Times like right now bring mixed feelings. On the one hand I worry about the many people who are struggling to survive either from lack of food or from the virus. But it also reminds me of the distant past and the ways people coped with things like this. People like the Roosevelts.
Or maybe I’m actually combining the Roosevelts with the Congdon family of Minnesota in my mind to create one romanticized ideal. Back before antibiotics were even invented they lived graciously on sprawling estates. But not the kind that we see in today’s modern architecture. Please don’t let that offend you if you have a contemporary estate with all the up-to-date trimmings.
But, these places were made of brick. They were heavy. They were frightening. Yet because of this evoked feelings of both bravery and comfort.
People died in those houses too of course, although they were usually prepared for it. Still, considering how easy death was back then to stumble upon, it’s not a coincidence that they often avoided it. They understood the value of privacy, decorum and nature. “Social distancing” was chic by necessity back then as well.
I really hope we learn from this time in history… I hope we learn to be compassionate in effective ways to those who deserve compassion. And I hope we learn how to appreciate a slower and more private life. Less quick travel and more extended journeys. Less noise and more singing. Reading. Gardening. Letting Earth heal.
Vintage Liu parfum (Guerlain 1929) reminds me a great deal of vintage Chanel No. 5 (as many have said)… I can also see the resemblance between vintage Liu and Bois des Îles and Chanel No. 22. It’s sweeter and more citrusy than the other fragrances listed though (at least on my skin) and it has an almost spicy, leather-like, boozy, yet fresh menthol edge… It’s warm and sensual although in much more coy and passive way than say, Chanel No. 5.
Liu is powdery aldehydes. It’s gorgeous really… And it’s tremendously elegant.
Top notes: aldehydes, neroli and bergamot. Middle notes: rosemary, jasmine, orris and rose. Base notes: iris, amber, vanilla and woody notes.
I opened a full, pristine 1 fl. oz. bottle of vintage 1970’s Shalimar parfum a while back. I wasn’t going to open it but one night around my birthday Mark and I got into a terrible fight and I cried and the thought of wearing vintage Shalimar parfum sounded lovely so I opened it.
It’s lovely. I’ve loved Shalimar since my adolescence.
I’ll have to use it now and buy an unopened vintage parfum hopefully to replace it for the purposes of my collection. That won’t be unpleasant. It was seemingly made before the reformulation.
Another embarrassing confession: I have to admit that I’ve had a good guy friend who has been like an exquisite vintage Shalimar parfum. He’s actually the one who encouraged my recent vintage Chanel purchase and my hat.
Years ago, while I was separated from Mark, this man and I considered a relationship and since then we have had to be careful not to get too close (even though, again, he did recently give me great fashion advice). …He’s a rare and quite lovely person though and I’ve counted on him at times to understand when no one else seems to, because he just does. I don’t have to explain almost anything. He’s been a true friend at times.
But, I love my husband deeply and we’ve been trying to make our marriage work and so even though it’s easy to think of him when Mark doesn’t understand or seems to not be present enough to show his love, I can’t. And that’s life. I love Mark and want to be his wife. …Even though Mark doesn’t suggest I wear tailored Chanel instead of Brooks Brothers. Ha!
…I’ll just stick with actual vintage Shalimar.
Mark is more like running. Sometimes getting close to him hurts at first but then I eventually realize he’s genuinely trying really hard to be kind and loving too, and it’s more that he just thinks very differently. As much as we love each other it’ll never be easy even if it’s eventually rewarding. He is indeed my best friend though. And I don’t mean that in a corny way, but genuinely.
Really though, while some men are easier to be closer to than others all men are quite different than women aren’t they? Gay, straight. They’re different. Still, I’ve never found women attractive and I’ve never even remotely felt the temptation to take a dip in that pool, so to speak. Women are beautiful creatures but I just *shrug* can’t feel that way about them. Also, I’ve had a good lesbian friend or two since college confide in me about their romantic relationship woes and I know lesbian relationships aren’t actually easier anyway. It seemingly isn’t easier to date the same gender despite the myths to the contrary. People are people. And sometimes even, as different as women are from men, you might have more in common with a straight man because of your souls and if he’s attractive to you and not your husband you do have to be careful.
It’s life. I love Mark and when I asked him out over ten years ago I was lucky that he was straight and fancied me. But I asked out guys who weren’t interested before him. And I’ve been asked out by guys and rejected them and by some women who I also rejected of course. It’s life. Almost nothing is without difficulty.
Still, even as I write this with my second round of braces on my teeth (my first round was in childhood), wires ripping into my flesh…with a headache…worried for the safety of my parents as they’re both over 70…saddened by the vast amount of death in the world in general…I’m happy to have my running partner and my vintage Shalimar. *shrug*
I wandered through Instagram’s streams today and found posts that were…surprising. You’d think I’d have seen them before based on things I’ve said on my blog recently, but in a very creepy coincidence I hadn’t. Any of them.
What do you say to people who hate themselves? Who see their perceived “flaws” in such a gruesome way? Who feel their life is ugly and see themselves that way too? It’s stupidly trite but honest to say that you can’t save people from their self-hatred. Still, it grieves me to see people so profoundly negative about themselves.
Some people never feel safe enough to be genuinely themselves. Or maybe they don’t feel good enough? Nice enough? Normal enough? Enough of anything. They just feel hatred and anger towards themselves and almost any other living being.
That’s sad. *shrug* Truly sad.
I’m not sure what else to write… It’s all going to sound patronizing and that’s sad too because I’m not trying to be patronizing in saying any of this.
And even if people are able to accept themselves it still can be difficult to be friends with anyone who is different than us in some significant way. Genuine friends. Tragically, in a world filled with evil and pain it’s rarely possible. Sometimes people make it too difficult to even be acquainted by making huge, arrogant assumptions based on their identity and life experiences and the lens of their own pain and insecurities.
All of you reading this: Please take care of yourselves. Please be truly good. And you can be good to yourself. To others. Please try to be.
Bois Des Iles is luscious (Chanel 1926). It’s one of the most beautiful if not the most beautiful fragrances I’ve ever smelled. Bois Des Iles is perfection with classic florals wrapped in a gorgeous aldehydic embrace. It’s earthy yet totally elegant, and utterly alluring – as if wind and light are playing with sweetly scented flower petals.
Top notes: aldehydes, bergamot, neroli and peach. Middle notes: jasmine, rose, lily of the valley, woody iris and ylang-ylang. Base notes: vetiver, sandalwood, benzoin and musk.
In French, émeraude means emerald. I love emeralds. Emerald cut diamonds are gorgeous, and emerald cut emeralds are just beyond…
Emerald, or Emeraude is the perfect name for the classic fragrance, created in 1921, by Coty. It’s a very Art Deco fragrance, with citrus top notes and basenotes of benzoin and opoponax. And, similarly to the emerald cut, which also originates in the Art Deco Period, it manages to be both old world ornate and sharply modern at the same time – coy but edgy. Really, it’s an amazing scent, as I’m sure many of its numerous fans would agree.
Although some call it the “poor woman’s Shalimar” since it’s significantly less expensive and they smell quite a bit alike, it was actually created before Shalimar. In fact, rumor has it that Geurlain’s wife favored Emeraude, and he used Emeraude as “inspiration” for Shalimar. I find this story believable, and while I still prefer Shalimar, there’s nothing cheap or inferior about Emeraude, especially a good vintage bottle.
I found my Emeraude on Etsy. I’m guessing it’s from the 1940’s or early 50’s, but it could be older. It still wears beautifully, and has the most elegant, unforgettable dry down. I’ll definitely buy another bottle.
Since it’s Friday and I’m discussing an Art Deco masterpiece, I thought I would also feature another masterpiece from the same time period, actually the late Art Deco Period – the early 1940’s. As I said, perhaps that’s around the same time my bottle of Emeraude was first purchased, and in any case, I’m sure a woman wearing Emeraude was definitely in the audience watching, “To Have and Have Not” when it first came out in 1944.
“To Have and Have Not,” is a favorite movie of mine and Lauren Bacall, one of my favorite actresses.
The first time I saw it was when I was 21, almost 22. I was in college, and at that time I had a huge crush on a good-looking, unmarried philosophy professor. A lot of his female students had a crush on him, actually, which made it even more embarrassing, but anyway, my professor was probably in his late 30’s and I was 21. Bacall, of course, was infamously only 19 (although she seems much older by today’s standards) while Bogart was in his 40’s. And, while thankfully my romance didn’t materialize into anything other than a well-intentioned letter from me to him and a kind, polite response that amounted to, “…no, thanks for your lovely words, but I don’t date students,” it still provided an interesting frame of mind to watch the May-December romance between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
By the way, I say thankfully not because of the age difference between me and the professor but because time, (and yes age) sheds light on people in general, and sometimes what looks romantic in a person when you’re young can seem less than desirable when you find someone you’re really meant to be with. 🙂 But, more on that later perhaps…
Based, loosely, on the novel of the same title by Ernest Hemingway, it is set in Martinique during World War II after France is occupied by the Nazis. The plot reminds me a great deal, in some regards, of “Casablanca” – an exotic location, World War II, and escaping from the Nazis. And it’s a familiar role for Bogart in the sense that he is a serious, manly, rough hero with a bit of a dark side. Will he do the right thing and will he be able to outsmart the bad guys? If you’ve seen his other famous roles, you probably already have a guess as to how to go about answering those questions, but of course, each of his roles are unique and brilliant.
I’m looking forward to watching it again, if only to see the (now sadly deceased) gloriously brash and talented, beautiful Lauren Bacall in her youthful splendor deliver the iconic line, “You know you don’t have to act with me, Steve. You don’t have to say anything and you don’t have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.”
Cie, by Jacqueline Cochran (Shulton 1976) is a woody, slightly spicy and very heady green chypre of the late 1970’s/early 80’s variety. It’s sharp but also lovely, and becomes especially nice during the dry down. However, despite my ability to see the beauty of this vintage fragrance and how others could favor it, I can’t say that I actually like it all that much. No, sadly, Cie is not me… Candice Bergen, on the other hand, had a very different experience: Cie Perfume Commercial from 1978
Of course, I didn’t mind wearing a fragrance I’m not crazy about last night, because the house was filled with the scent of cinnamon, apples and molasses. We made Apple Pan Dowdy and it was quite pleasant. I used a recipe I found on Pinterest from a website called, The English Kitchen, Debunking the myths of English Cookery one recipe at a time. It turned out well. If you’re interested in seeing the recipe click on the link to the blog below. I’m going to have to try other recipes since the blog’s author, Marie Alice Joan, clearly loves English food, and this was an excellent recipe…
Last night my husband and I finally watched “To Have and Have Not” together. It was just as splendid and unearthly as I remember…
I say unearthly because when I watch it I feel like I’m being towed back in time. Perhaps if I had watched it when it was in the theater it would have been more grounded in the present and physical world, but I wonder. I think its effect on me is due, in part, to the real romance off-screen between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. There was something that existed outside of time between them. Their love feels so magnetic.
Music from “To Have and Have Not” performed by Hoagy Carmicheal:
Yesterday I also took a few photos with my family for our Christmas cards. Since I was having my hair cut and foiled already, I had it styled to resemble Grace Kelly’s from the 50’s. I think my stylist did a good interpretation of it. Love them – both my stylist and Grace Kelly. 🙂
I sprayed a bit of Cabotine de Grès on, and oh my goodness… It reminds me of Marc Jacobs, by Marc Jacobs, a perfume I adore from the early 2000’s. Both Cabotine and Marc are spicy, white florals. Actually, Cabotine, like Marc Jacobs, reminds me of the smell of old books – the ones with thick paper pages and worn bindings you might find laying about in some remote corner of The Strand Bookstore in Manhattan (A great place to visit, btw). It was the perfect scent to wear while taking family Christmas photos in October. Also, Cabotine has excellent longevity and polite but engaging sillage. I found my vintage bottle on eBay.
Today is cloudy again, but I don’t think it will rain… It’s a great day for cleaning, lounging and grocery shopping – all wonderfully ordinary things that are blessings in their own right. 🙂
(Here’s a song from a few years ago by Yeasayer that seems to fit my mood today: 2080)
I bought my bottle of Miss Dior Chérie in 2010 at a Macy’s that doesn’t exist anymore. It had been a couple of other department stores before it became a Macy’s and it was the last surviving department store located downtown. There were a few buildings with people living in them then, but it was mostly just businesses and stores, so there weren’t many patrons to keep it alive… That’s changing.
We actually now live in that once dying city where I bought my bottle of Chérie. The urban landscape is being altered right outside my door to accommodate an influx of people, mostly under 40. There’s new condos, apartment buildings, a grocery store, and the public transportation was just totally updated. And, those 20/30 somethings in my neighborhood are part of an overall trend. (See, No McMansions for Millenials)
To counter the notion that young people are moving into the city, it’s been said that once my generation, the Millenials, get married and have children that we’ll buy homes and move into the suburbs by the droves, but I disagree. When my husband recently started working downtown we quickly ruled out all the surrounding suburbs for lots of various reasons, even though we’re married with a son. If we did buy a house, it wouldn’t be in some far off suburb, and while that might just be one experience I can’t help but think it’s not just just an anecdote…
In any case, I’ve loved my bottle of Miss Dior Chérie (Dior, 2011) from the old downtown Macy’s, and you can tell. It’s nearly gone.
I purchased it after eyeing the fragrance for a few years. During college I found a sample of Miss Dior Chérie in an issue of Vogue and I kept taking whiffs of it over and over. It smelled like a lady from a bygone era had, on a whim, gleefully pranced into a leathery old gentlemen’s club (not the kind that have strippers), shocked a few cigar smoking members with her presence, and ordered a glass of champagne with great aplomb. It was smoky, flowery, sparkly, sweet and full oflife.
I’m sure I was smelling the top notes of mandarin orange, and strawberry, middle notes of rose, and jasmine, and probably at least the base notes of amber, patchouli, sandalwood and vetiver. (to see a full list of notes and more visit Fragrantica.com.) The strawberry, amber and sandalwood perhaps being the most noticeable…
Last night, my husband and I went out for his birthday, so I decided not to wear a cozy sweater with Chérie. Today though… 🙂
I’ve never been to New Orleans, Louisiana, but someday I want to visit and stop by Hové Parfumeur in the French Quarter at 434 Chartres St.. Hové Parfumeur was originally located at 529 Royal Street when it was started in 1931 by Mrs. Alvin Hovey-King, the wife of a retired Navy Commander. She had spent her life traveling around the world, cultivating her talent, passed down from her Creole French mother, of making beautiful perfume when she decided to open Hové.
In 1938 Hové Parfumeur was relocated to 723 Toulouse St. where it would be for 44 years. It was during this time that my sample bottles of perfume were made. When I open the box I smell what can only be described as lush, Southern, Tropical and gorgeous. The stunning scent is a combination of Carnaval, Magnolia, Rue Royal, Tea olive, Creole Days and Gardenia – all part of their “standard line.”
I love the Hové website’s poetic descriptions. Magnolia is, “The true Southern Magnolia, a fragrance of subdued warmth cooled by fresh notes, redolent of the deep south.” And while Tea Olive is described as having a, “…languid and exotic sweetness heightened by a teasing piquantness…“ Rue Royal is my favorite: “A hint of musk pervades this basically dry and light fragrance, selected most often by fair brunettes who wish a quiet elegance.”
The only catch is that my bottles are mostly evaporated – probably where that lovely scent came from… But, I’m excited, because after doing a bit of sleuthing I discovered that it is possible to reconstitute an old bottle of perfume. One needs to be careful, and use only the right sort of alcohol, but it is potentially possible.
I have a bottle of vintage Dior, Miss Dior to reconstitute too. So, in the near future I’m going to buy either perfumer’s alcohol from Etsy (probably the safest and best choice) or Everclear from a state bordering ours that sells it. The alcohol needs to be at least 190 proof to work, so Everclear or perfumer’s alcohol are two of the best options…
In the meantime, we’ve been pretty busy this week. At some point though, my plan is to make Apple Pan Dowdy. Apples are in season and after hearing the song, Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy once years ago I’ve always wanted to try it. If it’s at all decent I’m going to have to post a photo on Friday…