Monthly Archives: March 2013

Easter eggs anyone…? Angel by Thierry Mugler The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter


It is the eve of Easter.

The holiday of The Passion, The Resurrection and the chocolate.

It is time to take a trip to maison Mademoiselle Ange, server of all things sweet.

Bubbling vats of caramel and chocolat await behind her pretty as a picture door.

On shelves in giant jars honeycombs are bathed in more honey, next coconut cremes, backcurrant straws with sherbert, pear drops and melon bon bons.

In the scarcely seen kitchen the hard pressed pastry chef whips Chantilly cream into concupiscent curls. The shop girl, whose heart crushes on him, adds vanilla essence with limp love-wearied hands.

Out front, beyond the brass rails, acres of marble and mahogany counter bear tartes of shortcrust and flaky bases and those bottomed with sponge that Anglo Saxons incorrectly call flan.

Everything seems drowned in confectioners’ custard, surmounted with exotic and out of season fruit or crowned with cocoa frills and dusted with icing sugar. Even maron glaces come in crinkled coats and sprinkled with sweet spices.

An indulged mouse, fat on unbaked batters and unwhipped creams, scampers confidently across the floor to a nest beside the hidden oven and its warmth.

The maitresse de maison catches your eye, steps forward, bobs a greeting and smiles a toothless smile, smearing chocolate hands against her straining stained apron as she does.

With a twirl and a curl of her fattened arm she gestures to the piece de resistence a triumph of the chocolatier’s art: an egg of cocoa and caramel three feet tall and two wide.

“Large enough to fit a child inside” she leers as she comes near, her own dark leafy odour now apparent.

The Mademoiselle gestures for you to take a seat.

Will you stay in this palace of sugared pleasures, its atmosphere all thick with fudge flavours and nougat notes?

Can you bear so much sweetness and heavy, heavy air?

Some souls you know will take their places and gorge an hour or three, gathering like-minded souls around them by the dozen.

And others?

Others will flee.

Finding something too cloying in this toffee- fragranced house of fancies to countenance too long.

And you? Which will you be?

Angel is the quintessence, the apogee, the very apotheosis of a certain kind of smell.

It is the Everest of candy store scents. The ultimate of confisserie patisserie perfumes.

That it is expert is beyond doubt, but whether it is art is moot.

Opening with an array of boiled-sweet notes: melon, coconut, mandarin, blackcurrant, red berries and a touch of Turkish-delight rose, there is a moment, a demi moment when all seems as though it could turn out fruity.

Then massive waves of vanilla, honey and mainly chocolate and caramel break, washing away most everything else in their crashing wake.

At this stage it is customary to bow down before the genius of the insertion of a brusque storm defence of patchouli and to dwell on the animalic undertow.

To my mind both are invariably over stated: false pseudo intellectual alibis for fragrance aficionados a little ashamed of their gargantuan and decayed sweet tooths.

This is ultimately an unabashed sugar festival that flirts half heartedly with darkness, but is no more than dark chocolate and salted caramel.

It is commonplace to state this scent is some sort of olfactory miracle.

If true then sadly angels are both everywhere and decidedly average these days.

Are the customers at this store exclusively female?

No not all.

And nor are the patrons of Amen’s coffee shop across the way just male.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

Advertisements

23 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Match point… Aliage by Estee Lauder The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

Fancying herself depressed by the seemingly unending winter, she determined to bring Spring on with her own sheer will, and paid labour.

“I married him for a title, a grand house and the gardens, not his country’s climate for Chrissakes”.

Everyone, servants and all, had heard her bellow down the telephone she had had installed in the hall.

She was shouting, it transpired, at a visiting friend from across the pond, a Mrs Simpson, who apparently had sympathy but problems enough of her own.

On Wallis’ advice, she decided that tennis was the answer.

“In March?” his Lordship inquired raising a solitary eyebrow and both eyes from the crossword of The Times.

“Well? What the hell else are those lawns for?” she volleyed.

“Croquet?” he lobbed.

Whatever, the remark fell outside her hearing, she was already in another room and inside her head thoughts had moved on to courts and nets and whites and racquets.

The new phone pressed again into action so she could assemble her motley crew of contractors.

A wind machine marvel who engineered storms at Pinewood Studios would, so he said, work the contrary conjuring trick and turn frost bitten February-like weather to flaming high June.

A ‘Gro-Mo’ salesman promised that his potions would have the lawn moss free and at perfect pitch for playability within a week and was promptly engaged.

Then there was a Yugoslavian ‘professional’ who someone knew from a party on a yacht moored just of Monte Carlo, he came on board to help the ladies with their backhand strokes.

Lillywhites would supply the starched apparel to match their name and cook knew a recipe for lemon barley water.

Everything, therefore, was in place she announced over breakfast the next day and invitations were immediately dispatched.

The day of the game arrived and with it guests and an uninvited snow storm.

Freezing in flannels and tennis skirts to the knee she marched her fellow players out on court: the daughter of a Marchioness, a banker she met playing baccarat at the Ritz and his Lordship shivering and the first time in shorts since school, the Yugoslavian sat slumped in the umpire’s chair.

With the flick of a switch her movie magician summoned arc lights into action and suddenly the snow was falling in full summer sunshine.

He signalled to an engineer and the fantastically large fans began to whirr.

The effect was, granted, perhaps more that of giant hairdryer than summer breeze, but cold there was no more.

The no show “Gro-Mo” man had, it was true, let her down and the court was pure moss.

But it parched out to a bounce quick enough in this man-made Scirocco and its bitter scent soon filled the air.

The wafts of lawn mingled with winter grass, the pine of the polished racquets with the medicinally rubber balls, the musk of fresh laundered whites with sour lemon squash served from great jugs at changes of ends.

The aroma was intoxicating.

It was Wimbledon fortnight in suspended winter.

Then two sets in, the hostess serving for the match, a stray snow flake somehow snuck its way into the electricals and with an exuberant snap and scary spark sleight of hand sunshine and warmth were suddenly at an end.

Returned in an instant to Arctic climes our brave aristocratic athletes ran for cover.

But none would ever forget the day that desperate March was turned to Pinewood Studios Summer.

Estee Lauder’s Aliage is a determined and admirable attempt to bottle sporting summertime and make it available all year round.

As orderly and well managed as Centre Court on finals day, this is a fragrance marshalled with ex-military precision.

The opening is a brisk moss lawn made brilliant by warm sunshine. There are hints of citrus and a slightly malted fruitiness that tries but never succeeds in deposing tart as the chief mood.

This green persists throughout the heart and is without doubt the main accord, a definite resinous pine becomes apparent and then yields somewhat to vetiver.

There is a distant spiciness and a definite element of powder, but these seem medicinal, belonging far more to the locker room than the beauty parlour.

The dry down is more a three set match than five and seems to end quite decisively in a tie break that takes one almost by surprise.

All in all Aliage is a miraculously summoned up ray of sharp sunshine available on any day.

In the midst of foul weather we should all be truly grateful that such things exist.

This is without doubt a game suitable for mixed doubles.

Notice

Aliage has recently regained its missing ‘l’ and once again become ‘Alliage’.

Sadly in so doing it seems to have lost much of its vigour and derring-do.

Catch the old magic where and while you can.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Tea Party… Midnight Poison by Dior The Perfumed Dandy’s Classic Collection

As an adult, never arrive at a children’s tea party until it’s over.

She had said, ‘Come around about seven. They’ll have worn themselves out and the ‘grown ups’ can have fun.’.

Why oh why didn’t I listen?

Why did I think it would be generous, amusing even, to arrive when the ankle biters were still going tooth and claw at the table groaning with juvenile junk food?

So, my evening starts with too cheap, too strong and too sweet orange soda. Made fizzy at home with alarming novetly machine that keeps threatening to explode.

Then it’s a game of ‘hunt the jewel’.

Somewhere in a giant bowl of half set mandarin jelly there’s a prize.

It must be removed with the mouth: no hands, no spoon – just head in said jelly.

Total immersion.

‘Please, please’ they yell, a youthful chorus ‘join in, JOIN IN!!!’. And so, ever the sport, my petrified visage plunges into a whirling, swirling tepid pool of luminous gunk.

I emerge, eventually, face, neck, collar covered in the most revolting fake fruit sweet slime that money can buy and mummy can make.

A roar from the crowd – clenched between my suddenly yellowed teeth an amber pendant, it’s silver chain resting wet on my chin.

I pass it dutifully to the birthday girl and another cheer goes up.

The final festive climax reached, the kids scatter and ready for the off as I skulk upstairs to reclaim my face and give any help possible to my poor hair.

Returning to the scene of my triumphant undoing, the children have departed. Mother is about to take celebratory daughter upstairs for a bath and bed. I am to watch the door.

Gradually the later, older guests arrive wrapped in their all surrounding adult smells.

One wears patchouli as she has done since we were young, another rose to remember her mother by, a third antique vanilla with a touch of fragranced powder.

Our host returns, daughter settled fast asleep.

She has wrested the amber amulet from her child and dabbed a little of its namesake’s scent, her signature, on the nape of her own neck.

As the evening floats onwards to the blue hour, the room glows with warm conversation, time-earnt friendships and the notes of perfumes too personal and familiar to need introduction.

Even the congealed jelly on my collar has dried to an almost semi-precious crystal, though now and again emits a saccharine citrus to remind me of my mistake.

If only I’d have arrived late.

Midnight Poison by Dior is a fragrance of enormous contrasts.

Sadly, in this reformulation at least, these are far from complimentary.

The opening is quite simply catastrophic.

A syrupy, synthetic and supremely nauseating fruit cocktail: it is an assault on the senses.

And, like lurid pineapple chunks skewered next fluorescent plastic cheese on cocktail sticks this hors d’ouevres, it can’t fail to out stay its welcome.

What happens very gradually after is, however, almost remarkable: this raucous, rancorous, childish affair yields to an accomplished, enigmatic and glancingly enticing composition whose apparent complexity belies a breathtakingly simple palette.

Rose, amber, patchouli, vanilla.

It is, in many ways, a work of dark mysteries. Of day and night, with midnight being by far the best hour.

If only that opening just wasn’t.

There is no question that this can be worn by a man, indeed I know from conversation and correspondence this is worn by many men.

But The Dandy’s not for wearing.

That opening is too much to be gotten over, it leaves one feeling… besmirched.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

18 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Sul y Blodau Ten Fragrances of Remembrance The Perfumed Dandy’s Sunday Supplement

Dearest Ones

A word of explanation.

Where The Dandy hails from, in certain parts of about the most rural part of Britain where the most beautiful language of Cymraeg, also known as Welsh, is spoken, today is a rather special day.

Sul y Blodau, literally “Sunday of the Flowers” is the name given to the Sunday before Easter, known as “Palm Sunday” elsewhere in the English speaking world.

Here an ancient tradition of decorating Christian churches ahead of the forthcoming festivities has metamorphosised into a utterly moving celebration.

In place of decorating places of worship, the day is marked by the placing of flowers of remembrance on the graves or resting places of those departed. Or by decorating the home with blooms as a keep sake of those who are now gone forever or those merely temporarily absent.

Despite the awful weather today, The Dandy knows that churchyards and cemeteries will have become flower meadows and window sills, kitchen tables and hearths will be ablaze with the colour of floral tributes in this very small corner of the world.

This raises a wry smile and kindles a small, warm flame in the heart.

In tribute to this wonderful tradition, which now itself seems to be fading into the past, The Perfumed Dandy present his selection of Ten Fragrances of Remembrance, not all floral, for your contemplation…

1. Private Collection by Estee Lauder

A scent of solitary sorrow, Estee Lauder‘s Private Collection is perfume of private grief and almost immeasurable melancholy.

This is the fragrance of an unforgotten lost friendship. Of an affair left unfinished.

That this was Estee Lauder’s personal fragrance for many years before it was made available to the public testifies to its regal quality.

A tragic masterpiece, smelling irrevocably of chrysanthemums.

2. Jour by Hermes

This day of remembrance is all about the simplicity of flowers. Jour is all about the simplicity of flowers.

Jean-Claude Ellena’s new work seems to have divided the critics, personally I find it at once over abundant and sparse, a bitter sweet experience, a little like the act of memory itself.

3. Norell by Norell

The sharp green smell of unsettled soil and crisp spring air.

The smell of carnation buttonholes.

There is such a thing as a good funeral and if that funeral had a fragrance it would be Norell.

4. Dioressence by Dior

“In her heart she knew that spring was the hopeful season, yet this year it felt, if not cruel, then hard.

“It was hard too to let go of the rituals of winter, of early suppers and open fires, sleeping in until darkness ended and of hospital visits without, it seemed then, an end.”

You can read more of The Perfumed Dandy‘s reflections on the melancholy scent of the Spring in my Dioressence review.

As remembrance is also in part about keeping memories and in a way the people remembered alive, it is a pleasant thought that, of all the recently revived Dior’s, the current Dioressence is (with Diorella) is itself the most alive.

5. Le Baiser du Dragon by Cartier

One of the most wonderful elements of Sul y Bolodau is that it is about remembering the joy and happiness that those departed brought to the world.

These are memories of celebrations, high days and holidays, first meetings and whirlwind romances.

Thoughts of afternoons where one too many almond liqueur might lead to a decision that led to whole different and more fulfilled life.

Le Baiser du Dragon is a perfume that speaks of the happy acts of fate that bring so many of us together in the first place.

6. Cuir de Russie by Chanel

The most humane and humanly sensual of all animalic notes: leather.

Leather hints of polished boots, riding gear, handbags, wristwatches and wallets.

Leather is the stuff of the accoutrements of life. The things that people leave behind them.

Leather is, of course, legendarily the very fabric of love affairs.

7. Un Lys by Serge Lutens

The scent of lilies filling the house and celebrating the lives of those who once lived here.

8. Narcisse Noir by Caron

A perfume of new hope and new beginnings, of the cycle of life and of endless possibilities.

It is also one of the most refined renderings of the scent of the narcissus anywhere in perfumery.

Narcissi are mainly daffodils in Wales, the national flower of the country, the flower of the early spring and the signature of this amazing day.

They come in every colour so long as it’s yellow. They come a sun shinning profusion.

For more of The perfumed Dandy‘s thoughts on this redolent aroma visit my relflections on Narcisse noir.

9. Je Reviens by Worth

The ultimate promise of fidelity and unforgetting love.

Gifted by millions of American soldiers to the women they left behind when they went off to fight The Second World War, it is an icon of indissoluble amour.

Brought back from the otherworld of ghostly imitations and ghoulish cheapskate reformulations, the 2004 ‘Couture’ incarnation is a bold and demanding aldehyde worthy of unswerving devotion.

10. L’Heure Bleue by Guerlain

The Blue Hour.

The minutes between daylight and darkness.

A perfume of perfect, calm crepuscular contemplation.

A collective deep breath in before The Great War began.

A work of wonder.

So there we have it.

A list of the sorrowful, the spring-like, the joyous, the timeless, the unforgettable and most especially the fantastically fine fragrances of remembrance.

The Dandy is very curious to know whether similar tribute days are marked in other parts of the world, and if so when?

Do you, my friends, have a perfume that is especially redolent of a departed loved one or time long since passed?

If so, please do share.

After all, scent is the sense unlike all the others that is able to travel through time.

I’m away now to wear a little Private Collection and contemplate in the encompassing odour of chrysanthemums.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

31 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Lordy! 20 scents more one never knew a man could wear!! The Perfumed Dandy’s Library Catalogue #5

Has The Perfumed Dandy mentioned that since starting out on his amazing adventure in the Wicked Wild West that is the World of Women’s Perfume he has amassed from dear readers an astonishing array of almost 500 suggestions of once forbidden ‘female fragrances’ that you consider fit for a gentleman to wear?

Well, The Dandy has most certainly mentioned it now!

Being ever one to share both the love and the wisdom, I have taken it upon myself to spread cognisance of these suggested scents far and wide each Saturday.

Such is the premise of our weekly peek inside the The Perfume Dandy’s Library Catalogue.

What follows is the fifth installment of ’20 scents one never knew a man could wear’ that may tickle either your fancy or your funny bone…

If you would like to further the cause of one of the fragrances, getting it a step closer to the dizzying heights of The Perfumed Dandy’s Hit Parade kindly respondez-vous to this post.

Alternatively if you believe you have the perfect perfume for The Dandy but can’t see it listed below simply visit ‘Suggest a new scent or recommend an old one’ to put the name forward.

Allons-y!!

1. Norell Norell

I am perfectly amazed this one has never made The Hit Parade.

Surely this is one of the emerald green galbanum classics of all perfumery?

Or perhaps there is an unpleasant reason for its omission…

2. Givenchy Eau de Givenchy

A springtime scent with backbone if ever there was one… lily of the valley, honeysuckle, narcissus and oakmoss.

I all sounds terribly tempting. Should I give in to temptation?

3. Calvin Klein CK One Shock For Her

Oh. Oh dear.

Please tell me that there’s more to this than meets the eye.

Surely there couldn’t be less!

4. Givenchy Ysatis

Ylang ylang, aldhehydes and animals, bees and civets to be precise.

After my brush with the incredible Amarige this week, could this be another Givenchy powerhouse worthy of wearing?

5. Joop! Joop! Femme

This feminine Joop reads as a lot more butch than the ghastly pink stuff they pump for the gents.

Does it live up to the promise of yet more aldehydes, animals and this time…err… sandalwood?

6. Kenzo Kenzo Amour

Sweet vanilla rice with a touch of floral supplied by frangipani, some chai brewing in the background.

Sounds a little like a traditional Thai tea party… is it as pleasant?

7. Annick Goutal Vanille Exquise

Marzipan with a powdering of icing sugar?

Perhaps I’m being a little unfair, I’m sure you will advise if this is more interesting that it seems on first inspection.

As a matter of interest, I’ve yet to try a Goutal…

8. Caron Pour Une Femme

A rich smoky rose with a dash of orange.

This 1934 scent sounds like the Caron archetype.

Does it live up to the high standard of its venerable stable mates?

9. Salvatore Ferragamo Incanto Charms

Now, if there was ever a flacon to put a fellow off a perfume.

But, I know, I know never judge a perfume by its bottle… is there something fabulous inside?

10. Kate Walsh Boyfriend

Okay. But does The Dandy want to be its boyfriend?

Nice flacon though.. oh yes, I must take my own advice as per above!

Mustn’t I?

11. Lancome Magie (La Collection Fragrances)

The first of a pair of fragrances from the much missed now sadly discontinued “La Collection” – or has it all been discontinued?

This promises amber and musk with a touch of violet. Could it be a perfect scent for the late spring and early summer?

12. Lancome Cuir de Lancome (La Collection Fragrances)

Our second from the Lancome reserved (now very reserved) collection and a leather that wins almost universal acclaim.

A classic birch tar, this is often compared favourably with Chanel‘s hallowed Cuir de Russie.

Is this really a lost legend awaiting rediscovery?

13. Clean Clean Warm Cotton

Does a man (or woman for that matter) really want to smell like a fabric softener?

Another moderately diverting fact, this brand has never really made any impression in the UK, or indeed Europe… I wonder why?

14. Viktor&Rolf Flowerbomb

Sister to the insanely successful (at least for a season or so) Spicebomb.

This concoction, credited to no less than four eminent parfumeurs, never reached the omnipresence of its sibling.

Is this the ugly sister?

15. Lolita Lempicka Lolita Lempicka

Licorice, anise, vanilla, praline. Now, this isn’t reading to well at the moment and then… violet.

Could this defy all expectations and not turn out to be a sickly, cloying mess?

There are a lot of Lolita’s coming up soon, yet I’ve not a jot of experience with the brand, so exciting times.

16. Lolita Lempicka Fleur Defendue

Violet blancmange with amaretti biscuits. Mmmh.

What could go wrong? Well it looks like there’s a whacking great note of cherries in there too.

Please tell me they’re sour, or at least a little tart!

17. Lolita Lempicka L de Lolita Lempicka

Though not listed amongst the notes, many admirers have said this is like the very best bitter orange incense.

If so, I’m sold.

Can this really be true?

18. Britney Spears Midnight Fantasy

Cherry, plum, vanilla and lots of sugar one suspects.

Ms Spears in the middle of the night (now that is a scary thought).

19. Britney Spears Circus Fantasy

Raspberry, apricots, vanilla and…. oh this actually lists both ‘sweet notes’ and ‘sugar’ amongst the notes.

The mind boggles.

Ms Spears does her own life.

20. Britney Spears Hidden Fantasy

Orange, tangerine, vanilla and… err… sugar!!

Sick bag please steward.

How I wish Ms Spears perfume collection would remain.

Sorry to end on such a low – or should that be sugar-high – note there dear friends, but onwards and upwards.

Now, I know I’m repeating myself but… If you would like to further the cause of one of the fragrances, getting it a step closer the dizzying heights of The Perfumed Dandy’s Hit Parade kindly respondez-vous to this post.

Alternatively if you believe you have the perfect perfume for The Dandy but can’t see it listed below simply visit ‘Suggest a new scent or recommend an old one’ to put the name forward.

13 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The vermilion room… Cinnabar by Estee Lauder The Perfumed Dandy’s Classic Collection

IMG_20131120_131521

She wasn’t a grade school teacher always. This woman has a past.

Taking a break from marking books of summer holiday reminiscences rendered in schoolboy scrawl, she decides to look again at the photographs.

Just five years after Nixon, she too went to China. It was ’78 and the next year an embassy would open in what everybody still called Peeking then.

Someone had to ready it for the arrivals.

Who better than the wife of the man who would be first cultural attache to the land of the Cultural Revolution?

In an uncommon moment of decor diplomacy, it was decided to break from American tradition: to forgo a little piece of the Uncle Sam overseas. Local sensitivities relating to cultural imperialism were judged to preclude the parochial neo-classicism of a White House away from home.

So the style would be Sino- American, through and through.

In the photographs, honeyed polaroids sweetened almost sepia by age, she sees the rooms she would never return to.

A jade green vestibule with minature orange trees standing guard at every entrance, each bright fruit wired for sound when entertaining.

The blue and white willow pattern reception room, where concealed cinnamon and clove spiced incense burned, to purify the guests before they met The Man.

A second function room in saffron yellow, great imitation Ming vases filled with jasmine, ylang ylang, and lilies right next to shameless shaker pots stuffed full of imported American roses.

A pause to shake the great man’s hand then onwards to the piece de resistence.

A perfect antique vermilion lacquered box into made dining room.

A jewelled chamber of glistening red walls.

At its centre, beneath a glittering crystal chandelier, a rosewood oval table.

On the table sit solid amber place settings while to all sides it is surrounded by fine chairs polished in resins that smell purposefully of vanilla.

Inviting you to sit with a hand that slices air made thick with clouds of smoked bezoin and more cloves, the Ambassador, carnation in buttonhole, clears his throat, prepares to speak.

But she never took her seat at the Ambassador’s table, never dined in her dining room.

Her cultural attaché, so it turned out, came from a culture of casual violence and even more casual sex.

A divorce.

Everything settled six months before the dust sheets could come off the jade, willow pattern blue, saffron and vermilion rooms.

A return home and a career to support her new daughter.

What could be more respectable than a small town grade school teacher with an uncommonly beautifully decorated home?

Her manicured and painted hands close the black gloss, hard covered album and returns it to its own red lacquered box.

She reads from the exercise book before her, scribbled in childish hand:

‘This summer I went to China….’

Cinnabar is the common ore of mercury.

Beautiful and toxic.

Perhaps this is why at Estee Lauder counters they keep this object of a certain striking beauty hidden from sight.

For there seems no logical reason to conceal this warm, generous and welcoming pseudo-oriental scent.

Yes it is a version of China about as real as the model factories and swarms of smiling children Pat Nixon met in 1973, but this perfume knows that it is half way to being propaganda and for that reason never takes itself too seriously.

A bright and cheery, flag waving entrance of citrus leads swiftly to an “hallway of the people” with a determinedly spicy architecture. Here, structural elements of near sanitary cloves and almost strident cinnamon ensure that other softer elements do not sag.

Thus, when incense and vanilla and florals and bezoin come wafting through their route is defined and directed and a brisk and clear order to the whole assembly is maintained, as though some benign school ma’am were keeping a watchful eye over the proceedings.

Perhaps this is where it all went wrong for Cinnabar: where other perfumes of this genre let it all, and then more, far much too much more, hang out, it kept its nerve and retained its composure.

At the time that might have felt a little too tight lipped, severe even.

Looking back it seems, just like Cinnabar itself: an act of unwaivering poise and impeccable judgement.

Is this a role suitable for a man?

Things have moved on and today there are such things as diplomats’ husbands I believe…

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

22 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Oil in the Alabaster Box : A guest post and a simply splendid Friday giveaway!

Alabaster Box

Dear Friends

This may come as a surprise to you, but there is something in the world that The Perfumed Dandy actually prefers to perfume (I can hear the shocked gasps from here) and that thing is people.

I take the greatest pleasure in the in all the good folks that I come across in this scented world and take many of them to be my friends.

It is therefore with the most enormous happiness that I am able to collaborate with a select number of these new friends from across the world to bring you not only a perfectly excellent guest post but also the opportunity to win a tenderly hand-crafted gift…

So dearhearts, today we take a fragrant journey back in time with the charming Jordan River from The Fragrant Man.

I will allow our guide to explain all…

Brie in New York has made some spikenard foot oil especially for this post.

If you would like to encounter this scent and look after your own or your loved one’s feet please leave a comment or like The Dandy’s site on Facebook.

The gift recipient will be announced on Easter Sunday and mailed to you the following Tuesday.

Spikenard or nard originates in India and Nepal, high in the Himalayas.

The root of the plant is the source for one of the rarest and most precious oils.

Brie would like to say that she is not a professional perfumer. This is an interest for her.

She blends with the best of intentions, carefully choosing oils for their healing properties as well as for the enjoyment of smelling.

Brie goes on to remark that spikenard is quite tenacious and challenging to work with as in her experience it takes over the blend (similar to tea tree oil).

Are you spending too much on perfume? Here is a scented tale for you.

The Oil in the Alabaster Box

There are many faiths in this world. There are also many myths and legends.

It’s up to you to find the truth on your fragrant journey.

Let’s travel to the east this Easter to visit with a woman living on the boundaries of her culture.

She has recently met a man. She believes him to be her spiritual guide.

He is surrounded by men at a dinner party. She is uninvited and has to make her way past the guests to be able to offer her teacher a scented gift.

The gift is spikenard oil, a costly perfume ingredient which at this volume, a Roman litra*, costs the equivalent of spending a year’s salary on a scent; a scent so potent that the home where this story takes place becomes filled with fragrant air.

image

The room grew still
As she made her way to Jesus
She stumbles through the tears that made her blind

She felt such pain
Some spoke in anger
Heard folks whisper
There’s no place here for her kind

Still on she came
Through the shame that flushed her face
Until at last, she knelt before his feet
And though she spoke no words
Everything she said was heard
As she poured her love for the Master
From her box of alabaster

Don’t be angry if I wash his feet with my tears
And I dry them with my hair
You weren’t there the night He found me
You did not feel what I felt
When he wrapped his love all around me and
You don’t know the cost of the oil
In my alabaster box

– lyrics: Janice Sjostran
for chanteuse Cece Winans
– an interpretation of Mark 14:3-9

Judas, ever the accountant, thought this money would have been better spent feeding the poor. Nevertheless the teacher accepted this gift from a woman’s heart.

Jesus looked at her with a smile “your deed will never be forgotten. Your story will be told throughout all the lands and for all time and in ways you have never even dreamed of“.

Little could she have imagined that one day the story of her alabaster box would be told on the World Wide Web.


Album Version – Cece Winans – The Alabaster Box
A more melodic interpretation.

* A Roman litra is the equivalent of 327 grams these days

The Perfumed Dandy can’t help but think that’s a rather appropriate tale, not only for the time of year, but also as it does provide a little comfort to those of us who have a tendency to spend rather too much on perfume.

After all The Dandy’s never spend a whole year’s salary on a scent!!

It remains for me to thank Brie in New York and, of course, my guest Jordan River from The Fragrant Man.

And, of course to wish you a most fine and fragrant day and remind you to comment below or like The Perfumed Dandy on facebook (after all I do like you all awfully much) in order to have a chance of winning the gift.

Until we meet again.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

17 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Too much is never enough… Amarige by Givenchy The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

Spring seemingly having been suspended they decided to arrange an early summer of their own.

No expense would be spared, no discretion exercised, no refinement or restraint respected.

This was to be no place for good taste.

The women of the Womens’ Institute determined that their arrangement would be the most dazzling display this dreary state had ever seen.

Flexing floricultural muscles and credit cards they assembled a mass of stems and blooms the like of which had never been known: tuberoses, roses, orchids and orange blossom; gardenia, carnation, jasmine and mimose.

They worked for four days solid fuelled by gin and plum juice, mandarin martinis, peach nectar and Nembutal.

Until the moment came, the day of the great unveiling…

When ‘it’ appeared from underneath its own tarpaulin, the people were amazed, they gawped and gasped and when the women of the Womens’ Institute asked ‘How do you like it?’ no one knew exactly what to say.

It was “very large” one whispered, another added “quite unique” a third piped up ‘well, it’s unforgettable’.

But The women of the Women’s Institute were enraptured of their creation, their breasts puffed up with pride for they loved their floral installation.

It mattered not one jot to them how much or by whom it was decried.

And there it stood it seemed for weeks on end, its presence showing no sign of abating, the elephant in every room, a petal strewn monument to summer and sophistication gone wanting.

When finally it departed, after much boo and hiss, well even the staunchest critics had to admit that really nothing was amiss.

It was, after all, when all was said and done, really just a ginormous bit of fun.

*************

Amarige is an explosion in a flower shop.

It is an over the top floral cocktail in which the bartender perfumer has thrown everything in the shaker, whirled it around his head with gay abandon and has apparently no idea and less care as to what will come out later.

The result is as lethal as a Long Island Ice Tea, as silly and Sex on the Beach and as downright camp as a Pina Colada.

And yet, for all that, Amarige is an adorable floral avalanche of an aroma.

This is scent as sung by Dolly Parton “P.E.R.F.U.M.E.”.

Indeed Ms Parton is the perfect metaphor for this heaving bosom of a perfume.

Like her it is seemingly sewn together out of the off colour off cuts of a thousand other stars, but in reality it is a skilful, clever, utterly unforgettable confection that has and will stand the test of time.

And as for notes? It has more than Dolly’s 2,500 tune-strong song book.

Is there a big flower that isn’t bountifully represented here?

Yes, everyone will point to the tuberose, but on closer examination there is gardenia, mimosa, ylang ylang, orchid and rose just as a start.

Then like every cocktail there are the mixers.

Here juice is very much to the fore, with the plum of the opening pairing off with violet to produce an accord that almost reads as juniper. Peach and cassis are just behind delivering a distinct overflowing fruitiness that threatens to but cannot succeed in overthrowing the flowers from their throne.

Oh and then there is the silage, let’s just say the volume’s turned up loud on this one.

Of course, people hate Amarige, sometimes one feels one ought to hate Amarige, so intense is the loathing set aside for it.

It is the kind of scent that folks are asked not to wear at work for fear of offending colleagues.

I feel ‘folks’ should just realise it’s all a bit of self effacing fun.

The problem I can’t help feeling, the real reason why this fragrance gets such offensively bad reviews is that it’s simply not fashionable.

Once last time I’ll let the inimitable Ms Dolly Parton do the talking for the scent:

“I’m not trying to be fashionable. Never was!”

*************

So, the big money question, can a man wear Amarige?

Probably. In the kind of bars where they play big-haired country music and knock back brightly coloured cocktails.

The Dandy would like to assure readers that he is aware that the splendid song “D.I.V.O.R.C.E.” was originally an hit single for the wonderful Ms Tammy Wynette; however, he feels that there are times when only Dolly will do.

With thanks to the Harper Valley PTA.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy

The Perfumed Dandy

21 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Falling in love again… Jolie Madame by Balmain The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

In the maelstrom of a Cold World War where the kids took rock stars and revolutionaries as their icons she kept Marlene as hers.

She was never really sure how she had ended up in the last officially occupied city in Europe, or how she found herself in a practically unheatable apartment up against the wall, on the last island of capitalism, cast adrift beyond the Tiergarten, before Check Point Charlie, and under American control.

But here she was, amongst the wannabee Baader-Meinhofs and Johnny Rottens, and happy after a fashion.

Her rooms, in a nineteenth century block blown apart then haphazardly rebuilt by the allies, were vast, indeed she held sway only over a portion of them, allowing plants and free-thinking students to invade the rest.

She laughed to herself that she didn’t know which smelt damper and more bitter, the moss that scaled the stairwell or the disaffected German youths who came to hang out with her.

Certainly the students had a more animal aroma than the well mannered mice that scuttled ceaselessly between walls and under floor boards.

The young people had arrived at first because of her flowers, they stayed they said because of her food and drew a crowd of comrades to the Kreuzberg because of her fingers.

She suspected there was still another reason for their devotion.

Something beyond the banks of sweet violets that she had taken to cultivating in the enormous and unusable sitting room, pots of which she would gift them to take back home and scent their squalid squats with.

Something other than the vats of lentils cooked with fresh coriander and the occasional clove spiced ham, simmered to submission on the aged gas stove, that they partook so freely and gratefully of.

Of course she knew there were causes other than poverty for their hunger, she saw the tram line bruises on their arms, the veins broken as abruptly as u-Bahn lines.

She even knew that it was something more than her facility for fixing up their battered leather jackets, using a Singer even older than her cooker, even older than her, to repair garments even more in tatters than their city, that drew them in.

Though it was true: her hands kept her now as they had always done: at any time there could be a hundred or more hide coats hanging in those rooms. Some awaiting repair, others in the process, the majority attending their owners’ return with the few marks in hand that they needed to pay her.

By mid afternoon the whole place smelt beautifully of new blood and old leather and she loved it and was comforted by it.

And this she knew is why they came. They came for comfort.

From about five, as night fell, they would make their way to her from across the berg.

They came drunk on the booze they bought at the Intershops at Friedriechstrasse station, where she had left her old life behind, or high on whatever they got high on that spring after the German Autumn.

They crammed in around her and talked and talked and talked until there was no more that could be said.

Then they asked her to play her music.

Placing the needle on the most scratched but most beloved of all her records, she waited a moment for the sound of an old Berlin to begin.

Then she sat amongst them as they finally found their quiet.

One of the children, for that is how she thought of them, whispered something to another, he looked straight at her and she caught the words “Die schone Frau”, then he collapsed into his lover’s arms and unconsciousness.

Jolie Madame, even in the latest toilette, stands as a salutary reminder of a previous kind of perfume.

It is a more careworn and perhaps caring sort of scent, one which seeks not to portray a perfected idea of the world but rather to suggest memories and make associations that are more real and realistically rough edged and imperfect.

It all starts with a phalanx of surprisingly savoury sweet violets.

The reason for this unsyrupy tone is quickly revealed as a slightly decayed structure of oakmoss, vetiver and animal smells, principally leather.

As the initially plush floral note fades, but never disappears, this leather truly comes to the fore and shows itself to be of an older, battered jacket type, aromatically weathered with coriander, petitgrain and not too much tobacco smoke.

Like an actual leather jacket, once one is accustomed to the scent it can tend to be subsumed into notions of the person who’s wearing it and when they have worn it.

In this sense Jolie Madame is a memory scent, a doorway into different pasts and places according to the whim of those who wear it and those who smell it.

Unlike so many contemporary perfumes, this sympathetically reformulated 1950s classic, does not close us in to a simple reading, but allows a little free thinking.

If only more fragrances today were as keen on freedom.

One has the sense that this could be quite as Jolie for a Monsieur as a Madame.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy

The Perfumed Dandy

16 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Brave New World…? Prada Amber for Women The Perfumed Dandy’s Censored Letter

‘In our future all fragrance will have this feel’

So says the leader in her meagre machine-like monotone addressing the crowds in the great hall.

She is a tiny silhouette, barely perceptible against the vast blank canvas of the white wall behind her.

She wears, as all the higher ones do, a white robe, a white cloak and her hair slicked back like a movie star of the times ‘before’.

Clothing is nothing more than a struggle to disguise her skeletal frame.

‘And everything, everything will be powered by electric.’ She declares.

‘Everything will be clean and silent and efficient’.

A shudder like a wave sweeps out across the crowd and finally breaks on you: a sample of the scent has been released into the air.

It is a surf of arid, half-remembered, artificial amber with plasticine patchouli and filleted, boneless benzoin.

It tosses and splutters at everyone’s senses.

‘Everything will save energy for the collective effort’.

The single accord is as insistent as her intonation.

You drift away.

You are in a past where everything is not so fresh, and scrubbed and anti-septicated.

In a moment in your nostalgia you forget that the soot from sentimental chimney stacks settled on lungs and stung the eyes of children.

That passion seemed inevitably to bring with it conflict and loss.

‘Everything will be environmentally sustainable’

The scent turns seamless vanilla as all dirt and rough edges perform a vanishing act worthy of a Grand Vizier’s court conjuror.

‘Everything will be ecologically sound’

And you long for steam trains and Ottoman toilets, oakmoss and stale flowers.

‘Everything will be for everyone!’

***
If there is anymore eloquent an expression of the pseudo-futuristic, elegant, etiolated ‘exotic’ fragrances of today than Prada Amber for Women, I have yet to come across it.

This highly engineered, over designed and too thought out exercise in perfume politics achieves exactly what it feels it must, and precisely no more.

Truly it is an unhappy utopia of a perfume.

It is a swift, clean scent-generating machine that gathers in the consumers’ cash by offering up a series of populist-formulaic chords: amber and patchouli, a slight Levantine baseline: vanilla, benzoin , something unnoticeably anonymously floral.

Everything in fact that is ‘bound to please the crowd’.

For all its symmetry and design-led precision it is ultimately an act of conceptual cynicism cooked up by big corporate interests.

It is the military industrial complex of decorative smells.

I prefer perfume created by artists to the essence of engineers, economists and silent egos.

*************

Man, woman?

It wouldn’t matter if a machine wore this scent.

It would be equally as soulless.

As The Perfumed Dandy is indisposed today, this is a selection from the Classic Collection.

Readers may be interested to note that when first posted on a well known internet fragrance forum, this review was ultimately removed because it proved so unpopular!

What say you? Are these comments unjust?

I would so love to hear your thoughts.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

18 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized