Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Unwavering Popularity of Vanilla Scents

"Vanilla isn’t plain to product developers. It’s the x-factor in most fragrances, conjuring feelings of craving, warmth and familiarity. Other scent trends come and go, but vanilla shows no sign of waning popularity, fragrance experts say. That is fueling a chase to find new iterations."


Thus begins the article by Ellen Byron on Wall Street Journal, more of an advertorial for the new Bath & Body Works Wild Madagascar Vanilla, but interesting all the same. Such as this nugget:

"Preference for vanilla appears to form before birth, helped by mothers using and eating so many things that contain it, says Pamela Dalton, a faculty member at Monell Chemical Senses Center, a scientific-research institution. Vanilla can be found in amniotic fluid and in breast milk so people are exposed extremely early on in life, she says. […]
By adulthood, most humans have had so many interactions with vanilla’s scent and flavor that nostalgia drives even more preference for it, says Dr. Dalton, who has studied humans’ ability to perceive the vanilla scent, even at low levels. “We’re very receptive to it, even when it’s blended in other mixtures,” she says."
There's also the Dame Perfumery Scottsdale Black Flower Mexican Vanilla fragrance, out this past summer, which I haven't personally tried but which sounds promising. Vanilla is like the little black dress, an easy solution to a complex dilemma, a sure bet, a staple, the perfect nude lipstick of the beauty world.

Which prompts me to bump up my Vanilla Series on Perfume Shrine which highlighted some of the varieties of styles that vanilla fragrances can take and the top vanilla perfumes in each of them. Always current I suppose!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Oscar de la Renta: 1932-2014

The Dominican designer Oscar de la Renta had to die at 82 years of age for me to find out his very Hellenic middle name, taken on from his mother's brother side, shame on me. Aristides, "of an excellent kind". How apt!

Amal Clooney's wedding dress was designed by Oscar de la Renta, photo via Vogue

the man via

The multi-awarded trainee of Cristóbal Balenciaga, and then at some point head designer for Balmain, who truly loved and cherished women throughout his opus, soon showed a keen eye for color, for red carpet gowns and for ensembles that dressed First Ladies and Hollywood film stars alike to great aplomb. He also designed Torguga Bay, a small boutique hotel, among the best in the world. And of course he diversified into elegant perfumes right from the 1970s onwards: Oscar original (1977), several Oscar flankers, So La Renta, RufflesVolupte, Something Blue, Live in Love, Esprit d'Oscar

via vintageadbrowser

dresses from the Fall 2012 colection

Fern Mallis, Executive Director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, had called him some years back "The Sultan of Suave". You couldn't have done better than that if you tried.

from the Exhibition "Five Decades of Style" showing dresses and tailleurs worn by First Ladies

Monday, October 20, 2014

October Blog Sale

There comes the time again of decants and assorted stuff. You know what you have to do.
Please include appropriate title in email sent to Contact so I can sort through them easily. Without further ado, here you go.

Gucci Rush: Discontinued lactonic chypre with quirky vanilla note that got a cult following. Peach, freesia, Turkish rose, vanilla, vetiver, patchouli.

Guerlain Samsara vintage edt: The way it used to be, big, proud, woody. Jasmine and sandalwood.

Guerlain L'Instant Magic: Discontinued powdery floral that attracts romantic types. Bergamot, rose, jasmine, iris, mimosa, almond, musk.

Lancome Magie Noire vintage: Strong chypre-oriental with darkly menacing trail. Blackcurrant, galbanum, rose, oakmoss, jasmine, amber, incense, myrrh.

Paloma Picasso vintage: The emblematic chypre fronted by Picasso's daughter. Coriander, angelica, aldehydes, ylang ylang, jasmine, tobacco, vetiver, oakmoss, sandalwood, civet, castoreum, musk.

Rochas Madame Rochas vintage edt: Ineffable French chic. Neroli, bergamot, jasmine, rose, aldehydes, orris, violet, narcissus, cedar, sandalwood, oakmoss, tonka beans.

Tom Ford Cafe Rose (Private Line): A unisex chypre blend with highly attractive notes: saffron, black pepper, Turkish rose, coffee, sandalwood, incense, patchouli, amber.

Tom Ford Sahara Noir: The Middle East perfume that is as dark as the night: bitter orange, rose petals, cinnamon, honey, incense, vanilla, cedar.

Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille (Private Line): Snuggly oriental for autumn evenings and promising nights. Vanilla, tobacco leaves and blossoms, dried fruits, spices, cacao, woody notes.

Tom Ford Black Violet (Private Line): Discontinued odd salty-woody floral in the line, a gem to be discovered. Bergamot, citrus, violet, oakmoss, woody notes.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

L'Artisan Parfumeur Re-Launches Two Long Lost Fragrances

The cult status of some perfumes, alongside the demand from a vocal audience online, has resulted in several companies re-releasing fragrances that we thought gone for ever. This the case with Venezia by Laura Biagotti, Yohji fragrances, the Patou Ma Collection line of vintage perfumes, or the 2014 relaunch of the three Helmut Lang fragrances (Helmut Lang eau de parfum, Helmut Lang eau de toilette and Cuiron).


Usually it doesn't help that either the newest launch differs somewhat from the older one for reasons of conforming to current perfumery allergens regulations (the case of Venezia), or that the price is significantly elevated (i.e. the Helmut Lang trio).  But it's small consolation in the heart of the dedicated fan all the same. L'Artisan Parfumeur has already re-issued one beloved fragrance from the discarded pile, Jour de Fete (review of 2014 version & comparison with vintage on this link). 

Now they're re-issuing another cult favorite, Tea for Two, much lamented and fetching high prices on auction sites, as well as an oldie from the 1980s, Eau de Caporal. Both are going to be part of the permanent collection with retail availability later this year.

L'Artisan Parfumeur L'Eau du Caporal was originally composed by the founder of the brand, Jean Laporte in 1985, and was an aromatic fougere laying mint over lavender and oakmoss adhering scentwise to an outdoorsy rough image of a military man.
L'Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two is the original smoky tea, an aromatic spicy from 2000 composed by perfumer Olivia Giacobetti, reminiscent of Lapsang Souchong brews and something of a reference; a witty blend of black tea and gourmand delights, gingerbread and honey.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The One That I Want: Gisele Performs for Baz Luhrmann in Chanel No.5 Commercial

Every new commercial for Chanel No.5 is a small idyll and the reason isn't very hard to see: we're talking about the perfume industry's most sacred totem. The amount of ink and gigabytes spent to write about No.5 (and the whole Chanel mythos) is spilling forth and my cup filleth. But still I was left sort of mesmerized upon watching the latest Chanel No.5 video commercial, directed by Aussie maverick & iconoclast Baz Luhrmann (who might possibly never surpass his Romeo & Juliet 1990s film adaptation, but who's interesting and relevant all the same).

The credits come full circle as Luhrmann had directed the 2004 commercial starring a fledgingly scary-looking at the time (notice the eyes) Nicole Kidman as "a dancer" (but really a celebrity) who pushes away Rodrigo Santoro (then becoming famous through his participation in 300) in what was an almost bankrupting filming for the French brand of luxury goods. The couture gowns designed by Karl Lagerfeld, the jewelry, the body suit and high heel pumps, the chauffeured limos, the skyscraper views, the dancing routines, the red carpet exit, the Debussy music…

Luhrmann doesn't really cut down on budget for the new Chanel No.5 commercial for 2014 and again uses a well known male actor to his feminine heroine, the giga-super-model Gisele, this time Game of Thrones' Michel Huisman. In fact this is the first time that the heroine in those commercials doesn't shy away from a man, but seeks him out.
But what really stands out is the genius use of music, Lo Fang's extra slow (like, 5 times slower than normal) cover of The One That I Want, the famous Grease song that vindicated a generation or two.

Even though I was initially skeptical on the choice of Gisele standing as the face of this iconic French perfume, when it was first announced, this was mainly because she doesn't embody any of the cliches that we come to associate with either Chanel (brunette, small framed, very smart but quirky looking) or the French "chic" (lots of simple black & white, Cleopatra-cut bobs, red lipstick and a spattering of rather unhealthy habits). But seeing the film, I can't deny that apart from a couple rather "void" gros plans at her face on the surf board, I find myself convinced.

Of course I disagree with Lurhmann that Gisele embodies the multi-tasking character of Coco Chanel (a much more manipulative and sharply street-smart woman, what in Greek we call "καπάτσα"), but she looks good (in not only gorgeous-gams-and-hair way, but also convincing in her anxiousness during role playing). Additionally the fact that the director and scripting didn't get her to speak any lines is clever; why shatter the perfect image? It's all played through direction, something that shows very well in the 3-minute long film (shorter snippets of 30 and 60 seconds will play on TV screens during the countdown to Christmas).

Lurhmann, a man known for his grandiloquence, also makes use of some personal leitmotifs: the Queensboro bridge driving-through shot which he used in his Nicole Kidman commercial for No.5, his The Great Gatsby and now for the latest Chanel commercial, for one. To Baz it's a shot out of Fitzgerald's novel that suggests inner turnmoil, much like the Brooklyn bridge stands out in filming as a symbol of faith in industrialization (or even the unification of America, such as in Atlantis poem by Hart Crane).

 The commercial of Chanel No.5 featuring Gisele isn't as dreamy as the Audrey Tautou Chanel commercial (who unsurprisingly did embody French cuteness to a T), which had been directed by Jeanne Pierre Jeunet, but it's rather charming all the same. For instance, I absolutely love the clever association of "chills" in the lyrics to the water bubbles shown and the famed zing of aldehydes on the top perfume notes of this most classic floral aldehydic fragrance. And I also smile watching the very cute mother & daughter spraying a cloud of perfume in the air ritual]. The Chanel commercial, especially for something as timless and "old" is better mannered than Dior's latest J'Adore 2014 commercial (which basically told us off if we romanticize any sort of timelessness). Assuredly a step into the right direction after the catastrophe of sanctioning that Brad Pitt commercial (and patching things up last season with a Marilyn tape transcript). Well done Chanel!

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: 
The most incredible Chanel No.5 commercial ever is from 1982
Chanel No.5 Through the Years: Iconography and Advertising
Clips of old Chanel No.5 commercials
Collective PerfumeShrine Posts on Chanel No.5 (scroll)

Blog Widget by LinkWithin