BEAR WITH ME ~ 24 Old Bond Street by Atkinsons 1799

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The coach for London, top heavy with luggage and all but two of its passengers clinging to the roof seats trounced violently south from Cumberland. It swayed and dipped like HMS Brunswick in a storm causing all topside to take on a very unflattering shade of Neptune green. All aboard were extremely relived to see at long last London appear along the hazy horizon. A Miss Herbert thanked God silently into her handkerchief and the country Parson beside her let loose a curse of such vulgarity that the coachman blushed.

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The reason for all this discomfort and the subjects of the Parson’s curse were traveling quite comfortably in the compartment below.

A young gentleman with all his dreams of success in the capital wrapped up in his breast pocket inside his treasured floral recipes. A tub of rose scented bear grease balm separated him from a large ferocious looking Bear. The young gentleman’s name was James Atkinson and the bear was George.

“I still say James I should have sat up on the roof.”  George said being quite the gentleman bear. “That poor lady up there in the wind and the rain, you know she lost her bonnet along with her breakfast just past High Wycombe and it’s all because of me.”

James smiled at his very best furry friend who, it should be noted only spoke to him when no one else was around.  “It’s not your fault that people do not trust that you are quite well behaved in company George. Oh I say! Look! You can see the spires of the city!”

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They each popped there heads out of the windows on either side of the carriage to get a better look.  Miss Herbert who just happened to look down at that moment let out a shriek at the sight of George and promptly fainted onto the Parson’s lap. A farmer in the flanking field dropped his scythe and rubbed his eyes at the sight of a bear in the passing coach.

“Are you excited James?” George asked as they both settled back into there quite comfortable seats.

“You know I am George. An entire new life is waiting for us in London. Together you and I will create a new world of bouquets for the ladies and gentlemen of quality. The old Eau de Colognes of the Continent will rule England no more.”  He patted his breast pocket.

“I have faith in you my friend and I know that together, you and I will take the city by storm.”  George said with a growly grin.

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And in due course James and George did even better than their dreams dictated. Within weeks at their new shop at 44 Gerard Street the pomades, balms and fragrances created form James recipe book began to catch attention. It was George who stood by the door and greeted every patron and in so doing created a sensation. But the real stars of the day were the new and very British fragrances created by James Atkinson.

For London society it became quite the most popular thing to “Brave the Bear” and visit the perfume shop. There they sampled and wore such delights as The British Bouquet, The Sandringham Bouquet, Woodland Bouquet. And over time the luminaries of the age became patrons of James Atkinson. Beau Brummell the first Dandy of the day, was a fan and in turn introduced Atkinsons to his friend the Prince of Wales who was also called George (Prinny to his nearest and dearest)

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“A little too much powder your Majesty…”

In 1826 Prinny who was now King George IV granted a royal warrant to Atkinsons making it the perfumer to the King and Court. There is a rumor that at this time the gentleman bear George was presented at court where at the royal ball he danced with the seven year old Princess Victoria. It is reported that she said many years later of the encounter. “We found Georgie to be quite fuzzy and a fine dancer.”

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Young Victoria

In very fact the young Queen Victoria, whose wedding bouquet inspired the creation of The Nuptial Bouquet by James was enamored of Atkinsons. Napoleon was a fan boy. By 1832 when the new shop at 24 Old Bond Street opened  others who fell under the olfactory spell where the Who’s who of the 19th century, Duke of Wellington, Admiral Nelson, Lady Hamilton, Prince Tomasi Di Lampedusa, Queen Margherita di Savoia, the Tsarina of Russia and Sarah Bernhardt.

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That Hamilton woman and Lord Nelson

They caused a scandal but they smelled great doing it.

When George the gentleman bear passed from the realm in 1835 everyone who mattered attended the funeral at St. Paul’s. He had come to London with his friend James find fame to make there fortunes. And indeed that’s exactly what they accomplished. The fantasy became real and the reality became legend.

Isn’t it amazing what a man and a bear can do?

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ATKINSONS BEAR

It is very exciting to discover that the famous and venerated old British perfumery of Atkinsons founded in 1799 is reborn in a re-launch of the house this year. The line has just arrived at Barney’s NY in San Francisco and I was amazed by the beauty of each and every one of the five fragrances in the line. They are as follows, (The Legendary Collection) The Odd Fellows Bouquet, The Nuptial Bouquet, The British Bouquet, Fashion Decree Woman, and from the Emblematic Collection, 24 Old Bond Street.

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24 Old Bond Street is a gorgeous Oriental, smart, and captivating fragrance.  Sartorial beauty and elegance are the order of the day with this masculine Eau de Cologne. It opens with a bracing, invigorating blast of Gin like Juniper that sinks swiftly into a mellow tea note. Here we are reminded of the British Raj and a time when the colonial empire turned under an ever shining British sun. This tea spiced with juniper melts into a lovely subtle English rose bringing a touch of Tudor spring to the elixir. With the tea at the fore and the rose and juniper at the aft we stay here for a comforting while until from below comes a lovely boozy whisky. This is a fine whisky note aged in old English oak barrels, to a rich smoky beauty. Whisky and cigars in a Mayfair gentleman’s club is the final scene we are left with in the dry down.

The entire life of the cologne is brief but glorious. It is after all an Eau de Cologne in the old style and one should not expect a wild bear of a fragrance. This bear is a gentleman not a beast. The sillage is moderate and I in fact like it that way. 24 Old Bond Street is a ideal after bath or shower cologne that will add a perfectly executed beginning to any gentleman’s (or ladies) toilet. It also comes in a Bath and Shower Essence, a body lotion, soap and scented candle.  It is a personal and up-close eau de cologne that inspires confidence and maybe a bit of romance as well.

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Atkinsons at Harrods London

borrowed from Atkinsons Facebook page

So if you are in the mind to “Brave the Bear” do visit Atkinsons 1799 and explore this marvelous historical house re-borne.

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24 OLD BOND STREET ~ FIVE GOLD STARS *****

ATKINSONS WEB PAGE: http://www.atkinsons1799.com/

LIKE THEM ON FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Atkinsons-1799/176796825822798

FALL FRAGRANCE FUN! ~ A Day With S.F. Sniff

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Saturday October 19th was the semi-annual meeting of the fragrant Facebook group known as SF Sniff. The day started off for me at 8:30 am at Café de la Presse where I met Hilary Randall for breakfast. Lovely Laura my new favorite waitperson at Café de la Presse (and in all of San Francisco in general) took great care of us. Café de la Presse is my morning hang out on weekends when I am downtown. With its authentic Parisian ambiance and the incredible magazine stand in its center it is like a slice of Paris with American waitpersons. They are so attentive bright and cheery at the Café and serve in double time the best breakfast in town. (The almond croissants are killer!)

I walked Hilary to work at Barney’s (we would see her later on) and then headed over to Fresh on Grant Avenue to meet up with the SF Sniff gang.

Our itinerary for the day was Fresh, Gump’s, Hermes, Diptyque, the Chanel Boutique then a break for lunch (a scrumptious ironic twist back to Café de la Press). After lunch we hit Neiman’s, and finished off with a real party at Barney’s where we ran into Mario Gomez and his partner and Mik of Mik Moi and his soon to be (this coming Monday) husband Jasper. We wound down the day at the fabulous food court at San Francisco Center. To my surprise everyone pulled out bags of samples and unwanted perfumes and there was a huge swap! Our feet may have been barking like dogs but our hearts were full of friendship, joy and the mutual love of great perfumes.

I got to meet some old fragrance acquaintances from SF Sniff and some new ones too including Sebastian Jara from Man Loves Cologne dot com. I have to thank our great leader of SF Sniff Tama Blough for organizing the event and being ever graceful and charming throughout our olfactory adventure. And we could not have had all that fun with out the glowing, welcoming participation of everyone at the stores we hit, including Hilary, Christina, Chase, and Sue at Barney’s as well as Irene, Rami, Suzetta and Fati at Neiman’s. And the wonderful folks at Diptyque were a highlight  And of course a very special shout out and tip of the hat to the entire team at Fresh who gave us not only tea and cookies but a spectacular beginning to our fragrant journey across the perfume palaces of San Francisco.

What follows is a photo essay of the epic ten and one half hour day.

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GRANT AVE. EARLY MORNING

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THE MANNEQUINS WORE PRADA

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THE DRAGON GATE ENTRANCE TO CHINATOWN

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MARATHON RUNNERS ON GRANT AVE.

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THE BEST PLACE TO GET FRENCH AND ITALIAN MAGAZINES

CAFE DE LA PRESSE

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THE ENGAGINGLY BEAUTIFUL HILARY

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MY FAVORITE MADEMOISELLE LAURA

FIRST STOP, FRESH!

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TAMA, TEA, AND COOKIES AND FABULOUS FRAGRANT FRIENDS!

WHAT COULD BE BETTER?

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IF I AM NOT MISTAKEN THIS IS TRISH FROM FRESH WHO WAS SO HELPFUL

AND INFORMATIVE ABOUT THE FRESH LINE.

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HERMES

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CHANEL

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ALEXANDER SAMPLES DIPTYQUE, SEBASTIAN FELL IN LOVE WITH VOLUTES.

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A PEEK AT BULGARI! ON THE WAY TO NEIMAN’S a9o

THE DOORS WERE WIDE OPEN FOR US AT DIOR.

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SMELLING THE ATKINSONS LINE AT BARNEY’S NEW YORK.

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THE SWAP!

IN THE END WE ALL GOT TO GRAB SOMETHING WONDERFUL.

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PHOTO STOLEN FROM B.B. BAIRD (FORGIVE ME SWEETIE?)

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

Sebastian’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZZFHNMNvhKOefgISblmxuw

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.

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   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)

LES DAMES DE GUERLAIN ~ A Special Event at the Guerlain Boutique

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The last time I saw Paris was in May of 2006. I have wanted to return to the beautiful Parisians and their ville de lumière ever since. Yesterday I discovered that my wish was to be granted for a few hours at least. Paris had come to San Francisco.

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Several weeks ago my friend Hilary Randall, Fragrance Specialist; Trainer at Parfums Christian Dior took me over to the Guerlain counter at Neiman Marcus to smell a hidden treasure. There she introduced me to the very charming and vivacious Guerlain sales associate Irene. I was struck at once by this transplanted Parisian’s impeccable charm. Hilary explained to Irene that she wanted me to smell the two remaining bottles of Le Deserts de Orient Series. Irene bubbled with excitement to share the treasure behind her counter and with a smile she took me by the hand and led the way. Her smile is like a blond halo and so infectious that I was smitten on the spot by this very engaging woman.

Irene explained that a very special client had ordered a bottle of Song d’un Bois d’Ete and by lucky chance Paris had sent all three of the line. With great and tender care Irene dipped a long glass stem into the bottles of each and opened the gates of paradise before me.

During our sampling of the perfumes Hilary told Irene about Scents Memory. Upon hearing this Irene invited me to a very special Guerlain event that would consist of a one on one meeting with the perfume specialist and director of Guerlain for the United States, Marie Line Patry.

Before I left Guerlain in my glimmering middle eastern cloud of blended Encens Mythique D’Orient and Rose Nacree du Desert (my favorite of the two) Irene informed my that my fragrant friend Mary Edington would be having her appointment with Marie Line on the half hour before mine. We agreed that it would be a fun secret if we didn’t tell her and I just popped up at 10:30 to surprise her and maybe even make a day of it.

The MUNI Metro was not feeling well yesterday when I boarded the train that would take me downtown for my appointment at Guerlain. In fits and starts I was finally deposited at the Powell Street Station with only a few minutes to make my appointment and catch Mary before she left.

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Under the spectacular gold and ivory rotunda of Neiman’s I found Irene and Mary in a perfume huddle. Mary was truly surprised to see me and delighted when I asked her to have lunch with me and my new buddy Mario Gomez, The Perfume Ambassador of the Bay Area and who reps several perfume lines. It turned out that Mario had the appointment after mine and we had agreed to meet up as well.

Irene introduced me to Marie Line. When she spoke I was transported to Paris in l’instant. She has a gorgeous voice that is only surpassed by her charm and indelible blond beauty. What a treat for the ears and the eyes she is. What a font of knowledge about perfume and the house of Guerlain.

 

Marie Line, Lanier, and Irene

Mary asked if she could join us on my olfactory appointment just to see my reaction to the perfumes I was about to smell. Mais bien sûr! Marie Line and I discussed the history of Guerlain and the exceptional quality of the house. We explored the idea that in France it is a right of passage for a young girl to be taken at around age twelve to buy her first perfume. It is a charming ritual that I had witnessed myself just recently when I saw the BBC documentary “Perfume”. At Guerlain the idea is to “get them young and keep them for life.”

Then we moved on to a presentation of some very special limited editions of perfumes by the house, the 100th anniversary bottle of L’Heure Bleue, Shalimar, 68, and Reve de Lune among them. There were others but just three were my main focus for the presentation.

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L’Heure Bleue Limited Edition

Each of the perfumes comes in a special bottle that in itself is a work of art. For example Baccarat was commissioned to design the limited edition bottle for L’Heure Bleue. The color had to be a perfect representation of the sky at magic hour. That splendiferous twilight blue that had inspired Jacques Guerlain to create the melancholy beauty. Marie Line told me that John Paul Guerlain was very particular in getting the color just right. Then there was added a “necklace” created by the Parisian jewelers Gripiox. The effect of the presentation was stunning. (The special order bottles were shown to me in photographs as they are lager than life and very limited.)

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Reve de Lune Limited Edition

Marie Line then introduced me to several perfumes from the Limited Editions presented in modest sample bottles, Reve de Lune and 68 “The Turtle”. As she sprayed 68 on my arm she told me how the perfume came to get the nickname “The Turtle”. It seems that Monsieur John Paul Guerlain made a surprise visit to the boutique at 68 Avenue des Champs Élysées he found the employees to be not up to speed. So when it came time to name the perfume and the address number of 68 was chosen he called it “The Turtle because they are so slow!”

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“The Turtle” 68 (Originally there were 72 ingredients in the perfume, but to be poetic it was reduced to just 68.)

Then Marie Line applied Reve de Lune to my right arm. The perfume was a bright burst of aldehydic citrus, jasmine and resins that I found gorgeous. On the other arm “The Turtle” was low and earthy and took on the dark rich smell of expensive clay one finds in an elegant spa in Nice or Monte Carlo.

These incredible perfumes were way beyond my pocket book but absolutely a delight to sample. I told Marie Line that I did indeed come to Guerlain with a purchase in mind. I wanted a classic and it was between L’Heure Bleue and Shalimar. At Marie Line’s bidding, Irene brought the two perfumes to our table and Marie Line found a patch of un-perfumed skin on my arms to test. L’Heure Bleue was as beautiful and wistful as I had remembered, but the Shalimar pure parfume met my skin and a love affaire between the two was ignited.  Mary and Marie Line were both amazed at the effect that was unfolding. Mary said that on her skin Shalimar just laid there and never really sparked. I smelled her arm where indeed Shalimar was taking a nap.  But on my skin it was all sparkling spice and smoking incense, it seemed to shimmer like tiny fireworks just above my skin. It was incredible.

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With my appointment drawing to a regrettable end I concluded my sale and thanked Marie Line for a fascinating visit. Mary and I had some time to kill before Mario’s appointment so we went around the perfume counters discussing what we found there of interest. We stumbled upon Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino and took a whiff. We both agreed that it was a very rich interpretation of Maurer & Wirtz 4711.

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Mary Edington

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Mario Gomez chatting with Marie Line. Irene and Mary share a story about Roja Dove.

We then met up with Mario as his appointment with Marie Line was ending. We bid les dames de Guerlain goodbye and headed out for a late brunch at the very grand Grand Café. As we passed though the rococo rotunda I suddenly recalled that the beautiful old piece of architecture housed within the modern box that is our Neiman Marcus had been preserved from the previous building now gone.  The grand old department store that had stood on that very spot since the 19th Century was in fact called, The City of Paris.

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The old City of Paris department store San Francisco.

FLIRTING WITH SPRING ~ CALIGNA by L’Artisan Parfumeur Launch Barney’s San Francisco

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Pink winked at me this morning. In the east the sky was that very flirty shade you get on a clear spring morning. At least that’s how it looked to me when I peeked from under my duvet ready for my perfumed Saturday adventure to begin.

Spring has landed in Hayes Valley with the trees along Octavia Boulevard busting out with over-sized soft pink pompoms blooms so heavy they pull the branches downward. Warm at 6:30 in the morning is a rarity here.  At 65 degrees and climbing what passes for “summer” in foggy San Francisco comes twice a year, at spring and again in the early fall. When summer bakes the rest of California we are usually socked in with icy fog, our second winter.  So, early this unusually warm morning as I readied myself attend the launch of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s newest spring perfume, Caligna I felt the spirit of Maggie Prescott move me to “Think Pink”!

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   Dressed for this spectacular spring morning I ascended from the Muni subway onto Market and Stockton decked out in beige slacks, canvas Converse sneakers and a think pink shirt. It was a glorious morning on Market just before 10 a.m. and still relatively quite for downtown. Market is magical in the morning, with the Ferry Building standing at attention at the Eastern foot of the street and Twin Peaks watching over the city from the west, the last great hills before the Pacific. With its newly leafed Kelly green Sycamore trees marching up one side and down the other the main artery to the heart of San Francisco was breathtakingly gorgeous. The beauty of it always knocks me out each time I come up out of the subway.

    No time to dally on the sidewalk this morning, on I forged to Barney’s just a short block up Stockton. I arrived at 10 just as the doors were opening. This launch of Caligna was to consist of a personal one on one presentation of the perfume by the Sales and Marketing Director, North America of L’Artisan Parfumeur, Brian Kurtz to a select group of Barney’s clients. I owe my spot to my perfume pal Mary Eddington who couldn’t be there and offered me her 10:30 spot. She is off in Paris and most likely at this very moment is in the flagship store of L’Artisan Parfumeur having a ball. Thanks to Mary I was about to have a ball myself.  Having arrived a tad bit early and not sure of just what was going to happen I went into Barney’s fragrance salon to wander around until my appointed time arrived.

I saw Hilary across the gleaming perfume counters talking to a tall handsome young man. I popped over to say hello and let them know that I would be back at 10:30. I apologized for being early but that was not a problem it turned out. Hilary introduced me to Brian and he kindly began my introduction to Caligna.

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Brian Kurtz and Hilary Rayvis Randal

   Brian was completely charming and warm as he told me the story of Caligna. This new perfume for spring 2013 is a part of the new Grasse Collection along with two equally new scented candles, Le Printemps and L’Eté. (L’Eté, “summer”, was my favorite!) The inspiration for Caligna was to capture the essence, indeed the feelings and smells of the beautiful countryside around the village of Grasse, the very birthplace of French perfume. The name comes from the provincial dialect of the area and means to “court” or “flirt”.

As Brian told me about the perfumer behind the fragrance, Dora Baghriche-Arnaud he opened small vials of essential oils and let me sample the individual notes that go into the fragrance. Dora Baghriche-Arnaud who grew up in the south of France over the course of a year meticulously selected scents that evoke the feeling of a warms spring morning in the Mediterranean climate of Grasse.

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The Nose, Dora Baghriche-Arnaud

The fist ingredient he presented was Fig. The rich lush and flesh sensuous note was earthy and so delicious in its fruity fullness. Thus the stage was set by this quintessential Mediterranean fruit for the next notes that Mademoiselle Baghriche-Arnaud added into the elixir. The signature fragrance of the south of France and Italy was presented to my nose by Brian with an expectant smile, Clary Sage. This bright warm aromatic fragrance was somewhat familiar to me having grown up in Southern California where sage is everywhere. Not the elegant bright Clary Sage which is new to me but a sage none the less.  This note was sunny and wonderful. I didn’t want to go on to the next note but rather just stand there engrossed in the lovely pictures of southern France the Clary Sage brought to mind. Brian presented the next note on a blotter and explained that this was Jasmine, not your ordinary Jasmine but Jasmine Marmalade. It was brilliant and just the right note to add to the Clary sage and Fig. It smelled like the most amazing jam made of pure sweet luscious Jasmine flowers. I asked him how Dora had made it, what was in it to make it so magnificent. “Every Perfumer has his or her secrets that we will never know.” He said. I laughed “But of course.” I told Brian if they could only make a real marmalade of this I would eat it every morning on hot buttered French bread with a steaming bowl of coffee. Then the resin olibanum like Lentisk was presented bringing with it the olfactory equivalent of cool morning earth heated by a rising sun. This was enhanced by a lush full honey like Oak that rounded it out nicely.  Pine needles are part of the perfume as well but we had to skip that blotter since Brian forgot to bring along the vile. It was no effort for me to bring up my own scents memory of pine needles.

 

The Elegant Presentation of Caligna

At this point I would wait no longer and asked if I could test the perfume. Caligna to my nose is light and soft on my skin and the notes blended into a pure tingling effervescent pop of spring. Lovely and bright, luminous in fact, Caligna is really the perfect uni-sex perfume for springtime or even in the cold months to recall the joys of May in bloom in the south of France. Breakfast in early spring on a terrace in Provence sprang to mind and we all agreed that airline tickets to Grasse were in order.

 

L’Artisan Parfumeur Perfumes, Candles, Amber Ball and much more!

Brian, Hilary and I talked about the beauty of the perfume and the history of the entire line. So many wonderful perfumes are in L’Artisan Parfumeur’s line-up. If you haven’t tired their perfumes do yourself a favor, get thee to Barney’s pronto or the nearest store in your area that carries the line and try a bit of French magic.  Brian and Hilary share a great passion for perfume and it was a joy to visit with them and share my passion for perfume with them as well. When fume heads get together it is always a party! My half hour visit with the brilliant and fun Brian and the ever lovely Hilary stretched into a full hour, how lucky was I? There were more guest due at eleven so with many thanks and a little sadness that my magic time was over, I bid my hosts goodbye.  I was so honored and lucky to have had this opportunity to discover in a very special way this new and exciting perfume Caligna. I hope you get a chance to try it and all of the other incredible fragrances from L’Artisan Parfumeur.

As I headed off down Stockton Street I was whistling and feeling quite in the pink!

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WHAT IS THAT SMELL? ~ AN EVENING AT ZGO SAN FRANCISCO

Something smells in the Castro, and it smells wonderful!

Yesterday I picked up my friend and perfume expert extraordinaire Hillary Randal at Barney’s in the early evening to head up Market Street to meet our friend Lane where the rainbow flag flies at the intersection of Castro and Market.

As we waited a few moments for Lane to arrive at the bustling corner in the heart of the City I shared a sniff with Hillary of the Chanel 1932 sample that I had just received from Surrender To Chance. I told her as she spritzed the juice on a perfume card that I had ordered it for my upcoming review of the newest addition to the Exclusifs line at Chanel. Lane arrived just as we came to the same conclusions about 1932. (You will have to wait a bit for my take on 1932) Hugs were exchanged all around and then we were off to the newest and most exciting fragrance venue in San Francisco, ZGO (Zen ~ Garden ~ Oasis) for their event to introduce the newest additions to their perfume line ups.

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PERFUME CELEBS LANE AND HILARY SPOTTED BY A FAN ON THE WAY TO ZGO

We arrived just as the party was getting underway. ZGO is on the corner of 19th and Castro. One of the best locations on the street it is in a classic Victorian storefront with 18 foot ceilings and a wall of windows that give the space a lot of light and warmth. As we entered we were greeted by one of our hosts the lovely Gabrielle Walker. She was so sweet and made us feel like welcome guests of honor. Now that is charm! Champagne was in our hands within seconds to refresh us after our trek up from the Muni station.

The shop is filled with the most amazing array of home scents I have ever seen in one location, Candles and diffusers from all around the world. Many of the candles were under large clear bell jars. When you lifted the jar and put it to your nose you could inhale what ever magic had been captured with in the jar. I just loved that!

At the central table we met Mario Gomez who was our olfactory ambassador for the newest arrivals to ZGO from Nez a Nez, Agonist and Nasomatto. Mario and Hillary are fragrance buddies so it was old home week for them. For Lane and I this was our first meeting with Mario.  We had become friends on Facebook recently and he proved to be charming and so very well informed on the lines he was representing. It was a real pleasure meeting him. I was very excited to learn that he is creating his own perfume line. I can’t wait for that to happen.

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MARIO GOMEZ AND HILARY RANDAL WITH CLAUDE GRATIANNE AT THE REGISTER.

Mario first showed us the Nez a Nez line and sprayed the perfume from each of the gorgeous bottles on mauve peacock feathers for us to smell. Now that was really fun and a great idea for sampling the perfume. I was most impressed with Ambre a Sade and L’Hetre Reve.  Hillary, Lane and I all agreed that this Parisian house founded in 2010 was a hit with all of us.

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AGONIST ON THE LEFT AND NEZ A NEZ ON THE RIGHT. NOTE THE OSTRICH FEATHERS!

Mario then showed us the Swedish perfume house of Agonist. There line is inspired by literature and film from Sweden and that as you know is something I can relate too. Mario explained to us as we delighted our noses that the line is famous for the very beautiful and expensive flacons handmade by glass artist Åsa Jungnelius at Kosta Boda.

But to make the line more accessible to everyone at a reasonable price they are now released in limited editions in simple elegant flacons. I found I really fell in love with the oriental notes of The Infidels. I was swimming in amber, rose, iris, vanilla, myrrh, cumin, patchouli…oh too many notes to go into but it was heaven.

Next up we had lots of fun with the Dutch house of Nasomatto. The flacons are all very masculine in design with the famous top heavy wooden caps. Lane recalled the old wooden caps from English Leather from years ago when he picked up the bottle of Hindu Grass.

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WOODEN TOPS AND GLASS BOTTOMS

“My husband said when he saw these flacons that the tops seemed more important than the bottoms” Hilary told us. “But in the Castro I think the tops and the bottoms are of equal importance” I just adore Hilary’s sense of humor and spontaneity.

I found the Narcotic Venus to be the most interesting. Lane fell under the spell of Hindu Grass and went the full monty and spayed his wrist. For the rest of the evening we three repeatedly smelled Lane’s wrist to enjoy the fascinating progression from musty basement to freshly worked garden soil. It is a rather avant-guarde perfume and lots of fun in the context of an event like this. It certainly kept us entertained.

There were also other perfumes to explore as well. Wall after wall of the most incredible candles met us at every turn, everything from Aquiesse to Modern Alchemy  Nest and Voluspa and Votivo.  Too many to mention here but I must tell you that the prices are amazing! You can find the candle of your dreams at ZGO at the most reasonable prices I have ever seen ranging from $8 and up. ZGO will be my go to shop for candles from now on. Brilliant presentations and a wonderful selection is what ZGO is all about.

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As we made our way around the store more people joined us in the olfactory adventure and it became quite festive. Hillary pointed out that the Castro was the perfect place for ZGO to be because in that neighborhood beauty in all things is appreciated and celebrated. Lane found the Histoires de Parfums display and we really had fun with the martini glass shaped bell jars as we sampled this most interesting house. There were wonderful candles and perfumes from Comme Des Garsons Insense 3 series as well as the perfumes and candles from the #2 and Monocle lines from the house.  And they carry a very large selection of Diptyque as well. By this point I was getting a little light headed.

The big treat for me was to find the Amouage perfumes and to get the chance to see the incredibly beautiful flacons in person and to smell them for the first time. Lane found them to be exquisitely designed and I was surprised that my friend who is all about Chanel Sycomore as his signature scent enjoyed the seductive rich and complex aromas from Oman. But then he has a great nose and does appreciate a beautiful perfume whether or not it is one he would wear. He is so much fun to have along on a perfume sniff.  I sampled them all as Hilary placed each bell jar to my nose. Upon smelling Opus VI I fell into a vat of pure desire for this lush exotic oud perfume.

The evening shifted into full party mode as tray after tray of the most scrumptious sushi came out followed by delightful little cupcakes of every description and flavor. At this point we met one of the owners of ZGO, Claude Gratianne. Tall, handsome and delightful Claude told us a bit about the history of his shop that he and his partner Tani Kampakum  founded. It has only been in the Castro for a short time and began as a candle venture online followed by a shop in the Hayes Valley.   Today in their beautiful new location they are expanding into the world of perfume. Claude is very excited about the new world that perfume is opening up to he and his partner, the store and his clients. He is looking forward to adding even more perfume houses to his stock.  We talked about how important his ongoing online business is as an intrical part of the brick and mortar shop. It makes ZGO and its wonders of scent available to everyone who cannot make the trip to San Francisco. Now that is exciting isn’t it?

Claude Gratianne

CLAUDE GRATIANNE

(Photo from ZGO Facebook page…I forgot to take his picture!..three glasses of champagne. Oh well!)

As the evening wore down, Lane, Hillary and I bid our gracious hosts Gabriell, Tani and Claude and Mario a reluctant goodnight with much thanks and a promise to return. As we headed into the night in our respective layered clouds of perfume and stuffed with sushi and cupcakes we all agreed that ZGO is a much needed and unique addition to the olfactory scene in San Francisco. New York has Min, Los Angeles has The Scent Bar and we here in San Francisco now have the fabulous ZGO.

For more information AND online shopping  please visit ZGO’s website: http://www.zgostore.com/

ZGO

600 Castro Street

San Francisco, CA. 94114

Phone: (415) 692-6511

Toll free: 1.888.789.4753

Store hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 7pm

Sunday 11am – 6pm

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THE NEW LOOK ~ La Collection Privée Christian Dior

New shoes clicking along the sidewalk up Stockton Street gave rhythm to my excitement as I approached Neiman Marcus for the opening night of La Collection Privée Christian Dior and the new Dior Boutique. I was on my own for the event and as always in such cases a bit shy on entering into the social swirl of such abundant and easy glamour and glitz. I took a few moments to warm up to the idea as I snapped a few shots of the glass encased rotunda of one the most beautiful department stores in Union Square.

 

   With eminent rain bearing down on the city from the Gulf of Alaska I decided it was just about the right time to go in. The first floor of the rotunda of Neiman’s is ringed with glittering boutique after glittering boutique. The usual suspects are lined up around this arena of glam, Chanel, Guerlain, Tom Ford. As you move along on what feels a little like a circular fashion show catwalk around the rotunda, all eyes from behind crystal and chrome counters turn to greet you…and always the eyes are smiling.

There just past Chanel in about the best spot possible (not too close to the door and not buried beyond the rotunda) is the brand new Dior Boutique. The New Look has arrived at Neiman’s and it is as fresh and beguiling as it was in 1947. Dior never looked better than here in gleaming black and white. A gorgeous elegant design has been executed in small yet comfortable space. Within it accommodates the stunning showcase of the perfume line as well as a very efficiently laid out makeup demonstration area in the center. Even with the event in full swing it was easy to move around. The lighting is superb and with mirrored ceilings it is defused and flattering.

 

 Music filled the rotunda provided by a lovely violinist which added a touch of Baroque elegance to the entire feeling of the affair. Accompanied by a cascade of classical notes Hillary Rayvis Randall, turned to greet me, stunning in black with her hair up like Scarlett going to Ashley Wilkes Birthday party she was the picture of sophistication.  The last time we had met about three weeks ago she had informed me that “Something wonderful” was in the works and this was it! Always gracious and the perfect hostess Hilary, introduced me to the delightful perfume collector Mary Eddington.

 

(HILARY AND MARY EDDINGTON)

   Champagne and canapés appeared as Hilary invited me to smell Mary’s wrist where she had just sprayed Ambre Nuit and on her thumb a bit of Mitzah. This was my first introduction to the Privée line. I wrapped my nose around the scent from Mary’s presented for inspection wrist and I fell into the garden of earthly delights. The Ambre Nuit was all amber, pink pepper and roses. The Best Rose I have ever smelled in perfume and the Mitzah is all about incense cinnamon, spices and honey.

“It is like passing from a cloistered rose garden into a cathedral at Easter Mass.” I noted.

 

As Hilary excused herself to greet new arrivals Mary and I got down to the business of “How did you first get into perfume?” On this question we met on common ground. It was all about our mothers and exploring the wonders of their perfume vanities as little children  Dusty late afternoon sunlight streaming through gauzy curtains that fell upon mirrored dressing tables loaded down with glittering scrumptious treasures. Mary told me how almost excruciatingly exciting it was to go shopping in San Francisco when she was a little girl. Entering in open mouthed wonder the old and long gone venues such as The White House, and The City of Paris, and how the glamour of it all was near to overwhelming. She was hooked at a very early age. If I recall correctly her first love was Jicky by Guerlain. We also shared stories of meeting Andre from Jacqueline Perfume shop and how he was really a San Francisco treasure. It turns out I was not the only person afraid to go into Jacqueline. But our fears were unfounded; if you have a passion for perfume Monsieur Andre will sense that and take you on a tour of his enchanted garden.

We agreed that we both loved the adventure of perfume and the excitement of discovery of a new scent. The fun involved in opening notes and exploring and deciphering notes as a perfume unfolded in three acts. I mentioned that I had heard that Diorella was a great fragrance that was not only suited for a woman but worked well on a man. That led us to a bottle. It was very nice but as we explored together Mary and I both agreed that Dioressence was perhaps better on my skin. That explosion of aldehydes gets me every time. Hilary was across the display where the Privée stars were lined up in their dazzling colors in their simple chic gloriously huge bottles. She invited us to join her.

(SOME LAUGHTER AFTER I CAUGHT THE WOMAN ON THE RIGHT SPRAY HER ANKLE WITH DIOR AND I SAID, “WASN’T IT COCO CHANEL WHO SAID TO PUT PERFUME WHERE EVER YOU WANT TO BE KISSED?”)

When I mentioned that I liked the Mitzah on Mary Hilary said with an impish twinkle: “I have just the thing for you, Oud Ispahan.”  Oh yes Hilary knows my love for Orientals and she was right. Oud Ispahan was singing to me its song of sensuous seduction. Like the most wonderful rendition of Bali Hai in French!

From there Mary and I sampled on cards each and every bottle of the Privée line. Some stand outs for me were Vetiver, a woody wonder. Cologne Royal, classic citrus eau de cologne. New Look 1947, Parisian perfection rich and seductive and of course Mitzah and Oud Ispahan.

 

As the evening began to wind down Hilary presented us with some samples of those we liked and Mary went home with full bottles of Ambre Nuit, Mitzah and Dioressence. When Mary took her leave we both agreed it had been a great pleasure meeting over the perfume counter.  We hugged goodbye and a new friend was found.

Not quite ready to leave myself I sniffed around some of the other Dior fragrances that had yet to be explored, Jules, La Dolce Vita, and Dior Homme. Yet after so many wonders I was on overload and a veritable walking perfume sampler.

Thanking Hilary for the wonderful evening that I didn’t want to end she held me back for a moment.

“Did you notice that gentleman who was speaking in French behind you a moment ago; I want you to meet him. He is the best Nose in all of Union Square.”

She caught his attention I turned to see a very tall handsome fellow with a beaming smile heading over to us. Hilary introduced me to Michal Gizinski, and mentioned to him that I was the writer of the Scents Memory blog. She added that the two of us should meet and perhaps do an interview.

“Oh yes I would love that, anytime!” He said.

“So would I,” I agreed. “In fact I would love to interview both of you. Pick your brains about how you came to perfume, what it means to you learn a little about what you know.”

We shook hands and it was agreed that an interview would be a delightful prospect. So stay tuned on that front for upcoming posts with Hilary Rayvis Randall and Michal Gizinski

 

(MICHAL GIZINSKI)

With a wave and a wink I was off and out the door. New shoes clicking along the sidewalk off Stockton Street and in a layered cloud of Dior magic I embraced the beauty of the night and the joy one finds in meeting new friends.

The line up of La Collection Privee Christian Dior

AMBRE NUIT

GRANVILLE

BOIS D’ARGENT

MILLY-LA-FORET

GRAND BAL

EAU NORIE

COLOGNE ROYALE

OUD ISPAHAN

MITZAH

VETIVER

NEW LOOK 1947

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