I know we’re not supposed to smoke. Even if I had the faintest inclination to light up, my daughter would give me a stern lecture on the dangers of smoking, and she’d be right. It’s a dirty habit, but…there’s something seductive about tobacco all the same.
You see, it’s partly a matter of generation. I belong to one in which the memories of smoking, everyday smoking, smoking in the home, are still possible to retrieve. People smoked then not in the furtive, cadging a smoke on the corner without making eye contact manner they do now, one foot hurriedly grinding out the evidence. They smoked openly. I remember people smoking in droves in restaurants and cafes in Paris and Rome; I even have dim memories of going out to lunch with my father in Baltimore and having the waiter provide a heavy glass ash tray at the table! In fact, Dad had his own silver ash trays at home, with his initials etched on the bottom. Unthinkable now, such public displays, unless you consider the new smoke-less cigarettes a form of smoking, but that is how it was once upon a mid century. Continue reading
Once upon a time the perimeters of summer were demarcated by the cocktails people drank from June to September, versus the ones they tossed back at all the other times of the year. Having been born as WASP as it gets, I remember the buzz of cocktail parties, rising and intensifying as the decibel levels increased, over green lawns, lawns which hissed noisily themselves- if Joni Mitchell was to be believed- on those afternoons in the 70s. (or 60s.) Continue reading
Last week I went to Sniffapalooza, and among all the other things and people you could see there, I met the in house perfumer of Jean Patou, Thomas Fontaine. Under ordinary circumstances this wouldn’t happen because in my zig- zagging about New Jersey, head perfumers don’t turn up all that often, but at the time, on the cosmetics floor of Bergdorf’s, I got a moment to speak to him and he was very interesting, perhaps particularly to me, as I love the history of perfumes, and not just the novelties.
He’s a busy man these days since he works for the parent company of Jean Patou Designer Perfumes, and they own more than one older brand. Jean Louis Scherrer is also on the roster. Thomas Fontaine has the task of keeping up the older formulas, and in the age of restrictions, this is no easy thing. You never know when IFRA will put out an APB on desperate scent villains such as jasmine. If you are responsible for keeping up Joy’s appearances, this sort of interdiction could constitute the coup de grâce for the old classic. Continue reading