My latest post on Now Smell This is a review of Portrayal, a fragrance for women by Amouage.
You can read it here.
In honor of National Lipstick Day, here’s my favorite lipstick-inspired fragrance. It has been imitated by other brands but no one has improved upon this beauty. It was created for Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle by Ralf Schwieger in 2000 and its notes include grapefruit, violet, rose, iris, raspberry, vanilla and white musk.
Today we heard that Gloria Vanderbilt has died at the age of 95.
The headlines are interesting — since Vanderbilt lived such a long and kaleidescopic life, every one begins with a different signifier.
Socialite. Heiress. Fashion Icon. Artist. Actress. Anderson Cooper’s Mother. Writer. Designer. Jeans Queen…
Thanks to my friend A., who always makes excellent book recommendations, I’ve been reading Ali Smith’s cycle of seasonal novels—Autumn (2016), Winter (2017), and Spring (2019). (I just finished Winter and I’m waiting for a copy of Spring to become available at the public library!)
In Autumn, the character Daniel Gluck, a 101-year-old former songwriter who’s nearing death, drifts into a reverie or dream populated by loved ones from his century-plus on earth. His imagined company includes:
“…the painter, the one that turned him copiously down, well, that’s life, he can even smell the scent the painter wore, Oh! de London, bright, sweet, woody, when he first knew her, then she got older and more serious and it was Rive Gauche, he can smell it too.”
“I still believed in possibilities then, still had the sense, so peculiar to New York, that something extraordinary would happen any minute, any day, any month.”
I just finished reading Joan Didion’s classic essay collection Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968), which I’ve been meaning to read for ages and recently received in a Boxwalla subscription.
I noticed a few few smell-related references in one essay—“Goodbye to All That,” her 1968 reflection on loving and leaving New York City. Didion lived in New York from 1955, when she won a guest editorship at Mademoiselle, to 1963, at which point she moved back to her home state of California with her husband, fellow writer John Gregory Dunne.
Here are those references, with added commentary of my own…
Style/art/fashion news from earlier this week:
“The Costume Institute’s spring 2019 exhibition [CAMP: Notes on Fashion] explores the origins of camp’s exuberant aesthetic. Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay ‘Notes on “Camp”‘ provides the framework for the exhibition, which examines how the elements of irony, humor, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality, and exaggeration are expressed in fashion.”
Could we also look for camp (both intentional and intentional) in the visual presentation of perfume? I think we can.
Here are a few examples, paired with quotes from Sontag’s landmark essay…
It’s amazing how many different fragrance brands exist or have existed, even in the not-so-distant past. For example, this ad caught my eye when I was browsing the results of some random image search, but I’m not familiar with the name “Marta Harff.” I looked her up and learned that she’s an Argentinian entrepreneur who has run several fragrance/toiletry brands, including a namesake line of “Aguas Florales” (“flower waters”). This one is “Manzanilla.” (Chamomile?)
What really interested me in this ad (which seems to date to the 1990s) was the image it used on the bottle label and in the background…
— T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland (I. The Burial of the Dead)
If you asked me to name my favorite flower, or my favorite floral note in perfume, lilac wouldn’t be the first one I’d name. It might not even appear in my “top five.” Yet every April there’s a day when I have the opportunity to visit the blooming lilac trees in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and I suddenly want to spray myself with a lilac fragrance.
Here are a few recommendations, including three from independent female perfumers and one from a preeminent female “nose.”