Monthly Archives: May 2014

Salty, scented air… The Perfumed Dandy’s Seaside Postcards

IMG_20140525_124221

Dearests

The Dandy has been away… again, I know, c’est trop…

In fact I’m only treading toes for a moment in old London town before I depart in the morning for The City of Light.

But before I head off across the Channel, a moment or two to share some images and scented impressions from a few days just past beside the waters at Brixham.

Azure Pool

IMG_20140525_164327
 

Sharp Cool : Shay & Blue / Sicilian Limes

The Ragged Rocks

IMG_20140525_103221
 

Stone White : Comme des Garcons / Odeur 53

Persistent Purple

IMG_20140527_105739
 

Rock Lilac : Balmain / Jolie Madame

Bright Boats Bobbing

IMG_20140527_104722
 

Insouciant Sailors : Worth / Je Reviens Couture

Stalwart at Slumber

IMG_20140525_115204
 

Seadog : James Heeley / Sel Marin

Cliff-top Flower Meadow Miss

IMG_20140527_110554
 

Gone With The Breeze : Guerlain / Flora Nymphea

Fierce Green

IMG_20140525_122230
 

Alive or Machine? : Robert Piguet / Futur

Flowers By The Sea

IMG_20140525_104441
 

Among The Herbs : Miller Harris / Fleurs de Sel

Night Swimmer

IMG_20140527_104539

 

Mysterious Skin : Hermes / Eau des Merveilles

Sunset Pilot

IMG_20140527_104412
 

Hitchcock Stranger : Guerlain / Vol de Nuit

A Paris with The Dandy maintenant.

When I return, in a touch over a week, a clutch of scented letters will be yours, plus a very special aromatic encounter with a new and wonderful novel and, I’m sure, a postcard or deux.

A bientot!

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

 

Advertisements

11 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Sapphire and steely… Chamade by Guerlain The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

Vogue cover greeen

That day, late spring, she wore a satin trenchcoat in a shade just north of turquoise blue.

Indigo jeans and silver shoes, and, under her heavy fringe, those same steely grey eyes that can see straight through a glassy lens to you.

When she looks in your direction, be it across a room, or out from a magazine, she breaks the rules: she watches you.

Vogue cover Penn

The observed becomes the observer: the unmoving girl in the photograph who holds your gaze no matter how you wriggle; the clotheshorse on the catwalk who stares you down every time you eye her hemline.

She won’t blink first. She’s frozen. Crystalline.

“She’s not a model, she’s a work of art.” Andy said, or would have done if he wasn’t already good as dead.

The hyacinths were past their prime when they came to take her away, the flowers’ scent, almost fermented, was at its strongest: sharp, high, piercing as one imagined her scream might be, except of course, she would never scream.

They rapped the door three times and hollered, got ready to barge it in: a show of strength for assembled tv crews no doubt.

But no one seizes her moment.

Vogue pink sunshine

They pull back to charge and just then in full maquillage she opens up the entrance way and steps out into the day, a feint smile on her plush flesh-toned lips, her horse-hair mane of chemical blond glistening in the newly golden sunshine, its rays dappled through the lilac tree to form a pool of light that serves as her spot, a pale pink rose in her buttonhole, a purple patent Kelly bag thrown across her arm.

She has been surveying them all the while on security, waiting to steal the scene with her entry.

The plan was always to become famous first, then notorious, to use cool and stardom as a cover for as long as possible and then make infamy the tool to spread the message.

The Officer in Charge isn’t.

Porcine and perspiring, his efforts after dishevelled police inspector chic wilt in her shade.

Confronted with his prey – beautiful, implacable, perfectly presented – he panics just a little, mumbles his way through the statement of arrest, wishing the media would melt.

She meets each camera’s gaze as she has a thousand times before. Showing no more emotion than if she were selling a Saint Laurent or parading a Prada.

Vogue lips and eye

She has no problem with hollowed out: devoid of care, devoid of remorse… emptiness is all the same. She does it electrically.

And, besides, she’s waiting.

A shot, muffled only by the proximity of the body it enters.

A thump, said body hitting the floor. Andy. Upstairs.

Confusion. Journalists and cameramen on the deck too. Some police begin to go inside, then hesitate, withdraw: waiting for his word.

“Hadn’t you better go up, there’s a man dying in there.” Her marquise diamond cut voice.

No concern at all. The practised, callous warmth of a thousand interviews. Pleasant, carefree, casual and deadly.

He gives the order to go inside.

She smiles.

“Stop!”

He screams: urgency and saliva ejaculating at all at once.

A hail of bullets like a drumroll ricochets through the house.

Vogue cover red

Andy’s jam now. That was always part of the plan too. That nothing should remain of the cold hand that created the scheme.

She’s all that’s left. Upright, flawless, ready for a close up, chaos all around her.

She could be here to sell you soap flakes or sell your country down the stream.

Everyone wonders if she’s wired, fears more surprises: death, an explosion, carnage.

She’s a swan. Gliding across the surface of their pond she’s just made choppy. Underneath she’s working overtime, her heart beats like a machine gun. This is how she imagines love must feel.

Vogue unspent summer

Head high, back straight: sense the invisible thread pulling the body into the vertical: that’s what they said in ballet school. She assumes her position, her poise, her pose.

She’s already ready, in the dock of public opinion and awaiting trial.

Only one possible verdict.

Guerlain-Chamade-Extrait

Chamade by Guerlain is a scent of international espionage.

The perfume of a spy: at turns sophisticated, razor sharp, ice cold, sensual, faux shy, sly and insinuating.

This is a fragrance never to be fobbed off or thought lightly of, it is an odour that means business, serious business: affairs of state and matters of import.

This is not a Bond Girl’s bombshell, it is a complex, subtle and strategic scent as impressive for its structure as it is awe-inspiring for its intelligence.

Diana Rigg as Mrs Emma Peel in The Avengers

The opening accord of aldehyde, galbanum and green is one of the most seriously cool and alluringly aloof in all perfumery.

It is froideur made fragrant.

Soon hyacinths, at that moment when they can no longer be tamed, intrude.

Their smell is overpowering, glamorous and artificially natural, lent kerosene power by the lingering chemical taint of that sparkling opening rocket blast burst.

There is a slow segue into softer florals: rose touched with lilac and muguet, yet the sharpness of the start, the hard-headedness of the hyacinth, the rasp of galbanum does not dissipate until we are well through the main part of the perfume’s heart.

Then a wonderful coup de theatre: everything turns from surface and sheen, steel and violent style to manicured, almost polite seduction: with a reveal the Guerlainade appears as if from nowhere, the wings perhaps.

witness-for-the-prosecution-18203

Slowly at first and then onto centre stage, a more balsamic than usual take on the house’s ‘superior crème brulee made aromatic genius’, treads the boards.

It’s as though the perfume knows that to win hearts as well as minds it must show a gentler side, some feather down cushions to mellow the angular geometry that has gone before.

A sympathetic appearance in the witness box and an appealing back story to get the remorseless criminal off the hook.

Though if this perfume were to be charged with ruthless, electric, sublime beauty then the answer must be guilty, guilty, guilty.

Chamade is that rare thing: a shimmering, transcendent scent of enduring, yet somehow untouchable, pleasure.

Chamade ad

Sometimes dismissed as a perfume of the middle rank, perhaps because it deceives simpler minds with its intended duplicities, this is a fragrance of the first order, an enigma within a mystery wrapped up in a miasma.

Glory in it before it gets too hot.

It’s good to be back.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

23 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

She’s making perfume not war…………. In Conversation with Barb Stegemann, Founder and CEO, The 7 Virtues

Dearest All To break silence and celebrate the appearance of fabulous friend and force of nature Barb Stegemann on the BBC’s marvellous Midweek programme ( find it here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qrpf ) here’s another chance to read my encounter with the woman herself. The Dandy will be back tomorrow with a classic perfume that has reawakened my fragrant passions! Until then, I remain, yours ever… The Perfumed Dandy

The Perfumed Dandy.

Barb Stegemann is a presence.

Cliché has it that some people have the power to ‘light up a room’ with their personalities, one can’t help but think that if Barb were connected to the power grid she’d produce enough electrical energy to keep a decent sized city glowing well into the night.

Tall, athletic and casually glamorous, Barb seems like a body in perpetual motion: a restless and inquisitive soul forever on the search for new experience and outlets.

When we meet for the second time at a café in London’s Selfridges department store, she is in the midst of saying farewell to a writer from The Telegraph, a British newspaper that will carry an interview with her to coincide with the launch of her perfume range The 7 Virtues at the mammoth store later in the year.

Barb embraces the young woman like an old friend before saying…

View original post 2,724 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

From the archives: Spring is in the air… Part II: Lily of the Valley… The Perfumed Dandy’s Seasonal Selection

Dear Friends

Happy Muguet-scented May Day.

I’ve been so busy elsewhere of late, there’s just time to slip in a beautifully perfumed selection from last year…

My favourite Lilies of the Valley, the most delicate and fleeting of flowers, ready for their foxtrot, paso or pas des deux.

Blooms for a Spring wedding or “La Fete du Muguet” perhaps, but as much about consummation and physical labour as matrimony and May Day, at least so far as The Perfumed Dandy is concerned…

Do you have any suggestions you’s add to the list?

1. Odalisque by Parfums de Nicolai

A strange way to start some might say, for Odalisque is an olfactory oddity: a muguet chypre.

The outsider intent of the scent continues in the blending too: it is so beautifully blurred that beyond the tart tangerine opening some people struggle to locate both lily of the valley and bitter oakmoss in this little wonder.

They are there however and in abundance; but the moss is softened to a lawn and the muguet, lifted slightly by jasmine and made more spreadable by orris root, assumes a cloud like composure floating above the composition.

Lacking the darkness of patchouli or the chilly chalk of galbanum, this could be argued not to be a true chypre at all.

Whatever the taxonomy, Odalisque is a truly engaging fragrance, with the sensation and refreshment of morning dew about it.

2. Lily of the Valley by Yardley

Quite simply citron presse meets lily of the valley.

This light, citrus, sharp yet slightly sweet muguet is a debonair, or perhaps, debutante’s delight.

It speaks of an uncomplicated antique freshness in a manner which is totally alien to tiresome modern laundry and ocean fragrances.

Sometimes it’s oddly sporting, in a lawn tennis and croquet sort of a way and on other occasions bizarrely soporific and a kind of ‘clean and ready for bed’ feeling abounds.

Frankly this is a bit of an all purpose spray for The Perfumed Dandy, though not one that takes itself or expects you to take it too seriously..

3. Silences by Jacomo

“Silences by Jacomo is a perfume that particularly deserves to be talked about, a hush that demands to be broken.”

But why you may ask would this glorious green be included in a list of lilies of the valley?

The answer lies in the vintage version…

“The opening itself is quite special, a surprising cool breeze of aldehydic muguet, shot through with sharp lemon. Be alert though, for in this changeable spring day of a scent it is gone tantalisingly too soon.”

That devilishly diverting opening would almost be worthy of a place in this set of sic on its own, but a little layering with a classic muguet takes this Jacomo gem into an entirely different realm.

Could Silences plus Yardley be the brightest, greenest lily The Perfumed Dandy‘s ever seen?

For more on Jacomo’s Silences do browse my recent review.

4. Diorissimo by Dior

“Diorissomo is one of the most discretely but decidedly sexual of all scents.”

If silences starts with a hint then this is a great mass of aldehydic muguet, the parfumeurs’ sleight of hand for the seemingly innocent Lily of the Valley.

“But like the flower carried by wealthy brides on their wedding day, this scent conceals deeper and more animal pleasures beneath its surface of propriety and cleanliness.”

I could wax lyrical all day about the naughtiness of this particular interpretation of virginal innocence, in fact I already have in my reflections on Diorissimo

Oh and what luck.. my new vintage supply arrived today!!

5. Forest Rain by Kiehl’s

Perhaps better known for their potions, lotions, conditioners and shampoos, Kiehl’s boast a small but now and again lovely perfume range.

Their “Musk” and “Fig and Sage” scents both feature in The Perfumed Dandy‘s personal collection and this forest floor floral is set to follow as soon as the pennies can be collected together.

It’s actually a pretty simple but rather unique and neat aroma.

An opening of vetiver and musk, with perhaps the merest hint of violet leaf and spice it gives way to a delicate skin scent muguet that proves a little more robust than its initially fragile demeanour would have one believe.

This could be one to convince gentlemen that who feel lily of the valley may not savage enough for them to give the flower a go!

6. Muguet du Bondeur by Caron

IMG_20140405_102106

The thrice milled soapiness of Caron’s Muguet seems to send people speeding away from a scent they consider to carry too much of the maiden aunt about it.

I’m sure the fact that Queen Elizabeth II is said to have worn it on her Coronation Day over sixty years ago and that the 88 year old Sovereign still sports it today is unlikely to gain it much capital in the cool stakes.

Nevertheless, this is the royalty of savon scents, an immaculately made bath in bottle that is splendidly calming and always leaves feel regally clean.

The Extra Special Extra Scent… Muguet (2013) by Guerlain

Why not include the Guerlain in the main list?

Well, even though it officially contains only a single note, this once a year curiosity, released in a new flacon in time for the “Fete du Muguet” on May 1st varies from spring to spring.

Whether this year’s incarnation measures up to it’s predecessors is still, therefore, a matter of conjecture as at time of going to press I’d not scored a sniff. I was though rather a fan of Thierry Wasser’s effort last Spring.

So, The Perfumed Dandy can think off no more suitable a scent to celebrate that most ceremonially significant of flowers the muguet than the ultimate occasion fragrance.

So this year perhaps you should, as the fancier French do, buy a bottle for someone close to you this May Day?

And there we have it my lovelies.

The most delightful and yet most deceptive of scents, for remember there is no such thing as a true muguet in all perfumery.

No essence of Lily of the Valley exists, everything is a chemist’s conjuring trick!

So concludes second half dozen (plus one) from my seasonal selection.

Violets and Lilies of the Valley done, what note will follow next..?

There are still four more to come!

Here’s to a climatically more comforting week.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

17 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized