Everything But Shalimar

Old advertising for Shalimar with the familiar bottle...

Old advertising for Shalimar with the familiar bottle…

Some of the great classics are stumbling blocks.  There is something about the journey of perfumery that can make you think that you would never be the sort of person who would wear say No 5, or Mitsouko, or L’Origan, or in my case Shalimar.  Here’s the point though – you may be exactly that sort of person after all.

Maybe it’s a kind of snobbism that makes us not want to admit that some well known formula brings us as much joy as the next person, or that some perfume is just about unbeatable in its class though that’s often the case.  My own experience in  coming around to Shalimar had to do with realizing that I was already wearing Shalimar, just not the blue stoppered kind. I mean I wear leather, a lot of leather, and citrus, and vanilla and what does that add up to?  Yeah, it adds up to Shalimar Continue reading

What I Wore to the Deluge

When the sea and the sky get into the informal partnership we like to call a hurricane, it seems like all heck’s broken loose.  Here in Jersey, we’re used to heck breakin’ loose.  Heck, we often break it loose ourselves.

This last week’s meteorological event had our full attention.  We even stopped watching Bravo.

Who knew how bad was it going to be?  Well, along about noon on Monday our cat (the Jersey Girl par excellence) put her nose out the front door and considered a quick dash to avoid the litter box.  If the Jersey Girl had been any other type of cat than the scrappy little tabby that she is, and a Jersey Native, she wouldn’t have risked it.  As it was, she was out the door for a grand total of ten minutes and then dashed back inside.  She had taken care of the essentials. Continue reading

Being Henry

Recently I read a description in a style magazine of stylishly appropriate and inappropriate houses.   Among the latter group was Henry Higgins‘  in the movie of My Fair Lady.  (You know, the blockbuster with Audrey Hepburn making you feel fat and Rex Harrison making you feel dumb.  That one.)  According to the magazine, his was absolutely the kind of house YOU DO NOT WANT.

I think I read that statement over at least twice.  Not want?  What was wrong with Henry’s house?  It was well staffed and well appointed with yards and yards of William Morris wall paper on the walls and lots of carved mahogany everywhere (except Eliza’s bedroom) and lots of books.  What man in his right mind wouldn’t want to live there?

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(Rose 13) – Roses, Take a Bow!

Since there have been a dozen rose posts, this might a good time to take a breather,  go back, and re-cap.

For all the complaining that perfume consumers do about the industry these days, one thing is inescapably true: there’s more variety.  Once upon a distant time, Perfumer’s Workshop produced Tea Rose and Houbigant sold A Rose is a Rose.

That was about it in 1976.  Now you have entire lines devoted to the flower in all its variations.  Les Parfums de Rosine is one such house, and besides its twenty or so perfumes, there’s a slew of mainstream releases popular with the public such as Stella, or Valentino’s Rockin’ Rose.

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(Rose 4) – Roses for Boulevardiers

Men once had buttonholes.  Hard to believe, but they actually did, and what is more they really put things in these buttonholes – flowers for preference.  Which flowers?  Well, the gardenia was once called the “opera flower” because of being worn by gentlemen in their button holes to the opera.  Other gentlemen chose other buttonholes: carnations, lily of the Valley, possibly a geranium (if they were Charles Dickens whose favorite flower it was) or a rose.

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The 1912 Overture part I

There are watershed years in practically every field, and in perfumery, 1912 was the year of grace.   It is one hundred years since Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue, Houbigant’s Quelques Fleurs, and Caron’s Narcisse Noir were introduced, amazingly, all three are with us up to the present day.  They are all classics and are all, in their various ways, ground breaking.

It’s hard to conceive of a time when fragrances weren’t launched with the  outsized caution and undersized budgets of our own era, and yet those pre-war years were the time of Francois Coty’s rise, and his competitors were responding to the market dominating successes of La Rose Jacqueminot (1904) and L’Origan (1905), especially the latter.  On the strength of these blockbusters, Coty  built a factory complex outside of Paris capable of producing thousands of bottles a day, and he was in the process of conquering overseas markets as well.

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