Tag Archives: Plus Que Jamais

A Bitter Chypre Martini

Martini glassMals over at The Muse in Wooden Shoes recently noticed that she was experiencing a completely uncharacteristic craving for chypres.    The ones she had a yen for were not just any old chypres, but ones with a bite, a stinging edge of tartness- well, you can see what she meant here.

I commented and noticed while doing so that I no longer had any real chypres left in my scent wardrobe.  This was a surprise because all my adult life, I’ve worn chypres. There was a furlough when I was first married, and another while we expecting our daughter, but aside from those two periods yours truly has always been the Chypre Queen and an oakmoss junkie. Continue reading

Virginia and Versailles

tobaccoI 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

Guerlain Originals

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Immeuble,_68_avenue_des_Champs-%C3%89lys%C3%A9es,_Paris_8e_009.JPGThe publishing mogul/poet Felix Dennis is blunt about it: “The problem with the great idea is that it concentrates the mind on the idea itself…But unless the idea is executed efficiently and with panache and originality, then it doesn’t matter how great the idea is, the enterprise will fail.”

It’s a nifty piece of wisdom, and has always struck me in regard to the grand old firm of Guerlain, whose business model for many years was less to create than to perfect.

You didn’t wear Guerlains for their startling uniqueness, because almost nothing of Guerlain’s was unique.  You wore them for the quality of the materials used and for the careful handling of  those ingredients.  Guerlain’s execution was what shone through.  The origin of the idea was not important. Caron might create, Coty certainly did, even Jean Patou from time to time produced creations, but Guerlain guerlainified, and the results were charming, very high quality, with a delicacy all their own. Continue reading

The Tea Table

Anyone who already likes perfume is likely to like tea.  They’re both fragrant brews, it’s just that one is evanescent and disappears out of your cup in a matter of minutes, and the other can sit on shelves for years at a time, only to be released into the wilds of the atmosphere.

Tea is always vaguely contemplative, and perfume is only intermittently so.

This having been admitted, most tea scents are not sensual, alluring or animalic.  By their nature they can’t be.  If your best ally in any endeavor is porcelain, then you can’t expect wild parties.  At best you’re attending tea parties, or tea ceremonies, and that means that a modicum of formality is going to prevail. Continue reading