Thursday, January 31, 2008

Marcel Duchamp et Chedwick

Marcel Duchamp & Chedwick photographed by Man Ray. Two perfume bottle collectors immortalized.

Marcel Duchamp wore scents and created artwork inspired by perfume bottles, and the fragrances themselves. His most obvious was a label for an imaginary perfume inspired by a duplicitous woman. He used an existing bottle, changing the peach color of the glass to green, since the woman's surname was Greener, aka Greene.

The photo on the label is Marcel himself, (dressed as the woman who led him on) photographed by Man Ray.

"The truth was obscure, too profound and too pure,
to live it you have to explode.
In that last hour of need, we entirely agreed,
sacrifice was the code of the road.
I left town at dawn, with Marcel and St. John,
strong men belittled by doubt.
I couldn't tell her what my private thoughts were,
but she had some way of finding out."
--Bob Dylan

*Ched collects perfume bottles and uses them in artwork, so if you have some to throw away--please save them for Chedwick or another collector instead. recycle, re-use! Also, if you have a vintage perfume bottle, check with Kovels Antiques to find out what it might be worth.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Go Green

Some people have been commenting that they are struggling with seasonal affective disorder right now, so I thought I'd do a green post. There are lots of things you can do to lift your spirits. On sunny days, get some sun! I drag myself to the widest windowsill at dawn and stretch out. It helps a lot. Also eat fresh greens and something fresh like nice green kiwi fruits. Dance a little. Wear a scent that smells like summertime. Scent your water with a fresh lime slice.

My favorite green floral scents are Cabotine de Gres and Gucci's Envy. But there are plenty of scents out there that will lift us out of the winter doldrums.

My favorite fougere is Jicky, created by Guerlain in 1889. I also like Maja by Myrurgia (1921) The whole fougere category of fragrances isn't exactly ferny, but they do evoke a mossy, almost damp forest on a summer afternoon, with a fresh lavender scented breeze wafting through. Most fougeres are very aromatic and manly like Egoiste Platinum by Chanel for example. There are a half dozen subcategories of fougeres. Some are sweet, some are spicy, some are floral. There is a fougere for every man.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Napoleon III & Imperiale

Photo: A royal patent for Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain.

Louis Napoleon was the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, and was the first president and the last monarch of France. He lead the typical life of military adventure, occasional exile, sending men to Devil's Island, and dodging assassination attempts, but found ample time for his many mistresses. He claimed that women threw themselves at him: "It is usually the man who attacks. As for me, I defend myself, and I often capitulate." His wife was put off by these romances, and once her son was born, left him to his mistresses, to focus on the child. (Her son would predecease her, dying in battle in South Africa.)

Born on the 5th Day of May in 1826, Eugénie wife of Napoleon III was a Spanish Countess. She was educated, intelligent, and Napoleon III of France fell in love with her and would marry no other, even though she was not considered good enough for the House of Bonaparte. He asked her for her opinions and often would not make an important decision without her.

"I have preferred a woman whom I love and respect to a woman unknown to me." --Napoleon III

Eugénie was known for being fashionable and set the new standard for women --brains plus beauty. The City of Paris gave her a wedding gift of six hundred thousand francs, but at her request it was used to found a female college. Eugénie's favorite perfumer, Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain created Eau de Cologne Imperiale for the House of Napoleon and received the title of His Majesty's Official Perfumer. After just thirteen years in business, Guerlain became one of the most fashionable perfume houses in the world.

One hundred and fifty five years later, Imperiale retains its status as a refined, well-loved cologne.

Imperiale (1853)
Head notes: lemon, bergamot
Heart notes: neroli, petitgrain
Bottom notes: cedar, tonka

A fresh, clean light cologne with a citrus head note. This is a subtle fragrance, and may only last for a few hours, but it is fresh and invigorating from start to finish. Some people find it a rather addictive morning ritual, spritzing a little on to the back of the neck. This is so light, you can re-spritz after lunch for a pick-me-up. Imperiale is such a timeless classic, it is elegance in a bottle.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sophia Grojsman

We are all familiar with American Royalty. Hollywood royals like Gary Cooper and Bob Hope showed you did not need to be born in America to be embraced by her. Russian born chemist and perfumer Sophia Grojsman is another American princess.
Here are three of my favorite Sophia Grojsman scents. (from left, Sun Moon Stars, Tresor, and Bvlgari Pour Femme) All three are gentle, sweet, romantic florals. Soft, warm and delicate, Sun Moon Stars is a peachy rose that reminds me of rose-scented Turkish delight. Tresor is a very light, silky blend of apricot and roses. The Bvlgari scent had me sniffing my wrists all last summer with it's smooth combination of violets, roses and peach. Yes, Grosjman loves roses... and those warm peach and apricot notes.

Grojsman became an American Citizen in the 1960s. As a child in Russia, she said she played with flowers rather than toys. She has created many famous perfumes including Vanderbilt, Eternity, YSL's Paris and Yvress (aka Champagne) Beautiful, Spellbound, and White Linen for Estee Lauder, Calyx, Jaipur for Boucheron, Kashaya by Kenzo, Immaculate, and others. I haven't tried every single one of these, but I hope to. Yvress has a sparkling nectarine note, and amazingly it does give off a fizzy 'champagne' vibe.

(Photo of Sophia Grosjman : National Geographic Magazine)
(Rose photo: One of my Wm. Baffin Climbing roses, last summer.)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bob Dylan's Dream

Bob wrote a song called 'The Tuxedo Cat Uprising' for his favorite cats. Tuxedos everywhere were going to protest against those cruel pet owners who treat their dogs like royalty while forcing their cats to live outdoors or in unheated shacks or depressing garages. The uprising never happened, though, because the Tuxedo leadership got into the catnip and missed it. Still, they still hung out with Bob and were the only ones to hear the great song. "Dennis liked both the lyrics and the melody." said Dennis. Bob said his dream was that people wake up and realize how valuable cats really are.

Keep off the catnip, just sniff some grass.

The Tuxedo Trio then sang a doo-wop version of 'Dear Landlord'

"Dear landlord,
Please don't put a price on my soul.
My burden is heavy,
My dreams are beyond control...

...Dear landlord,
Please don't dismiss my case.
I'm not about to argue,
I'm not about to move to no other place.
Now, each of us has his own special gift
And you know this was meant to be true,
And if you don't underestimate me,
I won't underestimate you."
--Written by Bob Dylan
(for cats who suffer with bad landlords)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

One More Cup of Coffee

"Your sister sees the future
Like your mama and yourself.
You've never learned to read or write
There's no books upon your shelf.
And your pleasure knows no limits
Your voice is like a meadowlark
But your heart is like an ocean
Mysterious and dark.

One more cup of coffee for the road,
One more cup of coffee 'fore I go
To the valley below."

--Bob Dylan

Small cups of coffee beans are often found on perfume counters. After sniffing a few fragrances you need to refresh your olfactory sense, and coffee is the prefect refresher. Just breathe in the scent of the beans, and you are ready to continue on your perfume quest.

Some men's (and unisex) colognes boast a coffee note, and here is a partial list:
Rochas Man by Rochas, Christobal by Balenciaga, Hanae Mori pour Homme, Sweet Wood Coffee by Comme des Garçons, and New Haarlem by Bond No. 9.

Jo Malone's Black Vetyver Café certainly sounds good, but her pricey scents don't last very long at all. Sweet Wood Coffee has been called wonderfully espresso-like by some and not at all coffee-like by others, so it really depends on the individual's chemistry. (There are also women's scents with coffee notes, but they really fall into the mocha category.)

Thierry Mugler is planning to launch a 'Pure Coffee' scent sometime this year, and it should do well in this coffee nation.

The least expensive and the most fun, is Espresso by Demeter.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Diane Von Furstenberg

D by DVF has headnotes of Violet Leaves and Mandarin Blossoms, with a heart of natural Jasmine Absolute, Ylang Ylang , Lily & spices. Soft end notes of Patchouli & Woods.

Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Artist: Von Furstenberg, Diane (American, born Brussells 1946)
Textile Collection. Women Artists of North America (Gift of Richard Martin, 1997)

Diane Von Furstenberg - When she married Prince Egon, and became the young Princess of Furstenberg, she felt she didn't want to be just a "girl nobody" who came from nothing and married royalty. She had always wanted to be a designer, so she set to work and made her 70's wrap dress a staple in women's wardrobes. The wrap is my favorite dress style of all time.

You may recall other DVF Fragrances (Tatiana, Volcan d' Amour.)

Years ago, one of my aunts, while standing at a perfume counter waiting to buy me some Shalimar for my birthday, sampled some Tatiana. Generous soul that she was, she bought a small bottle of it for me, in addition to the Shalimar. I wore Tatiana all that summer, and every time I smell it now, I remember all the fun I had--those summer nights running around with my girlfriends, going to see local bands and roaming in a close-knit girly pack--it was our summer of ignoring boys and just hanging out.

Volcan D' Amour was a Fiery Chypre scent, somewhat popular in the 80's. I am guessing both Tatiana and Volcan are discontinued. They did not get enough advertising, perhaps-- because they were good perfumes.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Bob Dylan & Bond No. 9

Sleepy looking Bob with Eau de New York by Bond No.9 -- Many people truly need coffee or tea to wake up in the morning, and a dash of cologne stimulates the senses, too.

The Bond line is all about New York City. They have many perfumes, but I've only worn a few of them.
~Eau de New York: A nice solifloral Lily scent with a Neroli head note and a peppery end note.
~Chinatown: A very wearable oriental. (Peach Blossoms, Gardenia, Patchouli, Cardamom.)
~Little Italy: A citrussy scent with a nod to Gelato. The Clementine note truly sparkles.
~Coney Island is a gourmand scent with fruits, vanilla, and chocolate in a light musk, sandalwood & cedar base.

Keith never needed any stimulant to wake up-- he was pretty energetic 24/7. If anything, he could have used a sedative first thing in the morning.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Chéd et Fréd

Last night I dreamt I met Frédéric Malle. He spoke so quickly though, (and my own French is so rudimentary) I couldn't make out what he was saying. He talked and talked and talked and didn't give me any free perfume either-- not a single drop. It was just a frustrating dream and I tried to pull this interpreter guy into the room, but the dream ended before I could do so.

Frédéric created "Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfums" and is the grandson of Serge Heftler, the man who created Parfums Christian Dior. What I like about Fréd--is how he treats his perfumers like the artists that they are. Perfumers work hard to create and perfect a scent, and that hard work and artistry should be appreciated even when your body chemistry does not agree with a scent. After all, you can't wear them all... and perfumers can't make everything "you" specific. Fréd grew up appreciating perfumes and being realistic as well as romantic about them. His company makes modern perfumes in the classic way.

Fréd is also the nephew of the late film maker Louis Malle and wanted to give the gift of a tuberose scent to his aunt, Candice Bergen. The fragrance was named "Carnal Flower." Perfumer Domonique Ropion spent two years crafting the scent. Carnal Flower contains the highest amount of tuberose absolute in any fragrance. If tuberose is not your thing, there are many other fine perfumes in the collection.

"Dreams are by definition, cursed with short life spans."
--Candice Bergen

Louie Malle made some great films. 'Damage' was based on the novel of the same name by Josephine Hart.
'Zazie dans le Metro' and 'My Dinner with Andre' are two other Louie Malle films that I enjoyed watching.

Friday, January 18, 2008

In Olden Times

Back in the days of yore, almost every woman had a monkey doll like this one. Those who didn't have a monkey pined away for one, or made one from a piece of old chair cushion or something. (The History Channel is going to be showing a 90 minute documentary on this, but not until 2009, so I thought I'd post some information now.)

A group of monkey doll fearing marauders had been terrorizing women at that time. (This is a photo of their leader, William Smith) These marauders felt that monkey dolls had an evil power over men, so they never touched them.

Inside these special monkey dolls were small vials filled with precious drops of perfume. These rare perfumes were hidden in the monkey to protect them from the marauders who showed up on a regular basis to ransack houses in search of just one precious item: perfume. The marauders ended up stealing the "Factice" perfume bottles that were left out in plain sight.

Smith's marauders collected a very impressive amount of fake perfume, and tried to sell it on the black market which led to the famous "Fake Perfume Rebellion of 1873. I won't tell the rest of this fascinating saga, just in case you want to watch the actual documentary.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Child's Garden of Glass

When I was a kid I had dozens of these little glass "trees" to play with. They were heavy crystal and none of them ever got broken or even chipped. Most of the play stories started out like this: Some sort of doll/toy wanders into The Snow Queen's crystal forest. They reflected the surface they sat on, which lead to finding interesting surfaces for them, and a lot of daydreaming. They could be spun like tops, too.

I lost most of these stoppers over the years, and the bottles, too. Running up and down the hilly terrain of Prospect Park, we'd pretend we were soldiers during WW2 who just happened to have crystal canteens.

My mother, her friends and my aunts kept me supplied with these bottles, The paper labels wore off fairly easily. They had once held Chypre 53, Vol de Nuit, Shalimar, Lui, and L'Heure Bleue but empty they provided hours of fun.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Hitchcock's film version of Daphne du Maurier's acclaimed gothic novel 'Rebecca' is wonderful. Rebecca de Winter is dead, but she is still very present throughout the story. The name of her sailboat -- Je Reviens-- is very fitting one as Rebecca keeps coming back. The Joan Fontaine character, (we never know her first name) is the new Mrs. de Winter but is so intimidated by the first Mrs. de Winter, she can't function properly and is filled with self doubt and dread. The frighteningly creepy maid, Mrs. Danvers, is always eager to make things worse:

Mrs. Danvers: "You thought you could be Mrs. de Winter, live in her house, walk in her steps, take the things that were hers.
But she's too strong for you. You can't fight her. No one ever got the better of her, never, never. She was beaten in the end,
but it wasn't a man, it wasn't a woman - It was the sea !"

I am wearing Je Reviens EdT as I type this post. Light yet spicy, with the carnation note that I love. It reminds me of the way you feel being in a warm cozy place on a windy winter day. This elegant fragrance was created in 1932 by the house of Worth. It has head notes of Orange Blossom, Ylang Ylang, and Aldehydes. The heart of the perfume is a bouquet of Carnation, Jonquil and Violet. The bottom notes include Amber, Musk and Sandalwood.

Daphne du Maurier also wrote the short story "The Birds" which became another classic Hitchcock film.

Daphne du Maurier's favorite perfume was Chanel No. 5.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Vintage Perfume Advertising

Not technically a perfume, but there's something about an Aqua Velva man. They even made a special bottle that looked like a baseball trophy.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Evening in Paris

My parents had six children (four daughters) Elegant First Daughter and I bonded very well, Second Daughter has always been a "win at all costs" type, and Fourth Daughter, from day one has been the unpredictable wild child. I am Third Daughter, and the nerd of the daughter group, I guess.

This post is about Second Daughter and a bottle of Evening in Paris perfume. When I was in primary school, S.D. had a bottle of the stuff and all I wanted was to try some. Looking to profit from my desire, she said "maybe" ... if I did the dishes for her, and so forth--I did some of her chores but never did get to try the perfume. Finally she showed me the almost empty bottle and said she might consider selling it to me or trading it for something. A deal was eventually made, but knowing her deals had loopholes, I made my dad witness the exchange. I was happy to get my hands on the bottle, and eagerly opened it to sniff. She snickered as I sniffed. She had washed it out with chlorine bleach, so there was no trace of perfume at all. I still don't know what Evening in Paris smells like.

S.D. moved on to Ambush by Dana right after that, and like every scent she chose, it smelled good on her. Whatever perfume she wore, she bragged that it was the best. She wore Opium for a few years, and still does on occasion-- her chosen scents suit her as she is a successful businesswoman with a charming yet forceful personality. She is much nicer to me now that we are adults, and always buys me lots of perfume, even buying me scents she openly disapproves of, just because she knows I like them.

So... the whole cruel "Evening in Paris" episode is forgiven.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Bob Dylan, Whoever That Is

I'm not much for reading Dylan interviews, but I like the pictures. I like portraits of people--their eyes especially.

"All I can do is be me--whoever that is." --Bob Dylan, 1965

Labeled: The Poet's Poet --Whatever that is.

Alf, the consummate professional, returns to show off one of my Christmas presents--a five piece Chanel gift set. The first Alf sitcom episode I saw was the one where he is fighting off a giant cockroach. Bug spray just makes the cockroach thrive and grow larger. In desperation, Alf sprays perfume on it, saying something like "yeah, and ya smell good, too!" and of course the pricey perfume kills the cockroach. (Ha ha.)

This adorable little set has bottles of Coco, Coco Mademoiselle, Allure, Allure Sensuelle, and Chanel No. 5. My favorite of the moment is Allure Sensuelle, while Portable Hair Dryer Girl has been hitting the Coco pretty hard.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mary Kate & Ashley & Dennis

Dennis has signed a contract to endorse London Beat, a "Coast to Coast" perfume by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen.
Dennis loves the fragrance, which smells like berries and cream soda. People who love the way the Olsen twins dress, pose and eat, will adore this scent.

Dennis doesn't care that 99% of the original money was spent doing a series of photo shoots of the twins--trying to get 'just the right shot' for the box. There was not much left over to spend on bottle design or the perfume itself. Dennis will work with the twins in February creating an ad to re-launch their perfume line. "They will pay Dennis a lot of money to pose with them." Dennis said.

"The Olsen twins are big fans of Dennis" says Dennis. Last summer the Olsen twins attended the Bob Dylan concert in Atlantic City, New Jersey. They went backstage to tell Bob that they were massive fans and love his music.

"They like Dennis better, though," says Dennis.

London Beat retails for $16.50, but Dennis gets to smell just like the Olsen twins for free. "Dennis gets free perfume from the twins because they like Dennis." Dennis explained.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The History of L'Heure Bleue

The History of Tangled Up in L'Heure Bleue: This blog is celebrating its one year anniversary today. Inspired by Bob Dylan, The House of Guerlain, and a small affectionate cat.

L'Heure Bleue was born in Paris in 1912. Inspired by the Blue Hour... Twilight. Paris at dusk. The blue hour occurs between the hours of daylight and darkness. Everyone knows this melancholy hour--in Scotland it is referred to as the gloaming. The blue hour can also mean the time period before WWI, when Paris was enjoying a period of calm and innocence. (Well some innocence, anyway.)

The perfume perfectly captures the mood and emotion of the time. It is a powdery floral blend. Carnation is the star of its heart. Notes: Aniseed, Violet, Rose, Jasmine, Carnation, Vanilla, Musk

I prefer the EdT with this one, as it is lighter, but the parfum is extraordinary also. You can purchase the parfum at Bergdorf Goodman for approx $300. The EdT is easier to find (sometimes in stock at Nieman Marcus, Saks, Sephora, & Discount Perfume shops online for $62.00 or less--as low as $39.00 through discounters.)


I'm Comin' Out

I want to jump for joy.

Paul Smith for Women (2000) Perfumer: Arthur Burnham, (who also created Inis, and other perfumes for Fragrances of Ireland)
The first thing that hit me was the blackcurrant note, mixed with some citrus and fresh clean slice of pear. Then the peppercorns kick in, and the scent gets sparkling. A truly unusual scent. The heart of the scent is a very soft floral bouquet, (lily of the valley & freesia) and a strong tea note, which makes the scent feel unisex--the woodsy, patchouli base is warm, all 'tea & pepper'

"Ev'rybody's building the big ships and the boats,
Some are building monuments,
Others, jotting down notes,
Ev'rybody's in despair,
Ev'ry girl and boy
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here,
Ev'rybody's gonna jump for joy.
Come all without, come all within,
You'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn."
--Bob Dylan

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Toothday, January 8, 2008

Portable Hair Dryer Girl told me it was Toothday this morning but I thought she said "Tuesday" so I was unconcerned. Then we went for a drive and ended up at the cat hospital. What a drag.
Everything went dark but when I woke up I was still alive, so that made me happy.

This picture was taken yesterday when a sunbeam was streaming in the window. Somehow it turned out like this instead of the long ray of light it was. I think it looks like a guardian angel.

On the way home we listened to the car radio and I heard Nancy Sinatra sing-- "You only live twice, or so it seems... one life for yourself and one for your dreams...."

Her voice was really pretty and since I had just had a brush with death it felt like she was singing the song directly to me.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Giorgio of Beverly Hills

Please Jane, be reasonable! -- If we want Giorgio to do his banking here at Commerce, you'll have to wear the damn perfume!

I got this sample in my Christmas stocking. Dare I test it on myself?The blog readers decide...
Headnotes: bergamot, orange blossom, ylang-ylang. Heart notes:jasmine, mandarin, rose, carnation, orris,
Bottom notes:sandalwood, cedar, and musk, (Powerful floral evening fragrance with strong honey-like note)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Thursday, January 3, 2008

René the Florentine

Catherine de' Medici arrived in France in 1533. (The Italian niece of Pope Clement was engaged to Henry II.) She brought her two best male friends along with her to France -- her astrologer and her perfumer.

Her perfumer was Renato Bianco, a diabolical genius when it came to elixirs . Renato became known as René and soon set up a very exclusive perfume shop near the Pont au Change thanks to the financial backing of the royals. Perfumer René the Florentine enjoyed dealing in potions for romances -- he dealt in new romance, seduction and desire. He also participated in the drama of dying romances, the very dead romance, and romantic rivalry. Wealthy patrons would come in by appointment to secure a scent to capture the heart of a new love interest, or to buy a deadly fast acting poison to get rid of a tired old husband, a rival, or a dull former lover who simply would not go away.

The shop is long gone, but Parisian guides sometimes refer to it on tours that pass near this bridge.

"I'm walking through streets that are dead
Walking, walking with you in my head
My feet are so tired, my brain is so wired
And the clouds are weeping

Did I hear someone tell a lie?
Did I hear someone's distant cry?
I spoke like a child; you destroyed me with a smile
While I was sleeping" -- Bob Dylan

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

State of the Scents Address

Welcome to you all,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Ambassadors, Foreign Affairs Ministers, and I am thrilled to see that President Mary McAleese of the Republic of Ireland is here today, as well as the Prime Minister of France, François Fillon, and his Holiness The Dalai Lama. I am so glad you are here with me today. Thank you all for traveling to the Scented Pavillion, for my "State of the Perfume" message. This is my very first address on the state of perfumery today.

First let me begin by saying that lovely scents like Shalimar, Tresor, J'Adore and the Chanels are still selling like hotcakes worldwide, which is nice to know. It gives one a sense of stability.

Secondly, I want to point out the 2007 sales of Irish perfumes, such as Inis and Inis Arose were very good. Congratulations to Fragrances of Ireland.

The year 2007 was a very prolific perfume year. Hundreds of new scents were introduced, and niche perfumer's continued to blossom in many countries. Artistic types began making perfumes at home, and some quality limited edition fragrances were available through their efforts. Although we saw shortages of some natural raw materials which we will address in detail throughout the new year, chemists are constantly making new synthetic notes, which save our rain forest trees and plants, and are often hypo-allergenic. The careful creation of very high quality upscale organic fragrances is also on the rise, giving consumers more choices than ever before. Pacifica reports that sales of their perfume, Tibetan Mountain Temple, are brisk.
We are happy to report that the popularity of perfumes continues and grows.

People who remained lost and unscented for decades are now trying perfumes for the first time, and not just for special occasions. Various scents are being applied in meditation rituals, at bedtime, and sometimes as invigorating tonics, depending upon the person's aromatic spiritual needs.
Thank you very much, I wish each and every one of you a very fragrant New Year and don't forget to grab some virtual sample scents on your way out of the pavillion.

Thank you again for attending.