Reading: Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, a favorite of my pre-teen and teen years that I haven’t revisited in a very long time.
Video: A documentary about Studio 54 on Netflix.
Last week my husband and I sat down to watch El Camino, Netflix’s new spin-off sequel to the series Breaking Bad. Breaking Bad was probably one of my favorite television experiences of all time, and I’ve come to “miss” many of its characters. El Camino is a chance to reunite with a few of them for a little while. Make no mistake, however — it’s a dark two hours of viewing.
“Life is not governed by will or intention. Life is a question of nerves, and fibers, and slowly built-up cells in which thought hides itself and passion has its dreams. You may fancy yourself safe and think yourself strong. But a chance tone of color in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgotten poem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceased to play, —- I tell you, Dorian, that it is on things like these that our lives depend. Browning writes about that somewhere; but our own senses will imagine them for us. There are moments when the odor of heliotrope passes suddenly across me, and I have to live the strangest year of my life over again.”
— The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891
This advertisement for Écusson by Jean d’Albret (1947, now discontinued) set off an art historical spark in my memory.
The unknown artist who worked on this ad for Écusson (which translates as “shield”) was obviously inspired by Hans Holbein the Younger’s portrait of Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry the Eighth…
I mentioned this in an earlier post, but now it’s gone “live” — my presentation on “Five Iconic Fragrances of the 20th Century” was accepted into the New Jersey Council for the Humanities’ Public Scholars Project for 2020 and I’ll be offering it at various venues around New Jersey (my home state!).
If you’re based in New Jersey and you know of a local organization that would be available to host me, here’s what you can do…
If you visit The World of Anna Sui at the Museum of Arts and Design, you’ll come across a gallery space decorated to evoke Anna’s boutiques (and her apartment), with black lacquer dressing tables and cabinets lavishly stocked with boots, handbags, jewelry, and yes — perfumes.
I really wished I could have opened that cabinet and sampled some of the fragrances while viewing the show! Of course, as a museum person, I understand why that’s not possible…but I couldn’t help playing a mental game of matching the fragrances to various looks and “archetypes” in the exhibition.
Here, I’ve paired a few of my photos from the show with quotes from Anna Sui herself and some of her branded perfumes. Read on for my thoughts…
As we drift closer to Fall (day by day, degree by degree…), let’s pause to admire this bottle of Poupre d’Automne from Parfum de Violet. The fragrance was launched in 1923. The stoppered bottle was designed by Lucien Gaillard, a legendary French jewelry who worked in the Art Nouveau style…