Monthly Archives: September 2009

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You sit there, in an arm chair in a non-descriptive hotel in Shanghai. The western clean, loungy but oh so boring corporate style has been copied down to a T.  It’s your  5th night, and although it’s a city with very little charm, you have unexpectedly come to feel at home. The breakfast is brought by the same girl every morning,. She looks at you coyly as she greets you good morning. As she turns around, you catch a  glimpse of her shapely behind and thoughts that have been banned since marriage arise to the surface. But within seconds she ’s gone, consumed by a fast moving elevator. You stand there in an empty corridor, left alone with those thoughts of lust and greed. As they slowly fade away you turn to your breakfast…

A driver waits for you every morning and takes you to the office downtown. He is small and wears a dark blue cap, similar to the driver in Miss Daisy, although he might have been  wearing gray for all you know. At the end of the evening you give a nod to the secretary who has been assigned to you since you arrived, and she makes a call to Mr Chen who stands ready 5 minutes later. He must have been waiting for you all day, because not even his impressive driving skills would allow him to fight the dense traffic with such success.

After a short stop at a McDonald’s, Mr Chen brings you back to the hotel. Half an hour later, at 10.30 pm you are here, alone, on the 24th floor gazing out over a lit up city, although the view is vastly obstructed by other highrise buildings. A bottle of Laphroaig is standing on the table, next to a clean empty glass. You pour some. First a little but before putting it down you decide to top it up. There, a full glass of the finest 18 year old island malt. You light a cigar and take some puffs turning the tobacco leaves into ember. The armchair is facing a large bay window, and you recline comfortably, inhaling the smoke of the cigar mixed with the fragrant fumes of the whiskey.

As you sit there, in your own little world, far away from home, your thoughts drift to matters that have been equally far away from mind. Your wife Carol, who is patiently waiting for you at home with your three beautiful children. Your house in Pacific Heights is still surrounded by morning mist, as your family will be asleep. You wonder if you are in her dreams, or are her dreams as empty as yours?

You see you come to a point when you have reached what you thought was reachable. Maybe a little bit more even. Everyone is giving you a pat on the back. Well done mate. You are living the dream. You are among the cream of the global population. When you go to work, you leave a beautiful house with a well kept front lawn behind you. At the side of the curb stands your dark blue BMW. It’s two years old but still in pristine condition. Every morning you do a quick calibration against your neighbours cars, and so far you know you are in the safe. That little sense of satisfaction gives you the boost you need along with a Starbucks coffee and a danish pastry.

When you enter the office, it’s quiet. Your wife will be still asleep, but that grants you a sense of domestic tranquillity. It’s your everyday peace offering for the cooking and taking care of the kids your wife will perform to near perfection. Yes you are perfect, as perfect as an all American family can be…

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve found the perfect radio channel for nocturnal listening. Vmix, broadcasted live from Paris, brings you the kind of sultry music which makes you want to put on those strappy heals, add a dab of Narcisse Noir on on the points of your pulse, finished off by a trench coat, et voila…your transformation to a butterfly of the night is complete. It’s the kind of music to which you see a blonde walking down an empty street, her figure casting a long and lean shadow on the wet cobble stones. And equally it’s the sound played at some seedy bar in Pigalle, where you are sitting, alone with your Laphroaig and a burnt down cigar.

I feel an immense urge to write….I’m full of stories, people and their fictional destinies. So I’m afraid I shall have to be off….but before I love you and leave you I hope you will enjoy this number from Julien Lourau, called Lonely Night…to the background of some French mercenary  action from a computer game. Violence at its sexiest…

Some time ago, I wrote a post on male abilities between the sheets. If the male voice was shining with its absence, women were more forthcoming.

One in particular, C, wrote this absolutely brilliant comment on her experience with the Swiss, which I gather was in fact a singular encounter. Now the Swiss, like the Belgians, have an almost schizophrenic heritage and legacy, due to their lingual divisions. And in the case of the Swiss, the Germanic side mixing with the Latin makes it particularly interesting but all the more complex. Now C, shared a few insights into this mysterious nation of men, whose sexual virtuosities I have only encountered in the literary world through Paulo Coelho’s 11 minutes (a book I warmly recommend by the way).

So with C’s permission I would like to quote her insights on the Swiss male population…

“Rather amusing I must say, even though I am not much for stereotyping such particular talent….or am I…?
Overleaf they do not mention the Swatch-making, cheese and chocolate -producing nationality and I must admit that the worst that I have ever come across in the bedstraw was, indeed, Swiss.
Perhaps you can, with a slice of imagination, before your eyes see a redfaced, gasping, sweaty, hyperactive Duracell rabbit that completely and utterly is lacking a sense of tact.


My disappointment was profound and I let him know about it in a rather ruthless way…., i.e. after my rather obvious facial expression and after the swiss Duracell rabbit had expressed his apologies (he was apparently aware that the awful experience was not adding up to my expectations) I replied in a stereotypically crispy and cold Swedish manner: “It’s alright….(long silent pause) ……all is not about sex (another long silent pause)”. I might, at that moment actually have looked like Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) in the movie The Devil wears Prada. I normally do have a heart, but I guess it was on holiday that day.


Shortly after this one time encounter I heard a little stereotypical story that amused me somewhat for the given reason. I would like to add it to the topic of the blog.


Heaven is where the police are English, the cooks are French, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian and everything is organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the police are German, the cooks are English, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, and everything is organized by the Italians.”

C, what can I say. As always you managed to hit the nail straight on its head with your crisp tongue.

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I feel like I have been running around the whole day without getting much accomplished. Gym in the morning, followed by dentist appointment for Victoria, shopping and salsa lesson in the evening. In fact my only achievement is cleaning out my inbox (it’s down to a mere 9 items!). Cecile, the Jack Russell, ought to take some credit for that, as she walked all over my keyboard deleting all the messages. As I run my inbox as an action list there were some very old items there that eventually would need follow up. But voila! They are no longer and so with a clean conscious I shall simply have to forget about them and continue on more important matters. If life could always be so simple!

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We jumped in a taxi as the dentist was far away and it was pouring with rain

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Equally no time for a proper dinner before salsa, a simple steak had to do the trick

As a self-proclaimed, autodidact mistress and lover to many men… Oh, yes there was something juicy that made you choke on the morning coffee! Excellent! Keep reading…

…last night, as custom is in our household, I was sitting with my laptop in bed reading my favourite Swedish online magazine. One article, that caught my attention, exclaimed “Fast Swedes – Rubbish in bed”. It was from a British survey taken by One Poll, to find out what sexual experiences female travellers and expats had of other nationalities. The conclusions were not as far fetched as I would expect and in fact one or two claims I could corroborate myself.
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So who are the worst lovers of the world? Well not perhaps unsurprisingly the Germans took the first spot by being too smelly. Perhaps not a Porsche after all in bed. The second place went to the English who were too lazy, whilst the Swedes managed to hang on to a third place for being too quick. Although years ago I was intimate with a fellow Swede, it was not too difficult to see the rationale…

Now, and this is the funny part….the fourth place went to….the Dutch. For being too dominating! Now the Swedes being known for their gender equality which I have my feelings would reach as far as to the boudoir, the the Dutch would be the opposite. Perhaps this does explain my predisposition to the Dutch male population. So does it really warrant their fourth position as the world’s worst lovers?  Unless meek and feeble is what you are looking for…

The list in it’s completeness goes as follow…
WORLD’S WORST LOVERS:
1. Germany (too smelly)
2. England (too lazy)
3. Sweden (too quick)
4. Holland (too dominating)
5. America (too rough)
6. Greece (too lovey-dovey)
7. Wales (too selfish)
8. Scotland (too loud)
9. Turkey (too sweaty)
10. Russia (too hairy)

On the other side of the spectrum, and women please take note, the world’s best lovers goes to…

WORLD’S BEST LOVERS
1. Spain
2. Brazil
3. Italy
4. France
5. Ireland
6. South Africa
7. Australia
8. New Zealand
9. Denmark
10. Canada

Unfortunately the rationale for the latter conclusions are left to interpretation. One can only speculate that the Spanish would be fiery, the Brazilians would have the perfect size of a penis, the Italians make love for hours and the French would ride on their oral tradition… Perhaps the least expected are the Danes. How the hell did they manage to hang on to a 9th position? Any Dane reading my blog…this is a call for you! And as always, I am curious as to the experiences of others….

As a minor anecdote to this morning post, I can only say that the Icelandic men (in fact my sample size is fairly limited but so is the total country population too) is not too bad either. Perhaps they did manage to preserve some of that Viking blood that has been diluted over hundreds of years and now results in a 3.4 minute sexual intercourse by a meek Swede.

Sunday nights are the worst. For some obscure reason it’s the night that gives me least rest. Apparently I wasn’t the only one, and somewhere between 3 and four am I stared my husband straight into the eyes and we both knew it was not going to be our night. He pulled me closer, and I fell a sleep for an hour or two only to wake up at 6 again. So I opened my laptop, wrote an apologetic email to W that I would be working from home. Sleep hit me only moments later, and I slept for a good 3 hours only to wake up at 9 when Sebastian was crying.

Weekend was luckily the opposite of last nights experience, in other words very relaxed. Too many details, not too important, so the pictures will have to tell the story…

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Victoria, the self-proclaimed incarnation of Lady Gaga

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Bad hair day, but who cares?

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We bought some great fair trade kids clothes for Sebastian at Yuga in Haarlem

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This wine was absolutely fantastic – a 2004 Sideral from Chile – tastes like chocolate!

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I love a man in the kitchen. Too bad I don’t get to see it often

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Two boys and their toys…

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Check out the identical positions and dedication for the computer

(in Sebastian’s case funky toy computer/cow sound emulator)

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Sunday we enjoyed high tea at Koetjes & Kalfjes in Haarlem

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Too many carbs but heavenly!

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Victoria, strike a pose grrrrl!

What makes up the woman? Her shoes, her dress, her way of walking? I say all, but above all and in a league of its own is her perfume. It says more than all those attributes that she may think is what people will note and remember her for.

Perfumes, like music, has an almost nostalgic property difficult to be surpassed or supplanted.
In my early 20’s, when I was time rich but dirt poor, I would scramble together whatever Guilders I had left to buy myself a copy of Elle. It was the most luxurious item I could afford in the bat of an eyelid. These esteemed copies of fashion reading provided much entertainment as I would make sure I read them from cover to cover savouring all the fashion trends and beauty tips.

But one Elle stood out and I have never let go of this prized possession ever since. This was the Elle that laid the Grunge trend to rest and paid homage to Glamour. Those grunge years had been like the dark ages for a girl like me, and so I was delighted to see the back of it.

Towards the end of my reading, an article called “Scents of desire” appeared. It started off intriguingly with a scene from Belle de Jour. The accompanied picture made the scene all complete. I was lost, and for the next 20 or so minutes I was consumed to this article. I dare to say it change me forever, as it became the turning point from being a young girl to entering the life of adulthood.

And so, as I decided to dedicate this blog to the life that inspires me vastly, the people, the style, the films, the cities, the books, and of course the perfumes, I shall quote the whole article for you. In fact you are very lucky to come across this as I am sure if not it would be lost to mankind forever….

~Scents of Desire~ Elle, December 1996

Severine is always immaculately dressed – chocolate-brown shifts, fine leather gloves, fur-trimmed coats. Her face is flawlessly made-up and framed by a mane of perfectly blond hair. She is married to a young, improbably good-looking surgeon, but they sleep in separate beds. She lives in the sort of elegant Parisian apartment you see in the pages of Maison & Jardin. In the mornings she drifts around the boutiques of the 7th arrondissement. Her afternoons are rather different. Between the hours of two and five, she goes to a seedy building on the wrong side of town and lies in the arms of men she doesn’t know – traveling salesman, a Japanese businessman, small-time gangsters. They all pay her, even though she doesn’t need the money. The perfume she wears is Guerlain’s Mitsouko. I know this because before she embarks on her double life, she breaks a huge bottle of it on her bathroom floor. Accident or symbol? Probably the latter – after all, this is the film ‘Belle du Jour’ and its director, Luis Bunuel, was fond of symbols. The bottle Severine shattered had to be full of Mitsouko because Bunuel understood what Mitsouko is: the consummate dark-side scent.

Dark side scents. These are the perfumes that get a girl into trouble. They’re not about lightness, freshness and high spirits: they are an opportunity to be sensuous, voluptuous – greedy for satin and lace. Dark-side scents are always compelling and often overpowering. Some, like Narcisse Noir, are even slightly sinister. Above all, dark-side scents are complex. ‘It’s this complexity that makes dark-side scents what they are,’ says Roja Dove, Guerlain’s proffeseur des parfums. “The best ones give you the idea that the perfume is on one level, but have an enormous hidden ‘base’ – the base is the sensual bit, the carnal bit. Dark-side scents are like black widow spiders – they lure people in, make them feel safe, then get them hooked on this voluptuous base. You get drunk on it, lost in it – it is like falling into a bottomless pit. But, the important thing is, you don’t care. All you want to do is get close to the person wearing it.!”

Each of the fragrance families – oriental, floral and chypre – can produce dark-side scents, but the best belong to the oriental and chypre groups. Of the chypres, Cuir de Russie, Tabac Blond, Shocking and, of course, Mitsouko, are all wonderfully dark. As are heavy-lidded orientals, such as Opium, Vol de Nuit and Narcisse Noir. Floral perfumes, by their very nature, are rarely dark. “After all what’s sexy about a bunch of violets or a little possy of lily of the valley,” says Dove. But some exceptional florals qualify: the narcotic L’Heure Bleue; Bellodgia, with its thick, spicy knot of carnations; and tuberose-laced Fracas.

Few of these perfumes are less than 20 years old, in fact, most would be described as “classics”, but being a classic doesn’t automatically make a perfume dark. Take Chanel No 5. Yes, it is classic. Yes, it smells extraordinarily beautiful. But, no, it’s not dark – it’s far too well-behaved, far too upbeat. In the “Fear of God” Irish novelist Derry Quinn pinpoints the difference perfectly: ‘He thought, in about 30 seconds she will get up and leave the room. A few minutes later, she will come back wearing a chiffon negligee, smelling faintly of Chanel No 5. In about 30 seconds, she left the room. She came back a few minutes later, naked and wearing Shocking. He was on his feet.’

~ The dark-side notes ~

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“The French are very anti “clean” smells, they like a bit of rottenness – they call it pudeur.” Says Susan Irvine, author of fascinating Perfume – The Creation and Allure of Classic Fragrances. “In the 18th century, they even put children’s feces in their floral scents to give the pudeur.” The perfumes behind the great dark-side scents might not go to such extremes, but dark perfumes just aren’t dark enough without a certain pudeur – so they are laced with ingredients like civet, which comes from the anal glands pf the civet cat, and smells, in the raw, like a sewer.

Other dark-side ingredients? Amber, which according to Irvine “is close to the smell of sun-warmed skin”. Orris or Iris root: woody and soft, a mix of flesh, flower and earth. Then musk: intense, erogenous, narcotic and chemically very close to human testosterone – not surprising when you realize that the natural form (most musk used now is synthetic) comes from the penile sheath of the musk deer. Chinese courtesans were fed on food flavoured with musk so that when their skin was stroked or squeezed they would sweat pure scent. Added to perfume, it gives enormous warmth and sensuality. “Why mince words – it smells like sex,” – says Roja Dove. “But what’s important is that these notes are so stable and stay so close to the skin, that they end up becoming part of your own personal odour”.

If these ingredients give dark-side scents their sweaty, animal kick, it’s the dark-side flower notes that give them their naggingly erotic smell. Jasmine and tuberose, what perfumes call the ‘carnal flowers’, both have their smooth, white scents spiked with indole, a molecule that’s also found in human faeces. “Good jasmine is so overtly sexual, you can hardly believe it’s a flower,” says Dove. Carnation, which smells like cloves, adds an unbelievable warmth – “like two naked bodies pressed together,” he says.

Then there is narcissus: sweet, spring flower in the garden; pure mantrap in a scent. French Vogue editor Joan Juliet Buck wrote of her experience of wearing a narcissus absolu, “It was so concentrated that just a drop on each wrist and two in the bath were enough to send silver running down the walls, to blot out the sun…it set the world throbbing out of control when I wore it. I became a little weird, it was only years later that I read in a Caifornian herbal book that Narcissus Tazette is a lovely flower with a delightful scent, but it is thought that inhaling too much of it can make you go mad.”

~ Dark-side women ~

Not surprisingly, dark-side scents can be difficult to wear. Some find them strange, others overwhelming or even a little scary – but dark-side insiders would say this ad more to do with the wearer than the scent itself. “I think dark-side scents frighten a lot of people,” says Roja Dove. “If a woman wears this type of perfume, it says a lot about her – she is not frightened of her sex, she is not frightened of her womanhood. She has too much character to be the perfume equivalent of a Stepford wife. A lot of women – and a lot of men, find this intimidating.”

So, like the fragrances themselves, the women who wear dark-side scents tend to be strong and complex; adventuresses and non-conformists who want more from a perfume than a quick olfactory fix. “You’re looking at the fragrance that expresses the inner you, your alter ego – the dark side of your personality and sexuality,” says Susan Irvine. Not such a tall order – our sense of smell is a hotline to the limbic system, the part of human brain which is most closely linked to the hormonal and reproductive systems that control basic human drives like sex, hunger and fear.

Even the stories of how these women discovered their dark-side scents are spiced with more than a little romance and intrigue. “I smelt it first on an ex-girlfriend of my husband. She was extremely rich, extremely spoilt and extremely neurotic. I disliked everything about her except her perfume, which I was mad for. Much later, I discovered it was Fracas,” says Paula Reed, charismatic fashion director of The Sunday Times, who has worn the fragrance for eight years.

“It goes back to my first kiss,” laughs Irvine. “I was 14 and wearing Coriandre by Jean Couturier, which smelt like a young girl’s cleavage – musky and warm. A real Lolita perfume. My mother gave it to me because I wanted something that made me feel womanly. It worked!”

And Joan Juliet Buck writes: “At 17, I bought a teal-blue velour hat and cracked open a bottle of L’Heure Bleue. A screenwriter who had been one of the Hollywood Ten told me I looked like Hedy Lamarr, but I only think I smelled like Hedy Lamarr. Or smelled the way Hedy Lamarr looked.”

~ Dark-side dressing ~

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How do you wear a dark-side scent? First and foremost, buy the perfume, or at least, eau de parfum. “With many of these perfumes, what makes them ‘dark’ – the base – hardly exists in eau de toilette,” says Roja Dove. If you buy the perfume, you need to use less and you can fully experience what perfumers call the ‘dry-down’: the extraordinary sultry scent of those base notes that will cling to your clothes and hair – and linger in the memory of everyone else…the morning after…and days after that. Think, too, about where you’re applying it. Pulse points, where the veins are close to the surface of the skin, are perfect; so is the dip of the collarbone. Don’t, however, put it behind your ears – the oil from the sebaceous glands there may alter the perfume. Finally, think about when you wear them. To weave their magic dark-side scents have to be lived-up to. Wear then when you’re vulnerable, and you’re lost. Wear them when you’re strong, and the effect is nothing short of devastating. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

post-21846-1252243589~ Dark-side directory ~

MITSOUKO by Guerlain. Probably the closest thing you can get to the scent of a woman. Contains oakmoss, patchouli and extraordinary amounts of amber.

CUIR DE RUSSIE by Chanel. Sex in the back of an Aston Martin – all leather and jasmine. Easily Chanel’s naughtiest perfume.

TABAC BLOND by Caron. A unique mix of tobacco. Leather, musk and civet. Perfume expert Dr. Luca Turin calls it ‘perfumed darkness’.

JOLIE MADAME
by Balmain. Another perfect ‘Belle du Jour’ scent: elegant on the outside with a sexy underside of leather.

SHOCKING by Schiaparelli (no longer available in the UK, but no dark-side list is complete without it). “One of the rudest perfumes ever made – it smelt like the inside of women’s underwear,” laughs Dove. Contained lots of rose without smelling rosy.

DJEDI by Guerlain. “One of the driest, duskiest perfumes I’ve ever smelt. Unbelievably strange,” says Roja Dove.

VOL DE NUIT by Guerlain. “So smooth and so suave – it just exudes sex and sophistication,” says Dove.

CHAOS by Donna Karan. Ms Karan’s latest scent is an earthy mix of incense, amber and musk with a suitably dark-side name.

NARCISSE NOIR by Caron. A real ‘femme fatale’ perfume. With a true narcissus note and a slightly sinister reputation. “I knew someone who used to say that when you smelt it, it was almost as if there was someone behind you, looking over your shoulder,” says Dove.

COUP DE FOUET by Caron. Pungent and spicy. The name translates as ‘crack of the whip’ – what more is there to say?

OPIUM
by Yves Saint Laurent. Famously scandalous oriental. Officials attempted to ban it when it was launched in 1977 (things could have been worse – according to legend, Saint Laurent was planning to call it ‘Hashish’).

MAGIE NOIRE by Lancome. The bad-girl oriental from an otherwise well-behaved perfume house – rose corrupted by incense, sandalwood and amber.

L’HEURE BLEUE by Guerlain. Named after the ‘blue hour’ – twilight. “L’Heure Bleue is a cheat,” says Dove. “It gives you the idea that it is a shy, timid, powdery floral, but it is so overtly sexual, it’s like a drug.”

FRACAS by Robert Piguet. “Its enormous tuberose note makes it incredibly sultry,” says Dove. Wearers can become quite fanatical about it.

BELLODGIA by Caron. A thick knot of carnations on an animal, musky base.

I take loads of pictures, in case something amazingly “newsworthy” turns up as gold for the blog. But not everything makes it… to Reinout’s dismay. And so my husband has been bugging me about certain pictures I took a few weeks ago of Sebastian, from one one of our frequent vists to Viqh. “Honey when are you going to upload them?” has been a frequent line. But today these friendly statements and encouragements turned into actual threats. “Honey, I will turn off Internet if those pictures are not uploaded in the next hour!”

So here honey, I give in! But don’t expect this to become a habit. I only give in once. And I’m curious what you will do for me. You know quid pro quo…

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So cute, words are redundant…

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Sebastian certainly takes after his dad, going for the balls

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Like father like son…

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No words left

Everyone have dreams and my dream is living on the country side, not too far from Paris in a chateau. Yes you heard it right. Not a farm or country house but a chateau. Luckily there are chateaus for sale, that are not too expensive, but in need of a lot of renovation so there is hope for a future chatelaine like myself.

With this comes a certain lifestyle. Think Les Liaisons Dangereuses meet Belle de Jour and you got it! It’s decadent, yet classic and minimal. It’s light but with dark undertones. It’s velvet, Parisian Brasseries, Pigalle, MontMartre, St. Germain and Les Marais all melted into one. It’s Monica Bellucci, Catherine Deneuve and Chanel. Perfume and gilded empire style console tables. Here area few details that feeds my inspiration…

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Parisian interior