Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday, February 7, 2011

Coral Negro Perfume by Suchel

Coral Negro: Head notes include citrus and spice, heart notes are mainly tropical florals, and the soul of the scent is sandalwood, amber, with touches of musk and patchouli. Suchel perfumes are award winning scents and the history of perfumery in Cuba is a very old and respected one. The French house of Molinard was at one time a huge favorite in Cuba. Habanita by Molinard is still a popular perfume.

I have a thing for Coral Negro which keeps it in my top five, and here is a quote from from a good friend of mine regarding Coral Negro. I couldn't describe it any better than he does.

"The saleswoman brought out a bottle, she said it was The Black Coral of Suchel for me to try. Instantly I found it to be on par with the best French perfume. It had a warmth, and was seductive. I decided to buy a bottle for my wife. In the days I spent in Cuba, while sampling the handcrafted fragrances offered in the boutiques and visiting the impressive Perfume Museum, it was as if I was in a place like Grasse, but more mysterious ~ with a very, very spirited nightlife. " ~J.C.

Long ago I imagine, in Habana Vieja the old men sat companionably, in well-worn linen suits and savored their espresso. Perfumed women in lovely handmade dresses brought them a light meal and another espresso ( which they had made from the freshest beans, spring water, raw sugar and boiled milk.) The women heated the water, stirred in the coffee, and boiled it for just a second in tiny pots over a fire. They carefully strained it through cloth. The strong scent of the espresso mingled with that of the cigar smoke and perfume on the breeze. When the Italian espresso machine came to Cuba it was met with great enthusiasm, as you can imagine. Since I've been reading the Coffee Messiah's blog I've been wanting an espresso machine. I doubt if I'll ever get one, and so I'll continue to make primative espresso.

Fun Factoid: French Colonists who settled in Cuba in the 1700s set the standards for coffee cultivation, standards that are still maintained today.A friend told me that François-René de Chateaubriand wrote that the Island of Cuba presents itself by the scent of vanillas and the perfume of tropical flowers. I wasn't able to find the exact quote anywhere, but Chateaubriand did spend time in Louisiana and no doubt sailed to Cuba at some point during his tour of The Americas. I've never read any of his books, but while searching for information on his travels, his novels and memoirs looked very interesting.

Perfume bottles are found on old Cuban postage stamps (I tried to find a clearer stamp image, but no luck.)

~ Yesterday's book review made me add a post script to this post.
The flashy cover review caught my eye ~ Rachel Kushner's novel Telex from Cuba set in the 1950's.

"Kushner has fashioned a story that will linger like a whiff of the decadent Colony perfume." ~ Susann Cokal for The New York Times

The Colony perfume she's referring to is Jean Patou's 1938 creation. (A strong tropical rum punch of a chypre with tobacco, leather, woods, and floral notes.)

Other quality perfumes inspired by Cuba include:
Cuba by Czech & Speake of Jermyn Street, London
perfumer: Robert Stephen
Head notes: a nice blend of rum, lime, and mint
Heart notes: rose, spices and bay
Soul notes: spices, tobacco, cedarwood, and tonka bean.

Cuba Express by perfumer Dominique Dubrana
for Abdes Salam Attar
Dubrana chose 4 scents that reminded her of Cuba: coffee, tobacco, rum and cacao.
She blended them with tropical fruits and Caribbean spice.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Helen of Troy Vs. Helen of Rubinstein

When I was very young I came to think that Cosmetics Executive and Beauty Salon Queen Helena Rubinstein was a magical queen named Helen, who ruled in a faraway city named Rubinstein.
Rubinstein had minarets studded with rubies and people traveled around on flying carpets. Helen of Rubinstein was a stunning brunette who made Helen of Troy look bland by comparison. Helen of Rubenstein had the finest silk gowns, She wore sapphires and emeralds, and there were even jewels on her velvet slippers. She took baths in a beautiful sunken tub full of perfumed waters. Flower petals were the carpeting under her feet. Beautiful and delicious cupcakes were brought to her by devoted servants. I wanted to travel to Rubenstein and live there for awhile, ( or forever) and I was young enough to firmly believe in flying carpets. I had seen illustrations of them in books, and my older sister had assured me that flying carpets did exist, but only in Arabie. ( The city of Rubenstein was somewhere in Arabie). I was given empty perfume bottles, and as you can see by the photo posted, they were beautifully designed. They conjured up more daydreams for me. Perfumes sitting on a dressing table looked like they could be used in some magic ritual, or hold a magic potion that would help me soar above the minarets on my own magic carpet.

post script: My eldest sister also introduced me to Bob Dylan, Dark chocolate, and photography.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Jack Black: Blacque Jacque Shellacque

Actor Jack Black ( School of Rock, Shallow Hal) will play Blacque Jacque Shellacque in the upcoming biopic, "Pogo Stick"

Shellacque was a French Canadian fur trapper who landed a starring role as the villain in two Bugs Bunny cartoons. Shellacque was a great actor and worked very well with Bugs Bunny--his future seemed bright. Yosemite Sam flew into a rage at not being cast in those cartoons and told Warner Brothers: "There ain't ROOOOM enough in the cartoon biz fer the both of us!" Warner Brothers decided to let Shellacque go to placate the difficult Sam, who was already an established star.

Shellacque sunk into a deep depression and his drinking escalated. He suffered through many public humiliations and a series of short stints in jail. His wife left him, his friends stopped taking his calls, and he suffered some serious injuries while pogo sticking under the influence. During his recovery he met the woman who would change his life forever.

This is an inspirational story that will have the audience in tears. I hear that the script is top notch, and that Jack Black actually lived with Shellacque in St. Foy, Quebec, working on the accent and body language needed for a realistic portrayal.

Photo of Jack Black courtesy of the Jack Black Fan Club of Warwarsing, NY

Bob Dylan has a small role in the film, playing the actor Vincent Price.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

On Fifth Avenue

Scribner's was my favorite bookstore. It was beyond compare. The only time I ever left without purchasing a book was the day I discovered "comic genius" Jackie Mason all alone, at a table, attempting a book signing. His assistant wasn't even with him at the table. He was shouting out jokes, trying to get people to come over to him. Customers and bookstore employees alike were pretending he didn't exist, which made him louder. It is hard to browse books AND ignore an obnoxious person, so I went over to Rizzoli's that day. I preferred Scribner's to all other bookstores for so many reasons that I practically went into mourning when it closed forever. The beautiful space became home to a clothing store, or two, and then a Sephora. I finally went inside one day because:
a.) It was a humid 90 degrees and I wanted some free cold air.
b.) I felt nostalgic for the beautiful space that was once my beloved Scribner's.
c.) They had perfumes in there.
I had pretty much ignored Sephora up until that day. First I wandered around just looking at the space itself, then I took a few snaps. I had mixed emotions, swirling thoughts about the beauty industry and great bookshops going out of business. A feminist rant was going on inside my head, and then I went to test some perfumes. I had the perfumes all to myself, as the store was filled with tourist ladies and their teenaged daughters who were all mesmerized by lipsticks and bronzers.

The perfume I tested that day was a unisex scent by Guerlain: Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca. It has notes of grass, spearmint, and just a hint of lemony wildflowers. This scent, to me, also has notes of fresh air & sunshine. I'm currently enclosed in an artificially heated space due to freezy winter temps, and it smells like a fresh breeze through a summer meadow. This is one many people would call a "summer scent" but it works very well year 'round.

Thursday, November 25, 2010