Shalimar Eau De Cologne

DSC01694 (2)Shalimar Eau De Cologne differs from the other variations of Shalimar.  There is something wilder about this fragrance, in my opinion.  It’s more bubbly, tangy, and outspoken. While the Eau De Parfum is a powdery sheer veil of scent, the Eau De Cologne jumps off the skin (at least on me).  Of course, generally the EDP is supposed to be more dense and long lasting, but while the longevity may be weaker in the EDC its liveliness compensates fully for any sort of missing depth or intensity.

I decided to discuss Shalimar Eau De Cologne (Guerlain 1925) today because of the story that it was inspired by.  Shalimar was given its name by Jacque Guerlain who named it after the Garden of Shalimar, in Lahore Pakistan.  The garden was built by Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan for his supposedly favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal (1593-1631).  Of course, the Taj Mahal was also built as her resting place by the Emperor Shah Jahan.

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This week I picked Shakespeare’s Sonnets to be in keeping with the Valentine’s Day theme.  I first purchased this book when I was in high school and one of my teachers made us memorize the rather dark but poignant # 64 for his class.  Of all Shakespeare’s works, I think these are my favorites, actually…

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Sonnet # 64

When I have seen by Time’s fell hand defaced
The rich proud cost of outworn buried age;
When sometime lofty towers I see down-razed,
And brass eternal slave to mortal rage;
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
And the firm soil win of the watery main,
Increasing store with loss, and loss with store;
When I have seen such interchange of state,
Or state itself confounded to decay;
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate
That Time will come and take my love away.
This thought is as a death which cannot choose
But weep to have that which it fears to lose.

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Taken the other night near our neighborhood.

Eau De Joy

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According a website devoted to discovering and discussing the favorite perfume of celebrities, Joy by Jean Patou was a favorite fragrance of Jackie Kennedy.  Eau De Joy launched in 1953 as a sister to Joy, is a gummy fruit (on my skin it smells like there is a grape note in this scent, though it’s not listed) and floral laced aldehydic romp.  Eau De Joy (Jean Patou 1953) is energetic in a youthful way but also very elegant and perhaps a bit lighter than the original (although I’d probably prefer the original).

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2015-01-15 17.41.33 (2)The original Joy, launched in 1930, was presented at the start of The Great Depression and marketed to women who were still of generous means, Jean Patou calling it, “the most expensive perfume in the world.”    I actually found an ad, referencing the famous tagline for Joy, that the previous owner had clipped from a newspaper and stuffed into my box of vintage Eau De Joy.  The ad was put out by Palm Village Pharmacy – a pharmacy that may have once been located in West Palm Beach Florida. There was also a clipped black and white photo of the bottle and a paragraph describing the “exquisite” notes (jasmin and rose) that create the “costliest perfume in the world.”

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I wonder why the previous owner clipped these pieces and stuffed them inside the box.  Perhaps the Joy fragrances and their history meant something to the last owner.  Fragrances, as I’ve previously mentioned in a personal context, can bring back a memory exceedingly well, and I find it interesting to imagine what memories Joy and Eau de Joy carried for this person.  I also wonder what memories Joy evoked for Jackie O.

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onasis was born in 1929 into a prestigious family and the perfume-lover in me wonders if she grew up smelling Joy.  It would make sense.   And, besides her other personal preferences, did she later wear it partially for sentimental reasons, or because it’s such a popular scent (second only to Chanel No. 5)?  When one is a young girl and you smell a perfume that seems to epitomize everything “grown-up” and stunning in the world, that scent will always carry a certain nostalgic cachet.

In any case, the book this week is:

IMG_3593 (2)I first read this very entertaining, and perceptive biography by British biographer and historian Sarah Bradford (Elizabeth, a Biography of Her Majesty the Queen and Diana) years ago, but regardless of however many times I read it the pages turn quickly as it traces Jackie O’s life from childhood to death.  I think, however, that what always stands out most is the way Bradford captures the years in the White House and Jackie’s relationships with the Kennedy men.  I often feel like I am watching her life play out before my eyes as I read about how the late icon decorated the White House to perfection or handled the bruises of a complicated but glamorous love life.   Indeed, I would highly recommend this book both as an introduction to people first discovering this famous American and to those who, however unlikely, know a great deal about Jackie O (Jackie Onasis) but somehow have managed (astoundingly) to not read this biography yet.

And, anyway, even though I said I would discuss the book I’ve previously mentioned by Evelyn Waugh today again I’m going to hold off on discussing that one to completion until next week…   So…

Until Friday. 🙂

L’Aimant

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Coty’s classic scent, L’Aimant (Coty 1927) is a rich, powdery masterpiece.  I think because it’s a “drugstore fragrance” it can sometimes be perceived poorly, but every time I smell L’Aimant (the vintage in particular) on my skin I am reminded of its wonders.  There’s a sweetness, depth, warmth and almost wholesomeness in L’Aimant that is like nothing else.  The drydown is particularly poignant, beautiful and powdery in its vanilla glow – almost reminiscnt of pipe tobacco I vaguely remember old men smoking in my early childhood.

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Top notes: bergamot, neroli, peach, and aldehydes. Middle notes: geranium, rose, orchid, jasmine and ylang-ylang. Base notes: vetiver, musk, vanilla, sandalwood, tonka bean and cedar.

Yet again, it was a wickedly busy week and I didn’t get a chance to finish Evelyn Waugh’s Put Out More Flags, so it will be my book of the week next week too (I’m sorry) along with one other book I’ll try to finish (I may need to adjust things a bit).  However, I can already say that it’s an amazingly authentic sort of book. I am deeply engaged by how realistic the thoughts of the characters seem to be, especially about the war and intigued by the fact that they seem so accessible in the present – there’s a certain “truth” and “rawness” in this book that seems more fitting of contemporary works. In fact, it makes me wonder if other authors often simply fall short in fully making their characters true to life, or if there is something about these people in particular that make them relatable to a person, such as myself, from the present.

More on this all later…

Evening in Paris

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Created by the legendary Ernest Beaux in 1928 for Bourjois, Evening in Paris, or Soir de Paris, is a tremendously unique fragrance.  To me it smells like vintage L’Aimant mixed with cigarettes.  I imagine it truly smells like Paris in the evenings of yesteryear – the cigarette note smells retro too…

The notes for this musky, floral masterpiece (Bourjois 1928) are listed as:

Top notes: apricot, bergamot, peach, and violet.

Middle notes: jasmine, rose, heliotrope, iris, lily-of-the-valley, and ylang ylang.

Base notes: vanilla, sandalwood, amber and musk.

I wonder if perhaps the “cigarette note” I’m smelling is a combination of ylang ylang, vanilla, amber, musk and sandalwood.  Whatever it is, it’s brilliant to be able to so perfectly create that aroma and, of course, very charateristic of Ernest Beaux.  He was a Russian perfumer who created Chanel no. 5 and Chanel no. 22, Chanel Cuir de Russie, Chanel Gardénia, and Chanel Bois des Iles – all fragrances befitting his genius.

(This scent was discontinued in 1969, but relaunched in 1992.  The version in this post is from the original vintage.)

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The smell of cigarettes and flowers was perfect for reading Put Out More Flags (Chapman and Hall 1942), by the English author Evelyn Waugh (Brideshead Revisted, Handful of Dust).  I’m afraid that at the time of this posting, I haven’t finished the novel but so far I’m enjoying it a lot. Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966) is one of my favorite authors (I love Brideshead Revisted and The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold), and the characters in Put Out More Flags, are the same as some of his previous works, such as Vile Bodies (i.e. Basil Seal).  It was dedicated to Randolph Churchill, (son of Sir Winston S. Churchill) because he found a service commission for Evelyn Waugh during World War II.

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The novel starts at the beginning of World War II and follows the doings of upper-class British characters – Basil Seal, and Basil’s sister, mistress  (Angela Lyne – I find her character very entertaining/intriguing) and mother.  It’s a comedic piece and deals, in part, with the failures of the British elite in dealing with the rise of Hilter in the 1930’s…

But I’m not doing this book any justice in this post (sitting and reading a book is a luxury for me) and so it will be my book of the week next week too.  By then I’ll have had time to read it.  (Hopefully)  🙂

Until Friday.

Intimate

Last night I decided to make a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Jane Grigson’s classic, English Food, A New Edition of the Cookery Classic Revised and Updated by the Author – a great resource for authentic English recipes. I figured that since it was my chosen, “book of the week” that making a recipe from it would be great.  I thought I could take photos of the book (I’m proud of my vintage copy even though it’s not pristine) and the finished product…  and…

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But alas, it was a minor disaster.  I instead developed a terrible headache right after I finished making a strange, dried out “cake”…  The cake is flat, and nearly tasteless.  Oops.  We ate it anyway…  And I have to add that my inability to make the cake should not reflect on the book.  🙂

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A sad little cake

Let’s hope that the chocolate cake I’m making later this week turns out better…

Anyway, today I’m wearing Intimate, by Revlon (Revlon 1955).  While both bottles of Intimate I own are vintage, one is older than the other so I recently decided to compare them.

On one arm I’m wearing a vintage Mid-Century bottle of Intimate and on the other I’m wearing a vintage bottle most likely from the 80’s or 90’s.  The older bottle is richer, animalic, more like a musky chypre and yet somehow lighter.  It has this slightly sweet, powdery, airy almost ozone quality to it and it actually smells more contemporary than the more recent version.

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The version from the 80’s or 90’s smells like it belongs in one of those decades…  It too is animalic, but has a spicy, slightly more provocative, warmth.

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Whereas the older version reminds me slightly of vintage Miss Dior, the newer formula reminds me of a bit of LouLou, and a lot of Caesar’s Woman with a faint nod to contemporary Tabu.  They both become quite beautiful and more mellow during the drydown although the vintage one maintains a refined yet edgy kick and the new version seems more like a warm fuzzy sweater…  I’m sure it’s obvious which version I prefer more.  🙂

Until Friday.  )