Monday, April 27, 2015

A Sweeter La Petite Robe Noire for Just the American Market?

In a move that aims at boosting the presence and moreover brand awareness of Guerlain in the North American continent, the venerable French company is going ahead with a whole new rendition of the ultra-popular perfume La Petite Robe Noire.

pic via kizmi.com

Targeted at a specific American market "who want something more refined and subtle than the mass market perfumes", according to William Lescure, president of Guerlain Canada, the new edition of La Petite Robe Noire will launch in 2016.

Lescure mentioned in the Montreal Gazette that although the fragrance is an international hit, the composition is considered not sweet enough for North American tastes. So the new version will be even sweeter.

 I personally find that detail kind of odd, considering that La Petite Robe Noire is among the sweetest fragrances in the Guerlain stable (contrast it with Jicky, Shalimar, or Vetiver to talk only about best-selling classics), a fact that has probably accounted for its commercial success in the first place. Many of us, perfume lovers and dedicated Guerlain customers, find it already quite sweet!

Therefore the question does arise on whether there is a point in fixing something that is not broken (La Petite Robe Noire was first and foremost an American consideration) in order to attain a goal for which the one lonely scent is but one pillar of the building. There is also the question whether there will be two editions, the American market one ultimately engulfing the international one or the two co-existing at the supreme confusion of travelers and duty free buyers. What do you think?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Perfumes that Smell Like a Hooker (but in the best possible sense!)

Slutty fragrances is a funny subject as there are few things more subjective than the perception of scent. For most people "slutty" in that context means cheap, loud, worn in abundance and easily accessible; maybe like pants bought off the rack at Victoria's Secret.
Yet perfumes, especially French perfumes, have used questionable effects and sexy fragrance "notes" to build a cultural history that reads like a naughty bodice ripper. What perfume lovers have coded as "skanky"....in the best possible sense!

poor dear, to be included in a post with this title...no relation to hookers, just beautiful (via Getty)

From things to accompany a vinyl bondage skirt and hard, blood red lipstick or a romantic lacy sheath, to scents that mentally transport you to the boudoir rather than being worn in one, I have had fun compiling a slideshow of 8 "naughty, slutty perfumes" for Fragrance.about.com on this link. Won't you leaf through the slideshow to find out which perfumes made the cut?

I had to limit myself to just 8 but please add your own suggestions in the comments! 

Friday, April 17, 2015

The winners of the draw...

...for the perfume book are:

Phyllis Iervello
Karen M

Congratulations! Please send me an email with PERFUME BOOK DRAW in the title of the mail, sharing your full name and shipping data plus a phone for the courier to use just in case, so I can arrange with the publishers to get your book in the mail for you soon.

Thanks everyone and till the next one!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Chanel Les Exclusifs Misia: fragrance review

Few toiletry indulgences feel more decadently feminine than owning a fine goose down puff for applying face or body powder. Few rituals feel more delicately ballet-like in their choreographed sequence than the traditional powdering of the body, fresh out of a bath, using said goose down puff with small pat pat pat motions that are as close to caresses as they are to little slaps, both erotic provenance of the demi-mondaines of another time. Misia the fragrance encapsulates in liquid form this graceful dance in Chanel's 15th Les Exclusifs perfume launch, redolent of the retro makeup scents of yesterday.

Emanuelle Beart in Le Temps Retrouvé by Raoul Ruiz via

Chanel via its new head perfumer, Olivier Polge, son of Jacques, only the fourth perfumer in the revered history of the French brand, bows to Guerlain's Après L'Ondée; a composition from the first years of the 20th century based on the ethereal marriage of heliotrope, violet and iris. Yet Chanel's Misia, like the eponymous lady friend of Gabrielle Chanel's it was named after, holds its own ground as well, an outstanding entry for Polge junior regardless of the trodden course. 

Olivier Polge may have excelled in Dior Homme previously, exploring the cocoa dust facets of the iris note in a men's scent, but it is in this feminine composition that he propels the retro facets of iris in their logical apogee, somewhere between the retro cool powder of Love Chloe and the earthy dustiness of Norma by Histoires de Parfums.  The "lipstick note" is after all its own perfumery meme, swirling its tutu years ago with Drole de Rose by L'Artisan Parfumeur and stomping its foot down naming names in Lipstick Rose in the Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle line. (Even Guerlain revisits their own themes, what with Meteorites limited edition fragrance and now with French Kiss.) Chanel's lipsticks account for a huge segment of the brand, so walking down that road felt like a given.

After all, Polge Junior has something of the Midas touch in him; count with me: Flowerbomb, La Vie Est Belle, Mon Jasmin Noir, Burberry The Beat...

The intensely powdery, starchy cloud of orris (the dried rhizome of iris flowers) is at the very heart of Misia with very perceptible cool, sweet violets for "lipstick" (α methyl ionone); in fact the very scent of proper, ladylike lipsticks with their violet-rose aura which separates the teens from the grown ups. While Misia starts with a bittersweet top note reminiscent of time-honored perfumery aubepine-heliotropin chord, the heart of the fragrance is pure cosmetic impression, an archetype of grooming and of la salonnière. Polge used both rose of Grasse and Bulgarian Damask rose for the floral component and a cluster of benzoin resin (caramelic, vanilla plush), tonka beans (hay and almond like) and modern musks for the downy soft drydown.

“I thought of the Palais Garnier in the days of the Ballets Russes: pearls and aigrettes in the women’s hair melding with the scent of red-tinted lips; the sound of musicians tuning their instruments; and the dancers wearing make-up from head-to-toe, warming up behind red velvet curtains. I thought of how to interpret lipstick and powders into a perfume and decided to use violet dressed with rose de Mai and Turkish rose, which trigger memories of lipstick, while the benzoin I added creates a powdery effect, like make-up. It’s very feminine and floral but it’s also sumptuous. The strong violet accord is a new ingredient in the grammar of Chanel”  reveals Polge to Lucia van der Post.

It was Polish muse Misia Sert, née Maria Sofia Olga Zenajda Godebska, a Belle Epoque fixture and the subject of many a Renoir and Bonnard painting, who introduced Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel to many of her subsequent fixtures; Venice, baroque, Les Ballets Russes, Paul Reverdy...
She was also the confidant to whom Chanel poured her heart out to when the latter lost her first true love, Arthur "Boy" Capel, to a car crash.

In a way Misia the fragrance aims to be as emblematic and prophetic of great things ahead as Misia the muse was to Chanel's career. May it prove so!

Chanel Les Exclusifs Misia eau de toilette is offered in 75ml and 200ml bottles with magnetic closure, same as the rest of boutique exclusive Les Exclusifs perfumes.

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: 
Best Violet fragrances guide
Powdery & Dry Perfumes
Parfums Lingerie: intimate femininity

Friday, April 10, 2015

"In your hand, you were holding spearmint leaves and a holy candle"

In the little grove

in front of the church,

you looked like a tiny bird

lost among the dense foliage;

In you hand, you were holding

spearmint leaves and a holy candle,

and you were pleading: "Rabbi,

save us again!"

That day was Good Friday.

Many nights have since passed;

and it was another year

when the war-clock ticked 9 o'clock past

and we watched the abominable jackal

get out of its cage,

making its ominous appearance.

That day was Good Friday.

The lads left for the front,

the villages are deserted

as youth struggles for freedom.

And when I came to see you briefly

before I was to leave as well,

you were silently crying,

bowing your head.

That day was Good Friday.

Have a blessed Orthodox Easter, those who celebrate it!

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