Why Don’t You…Wear Diana Vreeland?

Diana Vreeland

Diana Vreeland

Her name was pronounced Dee-Ahn, never Die- Ann.  People who worked with her rapidly found that out.  Not that Diana was affected, she was simply, completely, utterly, and unapologetically, inner directed.  This may be a  euphemism for being eccentric, but the line between genius and madness is notoriously thin, and eccentrics frequently straddle it.

Diana Vreeland Parfums is the attempt to commercialize the reputation of the late editrix of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.  Perfume seems an odd choice for that task since I don’t remember any statement from Mrs. Vreeland on perfume, except for a lone endorsement of Glamour. Clothes and shoes I should have thought, were more her sphere. Continue reading

Spritzing with the Enemy

Audrey Volk  The Mother profiled in Shocked

Audrey Volk
The Mother profiled in Shocked

You may be familiar with Hal Vaughan’s book, Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War.  The book came out in 2012 and caused some flutter as mention of Coco’s wartime activities inevitably does.  The fact of Coco’s affair with Von Dincklage, and her attempt to emphasize her larger amount of “Aryan” blood to oust the Wertheimers from Parfums Chanel is all pretty easy to discover.  However, having a spouse who writes non-fiction history makes you sensitive to primary material, plus I have always wondered if we know some of Coco’s war activities, how much did people know during the forties? Continue reading

Bare Skin Scents

Marilyn Monroe in Niagara

Marilyn Monroe in Niagara

Maybe this is an ooh la la sort of question, but I wonder what are the best fragrances for nudity?  Now I realize that the answer is going to vary a good deal because the subject of skin and what works on the skin also varies considerably from one person to another, but factoring that in, which are the very best scents for nothing at all? Continue reading

Dries Van Noten

Grinling Gibbon Carving

Grinling Gibbons  Carving

Some years ago sandalwood was nowhere to be found.  The white sandalwood that I remembered from my childhood was produced by too few trees in India, and as a result, Indian authorities  shut down production for some time.

In the interim, you got imitations of sandalwood, Mcqueen’s Kingdom for instance, a fragrance that was a flop with the market, but not at all bad as a sandalwood mock-up.  Worse, far worse, to my mind was what happened to perfumes that were constructed around sandalwood.  Bois des Isles one year  smelled of Santalum spicatum though really the scent was thrown off by this kind of substitution, but what was a fashion house to do?  There was no Santalum album to be had.  Chanel merely made the best of a bad business. Continue reading

Salty Melons and Married Love: Le Parfum de Therese

Cantaloups

Cantaloups

People remember the late Edmond Roudnitska for different reasons. Myself I remember his book about perfume, the first serious one I ever read on the subject. In it he made a plea for perfume to be considered an art form, maybe not a major art, but an art all the same. I’m not sure what I made of that at the time I read the book in the nineties, but I am sure that a number of Roudnitska compositions struck me as being quite artful. Continue reading

Lemon-y but Lovely: New Citrus Florals

Freesias

Freesias

Right now colognes seem to be out of favor with the market. This always surprises me since colognes seem like such a wonderful option for many people. They’re often largely natural, they’re light, they offend very few, and yet look at Andy Tauer trying to get the Cologne du Maghreb into circulation. Apparently, that’s an uphill battle. Continue reading

Bubbles in the Soap Dish: Cruel Gardenia, Caline, Fleur de Rocailles

Cold Cream Camay

Cold Cream Camay

Most of us are very clean.   I’ve never met anyone interested in perfume who was not something of a clean freak.  Maybe we don’t take three baths a day a la Tom Ford but we are very fussy about hygiene.  So why do most of us just not like soap in our perfume?

Possibly the note seems old fashioned to us now.  Back at the turn of the century though J Lo did have that hit of hers Glow.  The whole idea there was freshness and something similar happened with Narciso Rodriguez’ Essence. I thought that the scents were nice enough and had the advantage of wearability in public places.  However, both were modern soaps, and understated. Continue reading

The American Smell?

New York skylineIs there such a thing? I’d say not although there definitely are city smells.  In my extended family we refer to the New York smell, which is made up of car exhaust, uncollected garbage and yes a tiny touch of urine.  And before anyone says “How awful!” let me point out that members of the same family get nostalgic for this scent and have to go into the city just to huff.  True fact.

Charleston SC seems to have a pleasanter smell, with the exhaust cut by a bit of horse manure and flowers.  I quite like it.  Montreal always smells of frost and grit to me, Philadelphia has some frying oil in the air somewhere, Chicago has got that frost and grit thing going on plus some smell tossed up by railroad tracks and stockyards.  The  universal smell of North American cities  seems to be predicated on carbon monoxide.  I’m not certain that anyone has succeeded in bottling it.

New York BridgesNeil Morris has City Rain and Gotham which is supposed to smell a bit like New York but I don’t know if he captured that distinctive fragrance or not.

What does your locality smell like? If it’s anywhere in the US, tomorrow it’ll probably smell of barbecue. Happy Fourth of July!

 

 

White Lavender

White Spike

White Spike

There’s an anecdote going back to the end of the sixteenth century that someone wanted to present Elizabeth I with a beautifully bound book, and to finish off the attractions of that volume they were going to perfume the binding with oil of lavender. Big mistake the giver was told by courtiers in the know, for “Her Majesty could not abide such a strong scent.” She sounds like a modern perfumista to me.

Actually I enjoy lavender and such great classic perfumes as Maja and Moment Supreme are largely based on the scent, not to mention Jicky, still many modern perfume enthusiasts don’t care for it. But what if the flower smell of lavender could be amplified, and the herbal side muffled? Continue reading

Animalic June: Vraie Blonde and Sepia

amber eyesJune is supposed to be the month of roses but this year in honor of my cat and my daughter, I’ve decided to let things take a decidedly animalic turn. Yes, that’s not very apropos for the month of roses. But I spent so much time last month dousing myself in Or et Noir (the old Caron urn perfume) that this month I am looking for something with a more …furry tonality. Continue reading