Saturday, August 27, 2011

Around Town: Sortir le Soir


As I admired the still life on the coffee table, I was reminded that the items displayed might be a reflection of the person who arranged them, or at very least, serve as a silent introduction. There were books about Elizabeth (Babeth) Dijan and Patrick Demarchelier, a sculpted figure of a woman reclining, and a bouquet of white roses. 

The warm-hearted Susan Tabak, opened the door of her Park Avenue home for the New York debut of her premier fragrance, Sortir le Soir. "Sortir le soir" is a French expression that means to go out at night, (not to leave the night, as I had originally thought), and the name reflects what Susan loves to do most. She told me that she works hard all day, so when night arrives it's a reminder to relax and hence, go out. Sortir is centered around two heady whites, Gardenia and Jasmine, however, Tabak wanted the fragrance to remain light, sexy, fun, not too heavy. Sortir achieves this without being too sweet. Its green notes, aldehydic (effervescent) lift, and Amber base steers it away from trendy and lands it closer to classic.

On my walk home, I introduced the night air to Sortir le Soir; they happily swirled and swayed down Park Avenue, and I smiled as I realized it was the second silent introduction of the evening.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Grace of Technique Indiscrète

More from the Elements Showcase.

I felt as if I met Louison Grajcar last week via his perfume line, Technique Indiscrète. This charming introduction allowed me to catch a glimpse of how he beautifully weaves simplicity and surprising complexity into his fragrances. There is no conflict between perfumer and perfume here, rather his fragrances seem gently seduced into being. 

Indiscrète, Grajcar's first fragrance, is whimsical with its fresh and fruity top notes and floral heart of jasmine and rose, that ends up warm and cozy. The golden color of Santa Subita, reflects its intensity and what is to come once applied; citrus notes leads to its heart of cedarwood and sandalwood, while notes of vanilla and others, push up to deepen the deal. Veloutine, its berry notes play with violet and leather, think of a grown up Après L’Ondée. Overall, the structure of these perfumes seems balanced, all the parts working together harmoniously,  but occasionally a particular note is pulled out for a delightful tension, and I must note that dry downs are especially lovely and lingering. A friend once described grace as a long white picket fence, not the kind that goes around a cute little house, but rather the kind you see in the countryside that are long, winding, and seem infinite. Technique Indiscrète perfumes embody grace, like the latter.

Painting:  Mummy Portrait of a Boy, Getty Museum                                                                                                                                                                

Friday, August 19, 2011

Six Scents Parfums: An Installation at the Elements Showcase

On the first day of the Elements Showcase, upstairs on the sixth floor was a bit more quiet. Elements partnered with Six Scents Parfums to create an installation entitled, Transition: Our Avoidable Passage from Life to Death. The actual installation was tucked away behind a wall in the corner, and I liked that I had to search a bit to find it. Once inside, it was considerably darker than the well lit and designed Showcase floor. The wood paneled walls had a womb-like feel to them, making me want to take a closer look. Considering I was the only one there, I was able to take my time.

In the center of the installation were four pedestals that were topped with smoked glass plates. The plates each had a thin and narrow opening that allowed a glowing mist of perfume to steadily stream upward. Sometimes the mist was visible and other times it disappeared, depending on how the light hit it. Below each of the four narrow openings were these words:  No. 1:  Your Conception:  Sperm; No. 2:  Your Infancy: Baby Powder; No. 3: Your Adulthood:  Leather; No. 4: Your  Death: Frankincense. 

On the second and last day of the Showcase, after a well represented forum of industry folk hosted by Elements and W Magazine, I rushed back up to get another look and smell of the installation. This time I was not alone, there was a man patiently dropping the juice into the first two pedestals. I entered to a find Conception and Infancy with their lids off. He said it was ok if I went straight to Death, which I did. 

Your Death: Frankincense
Standing alone (sort of) in front of death I looked up to see these words facing me on the wall:  The END.  As I stood there, I realized that there was an incredible lightness and transcendence flowing up through the mist and into my nostrils. This is not the Frankincense of my childhood that in church made my eyes tear and my throat tighten. Yes, the incense was front and center but somehow sweeter and lifted and made to be ever so friendly and fresh.  With the hum of the event behind me and the young man lovingly dropping the juice into Conception I suddenly realized I was hearing the ambient sound of church bells in the distance, perfectly timed for The END, but this "end" was a happy death complete with a resurrection. 

While exiting, I remarked how beautiful the Frankincense was to the man, he said, "you can smell it downstairs." It was then that I realized that the entire installation, Conception through Death was a deconstruction of perfume No. 4, Ascent and part of Six Scents Series Three, a collaboration between perfumer, Christophe Raynaud and fashion designer, Rad Hourani. Bravo.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Two Innovative Exhibitions in NYC

On August 15 and 16, the bi-annual Elements Showcase promises an innovative look at the niche/indie perfume world. Highlights include: over 60 exhibitors, a forum on fragrance as a design discipline, and three interactive installations. I am looking forward to perfume No.1 Beau-Bow created for Six-Scents by perfumer, Rodrigo Flores-Roux and fashion designer, Alexis Mabille. 

Now through November at MOMA is Talk to Me, Design and Communication between People and Objects. The exhibition includes work by Sissel Tolaas, entitled, Berlin, City Smell Research. Seems she has bottled different neighborhood scents in Berlin creating an olfactive map of the city. 

Photo:  Chichen Itza, Mexico