Tag Archives: Gigi

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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