Monday, May 23, 2011

Annick Goutal Tubereuse, a memory

Herbert Migdoll, Swimmers, detail, mixed media: oil enamel and acrylic on vinyl mesh, 2002
When I swim underwater, I like to see how far I can swim without coming up for air. Surrounded by water, I close my eyes and can easily imagine the edge of my body pushing out beyond itself. The outside world becomes muffled. Wearing Annick Goutal Tubéreuse feels a little like this, that is, wearing a fragrance completely for oneself, not to attract, admire, or to be admired, but the possibility to become more. 

A Soliflore is a type of perfume that is inspired by a single flower. The good ones don't imitate the flower, but rather riff and transform it. Tubéreuse comes close to this. For a time, you weren't able to get it in the States which added to its mystery because in someway you had to work just a little harder to get close to it. The empty bottle sits inside the bottom of my dresser, anchored and waiting for me to sail it again. 

My memory of Tubéreuse is of a slightly smokey, heady white floral. The EDP is a beautiful deep amber color. When applied on the pulse points it is unsettling at first, as if I didn't take in enough air before plunging underwater, or like opening the door onto an old humid room, not sure if I want to enter. However, after Tubéreuse settles in on the skin it stays close and takes off at the same time. Its bloom becomes completely present as if it wants to reach out and gently stroke the hair that frames my face.

Postscript 5/27/11:  Today at Annick Goutal's counter I immediately began searching for Tubéreuse. I couldn't find it. I  started to get that sinking feeling. When I asked where Tubéreuse was, the parfum representative at Caron first asked me where I'd been, which made me laugh, and then briskly said that it had been discontinued for almost two years. He tried to convince me that Caron's Tubéreuse could replace it, but of course I knew that wouldn't work. Sometimes a memory must suffice. RIP AG T EDP 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sandalwood and Rodin

I want to take in all the lushness of Sandalwood, but no matter how I try, I just can't smell it. When I put the blotter to my nose, I start thinking that maybe the raw material didn't make it to the blotter or possibly someone is testing my ability and I was given a placebo, but none of this is true. Faced with my lack of impressions I try to conjure up something, "I find it soft, smooth, and fleeting, very strange for a base note, No?" I couldn't seem to get the "creaminess" everyone was talking about. This creaminess that has more to do with a sappy quality than a milky lactonic quality. It's flat and uniformed, I was told. All I could smell was wet blotter paper. I found this anosmic spell a little odd because I know what Sandalwood smells like. I can easily spot its sultry power inside a perfume, for example, L'Artisan's Safran Troublant. In the haunting Troublant, lying next to Vanilla, the Sandalwood becomes instantly alive, but once again, alone on the blotter I felt, abandonedTurns out, that I am not alone. While reading the very thorough article, The Invisible Scent in New York Magazine last week, (the link is below) apparently lots of people can't detect it, and there have even been studies done about it.  

Last summer, during a visit to the Rodin Museum in Paris I saw a particular exhibit that showcased the underbelly of Rodin's work. Mostly, porcelain vases he did as a young man to make some money and studies for his reliefs and sculpture, like the example above. I was surprised to see how delicate his approach was in these studies considering how extreme his final work can be. 

Sandalwood standing alone on a blotter is not unlike Rodin's studies; to my nose and eye they are both completely faint and fascinating.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Perfume Blotters and Spring Cleaning

Lately, as soon as I walk through the door of my apartment, I am immediately hit by a harmonious and sometimes cacophonous cloud of perfumes. Their conduit: BLOTTERS. 

Strange things happen to these blotters when they sit and stew together.  

If you don't know, blotters are bits of paper that we dunk into perfume to drink up the juice so that we may lean back and leisurely try to capture all that we are smelling. They save the skin, so to speak. 

Blotters have long necks with either pointed or flat heads. The ones with pointed heads tend to have wider bodies. The ones with flat heads tend to have skinnier bodies. 

These blotters have found a home on my desk stuffed in glass jars, in my pockets, my purse, at work, and even holding my favorite pages in my books. Looking at the jar on my desk, I can see many labeled blotters each holding a different fragrance name, Youth Dew; Beyond Paradise followed by these three words in parenthesis, (a green floral); Mitsouku is almost pushing its beautiful self up and out of the jar. I pull Cassis out and I remember how it stained the blotter and then slowly transformed from astringent berry to the faint smell of cat pee. There are more. Prada Man, it kept getting better and better as it reached its dry down. Hexenol-3-Cis smells like freshly cut grass. I pull another, it's Paris,  faded yet still so poetic and floral, and Coco, a classic chypre. The volatile ones like lavender and bergamot have all gone away only the smell of paper remains. 

Guess it's time to toss them out properly.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Yesterday - CUIR DE RUSSIE

If a "perfect" New York City day still exists, yesterday came very close. My friend suggested that we take an olfactory lunch together. So yesterday morning, I rolled out of bed, showered, and put on my silk dress and leopard print shoes, and started the day. When lunch rolled around instead of a  yogurt with granola, I headed to Saks, 5th Avenue. We met at 12:30 to take in a good 1/2 hour to 40 minutes of perfume. Together, my friend and I road a rogue wave past Maison Martin Margiela, Hermes, and even stopped at a table with two experts to take a quiz that determines your specific fragrance preferences. They were spot on. We spoke to so many lovely people throughout the main floor until somehow we landed on a peaceful shore in front of Les Exclusifs De Chanel. We were interested in three perfumes, Beige, Gardenia, and Cuir de Russie.  We spoke to a very knowledgeable Beauté Analyste for Chanel who gave us his insights on the history of the line, and discussed the notes with great precision. In the end, it was Cuir de Russie that made its markIt is incredibly complex and special with it's warm leathery notes and completely decadent. I wore it back to the office. 

After work I met my favorite brother and sister team and we circled Plaza Beauty downstairs at the Plaza Hotel, had a glass of Prosecco at Todd English's place and took more than a long moment to take in the sculpture of Ai Weiwei in front of the Plaza. I was so happy to be standing in front of the dragon head with my dear friend while her amazing brother captured the moment with his camera. 

Photo:  Sophia Loren

Monday, May 2, 2011

Snapshot: Arpège and Mom

My father was not the kind of father that traveled for work, but for some reason when I was 6 or 7 he traveled to Spain for several weeks. When he returned, my mom received a pearl necklace and Arpège. These gifts along with a box of six scented soaps sat perfectly tucked away in my Mom's top lingerie drawer. Many times, I would sneak in their bedroom and open the box of individually wrapped soaps, their powdery tenacity almost coming through the box. A perfectly gilded figure of a woman wearing a full gown that resembled a caftan crowned each individually wrapped bar. I was mesmerized with this figure. It was only recently that I realized the figure is a woman with a child. At some point, the Arpège bottle moved from my mom's drawer to sit perfectly on top of her dresser.

Paul Iribe created Lanvin's image that symbolizes bond 
between mother and daughter.