My brother as a boy once irritated me very much by passing unkind judgements on the looks of all (or very nearly all) the females we knew . In exasperation, I asked just who he did actually find attractive.
“Well,” he said after some long internal deliberation, “I guess Catherine Deneuve is sorta good looking.”
He was not the only one to think so. Back in the day, around the late seventies, Chanel itself had hit a low point in No5 profits. Their eventual salvation came with the hiring of Catherine Deneuve as the face of No 5. Her selection boosted sales immediately, and if you think these choices are slam dunks, just consider the recent debacle of hiring Brad Pitt as the face. You can go wrong no matter how beautiful your model is, if the aforesaid model does not connect in some way with the aspirations of your audience. All the women in the world wanted to look like Deneuve in 1978, but in 2011 not many of them wanted to look like the Pittster, and there were presumably not enough male buyers of No5 to make up the deficit. Continue reading →
Wouldn’t you know it? As I’m writing this the skies are turning that cotton wool gray that proceeds snow,* six to ten inches of snow, the weather channels say, and it’s already March.
This makes me yearn for green perfume, the lateness of this year’s winter aconites and snowdrops, and the non appearance of the crocus, put me in mind of all that I’m not smelling this year. Even if they bloom those flowers are going to be two weeks later than usual, and that’s probably an optimistic estimate, too. Continue reading →
Since I started this whole month with a look back at the nostalgic violets of the turn of the century (and their descendants in the perfume world) maybe I had now better step back and consider some more contemporary violets.
This is slightly difficult. If you want to smell nothing but violets, Penhaligon’s Violetta is a perfectly good way to go, these violets being the green leafy peppery sort. That is, if you want straightforward violets, but since you’re here, maybe what you want is a few recommendations that take the humble violet and give it sophistication. If you know the violet theme, in other words, maybe it’s time to look for some variations. Here are some of the best. Most of these are still in production, where they are not, I’ve checked that there is a plentiful supply online at reasonable prices. Continue reading →
In order to round off the month of February with its romance intact, I decided to write a couple of lists, one for the best violet scents I know, and one for the best roses. In order to be fair and to make life easier for people who may not have smelled some vintage wonders, all my picks are still in production. I’m not recommending something you just can’t come across, and one-at least- will be in the under fifty dollar range. We must have some mercy upon our wallets. Continue reading →
Nearing the end of February I find that I have not gotten around to one of my favorite topics: chocolate.
Perhaps it came to mind because last weekend I was in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and you can’t go far there without chocolate heaving into view in one form or another. Then I started to hanker after a recently discontinued Guerlain, Iris Ganache, which yearning is sure to wind up making me poorer. I’m mystified by Iris Ganache’s appeal for me anyhow, since I’m the blogger who said she didn’t own any gourmands. Continue reading →
Some people clearly think of perfume as being analogous to the movies, but I come from a family of book lovers and to me, perfumes are most closely related to written material. Maybe that’s how perfumers see them too, as I notice they refer to “writing” a perfume, and their different styles can contrast as strongly as literary ones, from the huge Zola-like effects of Maurice Roucel, to the pithy short stories of Jean Claude Ellena. Continue reading →
Not that I’m anybody’s idea of the late Julia Child.
Let me re-phrase that. I am NOT anybody’s idea of the late Julia Child. I would be all about the collapsed half of the soufflé and never about the still standing side, however, even I can sometimes bake.
When I’m baking one of my favorites is the Angel food cake. You can go wrong here. Sugar is essentially powdered sugar – or else…. The egg whites have to be room temperature. The oven has to be a hot oven with no cold regions or your cake will be lopsided, and you have to turn you cake upside down immediately. No fooling.
For Valentine’s Day I like to substitute some of the water in the mix (if all else fails) with red food coloring, and a shot of double strength vanilla essence from Penzey’s for the perfect pink vanilla angel food cake. You are after pinkness of a most unsubtle sort. This is the basis of my Valentine’s Angel food Cake. See? Ridiculous, no?
It is, however, plenty Valentine–ish, does not interfere with dieting, and eats very well with chocolate, strawberries, a glass of champagne and a spritz of Shalimar!
The newer younger flashier chypres, those not based on oakmoss, have been springing up on perfume counters for a while now, and most have me wondering if anyone has yet stumbled on the master plan for this new kind of perfume construction?
For a while it looked as if maybe the new chypre would be built of wood and musk as in Narciso for Her, and there were plenty of reconstructions of that scent, but it seems to have given rise to whole other perfume suburb, the floral woody musk, a town that has rapidly acquired population, even among Guerlains. Continue reading →
Since I am not only a fragrance enthusiast but also a rose nut (we prefer the term rosarian) every year that comes by, I look at catalogs and dream. Unfortunately, these dreams can’t always be turned into reality. My space at my current address is limited, but I’ve already found a way to cram the largest rose on my street into a garden bed that is too small for it. After doing that, I did the eminently sensible thing, and found two other roses at a local nursery which got taken home and fussed over, dosed and clipped, and cosseted like prize poodles. Then to top it all off, I rustled two roses from the doomed garden of an abandoned building.
The trouble is that I’m looking to re-create the lushness, the sheer delight, of cascades of roses all around. I only pulled that off once, and the effect requires space, and ideally, old fashioned varieties. Continue reading →
There has never been a time for violet perfumes like the turn of the last century. No doubt their proliferation, like a purple tide through perfumery, was due to ionones, invented in 1893, and then the development of a chemical that imitated the scent of violet leaf in 1903.
By that time, violets had become the most popular scent in mass market fragrances. Sweet violets projected a delectable candor that was simultaneously edible and cozy, even though the woman wearing them might have been defiantly undomesticated, and anything but candid.
The earliest of these violet scents is Violetta di Parma; Borsari’s version was mine for years. They have replicated the scent of violets in the bottle.