Friday, February 29, 2008

Yes We Can - will.i.am Video



There's a new video out today which is just as good. I can't deny the power of these songs and videos--they include some of the best musicians (Herbie Hancock is in this one) and the images are beautiful, all edited perfectly. The rhythms, the soaring voices--they are very moving. It's hard to top this quality and I can see why the young voters can relate to this campaign more than the conventional, rhythmless videos of the Clinton campaign. I think if there was something on Obama's website about what he'd do for women (women's rights, equal pay, etc), he'd have even better standing with female voters across the board. I personally would have liked to see some older women in the videos--strong, outspoken types as well.

It takes music to shake up the world--as a singer and musician, I can appreciate these videos regardless of politics. May the best man or woman win, and deliver the peace and equality we're all praying for.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Revlon Charlie


I love this Charlie ad! It's hard enough finding a perfume ad with black people in them (even today), let alone dark-skinned beauties like this model, and I mean in ones that aren't depicted like a National Geographic photo spread of Africa, but here it is: a stunning vintage ad from the 1970s of Charlie in a pantsuit. Before Charlie, no one wore pants for a perfume ad (correction: I just found a 1968 ad of Estée Lauder Estée--my apologies). The message this perfume sent out followed in Estée Lauder Youth Dew's footsteps as being a perfume a woman could buy for herself, without having to wait for some guy to buy it for her. The scent itself followed in Revlon Norell's Green Chypre Floral path, only fresher (therefore perceived as more youthful), and back when I first discovered it, I found it instantly likeable and easy-to-wear. It's very easy to find in drugstores, and there are many variations but the original is my favorite. What a concept--a working woman, a light, affordable Floral Chypre for daywear, plus an ad campaign that broke both sexual and racial stereotypes. Born in America, Charlie still rocks since 1973.

(Image: escuchaloquetedigo.blogspot.com)

Related links:
Christian Dior Diorella - January 05, 2013
Estée Lauder Estée - March 17, 2008

Perfume Advertising In the 1970s


For those of you who thought the Love's Baby Soft 1976 ad was creepy, here's another sleazy '70s ad--this synthetic musk scent sold millions, and basically, it sold the idea of sexual attraction in a time when women were just starting to come out as sexual beings themselves. As you can see in the ad, there's no telling what you could attract with a scent like this! Now, here's a worthy female ambition, much more so than fighting to be heard or treated with respect and not like an object, or actually getting paid more than 77 cents out of every man's dollar. I am of course being sarcastic but would you love me any other way?

(Image: Jovan Musk Oil 1977 ad, Advertising Education Foundation)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Girls and Men

While we're on the subject of misogyny, may I please point out that everywhere I turn, I'm hearing more and more women refer to themselves and eachother as girls in everyday language than anytime I can remember except when I was a kid? This is not "you go girl" girl, but in a way that throws us back 50 years, contrasting girls with men--like that Archie Bunker theme song that goes, "when girls were girls and men were men". Would you minimize it as just a silly joke (and send us to the booby hatch)? Allure magazine reads like this, TV commercials I'm subjected to now that I'm watching more political news aren't exempt from this, and I'm getting rather discouraged...maybe that's the point, and they won't stop till we're all discouraged enough to think we could never be potential full human beings.

A Disney show on TV called "Life With Derek" also pointed out that feminism is something some people thought we once needed. Well, check out this Love's Baby Soft advertisement from the '70s and tell me we don't need feminism anymore. Do we want to go back to a time like this, when the only thing that turned men on were girls that were so young and innocent, they could never be too strong and intimidating for them to deal with? Are babies what we have to be so we're not seen as threatening bitches? Should we whisper so we don't sound shrill, and risk never being able to raise our voices to save our lives? Does equality mean chivalry or basic politeness between genders needs to die? I'd like to have a little more faith in men than that, because I'm a Gen Xer who has male friends who are real equals to me, something many people still don't understand or accept today.

(Image: 1976 ad in Tiger Beat magazine, www.stuckinthe70s.com)

Ageism On the Election Trail

It's amazing to me how much ageism is being used in the Democratic campaigns this year. Maybe I'm particularly sensitive to it because there is a woman running who, for the first time, may have a real chance at winning, even though she's being written off by the media as unhip and she's all of 60, not even a senior citizen yet--not to mention hipness has little to do with being young or old but a state of mind. When I turned on the news earlier today, I clearly picked up on the nuance, that younger people are voting for one candidate and that older ones are supporting the other, and that these young and old voters were typified with the help of Hollywood celebs endorsing each: Scarlett Johansson for Barack Obama contrasted with Barbara Streisand for Hillary Clinton. In context, this is not a form of flattery for one of the greatest singers of our time (Barbara has made me cry singing in Yentl). I don't know about you, but it seems offensive to use celebrities to make the point that one candidate is clearly hipper and younger than the other with. It's not too different than, say, marketing a perfume as being a young fragrance, just to help its sales among the young, regardless of personal taste, and using a young celeb to sell it with. No one's even mentioning Madonna as being a Clinton supporter, but I suppose bringing her up wouldn't help make Clinton less hip in the eyes of voters, since Madonna is perceived as forever young and hip. I don't usually involve myself in politics, but I can't help but notice all of the hurtful ways that misogyny divides us--and surely, Obama Girl (the actress who lipsynched the song "I Got a Crush...On Obama" written and sang by Leah Kauffman) didn't hurt anyone, right? When will this ageist, sexist trend change, I wonder?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bitch Is the New Black - SNL Tina Fey





SNL: TINA FEY WEEKEND UPDATE COMMENTARY

FEY: Rush Limbaugh, the Jeff Conaway of right wing radio, said that he doesn’t think America is ready to watch their president quote “turn into an old lady in front of them.” Really?

They didn’t seem to mind when Ronald Reagan did that.

Maybe what bothers me the most is that people say that Hillary is a bitch.

Let me say something about that: Yeah, she is.

And so am I and so is this one. (pointing to Amy Poehler)

POEHLER: Yeah, deal with it.

FEY: Know what? Bitches get stuff done.

Like back in grammar school, they didn't have priests teaching you; they had nuns--mean old clams who slept on cots and they were allowed to hit you, and at the end of the school year you hated those bitches, but you sure KNEW the capital of Vermont!

So come on, Texas and Ohio--Get on board, it's not too late...

"Bitch is the new Black!"

Read more of the transcript at MyDD




Jean Patou Cocktail

From Wikipedia: "Cocktail is a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters — it is vulgarly called a bittered sling and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said, also to be of great use to a Democratic candidate: because a person, having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow anything else." --May 13, 1806 edition of the Balance and Columbian Repository, a publication in Hudson, New York

The earliest use of the word "cocktail" dates back to the early 1800s. By the turn of the 20th century, New York City hotels had gone from serving the English custom of 5 o'clock tea to the 5 o'clock cocktail hour. Perhaps cocktails and New York go together like sugared water and bitters. In 1930, during Prohibition in the United States, Jean Patou created a perfume called Cocktail. Long story short: Jean Patou's target clientele had been the wealthy Americans who would vacation in the ritziest hangouts in Europe during the height of Jean Patou's popularity in the 1920s and 30s. He had a cocktail bar to cater to his clientele--precisely, for the husbands to enjoy while the wives took to shopping at the boutique--which he converted into a perfume bar in 1930. The house launched Cocktail, the perfume, then, a set of fragrances following Cocktail called Dry, Sweet and Bittersweet, which could be mixed according to the perfume wearer's taste.

My review tonight is just for the original Cocktail (1930) which I recently got a miniature of in eau de toilette. I know I've tried it before but it didn't leave much of an impression on me then. I'm so glad I have the chance to try it again because now it's one of my very favorite scents in the Jean Patou line, and it's rare. I don't believe only the best perfumes live on while the lesser ones get discontinued; sometimes, great perfumes are discontinued if there aren't enough people to appreciate them, pushing them into obscurity, then, inevitably, discontinuation. Cocktail, while it shares with Jean Patou's bestseller, Joy, the classic Jean Patou heart of jasmine and rose, it exudes a different kind of glamorous sophistication--one I would call dry, almost masculine, with a unique, herbaceous (lavender) top note over a streamlined and slightly bold, woody Fruity Chypre composition. It has a boozy appeal, too, like vermouth or sherry.

If I could cross Joy with Moment Supreme and cross it yet again with Yves Saint-Laurent Y but took away some of the sharp-green sparkly razzle-dazzle, made it just a bit subdued (fruity) and earthy (dark), maybe leaning towards Jean Patou 1000 but not so voluptuous and heavy, still effervescent and cool, I might have Cocktail. The dry down turns sweet and floral, with a musty-mossy aftersmell like I find in Que Sais-Je?, Amour Amour and others in the Ma Collection scents (but not as bad--I can actually wear Cocktail). I probably couldn't wear it on a regular basis (and it's discontinued, anyway), but what a stunning potion this is. It smells like one part sexy and one part heartbreak. All the while, it drips of pearls and gold. Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady" wore Cocktail, I am sure.

AOL News Punches Hillary Clinton

AOL News likes to beat up a woman with a 02/20/08 headline reading "Bruised Clinton Looks to Ohio, Texas" and a photo of her with mouth open, looking quite scared. No doubt I've seen misogynistic bends on their reporting before in articles like "Want a Happy Marriage? Be Nice, Don't Nitpick" on AOL Health, a sad commentary (by a woman) on where women belong in a relationship (silent and accepting of men as they are because men don't want therapy). I've been watching Clinton treated like nothing more than a woman who's too ambitious to be taken seriously by any man, so much so she deserves to be beaten, in a more literal sense than in the context of a presidential race, and it hurts.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sali Oguri @ TSO Radio / Smooth1 Supperclub Performance March 1, 2008


(Click on the pic to enlarge)

CTS Productions presents: Sali Oguri Performing @

Mic Check - Independent Artist Showcase #2

Saturday March 1, 2008
Fredrick Samuels Center, 669 Lenox Ave.
Harlem, NY 10030 (corner of 144th street)

Doors Open: 8pm Showtime: 9pm

Admission: $25

**Open Buffet While It Lasts**

Grown & Sexy Only * Dress to Impress A Must

For more info, please visit events.smooth1.com

Chopard Casmir



(Image: Art Photo by d. Chedwick Bryant)


Chopard Casmir (1991) is a delectable Oriental-Gourmand blend of amber, vanilla, sandalwood, patchouli and a cornucopia of fruits, coconut and flowers (jasmine, geranium, lily of the valley) in its modern-sophisticated heart. It's a voluptuous, hypersweet and rich, opulent perfume, one of the earliest Gourmands alongside Thierry Mugler Angel. Casmir is arguably the first Gourmand but Angel is usually credited as being the pioneer scent. Complex but never stuffy, thoroughly one of the more modern, youthful vanilla-based creations of the New Age-inspired, relaxed and simplified '90s, Casmir is above all a unique fragrance, easily recognizable and easy-to-wear for people who generally like sweet scents but shy away from typically Oriental, spicy-ambery blends. Like Lolita Lempicka, Casmir is able to walk the thin line between youthful and mysterious, making it a great crossover scent for people who would like to wear seductive Oriental scents without giving up a hint of girly-sweet Pink Sugar/Hanae Mori vibe. The fruits give it a dazzling richness bringing to mind Volupte or Cabotine, but Casmir isn't as flowery as those. Whenever I sample Casmir, I get a combination of tropical (coconut-beachy) and exotic (Middle Eastern-Indian). It's the most worldly-smelling Gourmand I've ever encountered, and it suits the dynamic women I know who wear it well.

Friday, February 22, 2008

TSO Radio / Smooth1 Present Mic Check Independent Artist Showcase #1 Tomorrow!


CTS Productions/ TSO Radio Smooth1 present

Sali Oguri performing at Mic Check Independent Artist Showcase #1, Saturday February 23, 2008, 3pm at Isaac Beacon Center, 1700 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10128 (between 95th and 96th Streets)

Doors open at 2:30pm, Tickets are free

Listen to Sali Oguri music now on Smooth1 - Radio Station: TSO Radio
Independent Music All The Time

CTS Productions: http://www.smooth1.com
PlayDees Records: http://www.playdees.smooth1.com
Site: http://tsoradio.smooth1.com
Play List: http://tsoplaylist.smooth1.com
Let us play your music: http://tsowaiver.smooth1.com
Music Forte: http://www.musicforte.com/affiliate/ctsmooth1
Myspace: http://myspace.com/ctsmooth

Pink Manhattan Blog Celebrates Its 2 Year Anniversary!


Pink Manhattan blog celebrates its 2-year anniversary! It all began with a concept album called Pink Manhattan (Petit-CD), Part I of Sali Oguri's Sensorium of Song and Scent (Part II was her perfume called Pink Manhattan PURRFUME). Check out Sali's original songs and arrangements on CD Baby and if you're in the NYC area, come by tomorrow to hear her sing one of her songs from the Pink Manhattan CD live!

Mic Check - Independent Artists Showcase #1

Saturday, February 23, 2008
Issac Beacon Center Auditorium
1700 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10028

Tickets are FREE

Thanks for your continued support!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fred Kimmel "Namida No View Finder" Featuring Sali Oguri Back On Broadjam's Modern Rock Top 10
















The white-hot English-Japanese Modern Rock indie classic, Fred Kimmel "Namida No View Finder" (Sumio Sone/ Fred Kimmel/ Sali Oguri) is back on Broadjam's Modern Rock Top 10 chart. It's hit #1 in Modern Rock on 7/6/06 and it's still charting strong. Click here to listen.


News From CTS Productions / TSO Smooth1 Radio



News from CTS Productions:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hey ya’ll, Just dropping a little reminder about our events on Saturday February 23, 2008 at Isaac Beacon Center, 1700 3rd avenue, 10128 between 95th and 96th streets and Saturday March 1, 2008 at Fredrick Samuels Center, 669 Lenox Ave., Harlem, NY 10030 corner of 144th street. You can also visit events.smooth1.com for information on this and our other events.

We are currently looking for performers interested in performing on our Mic Check showcase on March 15, 2008. If interested email karate_1300@yahoo.com or ctsprod@excite.com.

I hope to see you all there.
Thanks for the support

Carl T.
CTS Productions: http://www.smooth1.com
PlayDees Records: http://www.playdees.smooth1.com
Radio Station: TSO Radio
Independent Music All The Time
Site: http://tsoradio.smooth1.com
Play List: http://tsoplaylist.smooth1.com
Let us play your music: http://tsowaiver.smooth1.com
Music Forte: http://www.musicforte.com/affiliate/ctsmooth1
Myspace: http://myspace.com/ctsmooth

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fwd: Robin Morgan on Clinton's Candidacy

Subject: Fwd: Robin Morgan on Clinton's candidacy: Please read.


GOODBYE TO ALL THAT (#2)
by Robin Morgan


"Goodbye To All That" was my (in)famous 1970 essay breaking free from a politics of accommodation especially affecting women."
"During my decades in civil-rights, anti-war, and contemporary women's movements, I've avoided writing another specific "Goodbye . . .". But not since the suffrage struggle have two communities--the joint conscience-keepers of this country--been so set in competition, as the contest between Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) and Barack Obama (BO) unfurls. So.
Goodbye to the double standard . . .
--Hillary is too ballsy but too womanly, a Snow Maiden who's emotional, and so much a politician as to be unfit for politics.
--She's "ambitious" but he shows "fire in the belly." (Ever had labor pains? )
--When a sexist idiot screamed "Iron my shirt!" at HRC, it was considered amusing; if a racist idiot shouted "Shine my shoes!" at BO, it would've inspired hours of airtime and pages of newsprint analyzing our national dishonor.
--Young political Kennedys--Kathleen, Kerry, and Bobby Jr.--all endorsed Hillary. Sen. Ted, age 76, endorsed Obama. If the situation were reversed, pundits would snort "See? Ted and establishment types back her, but the forward-looking generation backs him." (Personally, I'm unimpressed with Caroline's longing for the Return of the Fathers. Unlike the rest of the world, Americans have short memories. Me, I still recall Marilyn Monroe's suicide, and a dead girl named Mary Jo Kopechne in Chappaquiddick.)


Goodbye to the toxic viciousness . . .
Carl Bernstein's disgust at Hillary's "thick ankles." Nixon-trickster Roger Stone's new Hillary-hating 527 group, "Citizens United Not Timid" (check the capital letters). John McCain answering "How do we beat the bitch?" with "Excellent question!" Would he have dared reply similarly to "How do we beat the black bastard?" For shame.
Goodbye to the HRC nutcracker with metal spikes between splayed thighs. If it was a tap-dancing blackface doll, we would be righteously outraged-and they would not be selling it in airports. Shame.
Goodbye to the most intimately violent T-shirts in election history, including one with the murderous slogan "If Only Hillary had married O.J. Instead!" Shame.
Goodbye to Comedy Central's "Southpark" featuring a storyline in which terrorists secrete a bomb in HRC's vagina. I refuse to wrench my brain down into the gutter far enough to find a race-based comparison. For shame.


Goodbye to the sick, malicious idea that this is funny. This is not "Clinton hating," not "Hillary hating." This is sociopathic woman-hating. If it were about Jews, we would recognize it instantly as anti-Semitic propaganda; if about race, as KKK poison. Hell, PETA would go ballistic if such vomitous spew were directed at animals. Where is our sense of outrage-as citizens, voters, Americans?
Goodbye to the news-coverage target-practice . . .
The women's movement and Media Matters wrung an apology from MSNBC's Chris Matthews for relentless misogynistic comments (www.womensmediacenter.com). But what about NBC's Tim Russert's continual sexist asides and his all-white-male panels pontificating on race and gender? Or CNN's Tony Harris chuckling at "the chromosome thing" while interviewing a woman from The White House Project? And that's not even mentioning Fox News.
Goodbye to pretending the black community is entirely male and all women are white . . .
Surprise! Women exist in all opinions, pigmentations, ethnicities, abilities, sexual preferences, and ages--not only African American and European American but Latina and Native American, Asian American and Pacific Islanders, Arab American and-hey, every group, because a group wouldn't be alive if we hadn't given birth to it. A few non-racist countries may exist--but sexism is everywhere. No matter how many ways a woman breaks free from other oppressions, she remains a female human being in a world still so patriarchal that it's the "norm."
So why should all women not be as justly proud of our womanhood and the centuries, even millennia, of struggle that got us this far, as black Americans, women and men, are justly proud of their struggles?
Goodbye to a campaign where he has to pass as white (which whites-especially wealthy ones--adore), while she has to pass as male (which both men and women demanded of her, and then found unforgivable). If she were black or he were female we wouldn't be having such problems, and I for one would be in heaven. But at present such a candidate wouldn't stand a chance-even if she shared Condi Rice's Bush-defending politics.
I was celebrating the pivotal power at last focused on African American women deciding on which of two candidates to bestow their vote--until a number of Hillary-supporting black feminists told me they're being called "race traitors."


So goodbye to conversations about this nation's deepest scar-slavery-which fail to acknowledge that labor- and sexual-slavery exist today in the US and elsewhere on this planet, and the majority of those enslaved are women.

Women have endured sex/race/ethnic/religious hatred, rape and battery, invasion of spirit and flesh, forced pregnancy; being the majority of the poor, the illiterate, the disabled, of refugees, caregivers, the HIV/AIDS afflicted, the powerless. We have survived invisibility, ridicule, religious fundamentalisms, polygamy, teargas, forced feedings, jails, asylums, sati, purdah, female genital mutilation, witch burnings, stonings, and attempted gynocides. We have tried reason, persuasion, reassurances, and being extra-qualified, only to learn it never was about qualifications after all. We know that at this historical moment women experience the world differently from men--though not all the same as one another--and can govern differently, from Elizabeth Tudor to Michele Bachelet and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

We remember when Shirley Chisholm and Patricia Schroeder ran for this high office and barely got past the gate-they showed too much passion, raised too little cash, were joke fodder. Goodbye to all that. (And goodbye to some feminists so famished for a female president they were even willing to abandon women's rights in backing Elizabeth Dole.)

Goodbye, goodbye to . . .
--blaming anything Bill Clinton does on Hillary (even including his womanizing like the Kennedy guys--though unlike them, he got reported on). Let's get real. If he hadn't campaigned strongly for her everyone would cluck over what that meant. Enough of Bill and Teddy Kennedy locking their alpha male horns while Hillary pays for it.
--an era when parts of the populace feel so disaffected by politics that a comparative lack of knowledge, experience, and skill is actually seen as attractive, when celebrity-culture mania now infects our elections so that it's "cooler" to glow with marquee charisma than to understand the vast global complexities of power on a nuclear, wounded planet.
--the notion that it's fun to elect a handsome, cocky president who feels he can learn on the job, goodbye to George W. Bush and the destruction brought by his inexperience, ignorance, and arrogance.
Goodbye to the accusation that HRC acts "entitled" when she's worked intensely at everything she's done-including being a nose-to-the-grindstone, first-rate senator from my state.
Goodbye to her being exploited as a Rorschach test by women who reduce her to a blank screen on which they project their own fears, failures, fantasies.
Goodbye to the phrase "polarizing figure" to describe someone who embodies the transitions women have made in the last century and are poised to make in this one. It was the women's movement that quipped, "We are becoming the men we wanted to marry." She heard us, and she has.
Goodbye to some women letting history pass by while wringing their hands, because Hillary isn't as "likeable" as they've been warned they must be, or because she didn't leave him, couldn't "control" him, kept her family together and raised a smart, sane daughter. (Think of the blame if Chelsea had ever acted in the alcoholic, neurotic manner of the Bush twins!) Goodbye to some women pouting because she didn't bake cookies or she did, sniping because she learned the rules and then bent or broke them. Grow the hell up. She is not running for Ms.-perfect-pure-queen-icon of the feminist movement. She is running to be President of the United States.
Goodbye to the shocking American ignorance of our own and other countries' history. Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir rose through party ranks and war, positioning themselves as proto-male leaders. Almost all other female heads of government so far have been related to men of power-granddaughters, daughters, sisters, wives, widows: Gandhi, Bandaranike, Bhutto, Aquino, Chamorro, Wazed, Macapagal-Arroyo, Johnson Sirleaf, Bachelet, Kirchner, and more. Even in our "land of opportunity," it's mostly the first pathway "in" permitted to women: Reps. Doris Matsui and Mary Bono and Sala Burton; Sen. Jean Carnahan . . . far too many to list here.
Goodbye to a misrepresented generational divide . . .
Goodbye to the so-called spontaneous "Obama Girl" flaunting her bikini-clad ass online-then confessing Oh yeah it wasn't her idea after all, some guys got her to do it and dictated the clothes, which she said "made me feel like a dork."
Goodbye to some young women eager to win male approval by showing they're not feminists (at least not the kind who actually threaten the status quo), who can't identify with a woman candidate because she is unafraid of eeueweeeu yucky power, who fear their boyfriends might look at them funny if they say something good about her. Goodbye to women of any age again feeling unworthy, sulking "what if she's not electable?" or "maybe it's post-feminism and whoooosh we're already free." Let a statement by the magnificent Harriet Tubman stand as reply. When asked how she managed to save hundreds of enslaved African Americans via the Underground Railroad during the Civil War, she replied bitterly, "I could have saved thousands-if only I'd been able to convince them they were slaves."

I'd rather say a joyful Hello to all the glorious young women who do identify with Hillary, and all the brave, smart men-of all ethnicities and any age--who get that it's in their self-interest, too. She's better qualified. (D'uh.) She's a high-profile candidate with an enormous grasp of foreign- and domestic-policy nuance, dedication to detail, ability to absorb staggering insult and personal pain while retaining dignity, resolve, even humor, and keep on keeping on. (Also, yes, dammit, let's hear it for her connections and funding and party-building background, too. Obama was awfully glad about those when she raised dough and campaigned for him to get to the Senate in the first place.)

I'd rather look forward to what a good president he might make in eight years, when his vision and spirit are seasoned by practical know-how--and he'll be all of 54. Meanwhile, goodbye to turning him into a shining knight when actually he's an astute, smooth pol with speechwriters who've worked with the Kennedys' own speechwriter-courtier Ted Sorenson. If it's only about ringing rhetoric, let speechwriters run. But isn't it about getting the policies we want enacted?
And goodbye to the ageism . . .

How dare anyone unilaterally decide when to turn the page on history, papering over real inequities and suffering constituencies in the promise of a feel-good campaign? How dare anyone claim to unify while dividing, or think that to rouse US youth from torpor it's useful to triage the single largest demographic in this country's history: the boomer generation--the majority of which is female?
Older woman are the one group that doesn't grow more conservative with age-and we are the generation of radicals who said "Well-behaved women seldom make history." Goodbye to going gently into any goodnight any man prescribes for us. We are the women who changed the reality of the United States. And though we never went away, brace yourselves: we're back!

We are the women who brought this country equal credit, better pay, affirmative action, the concept of a family-focused workplace; the women who established rape-crisis centers and battery shelters, marital-rape and date-rape laws; the women who defended lesbian custody rights, who fought for prison reform, founded the peace and environmental movements; who insisted that medical research include female anatomy, who inspired men to become more nurturing parents, who created women's studies and Title IX so we all could cheer the WNBA stars and Mia Hamm. We are the women who reclaimed sexuality from violent pornography, who put child care on the national agenda, who transformed demographics, artistic expression, language itself. We are the women who forged a worldwide movement. We are the proud successors of women who, though it took more than 50 years, won us the vote.

We are the women who now comprise the majority of US voters.
Hillary said she found her own voice in New Hampshire. There's not a woman alive who, if she's honest, doesn't recognize what she means. Then HRC got drowned out by campaign experts, Bill, and media's obsession with All Things Bill.
So listen to her voice:
"For too long, the history of women has been a history of silence. Even today, there are those who are trying to silence our words.
"It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls. It is a violation of human rights when woman and girls are sold into the slavery of prostitution. It is a violation of human rights when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire and burned to death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small. It is a violation of human rights when individual women are raped in their own communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war. It is a violation of human rights when a leading cause of death worldwide along women ages 14 to 44 is the violence they are subjected to in their own homes. It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will.

"Women's rights are human rights. Among those rights are the right to speak freely--and the right to be heard."
That was Hillary Rodham Clinton defying the US State Department and the Chinese Government at the 1995 UN World Conference on Women in Beijing (the full, stunning speech: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/hillaryclintonbeijingspeech.htm).
And this voice, age 22, in "Commencement Remarks of Hillary D. Rodham, President of Wellesley College Government Association, Class of 1969" (full speech: http://www.wellesley.edu/PublicAffairs/Commencement/1969/053169hillary.html)
"We are, all of us, exploring a world none of us understands. . . . searching for a more immediate, ecstatic, and penetrating mode of living. . . . [for the] integrity, the courage to be whole, living in relation to one another in the full poetry of existence. The struggle for an integrated life existing in an atmosphere of communal trust and respect is one with desperately important political and social consequences. . . . Fear is always with us, but we just don't have time for it."
She ended with the commitment "to practice, with all the skill of our being: the art of making possible."
And for decades, she's been learning how.
So goodbye to Hillary's second-guessing herself. The real question is deeper than her re-finding her voice. Can we women find ours? Can we do this for ourselves? "Our President, Ourselves!"

Time is short and the contest tightening. We need to rise in furious energy--as we did when courageous Anita Hill was so vilely treated in the US Senate, as we did when desperate Rosie Jiminez was butchered by an illegal abortion, as we did and do for women globally who are condemned for trying to break through. We need to win, this time. Goodbye to supporting HRC tepidly, with ambivalent caveats and apologetic smiles. Time to volunteer, make phone calls, send emails, donate money, argue, rally, march, shout, vote.

Me? I support Hillary Rodham because she's the best qualified of all candidates running in both parties. I support her because her progressive politics are as strong as her proven ability to withstand what will be a massive right-wing assault in the general election. I support her because she's refreshingly thoughtful, and I'm bloodied from eight years of a jolly "uniter" with ejaculatory politics. I needn't agree with her on every point. I agree with the 97 percent of her positions that are identical with Obama's-and the few where hers are both more practical and to the left of his (like health care). I support her because she's already smashed the first-lady stereotype and made history as a fine senator, and because I believe she will continue to make history not only as the first US woman president, but as a great US president.
As for the "woman thing"?
Me, I'm voting for Hillary not because she's a woman--but because I am.


RM
February 2, 2008
New York City


[Also posted on www.womensmediacenter.com]


Official Site:
www.RobinMorgan.us

Friday, February 15, 2008

Thank You From WUJ Productions





The Sali Oguri Persephone New York (Unreleased Mix) perfume project is now officially closed for online business. We'd like to sincerely thank all of our customers for purchasing it from many states in the US from NY to California, from the Midwest in Ohio to down South in Georgia, and places as far from us as UK and Germany. This has been an exciting journey to have shared with you. Persephone will soon go home to her mother, Demeter, with the coming of Spring, and hopefully, we will have another new perfume project to present to you again. Many, many thanks again. Be on the lookout for more music from Sali coming soon. --WUJ team

Miss Balmain


Miss Balmain (1967) was created by perfumer Germaine Cellier who had also created Ivoire, Vent Vert and Jolie Madame for the design house of Pierre Balmain. Jan Moran categorizes it as a Chypre-Floral Animalic, and I agree, although to me, it's not so animalic and actually very green and dazzling like Givenchy III, Deneuve or Ivoire, just heavier and spicier. I smell mostly spices (coriander, carnation) and a heavy, dry but musky castoreum-patchouli-leather base. I love it, though--it's kind of sweet and yummy as well as airy. It opens with citrus-like bright greens, then reveals a retro gardenia, except the gardenia-jasmine in Miss Balmain isn't as heavy as in Jolie Madame. Although one is marketed to younger women and the other to older women (in the days before Ms. was standard even in the US), I don't find Miss Balmain light, simple and youthful. I think the main difference is that Miss Balmain smells less floral in that voluptuous, low-pitched, ambery patchouli + white floral way Jolie Madame has nailed. Jolie Madame is most obviously a retro gardenia blend; Miss Balmain while no less retro smells more like a balsamic-spicy Oriental-leather Chypre floral, bringing to mind the spicy-warm vintage Replique, supposedly a favorite of 1940s screen siren Rita Hayworth (alongside Lanvin Arpège and Guerlain Shalimar). By the way, this ad is one of my favorite perfume ads, ever.

(Edited to add) As I feel about Vent Vert and Ivoire, Miss Balmain is much more strikingly beautiful in the vintage formulation.

(Image: toutenparfum.com)

My Current Top 10 of Winter 2008



I'm taking a short break from blogging again because I'm preparing for the showcase on the 23rd (and another one on March 1st which I'll post about soon), so I thought I'd leave you with my Top 10 of Winter 2008. My very favorite is still my own creation named Persephone, and this time, I've decided to include it in my list. I'm wild about Very Sexy Hot and feel no shame, so there! The woman who shared the name of her perfume was kind enough to do so, and I'm sharing it with you in turn. My next acquisition will probably be a big vat of that delicious peony-plum-berry-suede concoction, and if I can dream, some Caron En Avion extrait and Miss Balmain (is it still in production?), too, please. So, without further ado, here goes, in no particular order:

1. Sali Oguri Persephone New York (Unreleased Mix)
2. Victoria's Secret Very Sexy Hot
3. Givenchy III (vintage)
4. Caron En Avion
5. Guerlain Chamade (vintage)
6. Burberry The Beat
7. Pierre Balmain Miss Balmain (vintage)
8. Pierre Balmain Ivoire (vintage)
9. Amouage Gold for Women
10. Chanel Les Exclusifs No.18

If I may add just a few more, I'd include Caron Narcisse Noir parfum (don't have), Nina Ricci Nina (new), Kate by Kate Moss, Guerlain L'Heure Bleue and Jean Patou Joy, although I wear the Top 5-8 or so most often. Frederic Malle Carnal Flower is also gorgeous and I don't have a bottle, but sometimes I think the original Chloé, the tuberose-jasmine from 1975, might fill in fine for now. Incidentally, the new Chloé (with Chloë Sevigny and two other blonde women (?) in the print ads) smelled like Laila by Geir Ness, reportedly a favorite of Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey (Jan Moran Fabulous Fragrances II), which I already have a mini of and as nice as it is, probably won't finish.

Stay warm if you're battling the cold, and have a wonderful weekend, winter vacation, the rest of your summer, etc.--wherever you're loggin' in from, have a good one!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Jean Patou Moment Suprême

Lavender can be absolutely beautiful and ravishing if it's accompanied by the right set of notes. Alone, it can seem too astringent and medicinal, although I know some people adore a simple lavender scent, which has its own clean and classic, humble charm. I prefer my lavender with warm and sweet notes: Guerlain Jicky, Serge Lutens Gris Clair, MAC MV2 which I no longer wear and sent to a friend, but I still think the modern combination of lavender and vanilla is pretty swell. Enter Jean Patou Moment Suprême: it's a classic ambery Floral Oriental but what a subtle, clean and ethereal choice. It's like a veil of pale purple gauze, the tender light of morning or an angel's breath. It starts with a slightly astringent lavender note, but then, the soft, ambery spicy sweetness rounds it all out, and it creates a most refined aura of serene, comforting sophistication. For me, the dry down is the best phase of all when the classic Jean Patou signature heart of jasmine-rose florals begins to sing a delicate siren song. My heart has belonged to Joy for practically as long as I've loved perfume, but this Moment Suprême, although it wasn't love-at-first-smell the way Joy was for me, has also taken my breath away, and it seems to fit in with my lifestyle, seamlessly going from occasion to occasion without calling too much attention to itself but making its delightful presence known all the same. I find it elegant but sensual, smart and down-to-earth. As far as spices go, it's spicy enough for me, about as spicy as Caron En Avion (which I love passionately), but simpler and more diaphanous.

Jan Moran's Notes:
Jean Patou Moment Supreme (1929 Floral-Ambery)
Top Notes: Lavender, geranium, clove, bergamot
Heart Notes: Jasmine, rose
Base Notes: Amber, spices

(Image: 1942 ad)

Happy Valentine's Day


Isn't it a lovely ad? Such a diamond-studded backdrop of Manhattan would be perfect to stage a marriage proposal or to say "I love you" for the first time (or the 1000th). Since I'm posting this 1981 advertisement of Revlon Norell, a perfume that's intrinsically intertwined with New York City (at least as much as Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works scents might be part of our landscape now), it seems only right to write a proper (or improper--purely subjective) review. Norell followed Guy Laroche Fidgi (1966), a popular perfume of the late '60s which featured in its ad the imagery of a tropical paradise on Earth, accompanied by the phrase to sell it: "A woman is an island. Fidji is her perfume". It could be interpreted that a woman is a whole person, like an island, without the help of a man to make her complete: a cutting edge concept back then. As for the scent, it featured in a list of notes a whole shebang of lush white florals: tuberose, jasmine, ylang-ylang topped off with hyacinth and the very leafy-green galbanum through the mist of a powdery iris heart and a bold, mossy-woody (patchouli) base. If you expected Fidgi to smell as fulfillingly luscious as a tropical getaway, you're in for a tease that ends as a tease. Fidgi never quite warms up--in fact, Fidgi is cruel and hides all the good stuff under notes that point out, "an aristocratic woman doesn't have lascivious desires of her own, but you may desire me".

It was written in Michael Edwards' book, Perfume Legends: French Feminine Fragrances, that the perfumer modeled Fidgi after L'Air du Temps, the classic "innocent" powdery-spicy (carnation) perfume by Nina Ricci. Fidgi, like L'Air du Temps, smells to me like an Aldehydic Floral that wasn't marketed as such. I have never desired the smell of Fidgi, nor did I particularly find it as high society-smelling as many other Green Florals I love. Maybe it's the subtle sprinkling of predictable, evenly-spaced spices that bugged me. Or, it was that there wasn't much in it for me to make perfume enjoyable--the mark of true elegance, the coitus interruptus factor. To me, Fidgi smells like a soapy, mossy mishmash of sharp, powdery-spicy floral notes on an earthy, wooded base, but somewhat nondescript, forgettable, not even cerebrally exciting. However, Fidgi was a hit and eventually inspired Revlon's Norell (1968) followed by Charlie (1973), two of the greatest American perfume successes in those eras. Please don't take my word for anything and judge Fidgi for yourself. You may love it and find it swoonworthy. Fidgi no doubt was a great perfume, some technological breakthrough in perfumery. Now, onto Norell...

I think Norell smells a lot like Fidgi. Norell is said to smell like furs and money, so this is basically an affordable version of what's perceived traditionally as a high society, sophisticated scent born of Western perfumery made possible by neverending advances in science and technology. Norell is a Green Floral by many standards but it's really Aldehydic like Fidgi to me (even though it's more piercingly wooded and bold than powdery soft), and borderline Chypre (why no patchouli in the notes? It smells very earthy, like patch could be in here--I have the parfum Made In France). It's woody and unsweet (save for a welcome touch of vanilla), dry, heavy and perfumey. Here's Norell: Green notes, spicy carnation heart, no filthy, indolic tropical white flowers that writhe with passion or scream in ecstacy, sharp, "sparkling" aldehydes made sharper with galbanum and bergamot, that bitter Italian citrus. Norell is a tough scent that says "I'm supremely confident in my own skin". No wonder it fit right in, here in New York. If one good thing could be said about Norell, it's much softer and wearable than Halston which came out around the same time.

It's only a drugstore perfume with no sense of clout now, or perhaps the clout died with Norell, the first American designer perfume, but there was a time in herstory when it meant something that such a traditional scent could be made mainstream, and not just available to a select few, affordable even by a bourjeois woman with her own *gasp* paycheck. Well, thank goodness for that. A top New York financial planner I once had the privilege of meeting once told me in her throughly professional, executive voice: "Princes may not show up, or appear, then disappear". We need to be able to fend for ourselves because no matter where in our life stage we may be, a woman is an island, after all.

Jan Moran's Notes:
Revlon Norell (1968, Floral)
Top Notes: Greens, reseda, galbanum, bergamot, verbena
Heart Notes: Carnation, hyacinth, rose, jasmine, ginger lily, calla lily, jonquil, ylang-ylang, heliotrope
Base Notes: Musk, iris, sandalwood, myrrh, vanilla

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lanvin Arpège



Here's a classic perfume that might bring to mind your mother or grandmother or your favorite aunt. As it turns out, it's a grand perfume that's worthy of wearing more than 80 years after it first launched.

Have you seen Disney's 1970 film, The Aristocats? You might remember the scene where little Marie starts this catchy little number accompanied by her brother, Toulouse, on piano:


Ev'ry truly cultured music student knows.
You must learn your scales and your arpeggios.
Bring the music, ringing from your chest and not your nose.
While you sing your scales and your arpeggios.

If you're faithful to your daily practicing.
You will find your progress is encouraging.
Do Mi Sol Mi, Do Mi Sol Mi, Fa La so it goes.
When you do your scales and your arpeggios.



The song is called "Scales and Arpeggios", words and music by Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman. Practice is never easy, and so these kitties worked hard to refine their musical skills like Mama who sang most proficiently. Anyway, arpeggios are a succession of notes (do mi sol do, do sol mi do) as opposed to a chord with notes all played together at once--roughly speaking. Lanvin Arpège is named for this musical form because Jeanne Lanvin's daughter, whom she had Arpège created for, was an opera singer. It was presented as a gift on her daughter's 30th birthday; the year was 1927.

Arpège, an Aldehydic Floral, smells a lot like Chanel No.5 (1921) which is to be expected because it was modeled after it, like many other perfumes were around that time (Caron Nuit de Noel (1922), Guerlain Liu (1929)). I would like to address that Caron Infini (1912), an Aldehydic Floral, preceded Chanel No.5 in terms of powdery, abstract Aldehydic Florals, but it was No.5 that became the world famous star of the perfume world, which is why it was copied from 1921 on like no other. It was sort of like what Angel is today, or what Ma Griffe and Vent Vert were to greens.

(LOL vintage ad!)


I could easily say Arpège reminds me of Hermes Caleche (1961) or Madame Rochas (1960), Aldehydic Florals that were created during the ongoing trend throughout the 30s, 40s and 50s alongside Chypres, but of course, Arpège is unique in its own way. In a nutshell, Arpege is classic, rich, complex and very well-rounded (voluptuous) with a powdery, low-pitched, warm patchouli base and a sweet honeysuckle heart. After all the notes have made their way around the circle of fifths and up and down the scale, those are the notes that linger the longest for me, delivered through a thick cloud of powder with that maquillage smell (the smell of makeup, like the inside of a handbag). The scent is old-fashioned and ladylike, but approachably sweet, and with shades of the roaring twenties for a bit of pizazz. Shall we call it jazzy? "Oh, yeah...". ;-)



(Image: www.ultimatedisney.com, Arpege advertisements, 1933, 1961, 1954)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jean Patou Ma Collection


If elegance is the quality that makes it easy to overlook something due to its subdued character, Jean Patou's forgotten vintage perfumes might fit the bill. That doesn't mean they're boring scents; I don't know if they were considered so quiet back in the day. Sometimes, a creative person or team turns out a bunch of things and comes up with a hit; in Jean Patou's case, the winning perfume was Joy. The lesser-known Jean Patou perfumes were once revived as part of a 12-piece miniature collection called Ma Collection. These now-obscure scents were created between 1925 and 1964. I'd written about the lovely Vacances before, but today, I want to briefly review some of the others in the collection. It just so happens I have a wonderful friend who lives overseas in Germany who has sent me an enormous package filled with vintage Patou samples and decants, so I've got lots of happiness to share.

3 of the 12 Ma Collection scents were once part of Jean Patou's Love Trilogy: This 1925 offering consisted of Amour Amour, the first Patou perfume, Que sais-je? and Adieu Sagesse. The trio told a romantic tale in 3 stages; those stages were represented by 3 different types of women: a dark-skinned brunette, a blonde and a redhead. I usually dislike typecasting, especially because Western systems tend to lump all dark people together into one group that supposedly can never wear the fairest colors in the spectrum. Kevyn Aucoin, the makeup guru who passed on too young, was a pioneer in the industry who spoke out against stereotypes and the concept of ethnic VS standard beauty. Well, what I admire about this Jean Patou set is that he created the fairest Floral for the dark-skinned beauty. I can only imagine Josephine Baker, one of Patou's most illustrious clients, being a muse for such a lilting, springlike Fresh Floral. The scent is comparable to Caron Fleurs de Rocaille in its delicate but slightly musky floralcy.

Que sais-Je? was created for the blonde, and it's a peachy Fruity Chypre, with very pronounced powdery peach notes. I find it similar at first to Etat Libre d'Orange Encens et Bubblegum, and to a lesser degree to Dolce & Gabbana The One and Gwen Stefani LAMB. The dry down stage is Chypre without a doubt, and to my modernized nose, the scent is a bit too musty to take. It's still a beauty of a blend that gives the impression of peaches and cream skin, with a hint of booziness in there somewhere. It's flirtatious and naughty, yet wants to be all grown up in an adult atmosphere. Adieu Sagesse is an understated Aldehydic Floral with spicy accents, created for the redhead. I wish I had more to write about but as lovely as the scent is, it hasn't proven to be the most memorable of the bunch for me. You may love it--please do give it a try if you ever come across it.

Very briefly, here are my quick impressions of the others I've tried: Caline (1964), a soft green floral with a powdery, mossy, Chypre-like aspect and true to its time; Colony (1938), a voluptuous pineapple Chypre, darker and base-heavier than L'Artisan Parfumeur Ananaz Fizz but tropical like that, and sweet; Moment Supreme (1929), a very evocative lavender-amber with subtle spices and a classic rose-jasmine heart--I love this and find it to be very beautiful and refined; Normandie (1935), an assertive, big spicy-ambery-vanillic Oriental with a sweet, fruity top and carnation-rose-jasmine heart, bringing to mind Guerlain Vol de Nuit or Red Moscow; L'Heure Attendue (1946), a spicy, woody Aldehydic Floral I've compared to Frederic Malle Iris Poudre, Laura Biagiotti Venezia and Lady Stetson. I will report back on the remaining 3, Chaldee (1927), Cocktail (1930) and Divine Folie (1933) when I find samples of them somewhere.

(Image: toutenparfum.com)

Victoria's Secret Very Sexy Hot

This is how I discovered Very Sexy Hot: Thank goodness for the sexy and kindhearted woman, a fellow jingle/voice-over talent, who shared the name of her perfume with me when I asked, because she really smelled so good in the recording booth! It was a crowded booth with so many actors and talents, but no one was complaining. The scent was a bit ambery to me, warm and sweet, a bit spicy, but not at all overwhelming. It was yummy and just a little complex. I didn't smell any patchouli, either! When she said the name of the perfume, I nearly died. If you've read my scathing reviews about how low in quality the Victoria's Secret perfumes are, please take them with a grain of salt. I couldn't stand the musky Body by Victoria, and most of them aren't to my liking but now, I'm eating my words. Victoria's Secret has done something miraculous with this mass appeal scent, to make it absolutely swoonworthy. I've fallen in love with Very Sexy Hot and I've completely changed my mind about VS fragrances, even if I still despise their advertisements, their use of lowercase lettering or cutsey fonts as if to dumb us down, the fact that I can't fit into their bras that are sized starting from a B-cup, their lack of work for beautiful Asian models, and their capitalizing on sexist imagery and the fact that their business must exist. All prejudices aside, this is a really good scent.

Honestly, I'm not a patchouli fan and I don't smell much patchouli in it, it's so well-blended. I understand this scent is actually Very Sexy For Her 2 renamed and repackaged. Was it reformulated, too? I can't compare the scents because I haven't smelled Very Sexy For Her 2, but I thought the old bottle was ugly; it looked like a cross between a bad "modern" sculpture and a circumcised penis. I like the new bottles *a little* better; the shape is definitely sleeker and more pleasant to the eye. The glittery font on the new model looks like they tried to copy Stella McCartney. The VS bottle is still tacky, but it goes with the territory. Let me refrain from making your bones feel like they're rotting from all this criticism; the scent itself gets nothing but raves. ♥ ♥ ♥ xoxoxoxo

Victoria's Secret Very Sexy Hot (2007 Floral)
(aka Very Sexy For Her 2 (2004))
Top notes: marigold, freesia, berry
Middle notes: peony, stargazer lily, plum
Low notes: patchouli, musk, suede, sandalwood, vanilla


You may also be interested in the original Very Sexy For Her, a richer blend if you find the Hot version a bit too light (Hot is substantial enough for me for most days) or if you simply seek variation. I already liked the original Very Sexy enough to own a mini I never finished, but I think Hot is my favorite (although I haven't smelled the others) in the Very Sexy line.



Victoria's Secret Very Sexy (aka Very Sexy For Her) (Floral Oriental, 2002)
Top notes: capucine, pepper, cactus flower, clementine
Middle notes: camellia, hydrangea, mimosa, vanilla orchid
Low notes: musk, soft woods, blackberry, white amber

Sali Oguri Persephone New York - 3 Days Only!



"I dive into a pool of chocolate, a thick, rich, velvet chocolate-fondue mousse. I swim up to the surface, rising up through this delicious dense decadence. The air is suddenly bright with the smell of berries, and sweet-sour flowers. I want to eat myself with a spoon! This should be made into a syrup for ice cream! WOW! Thank you for your creativity!" --Vida S.


"A lush, deep, jewel-toned gourmand. Beautiful work!" --Elizabeth K.


"Sali Oguri's Persephone walks a tightrope between languid sensuality and ebullience with the grace of a gazelle. I can hardly wait for her next album." --Charles D.


"SEXY." --Mr. Five


The testimonials are coming in, but there's only 3 more days till Feb. 14th when Persephone becomes part of the private collection, never to be sold online again. Please make your purchases now, and don't miss out on my best blend to date!

Visit WUJ Productions

Monday, February 11, 2008

Roses Like Wine






















Not enough roses for you yet? Have no fear; the perfume gods and goddesses have been merciful and we have choices to make life worth living. Here are my favorite deep roses, sumptuous and velvety dark, like full-bodied red wine. Top: Vivienne Westwood Boudoir (1998), a complex green Oriental: heavy, pungent, earthy, suggestive and animalic roses (a tiny bit goes a long way like parfum even though it's EDP). Go for the darker color juice--the new one is the paler rose, and rumor has it the scent's been watered down. 2nd tier: Chanel Coco (1984), a uniquely beautiful and sophisticated rose-amber with Mysore sandalwood, a hint of leather and sultry white florals with spices and peach topping off the daring, elegant Oriental blend. It's full of character and to be experienced in parfum if possible; Annick Goutal Ce Soir ou Jamais (1999), a fresh and sublime Turkish rose heart accentuated by a tender touch of peach and pear for a hint of innocent charm--but the dry down stage is all about intoxicating wine-scented skin. Bottom: Jil Sander No.4 (1992), a romantic, sexy and modern rose-amber with dazzling, voluptuous fruits, violets and tuberose: warm, sweet, rich and sensual yet as streamlined as the clothing designs in this stylish line.

(www.fragrantica.com, perfumeshrine blog, illatgardrob.shp.hu, passionforperfume.co.uk, barfumeria.com)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

October Blood



October Blood, a novel by Francine du Plessix Gray, is the best thing to come out of the year 1985 besides Christian Dior Poison. If you're a fashionista, perfumista, beauty junkie or simply intrigued by the fashion industry, this book is a must-read.

Roses, Please...But In a Bottle









Bottled roses are my favorite kind to receive on Valentine's Day, and here are some unforgettable rose blends. Top center: Jean Patou Joy (1930), the classic, timeless combination of Grasse jasmine and Bulgarian rose by perfumer Henri Alméras. 2nd tier from left to right: Chanel Allure parfum (1996), a rich, creamy rose-vanilla with mandarin orange accents for a peaches-and-cream finish, Rochas Tocade (1994), the oh-so-posh, heady roses, mandarin and vanilla-amber mix by Maurice Roucel. Bottom from left to right: Yves Saint-Laurent Paris (1984), Sophia Grosjman's famous offering of a profusion of roses pure big '80s style, Agent Provocateur Eau de Parfum (2000), a naughty rose-leather nouveau-Chypre for the kitten-with-a-whip, strong and not for the faint-of-heart.

(Images: www.escentual.com, parfumszalon.hu, ¡Ombligo! blog, www.basenotes.net)

Kylie Minogue Darling

I adore Kylie Minogue's 2001 hit song, "Can't Get You Out of My Head". I say this rarely but I even liked the video. Even if this is the only recording I know of hers, Kylie has a special place in my heart because of it. Her perfume, Darling, was advertised as a Chypre in some circles, and even though it was an exclusive launch to places other than the US, I knew I'd have to acquire it via an auction site. My first bottle shipped from Singapore and broke in transit but that was mainly due to improper packaging (it came inside a flimsy cardboard candy box with no bubblewrap). I don't recall where the second one shipped from--either Asia or Australia, maybe Singapore again--but it arrived in peachy fashion. The scent is not so Chypre but more like a Fruity Floral nouveau Chypre in the vein of Miss Dior Cherie, which I've always thought smelled like Victoria's Secret Strawberries and Champagne. Darling has a passionfruit-vanilla type of scent, and although the Chypre element somewhere lends slightly complex character, I find it easy-to-wear and more or less a drugstore quality spritzer, not nearly as well-produced as her hit single. However, it's a sweet and sexy scent, and I completely get why it's a bestseller. I'm glad I have my little 0.5 fl. oz. Go, Kylie!

(Edited to add) I'm really liking this a lot lately--I can smell the Chypre in it much more, like a stronger, sexier Miss Dior Cherie. I also find that drugstore perfumes are of comparable quality to mainstream offerings these days.

Pretty Light Roses













Roses don't have to be heavy and dramatic. These are some of my favorite light, fresh roses. Unfortunately, a couple of these are discontinued, but if they pop up on eBay, you can often grab them for a song. Top from left to right: L'Occitane Neroli Rose (citrusy, heavenly light rose, also came as solid perfume), Stella by Stella McCartney, a muskier, semi-nouveau Chypre take on the fresh rose (to me, anyway--it reminds me of Narciso Rodriguez For Her and Gres Cabaret, another beautiful rose but with a twist). Bottom: Penhaligon's Elisabethan Rose (So pretty--I have the bottle with a pale pink tassle instead of the blue bow), Frederic Fekkai Bouquet de Provence (citrusy, herbaceous rose, mixed by Jacques Polge of Chanel). If you like these, also try the Parfums de Rosine line, Diptyque L'Ombre dans L'Eau, Clarins Par Amour Toujours and Kate by Kate Moss for more light rose options.

(Images: www.barfumeria.com, auntjudysattic, shopping.yahoo.com, www.edirectory.co.uk)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Guerlain Nahéma



Guerlain Nahéma (1979) is known to be a favorite of Shirley Manson. That's reason enough for me to want to wear it all the time; alas, it's seldom nowadays I'm in the mood for this robust, passionate rose-amber, but it's still among my very favorite perfumes. I love it enough to have had it in both parfum and parfum de toilette (EDP) strengths. Nahéma is a classic Guerlain masterpiece, an Aldehydic Floral featuring peach-passionfruit and vanilla underscoring the Bulgarian rose-vanilla-sandalwood-balsam-benzoin-vetiver symphony. As the fruits and florals settle down, I find the dry down stage is a vanillic-honeylike aroma, like Metallica/Metalys. In a word, it's gorgeous. It's a heady, strong, passionate scent; if you're familiar with Annick Goutal Quel Amour!, I think they're similar except Nahéma is more complex, deeper, telling a tale from more than a millenium ago. Nahéma, meaning "daughter of fire", is a character in Arabian Nights (Thousand and One Nights). The original crystal parfum flacon was in a circular motif with an indentation shaped like a teardrop. When the weather turns as cold as it's been here this weekend, Nahéma seems perfect to wear.

(Image: toutenparfum.com)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Clementine Perfume

A clementine aka Algerian tangerine is a cross between a mandarin and a bitter orange. It was created in the early 20th Century by a French missionary by the name of Clément Dozier. I had not come across clementine in perfume before (although I have seen one named Clementine made by Molinard), but this is a nice new oil perfume, supposedly a favorite of Scarlett Johansson and Lindsay Lohan. Will it follow in the cult perfume trend after Monyette, Coquette Tropique and Kai? That remains to be seen, but I like this scent, a slightly acidic and light, fresh, sweet citrus-floral. The sweetness seems to come from a soapy orange blossom, honeysuckle and a non-animalic (aqueous) jasmine, reminding me of Marc Jacobs Blush, Kate Spade EDP, and just a bit of the "Orange Blossom" oil that came with my Scents of Time book from the Metropolitan Museum. In a nutshell, Clementine smells like a pretty white floral with a tangy, sharp citrusy bite. It feels like a spring-summer fragrance, but citrus is so uplifting and energizing to wear in the winter. Besides, if this is real citrus oil in here, you won't have to worry about photosensitivity during the cold season. The Japanese take yuzu baths to invigorate the skin and warm up during the winter, and eat a whole lot of tangerines (mikan). Maybe Clementine will help warm up your winter, and Valentine's Day which is right around the corner.

(Image: Beautyhabit.com)

Guerlain Vol de Nuit



Vol de Nuit (1933), which I'm sampling in parfum on this cold February day in New York, translates to "night flight". I could easily compare it to Caron En Avion (1932) which was born in the same era and smelled similar in its rich, assertive, spicy-ambery, semi-Chypre tones. However, Vol de Nuit is much sweeter with a definite Guerlain stamp of vanillic-gourmand characteristic. I've seen a vintage Guerlain ad circa 1973 featuring a Marilyn-esque blonde woman as if inside a movie, and I wonder if Vol de Nuit would be another example of "the blonde perfume". Maybe that term isn't limited to white florals and encompasses sweet, perhaps youthful, scents in general. Vol de Nuit is sweet enough I could call it Gourmand, although it is more complex than a straight dessert scent.

The opening is a honeyed sweetness, reminding me of Chopard Casmir (1991) or Jean Patou Normandie (1935) but vaguely crossed with the elegant, subdued refinement of Guerlain Mitsouko (1919). As it progresses, the vanillic-ambery sweetness gives way to a violetty Aldehydic Floral phase, bringing to mind Balenciaga Le Dix (1947) and Van Cleef & Arpels First (1976). Vol de Nuit is classified by Jan Moran as Oriental Spicy-Ambery, which would place it in the same family as Jean Desprez Bal à Versailles, Lancome Magie Noire, Givenchy Organza Indecence and Estee Lauder Youth Dew. While I agree with the classification, I tend to think it smells closer to the aforementioned gourmand-Orientals and Aldehydic Florals most of all but I think it's as sweet and spicy as Organza Indecence, just richer, denser, more powdery.

Vol de Nuit is quite spicy, with noticeable cinnamon in the mix, which also brings to my mind Red Moscow if only compositionally-speaking. One can guess the leaning towards these assertive spicy ambery scents in the 1930s Depression era had to do with the popularity of Guerlain Shalimar (1925) preceding Vol de Nuit in the extravagant, pre-Depression flapper age.


Famous Vol de Nuit wearers include actress Katharine Hepburn and songstress Barbara Streisand according to Fabulous Fragrances II.

(Image: Vol de Nuit bottle geriyang.spaces.live.com, Guerlain Vol de Nuit 1936 ad, 1954 ad www.toutenparfum.com)

Pierre Balmain Vent Vert



Vent Vert translates to "green wind", and as the name suggests, it is a leafy breath of fresh air. The opening is a burst of galbanum, and the lively Green Floral rests on a light, mossy base that doesn't overpower or dampen the refreshing nature of this beautiful classic. Pierre Balmain Vent Vert (1947), often given credit for being the first Green fragrance, follows the launch of Carven Ma Griffe (1946) with its green Chypre motif, but comparatively, Vent Vert is lighter and fresher overall, streamlined in the heart with lily of the valley, hyacinth and freesia to the rich gardenia heart of Ma Griffe; sans Chypre base, Vent Vert feels airy and mild with subtle powderiness from the oakmoss and iris supporting the sandalwood-amber-musk base. It is the first Green Floral. There are herbaceous notes such as basil and sage adding almost-but-not-quite-spicy, playful accents to its vivacious energy. Vent Vert is best in the vintage formula if you can find it (the new one is sweeter, more synthetic-aqueous, with less galbanum, the life of this perfume imo). To me, it's among the best, if not the very best, that master perfumer Germaine Cellier had created in her lifetime (Robert Piguet Fracas, Bandit, Pierre Balmain Ivoire, Miss Balmain, Jolie Madame--more listed here).

According to Jan Moran in her book, Fabulous Fragrances, actress Brigitte Bardot was an aficionada of Vent Vert and Guerlain Jicky, two of the most memorable, crisp, herbaceous, nature-oriented scents an ingenue could have in a fragrance wardrobe.

(Image: Balmain Vent Vert ad, 1952 by René Gruau, www.lepetitsaintjames.com)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Burberry The Beat


I don't think the scent makes any real reference to a particularly British smell, Rock music or the Beat generation, but I like the black tea note in this new fragrance by Burberry. I bought this one unsniffed, and so far, I'm pretty impressed, particularly with how the scent captures me in the opening, but also how it evolves. Burberry The Beat (2008) was mixed by perfumers Dominique Ropion (Frederic Malle Carnal Flower, Givenchy Amarige), Olivier Polge (Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb) and Beatrice Piquet (Lalique classic). The Beat has a sweet, creamy-sugary tropical-musky vibe underscoring the black tea with citrus (mandarin) accord. It starts off refreshingly sharp and crisp, not totally unlike Brit, but it turns much more beachy-smelling, and very musky but not like Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue powdery-musky, more like Marc Jacobs-Helmut Lang skin musk musky (edited to add: but not nearly as musky and strong, so don't be scared). I imagined Philosophy's tea set might smell sort of like this. I like the opening the best, when the sugared tea and citrus are most apparent. Over time, it gets much sweeter (ambery-woody like Calvin Klein IN2U or Chanel Chance Eau Fraiche), with an almost coconutty scent, making me think of vacationing in Miami with a Long Island Iced Tea in hand (not that I like the drink). Spices triumph in the end, ever so vaguely making me think of spicy ambery scents like Jean Patou Normandie (1935), Guerlain Vol de Nuit (1933) or Red Moscow.

(Edited to add) I wore it out tonight in the cold, and it seemed less spicy-ambery and more creamy-woody, but still sweet, a combination of smooth (a bit like Penhaligon's Artemisia or Cashmere Mist) and fresh (the black tea and light white florals sing out in the sillage). I am loving this!