Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
In a world full of perfume compositions dedicated to the concept of the sacred, Illuminum White Gardenia Petals tells a different story of what spiritual purity means in olfactory speak compared to many that came before it: Caron Parfum Sacré with its "soulful" (perhaps historically meaningful to its perfumer) interpretation of the Roman Catholic mass, for instance, or the heady cistus labdanum burnt as incense offering as part of the ancient art of kōdō. Illuminum is an independent line of fragrances by Michael Boadi whose other line of fragrances, Boadicea the Victorious, was made famous by Mrs. Obama (PINK MANHATTAN reviewed one of her 3 favorite fragrances, Boadicea the Victorious Delicate, on August 02, 2009). What makes Illuminum White Gardenia Petals special enough to have been chosen as Kate Middleton's royal wedding day perfume? The answer came to me the moment I breathed in the scent of White Gardenia Petals: English (or common) bluebell.
To me, Illuminum White Gardenia Petals doesn't have enough white floral sweetness, nor coconutty goodness, to properly call it a white floral perfume in a tropical sense, although if you could smell through the thick veil of laundry detergentesque musk, you can find these notes. They are subversive and only meant to imply, hint at, the truth of the matter; to most people, I believe the overall impression is that of the most ubiquitous musk scent, feather light and soapy clean, as comforting as browsing through a drugstore makeup aisle, so reminiscent of women doing "wifely duties" such as cooking and cleaning, it can be found along the Bible Belt in such places as Kroger, nestled along the cash register, humbly packaged as "Rain". And what is rain but a mess of filth? It's best not to overthink the implication of having women wear scents that teach them to remain small and humble, never to build self-esteem but rather to be grateful to wear dirt as a reminder of their secondary status.
But such an interpretation is not to say Rain, or White Gardenia Petals, are unworthy perfumes to discuss; on the contrary, Kate Middleton had chosen the most perfect fragrance for the occasion because of its Protestant character (also see Protestant Reformation). The soul of Protestantism is tabula rasa, freedom from the restraints of the Old World. Thus, the bride and her pristine sillage bringing to mind one of the most mythical yet "traditionally British" scents, that of the bluebell, sends a clear message of being born again, without the bondage of bloodlines and fate but in spirit alone. It makes sense to me that when I had done some market research for the launching of my own humble (and shall remain so at this point) fragrance creation, that my then-audience in Japan (from my TV / radio days) wrote to me saying they associated America with musk. With high-pitched, ethereal notes of piercing greenery characterizing both the white musk and the bluebell (lily of the valley and lilac/hyacinth, respectively), perhaps these notes are most closely related without having to come from the same genus.
Monday, August 29, 2011
(Edited to add) I have been informed by a kind tweeter that this dress is from her film Vice and Virtue, and that she wore a black wedding dress to her actual wedding. I'll post a pic as soon as I can find one. xoxo
Friday, August 26, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
The Crown Perfumery Co., before Clive Christian bought and sold off the entire line, was one of the foremost British perfume houses which catered to royals. Founded in 1872 in London by William Sparks Thomson, an American industrialist and manufacturer of crinolines and corsets, with the assistance of his two sons (reference: The New Perfume Handbook by Nigel Groom - 1997), one of whom was William Thomson, Jr. whose chemistry skills shaped the company's future, Crown Perfumery became known for exquisite perfumes as well as their bottle design (the famous crown-shaped bottle caps were designed in the image of Queen Victoria's crown). Among their memorable creations were Matsukita (1894), a powdery, woody Floral Oriental devoid of sweetness and fluff, the evanescent Alpine Lily (1879), the historical Crown Marechale Original and their regal Crown Rose (1873).
Crown Bouquet was originally called Crab Apple Blossoms, and was first launched in 1886. Crown Bouquet was launched in 1936 and, according to Nigel Groom, reintroduced in 1994. Legend has it Crown Bouquet was inspired by a controversial figure named Wallis Simpson, an American socialite who became Duchess of Windsor. Described as domineering, abrasive and notoriously racist, Simpson was named Woman of the Year by Time magazine in 1936, the same year Crown Bouquet was born. Crown Bouquet is described as "the greenest of green fragrances", and since Green fragrances have characteristically been linked to powerful women (Coco Chanel and her No.19, Estée Lauder and her Private Collection), it probably suited her well - however, since the original inception and creation of Crab Apple Blossoms was before Simpson's time (1886, one year before Queen Victoria celebrated her Golden Jubilee), I do not think of this scent as being connected to her. According to Perfume Intelligence, Crab Apple Blossoms was a fragrance in 'The New Crown Series'.
Crown Bouquet (Crab Apple Blossoms) is a composition consisting of the most vividly experiential greenery and spring white flowers. The notes - galbanum, hyacinth, orange blossom, gardenia and tuberose, all together create the impression of one central motif, the crab apple blossom. There is no crab apple blossom note in the composition, but it is rendered by the copious use of hyacinth and galbanum for the green, apple-like effect (apple is a green note as evidenced by Donna Karan Be Delicious). Hyacinths and I have had a tempestuous relationship; there's always been challenging hyacinth blends that seduced me at first with their crisp aroma, only to turn on my skin, in animalic fashion. Perhaps it's because the note is so redolent of tree sap, of flora and fauna, that when it's warmed on skin, the stemmy, sappy quality becomes amplified. I learned to like Penhaligon's Bluebell, and I still cannot abide by L'Artisan Parfumeur Jacinthe des Bois. Aside from Estée Lauder Private Collection, a most superior American-born Chypre, it's been a challenge to find hyacinths that withstand the test of duration of wear, and Crown Bouquet is one of those skin-friendly, yet authentic-smelling, piercingly green hyacinths.
It is ironic that such a nature-oriented scent is an artistic rendering with the support of modern technology, supported by the fact that, in a pinch, Sung by Alfred Sung could fill the void, but there is no denying Crown fragrances smell like they are from another era: a time when true natural essences (the difference between synthetic vs natural is comparable to a sampled authentic piano sound vs a real acoustic instrument: similar but not the same) played a larger role in perfumery than they do today. That said, because perfume blends are usually complex, it's very difficult to prove how much of either type of essence is in a typical perfume; as consumers, we must rely on the industry to be honest with us, while everyone, including natural perfumers, are now opting to blur the line between natural and synthetic in an effort to keep businesses alive.
Whatever notes were used to build this perfume, the end result has the feel of authentic flowers. Although Crown Bouquet is evocative of a bouquet of flowers with cut stems, it is easily a majestic garden - nay, an entire countryside - of crab apple blossoms blooming for miles, captured in the form of a timeless composition. It smells at once innocent, elegant and clean, both richly honeyed and rousingly crisp like the air in early spring, but most of all, natural in its lively floralcy, a glorious rendering of nature as objectively true to life as we see it, yet as cogniscent of the entirety of its experience as an Impressionist work by Renoir evokes movement and light, sensed and felt in a series of moments unfolding in slow motion, with its merciful soft-focus lens.
Crown Bouquet is a life-affirming Green Floral, a reminder of all of the treasures which used to be available to every creature on earth. By today's standards, Crown Bouquet is an old-fashioned scent, reminiscent of my grandmother's fancy soaps used to craft long-necked, lace doilied swans with which to adorn her sink. To compare Crown Bouquet to popular fragrances would be to compare country living to the city. But even in the city with all its conveniences, there are times when I long for nature and the way things were, and perhaps ought to be. Perhaps if we are grateful for, and take better care of, nature, the art of perfumery will mimic life, in all its refreshing and renewing splendor, idyllic without pretense and perversion, simply and truly beautiful once more.
(Image: Crown Crab Apple Blossoms - Illustrated London News, 1904 - Antiqueadverts.com)
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
This is a ballet choreographed by Maurice Béjart set to Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" (1913).
Le Sacre du Printemps - (1970) Partie 4 (fin) Uploaded by
Un ballet de Maurice Béjart créé en 1959. Ce film date de 1970. Les deux élus du sacre sont interprétés par Tania Bari et Germinal Casado.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
I'm glad to see changes all around me, from the fall of puppet dictatorships in the Middle East to Dior replacing Galliano. I hope by now, that we've seen the full gamut of the neocon timewarp (back to the New Look and all that entails) with the emergence of chypre perfumes back into the mainstream, something that hasn't happened since the 1950s and 1970s. Perhaps someone is hoping this will spark another Futurism wave - since we've entered the Space Age and all. The people who have been touting the CHYPRE for the past decade as being the best perfume genre are basically like Nazis trying to persuade the German people that the best civilizations to aspire to were Roman and Greek (and Egyptian if you want to sell them on the luxury of having slaves on top of everything else), which I suppose worked well for Hitler, but probably won't work too well now if the goal is to dominate the beauty and fashion world, a world that is now much more sophisticated and holistically understood, thanks to social media. I love perfume, and I love chypre perfumes. But the great historical Chypre is, like Odinism to white supremacists, just another narrative that serves racists' egos when they talk about their superior taste which, in the minds of racists, must be due to DNA (and the lack of taste in others is DNA based as well, according to such theory). Unfortunately, all this vintage glamour they're simultaneously trying to bring back is about as subversive as Isaacs spelled backwards, as hip as Y&T in 1984 with their obscure European hit, "Lipstick and Leather", as helpful as Canadian singer Thor's PSA commercial to brush your teeth if, like Thor, you want to use them with which to bend steel. They want me to smell the roses, but these roses stink.
Related link: Futurism and Fascism - PINK MANHATTAN January 05, 2010
(Image: dlr4553 brings us a rare treat; a feminine Incendia piece! Rosy Outlook looks like a futuristic rose garden humming with floating sprinklers on a sweetly blushing summer morning. (Featured by DragonWinter on Deviantart))
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
Muppets: The Green Album - (Weezer featuring Hayley Williams / The Fray / Amy Lee / The Airborne Toxic Event / Rachael Yamagata and more) will be released on August 23, 2011. Listen now on amazon.com (or check out First Listen: 'Muppets: The Green Album' on NPR) - pre-orders available on Amazon & iTunes.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Why, this is a rather costly bottle of Givenchy Fleur d'Interdit. I certainly won't need them both, but I'm a Creed lover and think this smells very pleasant, like fresh, cool melons (or watermelon) over a dainty white floral bouquet. It doesn't skimp on the sweetness, which is a relief, because their Fleurs de Gardenia was too austere to really enjoy...sometimes I think the austerity measures that have gripped the world have been embodied by recent perfume launches (I'm thinking of you, Guerlain Cruel Gardenia, Hermes Kelly Caleche and Chanel Cristalle Eau Verte...the Chanel greens have become increasingly sour and sharp since Chance Eau Fraîche). I know there are fans of them all, particularly in the perfume blogosphere where taste runs toward the bitter. It is a perfume's right to be austere, but a perfume doesn't have be so austere most people find it unwearable - unless it's prepared to find itself discounted to half price and sold through the secondary market within the first year of its launch.
At first glance and from this angle, that handsome cabochon style bottle cap is most Jicky parfum-like! Jicky's famous flacon (the current bottle dates from 1908 according to Perfume Legends by Michael Edwards) designed by Gabriel Guerlain and modified by Baccarat in 1947 was inspired by a 19th-century medicine jar and a champagne cork. Creed's bottle is also noteworthy, and may in fact become legendary; according to Creed (www.creedboutique.com): "A Royal Exclusive, White Flowers is offered in a hand blown Pochet glass bottle etched with CREED's crest." It's a lovely choice for your New York wedding.
(Image: Creed White Flowers)
Saturday, August 06, 2011
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
Happy Birthday to the great jazz & pop vocalist! Tony Bennett on Wikipedia
Tony Bennett, Bill Evans - "Waltz for Debby" (Bill Evans, Gene Lees) from The Tony Bennett Bill Evans Album (1975)
What can I say that hasn't already been said about this classic fragrance for Men, US 2011 FiFi Award Hall of Fame winner Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male (1995)? It's unique, groundbreaking, every bit as iconic as the famous torso-shaped bottle the fragrance is housed in. I've seen this bottle on countless shelves, only to walk right past it, imagining it must be another orange blossom like Fleur du Mâle and Classique for Women. Well, it is an orange blossom scent, but it comes disguised as something else. It arrives on the scene smelling like Brut, Chanel Bleu, maybe even Axe deodorant, although I have yet to smell that. If I didn't exercise patience, I'd write it off as being too aggressively bracing, traditionally masculine Fougère, too "locker room" or at worst He-Man Woman Hater in its absence of delicacy, but wait for it - those aromatic pine notes morph and reveal the true self beneath. If you thought Fleur du Mâle (2007) was the definitive masculine Floral, here is a similar musky floral accord, only a bit lightened up to something akin to Serge Lutens Fleurs de Citronnier (2004). There's even a softly creamy, buttery touch, something I've smelled in Guerlain Metallica (2000 - aka Metalys) in combination with sharp, green violet top notes. Now, I understand the evolution of these types of masculine fragrances, and Metallica finally makes sense.
So, to summarize, this is a musk fragrance - specifically, a musky orange blossom Floral Oriental juxtaposed against a very interesting counterpoint in seemingly contrary motion, the classic Fougère accord. I wore it on and off all through last month in order to finally "get" it, and I think I do, and I can move on now without a bottle for myself. Among perfumer Francis Kurkdjian's creations, my favorite is still MaDame followed by APOM pour Femme, but because the traditionally feminine floralcy in Le Male is relatively quiet, Le Male is a good alternative for those times when the other JPGs seem a bit too in-your-face intense.
Monday, August 01, 2011
Here is another wonderful find, an obscure fragrance by biehl parfumkunstwerke, a Hamburg-based niche perfume house. Each time I sample this, I fall in love with it a little more. This is a unique composition, one that juxtaposes elements incongruent with each other, causing a slightly jarring dissonance, those elements being the sweet, powdery Gourmand aspect, the maquillage-musk aspect and the dirty, asphalt-and-motor oil musk powder aspect. One side is decidedly more Lorenzo Villoresi Teint de Neige while the other is the leathery, rebellious Molinard Habanita, while yet another part of it is an aspect shared by the other two, the part that reminds me of Etat d'Libre d'Orange Divin'enfant (my favorite in the line), a fragrance I've summed up as "dirty marshmallows". Come to think of it, it's really a lot like Divin'enfant but lighter and easier to wear. The combination also reminds me of L'Eau par Kenzo Eau Indigo, which I'd also describe as an urban powdery musk, if you will, but here, the style is Gourmand enough for those of us who need a bit of that sugary, high octane energy boost from our perfumes from time to time.
Maybe what's unsettling about it is that it smells like a good girl and bad girl in one - like something that transcends expectations, traditions and trends, living up to the notoriously feminine dichotomy attributed to our notoriously unstable female minds, so impulsive and unpredictable that it could go either way at any moment - all in lighthearted fun, of course. Imagine a perfume can smell even more complex than a mere dichotomy - see how sophisticated we have become.
Biehl parfumkunstwerke PC02 by perfumer Patricia Choux, one of six perfumers on the project, features bergamot, white lavender, cardamom and other spices on a patchouli base (the patchouli is barely recognizable in this (Edited: until the end when I detect "Portrait of a Woman" lite)). I smell honey, which is why it reminds me so much of loukoum; I may have finally found my ultimate loukoum scent. I've smelled a few others in the line, and they're OK, smelling like Marc Jacobs and other mainstream offerings that won't make anyone bat an eye, but this one sticks out like a square peg in the best possible way.