Monthly Archives: March 2014

Unsatisfactory engagements… Coco Noir by Chanel The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

“For Chrissake don’t put your elbows on the bar!”

Chrissy catches the articulations of Claire’s arms in the palms of her hands, cupping them centimetres from the sticky surface below, just before they make contact.

“That counter’s as tacky as fly paper” she says.


“And you’ve no idea who or what’s been on it.”

Claire is crestfallen to have been interrupted in mid-performance of her favourite expression of exasperation: elbows plonked onto whatever object, table, shelf, bed, bar, presents itself before her; face flopped into tulip-ed hands, fringe forward, eyes wide, lashes fluttering occasionally.

It is a look she fancies gives her the air of a gamine sixties pop starlet: a singing Twiggy or the English Francoise Hardy.

Sadly this is a delusion she has carried around at least the last two decades, for in reality she began by looking like a petulant schoolgirl protesting to be allowed stay out an hour later and now resembles a prematurely ageing trophy wife angling for a new kitchen.

Chrissy crosses herself for harbouring such malevolent, ungenerous thoughts, even if they are a good deal more than half true.

“Why the hell are we meeting here anyway?” moans Claire in an upwardly inflected whine that is the aural equivalent of the recently aborted head-flop.

Intended to be youthful insouciance all charming and cool, it is plain irritating and anachronistic on a woman of nearly forty.

“Can mannerisms be described as mutton dressed as lamb?” Chrissy wonders to herself.

Why are they here?

Claire is pre-occupied, as ever, with her phone: tweeting or texting or mailing or participating in whatever new activity she’s found this week and finds preferable to actually engaging with the world, the person, in front of her.

Why are they here, in this creepy basement Soho bar, near where they used to work together a dozen years ago?

Why does this place still exist with its outmoded list of once chic twists on classic cocktails, its black décor lacquered with human sweat, spilt drinks, tears, broken emotions and other human secretions?

Why are they still friends?

Outside it’s Spring.

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Bright, too-white-to-be-Summer sunshine is illuminating pretty girls in this seasons stand out colour coats and encouraging advertising boys who have been working on their bodies all Winter in gyms to roll up sleeves and remove jackets to show hard curves under fitted shirts.

In here it is perpetual Autumn. A twilight world where overgrown adolescents pretend after a youth they are not yet prepared to admit they have lost.

Lost boys and girls listening to music from seventeen or more years ago, sipping sugary solutions that were once edgy and are now no more than safe.

Freelancers playing hooky from careers that never truly came into being. Well dressed, almost well paid, just comfortable enough to be prepared to ignore to pain: things just aren’t everything they’d hoped for.

Things aren’t anything like they’d hoped for.

Why are they here?

“She’s here!”

Claire, sees her first, rises from her stool and snaps Samantha on her phone as she descends the stairs.

They all air kiss.

“I’ll post it” she says referring to the image on the glowing screen.

“After I’ve done some work on it, of course.”

Chrissy just feels sick as they order three dirty martinis and get ready to talk about old times.

Coco Noir by Chanel is a truly pathetic perfume.

Worse than that, it is a downright depressing smell.

Devoid of ambition, imagination, flair, flamboyance, elan, emotion, wit, style or substance it is a cynical, puerile, joyless piece of olfactory junk.

This is a lowest common denominator fragrance by numbers.

To offer a description is almost to flatter it.

Linear and, in terms of projection, strong.

It lasts a long, long time.

Sweet, cheap, fruity, patchouli, plastic balsamic with cellophane bagged spices.

References abound to other past ‘triumphs’ from the House of Chanel, all post No. 19, of course.

Yet they are in-jokes, self-parodies almost, painful self-inflicted pastiches.

Really, why did they bother?

Can’t Chanel do any better?

When did they last do any better in the mainstream?

Not a happy experience, and to my mind no pleasure, guilty or otherwise at all, The Dandy genuinely couldn’t wait to get it off my skin.

That said, after a short break for ho-hum reasons, it is so very good to be back again.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Brisk spring walks in sunshine and… Tweed by Lentheric The Perfumed Dandy’s Scent Today

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The outdoors.

Oakmoss. Wildgrass. Hedgerow herbs and lavender.

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Something of the hunting set. Gun polish perhaps?

Or spiced rum toddies sipped surreptitiously from hip flasks.

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One does hope the scent lives up to the promise of its provenance and that evocative name…

In this game you can’t run with the fox and chase with the hounds!

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Following its selection by your good selves in the extraordinary Guilty Pleasures Hit Parade, The Perfumed Dandy will now take a few days to deliberate and cogitate the merits and mischiefs of this fragrance fair or foul and will, in due course, provide his report on relations with the new discovery by means of a scented letter.

Another opportunity to place a new perfume on The Dandy‘s skin will arise with the next instalment of The Perfumed Dandy’s Hit Parade.

In the meantime if you would like to thrust forward a fragrance for future fame on The Hit Parade simply visit ‘Suggest and old scent or recommend a new one’ and leave your suggestion there.

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Have an especially fragrant day.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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The Night They Invented… Chantilly by Houbigant The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

It isn’t that she isn’t modern, mostly.

She has the career: e-publishing; the commute: Piccadilly line, nine stops to town; the mortgage, the independence, responsibilities and bills.

It’s simply that now she asserts her right to retreat.

No, that sounds like a defeat, and, emphatically, it isn’t.

For when she decides on certain days to refuse to heed the calls of colleagues and the computer, it is a retrenchment on her own terms not a strategic failure or business battle lost.

She became the boss precisely so she could, if not on a whim, then when the need arose, set up stall in bed amongst doubly plush duck down pillows with a book and pot of orange and all spice tea and plan to do with the day as she pleased.

Today she pleases to take a bath, a long slow one, and to look out the window all the while at the white blossom just freckling the recently winter-bare trees. Life at last after those deathly months.

Emerging from the water, our Venus of north west three is a cloud of scented steam goddess, formed from the vapours of Moroccan rose oil and the bag left over from her earlier citrus tisane tipped carelessly into the roll top tub.

Because, you understand, she can.

When dry, she fashions another fog, this time out of ancient “silkening powder”, talc to anyone except the ad men that christened it, and proceeds to perform swirls of quiet rapture in this dusty sweet haze of her own creation.

Vanilla.

Icing sugar.

Sandalwood shaving soap.

White chocolate truffles and Champagne.

“Gigi”

She whispers to herself. With a flourish worthy of a Hollywood choreographer she swipes condensation from the bathroom mirror now transformed into her close-up camera.

She fixes the new-made lens a smile and sings…

“Gigi!”

The day from here will be plain sailing: satin pyjamas, improper foodstuffs and French Belle Epoch musical theatre made for film.

She will watch Leslie Caron become a woman rather than a courtesan, discover effervescent wine all over again, eat confectionery stuffed with crème Chantilly and fall in love, once more, this time forever, with Louis Jourdan.

She will rewind and watch favourite scenes over, sing along to loved songs, pre-empt well-worn lines, notice new details in décor and rekindle old envies over costumes and hats.

She will wish she was born then and then know it’s not true.

Her emotional equilibrium restored, she will remember that she’s content to be what she is right now.

Thoroughly modern with merely old fashioned moments.

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Imagine the comforts and indulgence of a day spent in the company of one’s duvet, a favourite old film and divine but devilishly-bad-for-one food.

That day made fragrance is Chantilly by Houbigant. IMG_20140225_112401

This is a Gigi of a scent.

It’s possible that my vintage had lost a little of the sharpness of the orange note that opens affairs, it was still there, but muffled, almost alcoholic, more Cointreau than citrus per se.

The florals too are more muted than opulent, but rose, spiced and dry is present and thoroughly pleasant.

Orange blossom is paired with a bright white musk which explodes into a joyful powder keg cloud that dominates the middle part of the perfume.

Some people will no doubt object to this stage of the scent’s development, a little akin one imagines to a ballet troupe’s dressing room before a performance of Swan Lake: all metaphorical feathers and a literal pall of brilliant make up poudre. 

In The Dandy though, its tantalising suffocating texture by turns sweet then chalky, excites an urge to waft arms and languidly raise limbs as though performing a contemporary dance bathed in dry ice.

This is a fragrance that seems to induce a sense of slow motion, like a Busby Berkeley set piece or an MGM big number.

The dry down is soft sandalwood in extremis. Tempered just slightly by vanilla and those mixed spices.

A funny thing here, for the last hour or so Chantilly smells almost exactly like The Dandy’s favoured shaving soap. It’s an elegant affair in wooden dish from a notable perfume house mixed to a cream with a horsehair brush. Mixed to a cream.

That’s the thing, for in the midst of everything else that’s going on scent does have an undeniable creamy element: a nod to the eponymous culinary creation.

Perhaps Chantilly was named for the lace, but on the skin and in the soul the feeling is pure cream. IMG_20140225_111950

And just like Crème de Chantilly be you homme or femme, when the mood takes you so will this scent.

No need for guilt at all, this is pure pleasure!

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy. The Perfumed Dandy

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The Devil has all the best tunes………. The Perfumed Dandy’s Guilty Pleasures Hit Parade

Heavens above!!!

Or should that be hellfires below!?!

Satan, so they say, has all the most enviable songs… but does he have the best scents as well?

To kick off our little trip to the dark side in “The Perfumed Dandy’s Guilt-Free Guilty Pleasures” season a poll…

No, not the heathens-dancing-to-their-doom-around-a-maypole sort of poll… a vote… an election.

A Special Edition of The Hit Parade!

From the cornucopia of questionable perfumes you mentioned in the recent grand confessional of clandestine fragrant passions I have selected a dozen favourites.

Cast your three lucky votes for any of the tantalizing twelve scents below to decide which diabolical aroma The Dandy will wear this Friday 14 March 2014.

Charlie by Revlon

Musk by Jovan

Purr by Katy Perry

Lily of The Valley by Crabtree & Evelyn

Joop! by Joop

Fame by Lady Gaga

Tweed by Lentheric / Taylor of London

Midnight Fantasy by Britney Spears

Red Door by Elizabeth Arden

Chance by Chanel

Brut by Faberge
(Vintage & Wild Card Entry)

Dolce and Gabbana by Dolce & Gabbana

You have until 1200 hours, that’s midday in old money, Greenwich Mean Time Thursday here in London to cast your vote.

The winner will be announced around the same time on Friday!

In case you’re thinking there are a few of your favourite guilty pleasures missing from this pick… it’s surprising just how many of them you’ve already voted to the top of The Hit Parade!

Not so secret after all it sems…

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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It’s sprung… will you leap forward? The Perfumed Dandy’s Fragrant Forum 

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It’s coming… it’s in the trees…

It’s here!

Darlings, whatever calenders and climatologists may say Spring is certainly in the air in The Dandy’s corner of the globe.

These snaps, taken this very day in The Regent’s Park, speak for themselves do they not?

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So my question this week is simple…

Will the change in season herald an alteration in your scent habits?

Will the perfume you wear bend like a reed in the wind to reflect the changes in the weather?

Or do you stick with your faithful fragrant friends all year round regardless?

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I’m beside myself to discover whether you are part time amours to your favourite aromas or permanent pals with your favourite perfumes.

On which topic, The Dandy‘s aware that he’s not been around as much as he would have liked of late…

Even gentlemen of a leisurely persuasion on occasion have calls made on their time, but this week I will return with a flurry of ‘Guilt-Free Guilty Pleasures’ to burst those abstinent Lent bubbles!

Beware. Fragrant fandangos ahoy!

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Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Celebrating International Women’s Day: Ten Inspirational Women and their Good Scents

One year on and these women are still inspirational… like so many millions of others around the world.

The Perfumed Dandy.

Her Majesty Elizabeth II born 1926

Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
Sovereign for more than 61 years.
Head of the Commonwealth of Nations of 54 sovereign states and more than two billion citizens.
Mother, grandmother, great grandmother.
The most painted and photographed person in history.
A symbol of constancy in a world of perpetual flux.

“During the past sixty years you have offered to your subjects and to the whole world an inspiring example of dedication to duty and a commitment to maintaining the principles of freedom, justice and democracy…”
Pope Bedict XVI, 2012

From her choice of fragrances we can perhaps conclude Her Majesty is something of a perfumista…

Fleurissimo by Creed

Muguet du Bonheur by Caron

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Perfumed pages… Endymion by Benjamin Disraeli and Penhaligon’s The Dandy Celebrates World Book Day

“It was a rich, warm night, at the beginning of August, when a gentleman enveloped in a cloak, for he was in evening dress, emerged from a club-house at the top of St. James’ Street, and descended that celebrated eminence. He had not proceeded more than half way down the street when, encountering a friend, he stopped with some abruptness. “I have been looking for you everywhere,” he said. “‘Tis as warm as noon. Let us cross the street and get into St. James’ Place. That is always my idea of solitude.”

Velvet-jacketed and heavily scented, rarely without an outlandish hat of some description, sporting be-jewelled rings worn over white silk gloves, a well know author of romantic fiction, Benjamin Disraeli was hardly the archetypical Imperial British Prime Minister, even before the matter of his Jewish descent is taken into account.

Yet this striking, dandy-like figure, whose first fiction, Vivian Grey, would inspire the eponymous hero of Oscar Wilde‘s only novel, was Queen Victoria‘s favourite and ‘Dizzy‘ as he was widely known would lead his country not once but twice and be engaged in political battle at the highest level with his nemesis Gladstone over decades.

“Without tact you can learn nothing. Tact teaches you when to be silent. Inquirers who are always inquiring never learn anything.”

Endymion was Disraeli’s final work to be published in his lifetime, the last he finished.

It is a nostalgic fantasia on his own youth. A roman a clef with more than slightly camp overtones.

An assortment of improbable romances and intricate political intrigues, that ultimately ends up a heap of sentimentality rather than making anything approaching narrative sense.

For all that, taken on its own terms, it is a thoroughly enjoyable romp, a joyful, colourful whirl.

A glimpse into the late Georgian world, a world of possibilities, where a young man with hunger and ambition could change almost anything, including himself, in order to get ahead.

“I do not think you are capricious, and yet the world sometimes says you are.”

Penhaligon’s may have had Keats or classical myth more in mind when they created their antique anachronism of the same name in 2003, yet it is Disraeli’s Endymion to which their aroma owes most.

From it’s colourful burst of citrus to it’s front parlour full of lavender at the start.

Through the soft leather of the ‘nice’ gentleman’s gloves at it’s heart to the complexion-enhancing patent powder of the dry down, this is an arch nineteenth fey fellow’s fragrance.

It is an Aubrey Beardsley sort of scent.

“My idea of an agreeable person.. Is a person who agrees with me.”

Just as Disraeli was a Wildean sort of politician.

Apply the perfume without moderation and frequently to achieve full effect.

Peruse the book in short bursts while sipping sweet tea dressed in a purple smoking jacket.

Happy Reading.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Perfumed pages… The Beautiful and Damned by F Scott Fitzgerald is Estee Lauder’s Azuree The Dandy Celebrates World Book Day

“She was beautiful – but especially she was without mercy.”

Fitzgerald’s second novel is a typically decadent tale of a jazz age tycoon-to-be and his destructive marriage to a distant but beautiful wife… and the bottle.

It is a fable of art deco lines and loose morals, gorgeous gowns and haunted pasts.

At turns angular and alcoholic, sad, stylish and nihilistic.

At every point as exquisite in its execution as it is painful in it exposition.

“unloved women have no biographies– they have histories”

Bernand Chant’s masterpiece, Azuree for Estee Lauder, is a perfume of machine-made muscularity beneath a bias cut silk dress.

It is in essence a tension between chemically enhanced leathers high on moderne aromatics balanced, just, with soaring, stomach-dropping florals capable of creating Coney Island style thrills.

A match if not as turbulent as that conjured by Scott then every bit as diverting and almost as dangerous.

“I shall go on shining as a brilliantly meaningless figure in a meaningless world.”

The personalities in Fitzgerald’s semi-autobiographical work are, for all that they are consumed both by their pasts and the potential of their futures, suffused with a sense of the ephemeral.

One has a constant aching feeling throughout this fiction that these are characters on the brink of extinction.

Not simply as individuals on account of their wanton and helpless behaviour, but as a class or type of people they seem doomed.

They are socio-cultural dinosaurs waiting for the comet of the Wall Street Crash to collide with their world. Though they could have been as conscious as what was about to befall them as a brontosaurus was of his fate.

Fragrance then, especially Azuree: as vertiginous and apparently, though illusorily, permanent as the skyscrapers emerging in the twenties as the new form of the epoch, is the perfect metaphor for these temporary people.

It soars, commands, dazzles, defies all logic and experience before it expires.

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“I don’t want just words. If that’s all you have for me, you’d better go”

No more word’s from The Dandy then, though there’s a full review of Azuree in the archive.

Happy Reading.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Of delirious days and daffodils……… The Perfumed Dandy’s Fragrant Forum 

Well, stap me vitals!

Please do excuse The Dandy‘s absence these last few days.

This week has not so much flown by, as passed in a near psychedelic whirl.

Several cities, the first hints of spring, much art, meeting up with old friends and new and then a certain Saint’s Day…

Indeed, yesterday, the 1st of March, was St David’s Day.

And St David is, bien sur, the patron saint of the land of The Dandy’s fathers… Wales.

Cue much eating of lamb, communal singing, wearing (and consuming) of leeks and… acres of daffodils.

Everywhere.

To assist with this sacred celebration and welcome The Dandy back to the fold could you assist with this week’s forum…

Do you have a favourite narcissus or yellow floral fragrance?

Which saffron coloured scent takes your fancy and why?

Can’t wait to hear your recommendations and be bathed in the aroma of my national flower for a little longer.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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