Monday, February 11, 2008

Valentine's preparation: movie and a fragrance

Valentine's Day might seem rather corny to you (and to me): after all, isn't the point in celebrating love every day? But the pleasure-factor of watching a romantic film hand in hand with your loved one, silently hunched onto each other in a dark theater or at the abode of one's home and enjoying an accompanying fragrance shouldn't be shunned due to such esthete concepts as mentioned above. It gives us a wonderful excuse to indulge into a little cinematic game, of which Perfume Shrine never tires. Hopefully, neither have you, dear readers.

So, without further ado, here is what I came up with for today: Let's pick some trully romantic movies, watch the clips I selected and match the mood they exude with a perfume to wear. Shall we?

One might as well begin with the sacred cow that is Casablanca: not because of its screenplay and acting so much (although they too are wonderful), but due to its superb direction and editing, it should be taught in every film school. And it is. The final shots of Ilsa boarding the plane should be taught in every fashion school as well, but I digress. The story is eternal, the repercussions of such decisions echo in eternity and any other ending would be colosally less brilliant.

(uploaded by kayjae)

There is really nothing that can be worn lightly in view of such a torrid affair as the drumroll of war is marching on. Perhaps the introspection and melancholy of Après L'ondée by Guerlain suits the mood more than other scents. Another choice would be the suave 31 Rue Cambon from Chanel Les Exclusifs with its inherent veil of elegance over human warmth and tenderness or the white, heartbreaking beauty of Un Lys by Serge Lutens. All trully Parisian scents, the Paris they will forever cherish in their hearts.

One of the lighter, funnier romantic comedies I have been enjoying every chance I get has been Down with Love with Renee Zellwegger and Ewan McGregor from 2003: a superb homage to the Doris Day-Rock Hudson movies.
In a very accurate (down to the last detail!) retro early-60s-style it tells the story of Barbara Novak. A feminist advice author, she shuns love only to get caught under the spell of Catcher Block, a playboy who, disappointed when no longer able to pursue his affairs due to her book's success, goes undercover in an attempt to "break" her and prove the falacy of her axiom. I will leave the end for you to discover if you haven't yet.
Pure unadulterated, unapologetic fun and with the usual amazing singing by Ewan, who could be an excellent singer any day.

(uploaded by catalinadarling)

Since this is about the eternal battle of the sexes and so firmly set in the 60s I suggest you watch it with a good swooooosh of nearly unisex Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior. This light, citrusy spell with a fresh whiff of jasmine aroma will have you longing for spring days of love.
Or you could go for Parfumerie Generale Eau de Circe, a potion for a light-hearted hip seductress and Pillow of Flowers by Parfums Armando Martinez which is as luminous as a string of pearls over a colourful, tailored shift dress.

The way we were (1973) by Sydney Pollack is arguably one of the better known tearjerkers in cinematic history as we all feel a pang of silent pain as we watch the determined heroine unexpectedly meet the object of her younger days adoration in the arms of another woman years later, simply stating: "Your girl is lovely, Hubbell". Their separation due to different goals in life holds a moral tale: Jewish Katie with her leftish views doesn't quite fit on the arm of WASP Hubbell who is a promising writer who ultimately compromises his talent. But as her personality shines through in the duration of the film, his own shortcomings, despite the smashing looks, become poignently apparent.
However I chose not to show you a clip of the film in question, but off the beaten track rather go for a glorious reference of it in pop culture: from the finale of season 2 of Sex and the City , in which Carrie identifies with the heroine. Be sure to watch this in its entirety, it is trully funny and sensitive.

(uploaded by denysa25)

If you want to pop in the DVD and watch it (again or for the first time), might I suggest you bring out the quite good scent by Sarah Jessica Parker herself, Lovely: musky but refined, it doesn't quite fit the last lines, but it is very pretty. As much as Sarah Jessica's gown with all those blonde curls are in the final scene.
If you are after the wild mood suggested by the final line however, you should choose Vero Profumo Onda: a beast of a scent that is trully untamed!

Romantic tales couldn't be left without one of the most lyrical films in the history of cinema: Elvira Madigan (1967), a Swedish film of the doomed affair of a circus acrobat and a married lieutenant with kids. Set to the ethereal 1st movement of Mozart's piano concerto No.21 it utilizes the beauty of swedish midsummer nature as the backdrop of its beautiful heroes.

Dzing! would be the obvious choice if you want to evoke the atmosphere of the circus, yet somehow the scenery is too beautiful for such a quirky (albeit fabulous) scent. The hay stacks, the summer skies, the youthfulness of both protagonists' features call for Extrait de Songe/L'ete en douce (the name it has recirculated under) by L'artisan Parfumeur. Perhaps the tragic tale behind Fleur de Narcisse, the limited edition of L'artisan from 2006 is even better suited to the fateful end of the two lovers.

Sometimes, romance comes with the feeling of a well-worn slipper. What I mean: Sometimes, love is under our own nose and is someone we're taking for granted. Just like Harry and Sally and their meeting. Or rather series of meetings which culminate into genuine friendship. And then romance. And then...
But surely, you have watched this modern classic about relationships!

(uploaded by agizemk)

And there is even a perfume reference in the very end: "I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes". What other declaration of true love could you ask for?
A fragrance that can be worn casually, with conviction and flair, secure in the knowledge it suits you like your favourite sweater, then. Like Marc Jacobs Amber Splash. Or Tauer's Reverie au Jardin, the softly envelopping of fresh lavender by velvety musk, which can be shared between you two.

Last but certainly not least, my own favourite: the fourth story in the Greek classic film The counterfeit sovereign (Kalpiki lira) from 1955 by Yiorgos Javellas/ In four chapters a counterfeit sovereign is made by an honest engraver guiled by a dishonest seductress to fall into the hands of a beggar and a prostitute and then to a wealthy miser.
In the final chapter, with a gut wrenching performance by Elli Lambeti and Dimitris Horn, a young struggling artist falls in love with a rich girl when they meet at said miser's New Year Eve's dinner when they win a gold sovereign while cutting the traditional lucky pie of the day: upon it they pledge their love, never to sell it and decide to marry. He paints her portrait when he is inspired by her casual "I love you" one day. But hardships come their way and they split, for her to remarry in line with her social class this time. We can feel the bitterness as the former husband says in the gallery: "Unlike the model that posed for it, this is not for sale! This is all mine."
Years later they meet again:
-"The sovereign on which we pledged our love was.....
-Counterfeit...But our love was true, Paul."

(uploaded by elliniki kardia)It never fails to move me...The yearning and poignancy remind me of the delicate silk faille of Pontevecchio W by Nobile 1942...and of course the eternal Mitsouko.

What fragrance would you choose to match the mood of these or your own favourite romantic films?
I'd love to hear.


  1. My favorite romantic films are all pretty dark... let's see, for Secretary I might choose the strange, creamy smoke-and-rubber skin scent that is Bulgari Black. For Amelie it would have to be something ingenious, very French, very fresh, very vivid and smart. Perhaps Lipstick Rose? Maybe ... Il Postino is definitely Siene L'Hiver. Nothing puts me in the mood for love like a loaf of olive bread. Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

  2. Anonymous08:58

    Dark love stories, too, here... I would suggest "Betty Blue-37,2° le matin" worn with Lutens' "Fleurs d'Oranger" , Hermès'"24 Faubourg" for "The English Patient" and "Acqua di Parma" od "Sicily" for "Malèna".
    Amélie is always Diorissimo for me and Secrtary a clear cut cas of Mitsouko, if you ask me... ;-)

  3. Dear Heather,

    thank you as well for your comment.
    The films you suggest are among my favourites as well, and it is perhaps a sign of converging mentalities that I had included Secretary and Black in this post from the SM series last summer.

    I like your suggestions for Amélie and Il Postino (which was sooo romantic!). Sienne L'Hiver is very fitting!
    Perhaps I would designate Drôle de Rose for Amélie as I find it lighter, perkier (just like her gamine little face)

  4. Dear N,

    dark love stories are the best, aren't they? (It's no accident that out of 6 films I mentioned, 4 are about separation or death and only 2 go for the happy end. But let's not get all gloomy on our readers).

    I LOVE your film suggestions (I was about to mention English Patient myself, but the space alloted is only so much *sigh*).
    So....Fleurs d'oranger for Betty Blue! (What a memorable film, got to devote a post to jolie-laide Béatrice): sexy, definitely. It does need a streak of tragic though.

    Mitsouko for Secretary: I must try that and watch it again. I wonder if it will bring out more melancholy in me. Mmmm

  5. Helg, I missed that post including Secretary and Black - how awesome - Thanks for that link! Drole de Rose sounds perfect for Amelie. It hadn't even crossed my mind but yes, that mischievous little sparkle is exactly right for DdR.

  6. You're welcome Heather! I have now linked that whole series on the right hand column under readers' favourites ;-)

    So tell me, what will be your own choice for Valentine's day?

  7. It's never certain until the moment arrives, but I suspect I'll indulge in some Love By Kilian, a recent acquisition. How can I have that gorgeous black and silver box and its confection of pastry creme and orange blossom inside without giving it the Valentine's honors. And you? Any particular fragrant favorites for the Day of Hearts and Flowers?

  8. A ha, Heather. Thank you for your reply (sounds good! I will review Taste of Heaven by Kilian shortly) I said, I don't really believe in Valentine's Day. I believe everyday is Valentine's Day and we should probably try to seduce our partner all the time. So I will either go without (to give a break and let my own odour rise more) or opt for his first fragrant gift he picked for me: Molinard de Molinard.


    (*that's batting eyelashes, in case it doesn't transpire due to my inability to make good smilies*)

  9. Anonymous16:56

    Great post, Helg. Brilliant matches all the way around. Casablanca is def one of the greats; I wonder if Vol de Nuit might also suit Ilsa, not just for the name but for the somber veil it weaves so beautifully.

    So Down With Love is worth the watch? Been curious about it for a while; I like the styles I've seen in some of the stills.

    My choices:

    Roman Holiday-- Arpege for Audrey when she's in her official role as princess, and something like Violetta di Parma when she's touring Rome with Gregory Peck and Eddie Albert.

    Foreign Correspondent (Hitch's 1940 classic)---Laraine Day would wear something which conveyed strength, class and gentleness. Something like Jolie Madame or Ma Griffe. And Joel McRea? He's an Old Spice man if there ever was one.

    Scorsese's The Age of Innocence---Mme Olenska is Mitsouko and May Welland is a LOTV, Muguet des Bois by Coty.

    The Thin Man--Nora Charles would choose between Patou's Cocktail or Molinard's Habanita. Nick Charles is Jicky.

    Good day to everyone here.

  10. Dear P,

    thank you for your lovely compliment :-)

    Down with Love is very well done for what it is: unapologetic fun. Yes, it's worth a watch if only for the great recreation of the era stylistically (the art director did a great job!)

    Love your suggestions and your film choices.

    I see the resounding validation of Mitsouko as the scent of some secret pain...I am pleased :-)

    Some of your choices will be featured shortly (leaving you in true Hitchockian suspense) ;-)

  11. Anonymous20:48

    We definitely should mention "The Scent of Women" with Al Apchino.

    Allow us please to promote little fragrance pool we are running at

    Our aim is to find out what the opposite sex prefers. We think that this experiment is an interesting one and that the results might be very diverse, but let us see.

  12. Thank you Fragrantica.
    I looked over to your site and you have a great directory.
    Will have to register later on! In the meantime I will be linking you: didn't know the work was so extensive.
    Thanks for letting me know.

  13. Anonymous13:06

    A few days late and I miss this!
    FUN!! Wow!



  14. You caught it in time for the Vday it seems ;-)


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