Friday, March 31, 2006

Warhol On the Other Side of the Camera

Andy Warhol might have captured beatnik It Girl Edie Sedgwick on film but who took pictures of Andy Warhol? His name is Christopher Makos. I had the chance to meet with this talented photographer at his studio for an interview some years ago; he was a close friend to Andy Warhol and I feel he had captured his friend from a deeply respectful, kindhearted perspective. We (the crew) were able to see private videos of the two of them together--these were incredibly sad and moving to see. Check out the online exhibition at

Goddess Among Us: Chaka Khan

From Rufus to Chaka Khan solo, I've been a fan of this diva (in the truest meaning of the word) from the first time I heard her sing. Some of my favorite recordings include: Through the Fire, Sweet Thing, Papillon (aka Hot Butterfly), Tell Me Something Good, Ain't Nobody, Stronger Than Before.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Georgia O'Keeffe

"So I said to myself-I'll paint what I see-what the flower is to me but I'll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking the time to look at it-I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers."

Georgia O'Keeffe. (American, 1887-1986). Banana Flower. (1934). Charcoal on paper, 21 3/4 x 14 3/4" (55.2 x 37.7 cm).
© 2006 The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Monday, March 27, 2006

Fruity Florals: Pretty From the Off Beaten Path

If Florals are considered by and large traditional scents, Fruity Florals might be best described as florals for fun-loving nontraditionalists, moderate misfits and overgrown juvenile delinquents like myself. The words that usually comes to mind when I smell a Fruity scent: "bubblegum", "spunky", "flirty", "spirited" or "eccentric", all depending on the blend. My own perfume composition (Pink Manhattan PURRFUME) is in this category, having notes of fresh peach and a floral bouquet featuring gardenia, pink hibiscus and Calla lily, although it also slightly crosses over into the Gourmand (vanilla) category giving it a sweet and sexy edge. Mine was inspired by Coquette Tropique, a scintillating cult perfume featuring d'Anjou pear long before the note showed up in Britney Spears' fragrance. There are many types of fruity fragrances ranging from light and sporty to sophisticated and complex, and they are among the most popular scents in our perfume culture.

Fruity Floral is the youngest subgenre of floral perfumes as it's only been introduced in the last 15 years. "Classic" Fruity Florals in my mind (the perfumes that set the standard before or around the time the subgenre was created) include Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Prescriptives Calyx, Clinique Happy and Givenchy Amarige. Other popular Fruity Florals include: Yves Saint-Laurent Baby Doll, Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, Donna Karan Red Delicious, Ralph Lauren Ralph Cool, Jo Malone Nectarine Blossom & Honey, L'Aromarine Peche, Annick Goutal Petite Cherie, L'Artisan Parfumeur Ananas Fizz, G by Giorgio Beverly Hills, the Escada Limited Edition Summer scents and the list goes on. Each season, there are hundreds of Fruity Floral launches but only a handful of them have become my personal favorites. The onslaught of Fruity Florals has turned the genre into the new traditional scent type so-to-speak, just because it's so widely available and mainstream. However, they still have a punky reputation since traditional perfume lovers usually can't stand them.

Some Fruity Florals are actually quite well-mannered. One of my favorites of all time is considered a Floral fragrance but I might classify it in my head as Fruity Floral: Creed Spring Flower, a fresh blend of apple, melon, peach, rose and jasmine created for Audrey Hepburn. Spring Flower leans toward the Green side of the spectrum, giving it the aura of clean sophistication. This one is a major keeper and I've been wearing it for about 5 years now, maybe longer. When I want something that's beautiful but not too stuffy, Spring Flower is my most reliable choice.

Pretty with an attitude never smelled so good and they're perfect for spring-summer. Which will you wear this year?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Assignment: Requiem

I've been asked to record a song for a songwriter who wants his song to be performed at his funeral. As far as I know, he has no plans of leaving us anytime soon, but his plan for the event is very detailed and specific. I guess if I should outlive him, it's a gig.

I once went on a cemetary tour in Brooklyn where they showed us the tombs of some famous people who were laid to rest there such as Leonard Bernstein and Colonel Sanders. The tour guide was a retired cop who told us that his dream was to have a tombstone with a laser-printed image of himself showing his own tomb to the tour.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Perfume Rant and the Fragrance Ban

A customer at a perfume shop I stopped by yesterday spritzed herself with a tester bottle 15 times. I thought the point of perfuming was to smell nice when people came close to you, about arms length. I could get a subtle sillage with one spritz usually, and depending on the strength of the scent, I could get away with two. More than 3 or 4 just seems...rude. But there are times when I go a little heavy: 1. when I'm in high altitude or where it's very cold and scent doesn't carry as far, 2. when I'm going to be home and no one's around to complain (or whoever's with me either appreciates whatever the heck I do or doesn't speak up) and 3. if it gives me confidence when I'm performing, like a mental anchor, a dose of reality or sense memory that kicks in when I need it (a perfume that I've performed well wearing once will probably feel good to wear again). Every now and then I can go nuts with a perfume because with whatever I'm going through, I'm just feeling that intense, and I think it's my right to reek, too...but I think in reality it's not appropriate in a world full of other human beings.

It is like assault when someone's perfume permeates the air we breathe, especially in close quarters and places where we eat and work--however, the fact that there are actual bans on perfume that have cropped up in Canada and California scares me. With growing bans on fragrance at work, school, even sections of restaurants, I feel we're moving toward a scentless society, and it frightens me that perfume, something I love, can be outlawed. I'm not saying perfume lovers need to stop enjoying perfuming (I will never stop wearing perfume!) but maybe we could stop giving the art of wearing perfume a bad rap by smothering the world with it.

While I have you here, I really despise certain synthetic musks and those musks are in everything including shampoos and detergents. I wish that trend could stop right now. Maybe the industry could cut those out and let perfumistas wear only the good stuff. Believe me, that would be an improvement. I'd rather smell more of something nice than a little of something foul any day.

~Spritz on~

"...but I want you my perfu-u-me..." (Amber: Sexual Li Da Di)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Private Dreams is #1 in the North East on Indie Music Chart

"Private Dreams" has surpassed "Jazz Bad" on the North East and New York Top 10 charts on Broadjam! Now the two songs are in positions #1 and #2 back-to-back. Check out the current standings (the chart action moves in real time and might be different by the time you link up):

North East Broadjam Top 10
New York Broadjam Top 10

I can't thank you enough for all you've done to help me get there! Next, I hope to make it onto the US chart, and maybe even the Earth chart. I'll keep you posted!

White Floral: Narcotic Flowers and Sex Appeal

White Florals are typically perfumes containing essences of tropical (narcotic) white flowers such as tuberose, gardenia, frangipani and jasmine. These are intoxicatingly heady florals; for instance, the mysterious and sultry aroma of jasmine is said to befuddle the rational mind with aphrodisiac impulses. Jasmine, along with rose, makes up the heart of most perfumes, but not all perfume compositions are focused on jasmine. The most famous jasmine-based perfume (or one in which lots of jasmine is used) is Jean Patou Joy. To make Joy, you need only the finest ingredients that most perfume companies won't shell out for. In fact, according to an industry friend of mine, Joy is one of only two perfumes which contain any real Grasse jasmine at all (the other is Chanel No.5), and only in the pure parfum concentrations. In a time when most perfumes on the market are synthetic, Joy, created in 1930, is among the last survivors of the era of quality and artistry in perfumery.

If Chanel No.5 had been made with men in mind, Joy was made for women, for our pleasure and to make us feel not only beautiful but empowered. A favorite of silver screen actresses such as Gloria Swanson, Mary Pickford and Marilyn Monroe (some say that Joy was her preferred fragrance, contrary to the belief that Chanel No. 5 was--I say she probably loved both), Joy is a bombshell that lights up a party room with a bright, charismatic presence. Joy opens up with sparkling laughter and reveals a character that is sweet, sensual and powerfully seductive beyond its haughty refinement. The two main ingredients in Joy are Bulgarian Rose and Grasse jasmine, but there is some tuberose in it which gives it the voluptuous, fleshy aspect.

Tuberose deserves its name, "Mistress of the Night"--its scent is so heady that once upon a time in Rome, young ladies were forbidden to walk through tuberose gardens at night for fear of the scent driving men mad. It isn't a flower that everyone can wear or wants to wear because it's strong even in small amounts. Perhaps its scent isn't exactly prim and proper but rather one that walks a thin line between refined and unrefined. Jasmine is often described as creamy but in comparison, tuberose has an even creamier, heavier, at times buttery texture to its scent which people will either like or dislike immediately. However, I'm a diehard lover of tropical white florals; tuberose, along with jasmine and gardenia, is a favorite. When the clean Greens and soft Powderies have bored me to tears after awhile, I crave the unabashed sex appeal of these bodaciously bold and suggestive flowers.

If you have a chance to smell Joy parfum, please do! You'll either get knocked out by its intoxicating, indolic character or you'll be swept off your feet like I was when I smelled it for the first time, making me fall forever in love with its heady, round, gorgeous and intense aroma. Some other famous White Florals are: Robert Piguet Fracas, Estee Lauder Beautiful, Cacharel Anais Anais, Perry Ellis for Women, Guerlain Jardins de Bagatelle, Gianfranco Ferre, Kate Spade, Evyan White Shoulders, Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion, Christian Dior Pure Poison, Tatiana by Diane Von Furstenberg, Coty Sand & Sable and Monyette. There's a new selection of lighter White Florals out there such as L'Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse aux Papillons (a favorite of mine--this is as light and delicate as a White Floral can be), Marc Jacobs and Marc Jacobs Blush.

(Image: Lady Day: jazz singer Billie Holliday wore gardenias, her favorite flowers, in her hair.)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Chanel N°5 Parfum--My Spring Love Affair

Sometimes it takes awhile to tune into something that's beautifully made, but once you realize what to look for, you begin to pick those things up. I'm wearing Chanel No.5 parfum today and it's love. The main difference I can smell between Chanel No.5 and any other powdery fragrance I've ever smelled is in the incomparably smooth and delicate way that the airy powder touches my nose. It's really so gentle; the structure of it reminds me of the smell of fresh cream in a way--cool at the top and creamy in its heart, just a touch sweet but never overpowering. It seems impossible to go back to wearing anything else after this. Has anything taken your heart recently? I wish you a happy spring (or fall, depending on which hemisphere you're tuning in from)!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Chanel N°5 and Soft Florals (Aldehydic Florals)

Floral is the most popular fragrance family. Floral fragrances are seen as traditional, feminine scents. There are many ways to dissect them into microsubgenres but right now, I want to talk about Soft Florals which smell powdery. I'm on a powder kick lately. Soft perfumes are gaining in popularity and I wonder how it makes me feel wearing them.

Soft Floral is another name for Aldehydic Floral. Aldehydes are chemicals used in perfume to create scents that aren't found in nature or to replicate scents in nature which can't be extracted. Aldehydes are commonly used in feminine perfumes to give them a powdery scent. When perfumers combine them with flowers, what we get is the Soft Floral. It's called Soft Floral but it's an abstract floral in that you'll smell more powder than actual flowers. Iris and vanilla are often used to enhance the softness. The most famous perfume in this genre is the most famous and celebrated perfume of all time, Chanel No.5 (yes, the one Marilyn Monroe said she wore to bed and made famous).

To me, Chanel No5 smells mostly powdery. Sometimes I think it's like the inside of a makeup bag; other times I smell baby powder. Powdery scents also make me think, "there's something in the air that I shouldn't be breathing", so I'm not sure I actually love the smell of powder. Don't get me wrong; No.5 is absolutely a great French perfume, the "benchmark" as it's called, and it's still among the bestsellers worldwide since its original launch in 1921. It's a wonderful scent introduced to me by Mom who once had a scented bath product in No.5--it's not a heavy scent but it's also not a light scent. It's full-bodied and has great reach in a room, but the powdery texture gives it the illusion of softness even though in reality, aldehydes are sharp (they're high-pitched notes on the olfactive scale). It's complex and rich and absolutely unique--nothing else could ever smell exactly like No5 and the formula is kept very secret.

It's interesting how Chanel No.5 became known as the ultimate feminine scent even though couturier Coco Chanel's vision was to create a scent that didn't smell traditionally flowery-feminine. The champion of modern women's fashion and creator of the little black dress wanted a perfume that was at once chic and abstract, and that's what she got when perfumer Ernest Beaux composed the powdery blend for her. "Women should smell like women, not roses" she'd said, and sure enough, with No5, people began putting the scent of powder and femininity together in their heads. When Marilyn announced over the radio that she wore five drops of No.5 to bed, No.5 had arrived as the world's most coveted perfume.

Powdery perfumes: Do I agree that they're feminine-smelling? Sure, but as a woman, I don't want to be soft all the time, and I sure wouldn't want to get messages from the world that I should be. I can enjoy a powdery soft perfume now and then but I wish the world would let us just be our fabulous multidimensional selves without having to quiet down for fear of not seeming feminine. Sometimes I want soft perfumes and sometimes I want powerscents. I don't think that takes away from my femininity.

Over the decades, No.5 has survived and spawned many Soft Florals (and Soft Orientals, heavier than Soft Florals), many which have become bestsellers (some famous powdery perfumes are: Lanvin Arpege, Flower by Kenzo, Donna Karan Cashmere Mist, Cacharel Lou Lou, Jean Charles Brosseau Ombre Rose and Love's Baby Soft). In the US, Victoria's Secret Dream Angels Heavenly is a popular mass-market perfume which mirrors the powdery warm whisper of No.5. It's a little heavier on the generic vanilla musk compared to the real McCoy (that is CHANEL) but what can I say? It may not be in the same league but I just like it. When you want something different than or can't afford No.5, there are some lovely alternatives out there that are worth trying. Of course, if I had the chance to smell No.5 once, I wouldn't pass it up.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Jazz Bad #1 North East on Indie Music Chart

A song which I collaborated with Fred Kimmel on called "Jazz Bad" is climbing the Broadjam Top 10 charts. It's a quirky little number: my jazz scat vocals stylishly time-compressed and put against a musical arrangement in Drum 'N Bass style. Here's the link if you wanna take a check: North East Broadjam Top 10

It's nice to see Jazz Bad is also #1 in our hometown, on the New York Broadjam Top 10

Thank you all for your support!! *High five*, Wuj.

Tonight's Killers Playlist

Jenny Was A Friend of Mine
Smile Like You Mean It
Somebody Told Me
Under the Gun
Mr. Brightside

(In that order) :-)

Oriental Fragrance Family Subgenres

As with music, I don't stick to one type and can't fathom limiting myself. I'm a happy connoisseur open to experience new interpretations of the world we live in. Even if I have favorite genres of scent, I inevitably find something I like in every genre and I love discovering those things that challenge my taste and help me grow. Here are the subgenres of the Oriental family and famous favorites in each. Just to recap, Oriental is a scent family that is traditionally spicy and/or rich and heavy. Famous Orientals include Guerlain Shalimar, Must de Cartier, Estee Lauder Youth Dew, Calvin Klein Obsession, Yves Saint-Laurent Opium, Christian Dior Addict and many amber, vanilla, sandalwood, patchouli and musk based fragrances. I might say they smell rich, luxurious and a little bit wild. There are new Sheer Orientals today such as Calvin Klein Sheer Obsession. In a nutshell: Red hot!

Soft Oriental is a subgenre that could be described as the quieter version of the firey and seductive Oriental fragrance family. I should mention that the word "soft" describes the texture of the scent (powdery as opposed to sharp), not how strong (concentration, potency) it is. Soft Orientals are soft and warm, making me think of angels and clouds and cotton candy or smoky incense depending on the degree of sweetness. I think of Victoria's Secret Dream Angels Heavenly (listed as Floral Oriental but to me it's mostly powder, no flowers), Giorgio Armani Sensi, Kenzo Flower Oriental and Bulgari Petits et Mamans (made for moms and kids). They're often seen as "skin scents" of the baby powder variety; if you're looking for a more innocent version of seductive, you might find this genre appealing. These are not bold and challenging scents; they're easy-to-wear and casual like a cashmere sweater.

Floral Oriental is a crossover that's not quite straight Floral and not quite straight Oriental. I'd put Chanel Coco, Jil Sander No4, Boucheron, Panthere de Cartier, Burberry London, Rochas Tocade, Jean-Paul Gaultier and the diaphanous and strange Guerlain L'Heure Bleue here. Many of them smell complex (perfumy) and are often perceived as more traditionally feminine than other subgenres. If you want something that's one part romantic and one part seductive, this genre would be it. Think roses, cognac and evening glamour.

Gourmand, a popular fragrance type, is one of the newest subgenres and it smells exactly as it reads: foody (no, you can't eat it) with sweet notes such as chocolate, caramel and almond in large quantity. Thierry Mugler Angel, Comptoir Sud Pacifique Amour de Cacao, Serendipity 3 Serendipitous and Aquolina Pink Sugar are categorized here. I would place Christian Dior Hypnotic Poison, Lolita Lempicka and Chopard Casmir here but many say they're not Gourmand but Woody Oriental. Pink Sugar is very patchouli-heavy so it's Woody, too. I'll just say they're good if you like it extra sweet. Hypnotic Poison is almond vanilla with a touch of spice (caraway seed = smells like rye bread or anise) and Chopard Casmir is a fruity caramel amber vanilla. Many Gourmands are often perceived as young scents, though people of all ages do enjoy them. Sugar: fun to eat but also fun to wear.

Chypre Oriental: OK, you got me. Givenchy Ysatis is not really Oriental but Chypre. Can you resist that ad? I think of Givenchy Ysatis as being a crossover Oriental Chypre since it has the warm Oriental elements blended with the refined, sophisticated, quirky boldness of Chypre. Ysatis is usually classified as an Animalic Chypre because of the touch of leather in its base of bay rum, so you can imagine it's strong, edgy, perfumy, upscale yet seductively bombshell. Maybe I should have put Guerlain Vol de Nuit here, since it is really Oriental even though many people smell a chypratic chic element in it. These grown up perfumes won't depict angels and clouds and all those fluffy innocent things.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Oriental Fragrances: The Keepers of the Flame

I love sexy perfumes. I can imagine screen siren Rita Hayworth in Gilda (1946) quoting "If I were a ranch, they'd have named me the Bar Nothing". The warm Oriental fragrance family is generally characterized by sweet resinous notes and musk in large amounts, creating deep, rich, dark or firey scents with the addition of spices. Judging only from what I've read and heard, the post-war era in the US seems like it was nothing if not a polarized society of extremes, and because the popular fragrance of the time (Green) was perceived as clean, polite, virginal and classy, I can imagine that the Oriental family would become popular for the opposite reasons: these were seen as sexual, inappropriate, wild and dangerous.

(Image: Rita Hayworth as Gilda, the bombshell before Marilyn Monroe. She is known to have worn Shalimar.)

Orientals fit right into the '50s-Western trend; being audaciously heavy, they're the biggest, baddest types around. However, the imagery I get from warm and smoky scents is not only of the dark bombshell often associated with them. To me, it's also that of Hestia, the Greek goddess of the Home and Hearth whose mission was to keep the fire burning in the kitchen (that's a metaphor for everything else to stay "lit" if you will). Now, I am the furthest thing from the domesticated traditional woman but there are quite a few perfumes in this olfactive family that I love and regard as creative masterpieces, such as the legendary Shalimar by Guerlain adored by Rita Hayworth, and its more modern incarnation, Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur. I'd say they smell to me like seductive love potions as well as safe comfort scents.

How could a perfume character be both wild and safe? Most Oriental fragrances are heavy but they also generally have a soft quality. That means the texture of the scent doesn't strike me with clarity like a ray of light but rather powdery like a downy swan. I suppose their often baby-powdery quality registers in my mind as depicting vulnerability. There's also something languid and sedentary about them, so the perceived "femininity" I get from them is not so much a woman-on-the-go but like Hestia, one who's happy just "being"--in this way the Oriental fragrance can represent luxury and/or being taken care of.

If these smoldering new heroines of scent are really making a comeback, I'm happy for the brazen character they bring to the table. I'm interested to see how a Bombshell Oriental trend would do today, perhaps represented by retro icons such as Sophia Loren and Ava Gardner, favorites of a bygone era ready for reincarnation. The olfactive equivalent of a rich and sinful dessert served in bed to your man should do very well among those who have been waiting for a break from the clean and soapy non-perfumy trend.

With the return of warm, seductive scents, my only hope is that images of romance and seduction won't take us all the way back to the post-war era for real. I think of Gilda. Gilda is absolutely a great classic film but Gilda's role is sad, being controlled and even slapped by her man. She may have been a powerfully seductive woman but I don't know any woman in real life who's truly happy being the keeper of the flame with no narrative of her own except to please some bad guy. I pray we move forward, not back, for the sake of sanity. As this throwback trend continues, I'm liking the idea of Musc Ravageur being a unisex scent more and more.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

More '50s and The Wild Wild West

Edie might be the choice muse of many urban women but the push for all things un-Edie is overwhelming right now. Today I studied the pages of a fashion magazine but there was nothing I liked about the issue.

I do like some of the new trends (especially the "Cat On a Hot Tin Roof" knee-length pencil skirt and the "Cowgirl" denim shorts) but I can't wrap my brain around talk of corsets (or corset-like body wraps for that hourglass look), an advertisement for a Skin Whitening (whoops--sorry--it's called "brightening" now) product by Shiseido, more "Dior New Look", more "innocence" (some of which make this ingenue happy), images of big hair and decolletage, "luxurious" (fussy) dresses replacing the "little black cliche", lots of "Western" (duster coats, cuffed jeans and yes, the shorts) and "Preppy" with glimpses of "Punk" mixed in for the illusion of edge.

Then there was an article which mentioned that the perfuming habits of Americans are shocking to a Frenchwoman for whom a collection of more than 5 perfumes is simply unfathomable. I know perfume branding (getting young people loyal to buying a signature scent for a lifetime) is an important goal for the fragrance industry but I can't help but think "Maybe we're supposed to put the money we save on more important things like skin brightening creams". By the way, I've been hearing for awhile now that Green might be the next scent trend. Has anyone heard of Ma Griffe and Diorissimo? They were the proper perfumes for proper ladies of the '50s and '60s (my mother wore Diorissimo as a signature in the '60s). For the people who think Green perfumes smell way too retro and mature: I think we'll see these types of scents make a comeback in some shape or form, pushed alongside the powdery-soft and quiet scents, all marketed under the buzzword "feminine".

I think I finally understand what the TAXI reviewers meant by "the new, cool aesthetic": It's a little bit Country, a little bit Glam and a whole lotta Twilight Zone.

(Image: Birth of the Cool
Album by Miles Davis
Released February 1957
Recorded January 21 & April 22, 1949, & March 9, 1950
Genre(s) Hard bop)

Friday, March 17, 2006

My Muse Has Spoken

Well, it's been a productive day and I'm feeling great. I wrote a song and finished making about 30 bottles of Pink Manhattan PURRFUME with the fresh batch of gardenia oil which finally arrived, and they'll be ready to ship tomorrow (So sorry for the backorder and thank you, dear handsome and legendary Franco @ Lucky Scent and all of my lovely customers for your patience!).

So yes, I wrote this cool new song which I'm going to be recording for an upcoming CD. This one's going to let people hear me really sing out. Feelin' me yet? I'm revved. I'm also rehearsing and getting a live show in gear.

The CD will be part of a 2nd Sensorium of Song & Scent launch, again with a matching perfume.

The perfume will be a departure from the bright and sweet, straight-forward optimism of Pink Manhattan. Like PM, it'll be another hedonistic blend of sensuous pleasures, but it was inspired by myths and perspectives on the dichotomy of the Female, exploring deeper regions (and notes).

Sorry, no actual date until I'm close to launching but please stay tuned. Your support and kind wishes for success have kept me focused and inspired. Thank you so much!

~More to come~


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Shades of the 1950s All Around Me

The swing coat by Jacques Fath was all the rage in the 1950s when the pregnancy rate was at a post-war high. Do you wear one now? It goes very well over babydoll dresses (roomy '50s empire waist), the new full skirts (which I don't wear but I've never been a fan of the Dior New Look for myself--maybe I'm too short and very important: I can't dance freely in cumbersome big skirts) or the fabby Mod mini (OK, so I'm a little biased when it comes to fashion. Please, no judging...). ;-)

Image from Check out more about '50s Fashion and Social History

The doe-eyed look is also a thing of the '50s (and into the '60s) which is being sported by many young celebs. I've always loved this look because it's so "Catwoman" even though the buzz word that brought it back is "innocence". There are a few ways to get this look but for starters, get thee liquid eyeliner and a white pencil to line the inner lid (I know, not the safest way to wear eye makeup). Mascara--but of course.

Youth Dew is back and I never liked the original but I like it better than the reformulated newbie, Youth Dew Amber Nude which is lovingly (or not) referred to by perfumistas as "the Amber Dude". You might like them if you're into spicy, heavy balsamic Orientals (a warm Fragrance Family).

The New Beatniks still model themselves after favorite icons such as James Dean and Elvis Presley. Here is Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams's "Streetcar Named Desire". I love his look but can we stop calling that type of shirt a "wifebeater"? Thanks.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

John Coltrane: Essential Music

If you're a jazz lover, Coltrane is compulsory. Some of my favorite recordings are: Naima, A Love Supreme, I'm Old-Fashioned, Greensleeves, Lush Life, They Say It's Wonderful, Giant Steps, Alabama.

Guerlain Jicky and Brigitte Bardot

Jicky by Guerlain is known as the modern perfume industry's first great perfume. It was created in 1889 by Aimé Guerlain using new, technologically advanced ingredients. The composition is described as Fougère (Aromatic), originally worn by Men though it later crossed over as a scent for Women. Its fresh combination of lavender, rosemary, thyme, vanilla and musk give me the impression of Herbes de Provence except animalic and provocative in a cool, subtle way. If you've ever smelled Helmut Lang, the musky-lavender aspect is similar, although in Jicky you get to smell some real, fine ingredients.

The mainstream of its time wasn't exactly accepting of Jicky, this complex and avant garde scent which, having some deep, spicy, sweet Oriental elements (even though the overall scent is rather fresh), was deemed inappropriate for proper women to wear. Jicky came out in a time when ladies wore single floral notes. So, pretty soon the rebels of society were taking to Jicky like white on bread.

Jicky stood the test of time and gained a following; decades after its creation, it even became one of Brigitte Bardot's favorite perfumes. I'm not sure how well-known Jicky was back in the day but I have a feeling it was still considered an oddball fragrance. The riveting French actress had her own style, both in the way she dressed and in her scent.

Today, Jicky is about to become extinct as the Fragrance Industry has decided to reformulate it to suit the tastes of the mainstream. I don't understand this decision to destroy a unique classic but I haven't had high hopes for Guerlain ever since the company was acquired by LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy). Does anyone else care about Jicky?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Kajagoogoo: Soulful New Wave

"Too Shy" by Kajagoogoo is one of my favorite recordings of all time. I think the song is simply awesome--Funky Soulful New Wave with the best bassist on the planet (whoever it was that played the track). Limahl of course had the perfect voice to carry this song--post-disco Glam with great control. Can we have a little Soul in the New New Wave movement in music?

Musical Musings: Dear Taxi (and anyone who cares)

Dear TAXI,

I just have one question today, and that is:

Why do some reviewers think that synths combined with heavy guitars reminiscent of the '80s is out of context and/or dated?

I don't understand the adamant push toward acoustic arrangements (unless these listings are pitches to Disney where Country Folk elements have been strong in recent years. And there's nothing like seasoned songwriters recreating The Killers in a corporate kid-friendly version, complete with bad music and pretentious lip sync by 4 handsome wanna-make-'em-American-idols). I also don't see "Roots Indie Rock" being "edgier" than Dance Rock. I know my stuff doesn't sound like a Duran Duran-Queen-Elvis-Beatles-retro U2-Depeche Mode-Blondie-1950's-early-60s-early-80s-(add favorite tortured and underappreciated musician you hear in their music right here) revival like The Killers do, but what it is is Synth Rock with other elements, and I think people want Synth Pop-Rock right now if my fans are any indication.

While I have you here, I don't like the rubato thing I hear in many songs lately--the very show tuney lull in time followed by a dramatic big musical moment which always sounds like Judy Garland or Meat Loaf to me. But one thing I can do is take it in and appreciate it for what it is because it's the sound of the time.

Sorry for the rant. Thank you for all you're doing for me in making me a better musician every day.

Sali Oguri

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Chris Rock: Thinking Cap On

First of all, the fact that he's a cutie goes without saying. Chris Rock is also one smart, caring man, and nothing rocks my boat like a man who is conscious and sensitive to the world's problems as his own.

It was shortly after 911: just a few days after, in fact. The air downtown still smelled of soot. I was still hosting my TV show for Japan and we happened to be filming at The Comedy Cellar in the Village. I was seated at a table upstairs with the comedians who were scheduled to perform that evening (about 5 or 6 of them--they were male & female and all very nice, and my miniskirt gave them plenty of material as we waited for our turns to go on) when I was called downstairs to be filmed wih the audience. As I walked downstairs, Chris Rock had walked in through the back door and there was some shuffle by the staircase, someone got a hold of me and I was told that he would go on first, so in a nutshell, I got to stay for his surprise performance.

I'm not a good joke-teller so I can't give you the routine, but I'll never forget that one of the things he said was that he couldn't understand why anyone would hate each other and "fight over which side of the border we fell out of our mother's p*****s on".

The truth is often very simple but it takes an intelligent person to see it.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Las Vegas: Chicken or the Egg?

Which came first: The Killers or the Las Vegas Trend for 2006?

And what does it mean in Music and Fashion that Las Vegas is supposedly the #1 popular city this year?

Art and New York Real Estate

I know this isn't anything new but isn't it funny how New York real estate follows artists and musicians around? The artists who can't afford to live in "nice" neighborhoods move to areas where people aren't even supposed to live (for example because it's industrial and there are no amenities to accomodate living), then folks looking for the next new thing come to check out the hip new area where the hipsters live, take notes, bring themselves in, then the neighorhood gets bought out and developed, then the artists have to move out because they can't afford to live there anymore, and the cycle continues.

Pink Manhattan PURRFUME: Thanks To My Fans

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the fans, not only of my music but of my perfume, Pink Manhattan PURRFUME. Today I logged onto one of my favorite hangouts and found a bunch of online pals saying all this good stuff about it, and I just had to share some inside info and my personal thoughts with you.

My concept for the bottle was inspired by our skyline which is still my beloved home. The Manhattan skyline bottle labels were designed by Tiffany Kimmel, a talented Virginia native and then-college student majoring in Design who's just now starting a promising new career at an architectural firm in New York City. For the font, Tiffany gave me a bunch of cool fonts to choose from based on the feeling I wanted to capture, and I chose the one that would give Pink Manhattan a fast-paced and modern look that would be far from traditional 'feminine' fonts and would appeal to everyone. I wanted the bottle to look like the view of the city looking through a high rise window which is why I kept the label clear. I hope the bottle gives the impression of a sculpture even though I work within very limited packaging cost. They are all handmade with loving care. The result of our collaboration is exactly what I wanted and I thank Tiffany for her fresh inspiration for the project.

I went all out for my first fragrance venture and got my favorite oils to make Pink Manhattan with. The composition is not trying to carve out a new genre but it's a bold take on a mainstream theme, the ever-popular Fruity Floral. It had to be Pop because my music for Pink Manhattan is Pop (Indie-Alternative but nonetheless Pop). The overall feeling of the scent is light and sweet but it has a full heart and bottom just like my music. The Sensorium of Song & Scent package (CD and PURRFUME) was first sold exclusively to Tokyo, Japan through an FM radio show, and later the perfume was distrubuted in the US by B-Glowing, Lucky Scent, a couple of other boutiques here in the NY area including Luilei, Brooklyn. I designed the fragrance in about a year, taking into consideration and balancing the tastes of both East and West. I hope that the dainty yet spunky fragrance I tried to capture comes through to my fans.

What am I trying to say with this scent if anything? One, it's good to have some fun, and two, petite doesn't have to mean vulnerable or helpless--it can have some attitude and still be sexy. Pink Manhattan is a sense of mind. May inner strength be with you all--stay encouraged and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind support over the past year since the launch of Pink Manhattan. I appreciate that there are so many people who love this scent and can see my vision through it.


Brandon Flowers

Thank you, Brandon Flowers, for making it cool to play keyboards in a Rock band.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Dance Rock: Yes or No?

There's a lot of talk about Danceable Rock these days. Some even say it's the only thing that competes with Hip Hop.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


I don't remember how I learned about art film actress Catherine Deneuve but from the first time I saw a photograph of her icy, regal, unabashed feminine beauty, I was going to get hooked. I bought my very own copy of Belle de Jour and had to smell her own perfume called Deneuve, and thank goodness I found an online perfume shop which had just two bottles of parfum left, both of which I bought on the spot. Today, Deneuve is one of the most rare discontinued perfumes, sold on eBay at astronomical prices, yet it still has a devoted following of people who can't live without it.

What does it smell like? It's a beautiful piece of retro perfumy perfection. To me, it's the ultimate Green Floral composition with a cool, spring flower-freshness yet with voluptuous, sensual, sophisticated, somewhat avant garde appeal. Greens and Chypres are not considered mainstream scents, and back when Deneuve was launched in 1986, Greens were not the popular trend. Deneuve has sharp, dazzling, luxurious top notes, a very full and lush floral heart and a mossy, warm base. The dry down on me is a bit herbaceous. If you crossed Ivoire, Private Collection and the original Armani Femme with the attitude of a gorgeous crossover Oriental-Chypre like Ysatis, you might get Deneuve, but Deneuve is still in a class all its own. Some people compare Deneuve to leathery Chypres such as Balmain de Balmain and Miss Dior but Deneuve doesn't venture into the angular leather realm, at least not to my nose. I think it's more Green Floral in the family with Armani and Chanel No.19. The bottle was a sleek design with a twisted cap, packaged in a black box with a pink silk fabric ribbon. I don't make a habit of wearing vintage perfume but now and then, I need to experience Intelligent Bombshell Elegance that is the essence of Catherine Deneuve. It's a shame such a scent is only a fading memory now. At least she's still rockin' at 62. Here are the notes according to Basenotes:

Deneuve (1986)

Top Notes
Green notes, Galbanum, Bergamot, Neroli, Basil, Aldehyde

Middle Notes
Rose, Muguet, Jasmin, Orris, Ylang-Ylang, Violet, Hyacinth

Base Notes
Moss, Musk, Cedarwood, Sandal, Civet

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Music Reviews from TAXI (and what this perfumista really thinks of them)

Music Review From TAXI Listener ID # 213

Here's another good review in my opinion; the reviewer was pretty encouraging and I felt good about his vibe. I learned something new and that is that if two songs have different song structures (one has ABC (verse, pre-chorus, chorus) and another has AC (verse-chorus)), it could confuse the artist package. Live and learn! I need to make sure that all songs I submit have the exact same song structure.

I can't help but wonder if the same rule applies to the world of fragrance, where a perfumer is expected to whip out the same basic scent structure each time or people wouldn't understand their scent identity. If anyone knows about this, please comment. For now, I better stick to the traditional pyramid structure and stay away from creating soliflores and linear scents!

Overall Comments:
"Dear Sali, song # 1 (Infinite Tenderness) Some great original production ideas, some unique and clever ideas, but the guitar and drums sounds could be much better. The piano parts are very nice. An interesting direction here and a great voice to match. Very nice contrast between sections. I think with better production on this song, you might have something here. song # 2 (Before We Say Goodnight) Very pretty song here. Intimate vocal performance. Production too safe and predictable. Song melody is safe, so bring it somewhere up to the first songs direction. It sounds too AC and confuses your package. I wish you had another song in this package since the two songs you have submitted are too different from each other to define your artist identity. You have a great voice, some great moments here in each song, but stylistically they are worlds away from each other. The first song has qualities of Evanescence and the second song sounds like Vanessa Williams. It is obvious that you are versatile, but be more focused in your presentation.

Bio Comments:
"Informative and shows potential. I have a feeling we will be hearing more about Sali. Excellent artist photo.

The main reason you were or were not forwarded for this listing is:
"Although a great singer, some unique elements, stylistically different songs do not solidify the direction and genre of the artist. At this time, I can not forward to this listing"

(photo from

Fragrance of the Moment: L'Aromarine Cola

Thank you, Katiedid! My perfumista pal sent me a spray sample of this scent and I'm loving it! This is a modern, effervescent eau de cologne type with noticeable citrus top notes, very reminiscent to me of Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien or Les Nuits d'Hadrien because of the subtle spice and some anchoring base. I'd expected it to be sweeter, perhaps more caramelly, but it's actually very light, more like Sprite-Cola after the initial spritz. I'm just now testing it and it'll be awhile before the final dry down but I'm sensing musk in the base and maybe a bit of sandalwood or satinwood (reminds me of 212). If you want a slightly musky, slightly sporty, airy non-floral, this is a spunky-fresh everyday/ warm weather scent for anyone.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Sali Has New Songs On Broadjam

New songs have been added on Broadjam--check 'em out!!

Best of Music: Me'Shell NdegéOcello

She is my beautiful musical heroine: Bassist-singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Me'Shell NdegéOcello. You have to hear her to know how extraordinary she is.

Her music incorporates funk, soul, hip-hop, reggae, rock and jazz. She has been nominated for 9 Grammys. Her biggest hit is a duet with John Cougar Mellencamp, a cover version of Van Morrison's "Wild Night", which reached #3 on the Billboard charts. My personal favorite recordings by her are "The Way", "Mary Magdalene", "Outside Your Door", "Souls On Ice" and the whole Peace Beyond Passion album.

Musical Musings - Genres and Uniforms

Do you feel that your favorite type of music defines who you are? It's OK if you do--there's something to be said about sticking to one path in life.

The reason I ask is, I've never even had a chance to identify with just one genre. I was supposed to grow up to become a Classical pianist if my mother had had her way with me. Unfortunately for her, I loved every other form of music too much. I've rocked with the best of the rockers when I was a metalhead (yes, I went through the "this music is me" phase and no one can hear me belt out a song and tell me I'm not a real rocker). At the same time, I was gigging in a jazz band singing Thelonious Monk tunes and in an R&B band backing up Robin S. I've had to learn all styles as a freelance singer in NY, and it's been an enriching experience for me but it's also made me feel different in contrast to people around me who could say "Well, I'm into this so I'm that" and take the advice of peers or fashion magazines that tell them just what to wear because they're exactly that. Example: "You're a Punk! Black and white stripes with combat boots and pink hair are so YOU.". But in growing up I knew other musicians who felt as I did who, even if they closely identified with one type of music, at least would never put down or ignore the rest because we loved to play. I suppose we dressed a bit weird, too.

Having a favorite style is fine as long as society doesn't get polarized as a result. But as we can witness from how segregated the radio stations are in the US (where unlike in other countries where you hear a plethora of genres on one station, you have different stations for different genres which are marketed to particular demographics--listen to their sponsored ads and you can "see" the images they're pushing), it always ends up dividing people in the real world. If people were more accustomed to hearing different types of music or if they could just know that there are other types of music out there than what's on their radio or TV, would it make a difference in our world? What would happen if we stopped catering to this system and just started making music for ourselves which might be more fusion-y than what people are comfortable with? If we put variety to the forefront instead of the same few types of music packaged with the same images all the time, all the time, all the time, feeding dangerous and ignorant generalizations about people to the young, would we be one step closer to promoting peace?

I would defend the existence of Rock, Soul, Jazz, pretty much all genres of music that I love. I also wouldn't try to stop their evolution by controlling how a new generation of musicians interpret our world in sound. We all must grow. I am Music, not a stereotype.