Monday, September 1, 2014

A Very Special Blog Sale

Due to the huge interest sparked last time from Caron's Tabac Blond extrait de parfum, I'm re-opening the gate to interested parties. The 1919 conceived by Ernest Daltroff perfume is legendary.
Please email me using Contact with a relevant title in your message for more information. Limited quantities mean first come, first served.

Guerlain Unveils Shalimar Souffle de Parfum Commercial

Somehow I'm not entirely convinced: why keep producing fragrances that bear no resemblance to the classic Shalimar perfume and keep naming them Shalimar this or that? The lovely Shalimar Parfum Initial edition is a loss in market terms (and a loss to us perfume lovers of great juice), for this very reason.
On the other hand, I recognize the need to ride on the coat-tails of an established brand and to keep reviving this brand by introducing junior customers to it, even by name.
This is the case with CK One, L'Eau d'Issey (Miyake), Dior J'Adore (preparing another commercial for fall 2014 themselves), Davidoff Cool water  and their million "flankers". This is the raison d'être of flankers, come to think of it. It just looks a tad weird from such a historic house as Guerlain, but it isn't really.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Leaves…leave…summer lives & leaves

And what I assume you shall assume;
For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my Soul;
I lean and loafe at my ease, observing a spear of summer grass.         5

Houses and rooms are full of perfumes—the shelves are crowded with perfumes;
I breathe the fragrance myself, and know it and like it;
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.

The atmosphere is not a perfume—it has no taste of the distillation—it is odorless;
It is for my mouth forever—I am in love with it;  10
I will go to the bank by the wood, and become undisguised and naked;

I am mad for it to be in contact with me.

The smoke of my own breath;
Echoes, ripples, buzz’d whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine;
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing of blood and air through my lungs;  15
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore, and dark-color’d sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn;
The sound of the belch’d words of my voice, words loos’d to the eddies of the wind;

A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms;
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag;
The delight alone, or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides;  20
The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun.

~Walt Whitman (1819–1892), from  Leaves of Grass

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ancient Fragrant Lore (part 3): Classicism

Classical civilization thrives on this dichotomy of "the Dionysian and the Apollonian," of Bacchanal chaos and Sun God rational forms, as Nietzsche would have said. Indeed the German philosopher, originally a philologist and only 28 at the time he penned the superb The Birth of Tragedy; Or: Hellenism and Pessimism, explains that it is these two clashing forces that merge to give birth to the classic world, but also those that eternally battle for control over the existence of humanity. And thus this dichotomy, as expressed by fragrant essences used, manifests itself clearly throughout Hellenic thought. […]

The Latin origin of the word perfume, fumare, i.e., to smoke, brings us to rituals involving fumigation and votive offerings. Hesiod in his Theogony stresses "May the purest incense burn on the altars, so as to obtain the favors of our gods."

Alfonso Savini, the incense burner

Indeed the very word incense in Greek (θυμίαμα) comes from the verb thuo (θύω), meaning to sacrifice, originally denoting both the fragrant smoke of the roast of sacrificed animals on the pyre rising to please the gods (the flesh was served to the congregation) and the ritual burning of precious locally harvested—such as cistus labdanum—or imported resins like myrrh and frankincense, their smoke also rising to the enjoyment of the Eternal ones. But scents had a markedly prophylactic use beside their Olympians' appeasing one. […]

In Euripides's famous Helen play, the prophylactic use of fragrant smoke is stressed. The heroine is assumed to have never sailed to Troy but to have been whisked away by the goddess Aphrodite to Egypt and to its ruler Theoclymenus, sworn to her safekeeping. News from the exiled Greek soldier Teucer, washed upon the shores of Egypt, that Menelaus never returned to Greece from Troy and is presumed dead, puts Helen in the perilous position of being available for Theoclymenus to marry. She consults the prophetess Theonoe, sister to Theoclymenus, to find out Menelaus' fate. Theonoe purifies the air of the altar by having the servants burn sulfur and resins, conjuring shadows and images to tell her of her husband's impending return.

On the other hand the philosophical treatment of olfactory excess as a sign of decadence and deviation from the path of a free civilian is palpable through the texts of the classical authors. The Athenian statesman Solon, adored by his fellow citizens for alleviating the accumulated debts of formerly free land owners that had lost their land and freedom to the greedy lending gentry (the famous seisachtheia regulation) tried to ban perfume use altogether. He considered it represented the corrupt—and ethnically dangerous—lifestyle of Persia, Greece's (and for that matter Europe's, since Greece was the critical gateway to gain passage to the continent) prominent enemy.

The article in its entirety can be read on Fragrantica.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summer Love Potions

Imagine sipping on a cocktail that tastes just as sexy as your favorite perfume smells. Combine your scent with your drink as an unforgettable aphrodisiac pair. The scent: Safran Troublant, by L'Artisan Parfumeur THE DRINK: 1 ½ oz Dry Gin, ¾ oz saffron and vanilla bean syrup, ½ oz fresh lemon juice, Rosé champagne, White rose petal.

Read on this link to see how Mindy Yang of MiN New York’s apothecary and cocktail architect, Yusef Austin, created delicious, drinkable counterparts to five seductive perfumes.

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