He crossed the street and just past the Fellini plaque he turned down the Via Ludovisi.

A Ferrari convertible sped past sending a spray of water up from the street. Caught momentarily in the headlights the water arched over the sidewalk and became spray of diamonds as they fell in slow-motion into a pool of shimmering platinum. The woman driving waved to him her fingers fluttering bejeweled in amethyst. In the rear view mirror He caught her smile, so like Claudia Cardinale’s.  He walked on not knowing where he was going. He just wanted to feel and smell and embrace the city he had waited forty nine years to come home to at last.

The only sound was the click of his heels on the cobblestones.

“Marcello! Where are you?”

At the sound of her voice he stopped and turned in front of the Villa Maraini? Silence, only silence. The kind that only exists in a city as it breathes slowly in and out as it sleeps.  There was no one behind him. He walked on past the Hotel Eden and turned left along via Francesco Crispi. The sidewalk became narrow and kept him close to walls washed in citrine and terracotta. A shutter opened across the street as he turned the corner onto via Sistina and he caught a glimpse of a dark woman. She looked down at him and laughed and shutters closed. That laugh was so familiar. He stopped…wait a minute. He knew that laugh and that dark beautiful face. Anna Magnani! But that was impossible. He laughed softly, it must be jet lag he thought and walked on toward the obelisk up ahead. At the Hassler the street opened onto a small piazza.

“There you are! We have been waiting for you.”

He turned to see young Monica Vitti standing in front of the spinning gold and glass revolving doors of the Hassler. Smoking a cigarette, she was black and white film incarnate. No color except for spectacular Technicolor diamond and emerald necklace which she touched lightly with her right hand. There was a matching ring. And likewise the earrings danced from her ears matched the entire suite. She dropped her cigarette onto the cobblestones and walked right through him. Astonished Nick turned to watch as the Italian star skipped in her evening gown to meet Alain Delon who was waiting in the shadow of the obelisk.

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“I can’t believe……” Nick’s heart skipped five beats as he saw them walk to a flight of stairs then disappear down them. He ran to the stairs and was stunned by his first sight of the Spanish Steps as they tumbled and spilled before him down to the Piazza di Spagna.

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The celluloid phantoms of Vitti and Delon were gliding down the steps toward the Via dei Condotti. Nick stepped down onto the first marble step worn by centuries of those who walked before him. The air became light, and the sound of Nino Rota’s music filled the sky as the first touch of dawn rose at the top of the steps over the Trinità dei Monti . Nick was near euphoria as he moved down and down amid a parade of cinema dreams. Ingrid Bergman passed on his right carrying a parasol…from her neck hung diamonds to dazzle the most jaded eye. She smiled at Nick. From his left came Virna Lisi dripping in scintillating stones she smiled into his eyes. As she passed him she caressed his chin with the tip of a finger and priceless rubies winked from her ears. Legends from every era of film came and went as he descended. Joan Collins in black pearls, Sharon Stone in gold, Grace Kelly in sapphires, Romey Schenider resplendent in amethyst. Audrey Hepburn met him half way down and took his arm. She was eating a gelato on a cone and held it out to him to take a taste. It was like nothing he had ever tasted before. Audrey then led him to the bottom of the Spanish Steps to the man waiting below. She kissed his cheek and vanished in swirl of stars.

Richard Burton stood before him. As he turned to lead the way he spoke as only he could in that baritone made in heaven at Shakespeare’s suggestion.

“’We will have rings, and things, and fine array’”

Nick followed unbelieving and wanting to go on forever in whatever magic this was.

Richard Burton stopped half way down the first block and turned. He smiled.

Nick looked up at the building. One word over the door. BVLGARI.

“That is the only word Elizabeth knows in Italian.”  Burton said.

The music stopped, the street was deserted …they were all gone except for Nick.

A touch of breeze up from the Tiber tosseled his hair and whispered in his ear.

“Welcome to Rome.”

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  ***

The new haute perfume collection of perfumes by Bvlgari is inspired by the iconic stones for which the Roman jewelry house is famous for. Six fragrances from six stones that create what Bvlgari calls “The Bvlgari Gems Road”.

The collection is called Le Gemme (The Gems) and it is something to celebrate.  The house known for adorning the necks, ears, wrists and fingers of most if not all of the legends of the 20th century and beyond has in the past impressed us with such fragrances as the amazing Bvlgari Black, The Jasmine Noir collection, The Aqua collection and Bvlgari Man collection and Omnia.  But with this new and very exclusive release the house is concentrating on perfumes that represent the very core of the Bvlgari brand. The soul of chic that is Bvlgari jewelry.

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First in the lineup is Ashlemah, (sweet dreams) is based on the amethyst. A stone associated with divinity, spirituality and purity. This perfume is the aristocrat of the line. It is highly sophisticated in nature and wears on the skin with regal beauty. Purple after all is the color of kings. The notes are lavender essence, Iris absolute and musk. No muddle of too many symphonic notes but rather a chamber piece of clarity and beauty. It opens in Lavender but the star in the evening sky is the imperial cool beauty of a lovely iris note. This is held aloft on the skin by a clean clear musk.

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Sunlight over Capri, Joy and la dolce vita are what we find in our second fragrance Maravilla (delight / marvelous ). The stone that we explore here is the golden Citrine, the stone of intelligence, and sunny disposition. In fact this chypre fragrance is my favorite of the line, bright, effervescent and shooting light and joy right off the skin. This is a lemon grove hugging the cliffs along the Amalfi Coast. The notes of Italian Lemon tree, Orange flower absolute are married to a playful and yet grounded rich patchouli. Again just three major notes and what a magic marriage of notes these three are. The patchouli with the two citrus notes is a brilliant move by the perfumer Daniella Andrier who is the nose for the entire collection. It is woodsy and warm. This will be a huge summer and spring hit.

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Mystery and solitude are Calaluna, the moonstone. The goddess, this stone is associated with magnetism, and intuition. Calaluna is also a beautiful isolated bay on the island of Sardinia. Azure waters and white warm sands are the signature of this place where the cliffs dotted with caves falls it the sea. This fragrance of White Iris, almond flavored Heliotrope and Sandalwood is warm and lonely. Not the sad kind of lonely but the self-possessed solitude of one who lives comfortably in one’s own skin. This is a very contemplative fragrance. When I wear it I feel the doors of introspection and discovery unlock and open before me. Truly beautiful, and again only three notes that blend to do all of this. Less is becoming the minimalist’s everything. That everything embodied here is the pinnacle of cool and chic.

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Lilaia was a Naiad of Spring to the Greeks and Romans. A fresh water nymph and daughter of the river Kephisos. She also lends her name to this green fresh fragrance by Bvlgari. Lilaia is inspired by the green Peridot a gem of rebirth and change. So fittingly this is a beautiful aromatic slightly fruity perfume. The notes are Galbanum, Mastic absolute, mint, bitter orange and musk. The Mastic give the aromatic resinous galbanum a full round lushness of a green Mediterranean forest of pine and cedar like accords. This to me smells like the umbrella pines on the Palatine hill in Rome. There in the Farnese gardens at the top of the hill just before you enter the ruins of the imperial palaces there is an overlook perched over the Forum. At that spot, under those umbrella pines you are enveloped in the most wonderful woody green scent. This to me is where Lilaia now lives singing her song in harmonious lovely notes.

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The Pink Tourmaline is a spitfire stone from Brazil, and at Bvlgari they call her, Amarena. In Italian, Morello Cherry. She is all about heat and glamour and a big bold flower in her hair. This fragrance sambas on the skin to a wonderful tune created by the notes of Amarena Cherry, Violet, Rose Centifolia and Tuberose. This is a glamorous floral that becomes more entrancing after the sun sets. In fact there is a rather playful war of the roses going on here. A tug of war between the temperamental rose and the heavy lidded languorous tuberose. But as you move into the fragrance the two kiss and make up ending in a rather intricate sexy tango. For a winter seduction under the stars in the Borghese gardens wrapped in chinchilla. Well look no further, is your arsenal of love.

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From across the empire and beyond the deserts of the Middle East came spices and the rarest of gems to tantalize and intoxicate the aristocrats and emperors of Rome. For thousands of years and to this day the markets of Rome such as the open air market at the Campo de’ Fiori are filled with wonderful smells. Here in the last presentation of Le Gemme, Bvlgari dazzles us with the exotic Noorah. Inspired by the Silk Road between China and Rome one particular stone made its way through the East to the capital on the Tiber. That stone was Turquoise. Noorah means the “exuberance of the heavens” and what a perfect name for this exotic sensual perfume. Galbanum, cardamom, and vanilla found in the markets of Rome are lush and interesting here in the opening. I pick up a rich sweet tobacco note along with the very intriguing note of candied dates from Arabia. The caravan from Petra has arrived! This one when it first hits the skin is a bit biting but settles down nicely into a warm embracing and very inviting scent.

I found it interesting with each fragrance in the line that they vary in intensity and each as it should for what it is. Some lighter as in the Maravilla and others bold and deep such as in Amarena. With them all I found the longevity to range from good to excellent. The most interesting aspect of that would be that at about five or so hours they seemed to die but then about twenty minutes later they bloomed anew. I found that delightful. In all they last between eight to twelve hours on my skin. Projection is fine Amerena being the one to push out the most. So there is, in this respect something to please almost any taste in that regard. Marketed to women for the most part they all, to me work well as unisex scents. So fellows don’t be shy, step up and try some truly wonderful fragrances to wear with that great Bvlgari watch.

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The line is making its U.S. debut this month April 2015 in a select number of Bloomingdales across the country. As for Europe I am under the impression it has already launched. The beautiful Bvlgari 6-piece Collection box of 10ml sprayers is available at $260. A 30ml bottle retails at $155 and the 100ml bottle at $310

Le Gemme Bvlgari collection has been a joy to explore. A wonderful olfactory journey though the past and present along a road paved with jewels, gems and memories.

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A KING AND ALL THEM JEWELS ~ DECO DIAMONDS by DSH Perfumes

DSH

“Stop!”  May Morton screeched.

The dead fish in Ruthie Brown’s hand hovered over her head waiting to be slammed onto the front page of the London Times.

“Would you look at that luv…she looks so…frail.”

Ruthie look at the black and white photograph of The Duchess of Windsor in her widow’s weeds captured by some paparazzi as she looked out of a window of Buckingham palace.

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“Poor thing. Well she is finally where she wanted to be…in the palace. The Duke had to die to get her in. but there she is. ”

“Awww feel sorry for her do ya luv?” Ruthie said as she oddly and gently laid the flounder on the visage of the former Wallis Simpson of Baltimore Maryland. “Well I don’t.” she sneered and roughly wrapped the fish up.  “She got what she wanted. A King and all them jewels. Feel sorry all ya want May Morton but that woman nearly brought down the monarchy. I am with the Queen Mum when she said the two people who caused her the most trouble were Wallis Simpson and Hitler.”

As May Morton hurried out of Billingsgate fish market she passed a news stand. There one the front page of every newspaper and tabloid was the same sad photograph of the Duchess and that solitary crow. May paused to look at the photo. What was it like to be her she wondered? “A King…and all them jewels.” She whispered.

~

Wallis didn’t notice in the slightest the black crow on the balcony of the Villa Lou Viei where she was in hiding and safekeeping after the scandal broke in England the winter of 1937.

Her friend Katherine Rogers put a hand on her elbow. “Do you want to listen to it on the radio?”

“What did you say?” Wallis  turned from the open French doors toward the darkness of the villa’s interior.

“Lord Brownlow is going to read your statement of willingness to give up the King.”

Wallis’ eyes narrowed as her platinum spine stiffened giving her a more regal bearing. She looked down at the circlet of perfect Cartier diamonds and emeralds on her wrist, a gift from David.

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“No… I would rather be alone for a bit if you don’t mind.” She smiled. Katherine nodded and faded into the dark interior.  As Wallis stepped out in to the warm December sun of the South of France the crow watched her with his own rather regal eye as black and cold as obsidian.

Would he call? Would he stop her from leaving him? Or would she be left with only his glittering gifts of iced stones? Would the gamble pay off? The British Empire was collapsing and now many thought she was a part of that. She was sure now that his choice was either her or the throne.  But not both. It could never both.

Would she win?

The haunted call of the crow cut into her thoughts. She turned to see it jump for its marble perch and soar out over the cypress trees toward the Mediterranean. Absently she stroked the diamonds and emeralds on her wrist with the tips of her fingers and thought for the very first time of them as her children.

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    ***

Deco Diamonds by the dazzling Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH perfumes is part of her Brilliant Collection. These fragrances were created in conjunction with the Denver Art Museum’s Cartier Exhibit in 2014-15. The first of the four perfumes, Fumee D’or evokes the workroom of the famed French jewelry house.  The remaining three in The Brilliant Collection were inspired by three icons of glamour who wore Cartier with flair and style. Jacinthe de Sapphir was inspired by Marie the Queen of Romania who owned a Cartier sapphire bigger than the Ritz! Rubis Rose was inspired by the Cartier suite of ruby and diamonds given to Elizabeth Taylor by her first great love, Mike Todd. And the last Deco Diamonds found its inspiration in the cold and glittering glamor of the Duchess of Windsor.

Each of the perfumes in this line also are created in the style and manner of perfumes from the era each woman reigned as a jewelry icon. Dawn has a great talent in creating and an essential understanding of the classics and history of perfume which informs and illuminates her art above and beyond most independent niche houses. This is a perfume of the Jazz Age. As hot as Louis Armstrong’s trumpet solos from the sweltering midnight of Roseland Ballroom and as elegant and sophisticated as George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue as it lifted the roof off of Aeolian Hall in 1924. This is a delicious aldehydic jazz age cocktail that sings and swings.

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(Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and The Denver Art Museum)

The notes are classically composed and unfold as beautifully as any great perfume from the 20’s and 30’s would. Aldehydes are the shooting stars of the perfume… a meteor shower of glorious glamour augmented by sparking neroli and galbanum and a ripe wet fleshy peach. . And of course the flowers are so very artfuly arranged, gardenia, jasmine, honeysuckle dance a sensuous fox trot around an imperious and lush tuberose. But what gives the perfume the gravity of a classic is the addition of not one animalic note but two. Civet and hyrax frolic with a touch of nasty abandon though out the perfume. There is a lush symphonic dry down of jasmine sambac, ambergris, and sandalwood. All wrapped up in a great oak moss.

The perfume lasts a good long time on my skin. About 10 hours or so. This is in part due to Dawn’s understanding that the natural notes she uses from natural sources need a synthetic frame to support them. Like the structure of DNA the synthetic notes she uses hold the natural notes in perfume together and give then a longer life. A lesson taught early in the 20th century buy such perfumers as Ernest Beaux and not forgotten by smart perfumers of today.

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The sillage is as bold and commanding as the Duchess of Windsor was. To wear this perfume is to say that you are a person who knows what they want out of life and how to get it. This is a perfume of confidence that isn’t afraid to be strong and stylish.  This bold strength gives Deco Diamonds a masculine edge that I find very appealing. That kind of unisex bravado one finds in many stars of the 1930’s who donned slacks and made them fashionable for women.  To put simply, this is a perfume that, like the Duchess of Windsor wears the pants in the family.

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