Friday, February 29, 2008

Purrrrerrrr Parure de Guerlain

If you wear Mitsouko well, there is a good chance you will wear Parure with ease. Parure is the wonderfully plummy sister of Mitsouko. Misunderstood and dismissed as matronly, this scent was never embraced as it should have been. Bright head notes are a turn off for some, and they never let this complex chypre work its magic. Some claim it is more of an oriental, but it is definitely a chypre. Everytime I wear it I think of Mitsouko, and on rainy or damp days I prefer the warm peachy smokiness of Mitsouko to the bright plum and lilac notes of Parure. Chypres are not for the faint of heart, and take time to understand. You can see the similarities by comparing the notes, below.

Parure: 1975
Chypre ( Floral, Animalic )
Head notes: plum, bergamot, hesperides, greens
Heart notes: Rose, lilac, jasmine, lily of the valley, jonquil
Bottom notes: oakmoss, patchouli spices, amber, leather

Mitsouko 1919
Chypre (Floral, Spicy)
Head notes: peach, bergamot, fruits, hesperides
Heart notes: rose, lilac, jasmine, ylang-ylang
Bottom notes: oakmoss, patchouli, spices, amber, vetiver

Where I find Mitsouko pleasurable from the instant I apply it, Parure's top notes are somewhat sharp and the scent mellows much more slowly. The leather and animalic notes are very deep and complex. Some people find layering Parure with an Aqua Allegoria scent tames Parure somewhat. I tried layering it with Rosa Magnifica and found that combination agreeable, but I prefer to wear it on its own. I find a drop of Parure is plenty, as it has more depth and sillage on me, and feels stronger than any other Guerlain. (The EdT strength is powerful enough for me.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

François Coty and Perfume Samples

François Coty (aka: Francisco Sportuno, aka: Joseph Spoturno) was born on the island of Corsica. From an early age he was obsessed with perfumery and had a very highly developed olfactory sense. He revolutionized the perfume industry by creating fine fragrances and pricing them affordably by the standards of the day. He saw that shopgirls could still not afford his perfumes, and so began selling much smaller bottles so that everyone could own a Coty fragrance. He was also extremely generous with the idea of free samples. The man was a genius, but had unfortunate political views, what with those fan letters he wrote to Hitler and all. The important thing is to remember Coty for revolutionizing the perfume industry and not his politics.

I love that Coty introduced mini bottles of fragrances and gave out free samples. I wish more of today's perfume companies would do the same. I refuse to buy a sample, and believe generosity leads to more sales than stinginess does. A large company asking consumers to pay for samples is a turn off. The more samples given out, the more perfumes get passed along from person to person. Somewhere along that line, purchases will be made, and often that company will gain very loyal customers. I can understand a struggling perfumer or a new niche perfumer selling sample vials, but not a company that can afford advertising and promotes itself as fabulous.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Randy Newman

Photo: Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Randy Newman.

Randy Newman's influences included Bob Dylan, R&B, New Orleans Jazz, and pop music. Although Newman's unusual pop albums never sold well, he was a great influence on many young singer / songwriters including Lyle Lovett , Mark Knopfler, and Rufus Wainwright. Harry Nilsson recorded a cover album called "Nilsson Sings Newman."
Some of Newman's song lyrics were misunderstood and caused controversy. Newman has most recently focused on film scores and musical theatre, where he has managed to keep stirring up controversy.

Political Science by Randy Newman (1972)

No one likes us
I don't know why.
We may not be perfect
But heaven knows we try.
But all around even our old friends put us down.
Let's drop the big one and see what happens.

We give them money
But are they grateful?
No they're spiteful
And they're hateful.
They don't respect us so let's surprise them;
We'll drop the big one and pulverize them.

Now Asia's crowded
And Europe's too old.
Africa's far too hot,
And Canada's too cold.
And South America stole our name.
Let's drop the big one; there'll be no one left to blame us.

We'll save Australia;
Don't wanna hurt no kangaroo.
We'll build an all-American amusement park there;
They've got surfing, too.

Well, boom goes London,
And boom Paris.
More room for you
And more room for me.
And every city the whole world round
Will just be another American town.
Oh, how peaceful it'll be;
We'll set everybody free;
You'll have Japanese kimonos, baby,
There'll be Italian shoes for me.
They all hate us anyhow,
So let's drop the big one now.
Let's drop the big one now.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Too Much Perfume

Steve at the wonderful Shadows and Light blog, brought this article to my attention. In case you didn't already know... Hey people! There are way too many perfumes out there, and we need to take a break!

Shocking, isn't it?

Let's be real, there are a whole lot of real big stinkers out there, and people are wearing scents that other people absolutely hate. Just because a note is "interesting" doesn't mean other people want to smell it everytime they are forced to interact with you.

What ever happened to wearing a drop or two of sexy perfume at night, with your significant other, who loves it? This same scent has no business smelling up the workplace.

This is why I applaud light scents like Cuir Beluga by Guerlain. Since it didn't knock people out, it was called bland or too light. In fact it is a wonderful and extremely well crafted daytime scent. I don't want to smell people who are standing 4 feet away from me.

I only really want to smell my close friends. And I don't want them to reek of perfumey plastic, tar, raspberry jam, jet fuel, or chocolate. I want them to smell like them, with maybe a very light touch of forest or flower.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Minis for Men

Mini bottles are seldom purchased by men, but they are great for travel and for keeping in your car or locker at the gym.
They are small enough to hang out with your Darth Vader and Yoda action figures. Bel Ami is a manly woodsy scent with a touch of smoky incense. Terre d' Hermes is a light yet warm scent with a citrus note.

This might be my all-time favorite men's cologne. The Dreamer by Gianni Versace. Gianni was inspired by the song Imagine by John Lennon, gin & tonics, and the Italian countryside to create a scent for himself. I think It is so beautiful. Even though this is a men's cologne, I keep this mini for myself.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Gay Manhattan

Alf hopes that all you Gay Manhattanites are going to have a great Valentines Day!

Daggett & Ramsdell were two pharmacists who formed a partnership in Newark, New Jersey sometime around 1890. Daggett had been working on skin care and cleansing products. By the turn of the century, Daggett had blended a few simple colognes, one of which he named Odoria. His products were sold door to door and out of stores located in New York and New Jersey. In the early 1940s perfumer Jean Desprez created the floral cologne Gay Manhattan for D&R. It sold well, and was presented in several different style bottles. Most of Daggett & Ramsdell's fragrance advertising was done during the 1940s when the company was at its peak. Later the perfume division was left to languish while the company focused on skin and hair care products. Another scent created by Desprez for D&R was Nuit de Versailles --a name similar to his most famous scent, Bal A Versailles (The House of Desprez.)

An advertisement from 1922. It claims that a woman's happiness depends largely upon her looks. What they meant back then by her looks was what we would call grooming today. Clean, smooth skin is the message here.
In 1922 one thin dime would buy you a tube of cold cream, but then the average weekly wages were: $14.00 if you were a maidservant in NYC, $25.00 if you were a factory worker in NY State, and $29.00 if you were a white collar worker, (like an insurance adjuster or something) in NY State. (Sources: NY Times, WSJ) With those wages, you'd pretty much have to spend your dimes carefully.

Even Dr. Seuss worked for D&R during their most successful period. (Notice the French words he used.)

(Click Images to Enlarge)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Shocking by Schiaparelli

An Italian Designer in Paris: Elsa Schiaparelli designed clothing that ranged from the elegant to the bizarre. She made shocking pink the color of the moment and urged women to do as they pleased and to dress boldly. Balenciaga said she was the only true artist in haute couture.

Her Amazing Family:
The actress Marisa Berenson was one of Schiaparelli's granddaughters. (Marisa starred in the 1975 Stanley Kubrick film Barry Lyndon. ) Another granddaughter, Berinthia, died on American Airlines Flight 11 during the September 11th attack in 2001. Schiaparelli's great grandson (Elvis Perkins) is a folk singer who has been compared to Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.
Schiaparelli's father Ernesto was an Italian Egyptogist who found Queen Nefertari's tomb in the Valley of the Queens in 1904. her mother was an Egyptian artist. Her uncle Giovanni was a famous astronomer who discovered the canals of Mars.

“She was full of ideas. She had tremendous imagination and fantasy about everything, including her own life. Most great artists have that.” --Marisa Berenson

"In difficult times fashion is always outrageous.”
-- Elsa Schiaparelli

Not surprisingly, Schiaparelli hired a young Salvador Dali as one of her designers. Together they worked on wild ideas for hats, perfumes, gloves, shoes, and dress designs

(I've been looking for an opportunity to use this Tex Avery wolf in a post--if you want to see some Tex Avery cartoons, check youtube.)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Brian Eno & Scent Mapping

"I wouldn't care if the recording studios were closed. I'd do something else. I don't have to be a musician. I could do whatever the situation demanded. For instance, in that cupboard where I have aromatic oils... essences. I mix them up...I wouldn't be at all unhappy if that was all I was left to work with for awhile.There's no vocabulary for it." --Brian Eno

Eno's ambition is to make really exceptional perfumes. He has given lectures that include his thoughts on perfumery and scent mapping techniques. He creates perfumes for friends and feels that certain scents connect directly with the brain, in that the molecules of the smell itself actually enter the brain and stimulate it. While our other senses may have interpretive mechanisms, he explains, our olfactory sense does not. Eno makes this his entry point for studying scent.

His music has been called 'audio perfume.'

Bob Dylan mentions Brian Eno's love of perfume in an interview. (see my January 13th 2007 post)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Dali & Dennis (& Chedwick)

It's true, Dennis was very chummy with Salvador Dali.
Here I am with a bottle of the original Dali perfume. It is a 'Lips and Nose' bottle designed by Dali--possibly based on one of his sculptures.

Dali became interested in the idea of creating his own perfumes during the time he spent working with Elsa Schiaparelli in Paris. He always wanted to launch a perfume line, and finally did when he was too frail to paint any longer. In 1983 he finished his final painting and re-worked some designs that he had made for perfume bottles over the years.

Dali, his first perfume was an exotic woodsy oriental, once a favorite of Princess Caroline of Monaco.
Head notes of aldehydes, citrus and herbs
Heart notes of rose, tuberose, orris root, jonquil, jasmine and spices.
Bottom notes: sandalwood, amber, vanilla, musk, balsam, cedar, and myrrh.

"The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad." -Salvador Dali

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Poetry in Cyberspace Day

"I heard my love was going to Yang-chou
And went with him as far as Ch'u-shan.

For a moment when you held me fast in your outstretched arms
I thought the river stood still and did not flow."

(Once attributed to the woman poet, Tzu Yeh, but now some of the large collection appears to have been written by a group of women from Soochow and Nanking, who called them "Tzu Yeh Songs" ( China: 3rd-6th century )