Monthly Archives: July 2013

lady with the veil - alexander roslinShe made her way against the stream of commuters and those catching an early train to a destination that had to be the beach, their attire as much as their happy faces offering this clue.  Her battered suitcase, an old Louis Vuitton with fading stickers paying homage to far off destinations once travelled, bumped every so often into people on the jam packed platform.  She had a good five more minutes before the red painted Thalys train would depart from Amsterdam to Paris. And from there…Lyon, Geneva, Lausanne, a detour to Vienna, and eventually Rome. It was to be a trip lasting her a month before she would take up a curator position at Galleria Doria Pamphilj – a small, but distinguished museum not far from the Patheon in the Eternal City.

The last 50 metres was a battle against the tide of people that offered formidable resistance. Her compartment, no 12 and allocated at the very beginning, was finally in sight, and with a minute to spare until departure she pulled up her heavy bag with all her might before sinking down on a folding seat. She whisked up her train ticket to confirm she was in the right carriage. Number 26 – window, non-smoking. It was luckily just around the corner and conveniently she discovered an empty space between the back of her seat and the wall where she placed her baggage.  Not before long the train started to run, catching speed with every second.  She installed her handbag on the empty chair next to her, praying silently it would remain so for the rest of the journey. The two seats opposite where also unoccupied, so she took off her flat ballerina shoes and rested her sore feet on the edge of the seat.  Her head tilted against the window, her breath leaving an imprint on the cold glass. She traced the rim of the condensating area with her index finger, drawing a fluid shape in the form of a cloud, and within it an eye. The all seeing eye of Horus.  It had become her signature doodle – whether on discarded napkins or milling over a to-do-list, they seemed to crop up everywhere….consciously or not.

“Excuse me! Hello Lady, excuse me!” My heart was pounding franticly having got on at the end of the train and worked myself up to the first class compartment. I studied the woman that was resting her bare feet on my chair. She seemed fast asleep. I touched her ankle, trying to gently push them to the side and onto the floor. This startled her, and she jerked, before sitting straight up with a bewildered look. Read more

The tale of the rose is as everlasting as it is multifaceted. Since its early history of cultivation it’s been the symbol of love and beauty. The rose was sacred to a number of goddesses in Ancient Egypt including Isis. The Greeks and Romans identified the rose with the goddess of love, Aphrodite and Venus respectively.

In Rome a wild rose would be placed on the door of a room where secret or confidential matters were discussed. The phrase sub rosa, or “under the rose”, means to keep a secret — derived from this ancient Roman practice.

For centuries thereafter the rose continued to play a major role in both European and Arabic culture. Henry VII introduced the Tudor rose, combining a red rose, representing the House of Lancaster, and a white rose, representing the House of York, as a symbol of unity after the English civil wars of the 15th century which, long after, came to be called the Wars of the Roses.

With its beauty, heavenly scent and thorn studded stalk, it is attributed with almost mythical properties. So what would be the perfume equivalent? My answer to this would be Délire de Roses by Caron. With a touch of gaiety, a hint of nonchalance, a certain audacity, a game of seduction, an intricate intertwining of roses, leaves and fruits that reunites all the olfactory facets of the Queen of Flowers, this quite modern perfume (2011) by Caron strikes all the chords.

Rose is a perfect fragrance for any day of the year and a new light is shed upon the theory of this infinite bloom by Caron with the Délire de Roses, or a Dozen of Roses. The fragrance exudes an exquisite convocation that intertwines a fountain of blended rich rose petals with fruit and foliage. The initial thought will be that of bursting with freshness and brimming with imagination – the sort associated with lovely girls in warm spring afternoons. Délire de Roses captures the passion of fully blossomed flora whilst exuding that of Parisian romance.

This floral present top notes of rose along with lotus flower, lychee, rosebush leaves, jasmine and the lily of the valley. While it eventually dries down to a fruity soft freshness, it passes through dry down that present an unexpected hint of amber notes. Délire de Roses has light staying power but the transparent appeal is perfect to be worn in warm weathers.

Délire de Roses is unmistakably a girlish, bright and pretty sensation but one shouldn’t expect the deep, sometimes sinister experience that the Caron line is famous for, with florals such as Bellodgia or Narcisse Noir. This spirit is more of a pop melody rather than being a classical composition and is thus better suited to younger audiences. Perhaps Canon, with this perfume has tried to habituate its traditional market from a young age. Nevertheless, it’s still an excellent Rose composition well worth a try.

Délire de Roses, available in the same classic and patented design bottle as the rest of the Caron fragrance , can be bought at several online perfume counters and Caron boutiques. A 50 ml bottle costs around $165.

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While the rest of the world will know the World War I as a disaster that changed the course of humanity for a century to come, examples of human bravery and national patriotism extended in some cases beyond the battle fields. One such example is N’aimez que Moi – or Love No one But Me – a romantic notion at the middle of the raging war that was engulfing the European Continent. It came to be the bold representation of the love of a girl waiting patiently for her lover to return from the frontline and bleak trenches  –faithful, full of hopes and willing to wait an eternity if so required. N’aimez que Moi is the dedication of a soulmate even when great distances exist between such souls. The representation of true love to be cared and committed to forever.

This was the notion of Ernest Daltroff, who created the perfume in 1916 – an olfactory forget-me-not. Luscious notes of Bulgarian rose and violet, on a tender yet intense chypre base, it brings forth the beauty and naivety of old memories and the wish for new beginnings. The spirit evokes the feelings of woody musk, sweet and lusciously creamy, complex though tender all the way.

For perfume aficionadas, this fragrance will mean a new course of discovery. While the wild Bulgarian rose and cedars will take you through romantic woods, the irises brings you deeper to explore the undergrowth. Come the powdery musk and civet and you’ll be totally lost in perfume esoterica. Like all vintage Carons, it’s a powdery concoction that to some may feel slightly old fashioned, but the beautiful, well balanced composition is never lost on contemporary noses and may even be likened to Annick Goutal’s Heure Exquise.

The perfume equivalent of an Ingmar Bergman film, this melancholic scent ought to be worn in moments of intimate vulnerability – only then will you truly grasp its everlasting power.

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Mata Hari – the alleged Dutch WW I spy

In my quest telling the tales of perfumes that I adore and keep in my collection, here comes a true classic dating back to 1853.

Acqua di Genova has a place in history through one of its illustrious wearers being the Countess of Castiglione, Virginia Oldoini herself. She was considered one of the most beautiful women of her time and was known for her flamboyant entrances in elaborate dresses at the imperial court. But the royal connection doesn’t stop there. The classic perfume secured its place when Napoleon III, the Emperor of France & his consort both fell in love with it. The manufacturer of the luxurious essence was a famous Genoese distiller headed by renowned perfumer Stefano Frecceri and was first introduced in 1853 for the Royal House of Savoy. 150 years onwards since the first drop of Acqua di Genova titillated the royal olfactory senses and the recipe of the essence remains – with few modifications – to this day, being available to aficionado customers in the same original handmade bottles as when it was first introduced.

An oriental at heart, top notes comprise Bergamot, coriander, jasmine, iris; middle notes being Ylang-ylang, rose, vanilla and tuberose; whilst base notes are Amber, sandalwood, rosewood. This classic and classy women’s eau de toilette is more powdery and warm and spicy than the cologne. The top note is less dominated by citrus fruits and is filled alternatively with bergamot, coriander, jasmine and iris. It is a very feminine and elegant opening before slowly revealing a heart of ylang-ylang, rose, vanilla and tuberose.

An utterly feminine oriental, Acqua di Genova is blessed with an amazing staying power (8 hours and counting) with even a small drop enough to carry the aura for a satisfactory length of time. The perfume is available in two varieties –silver and gold. A variety for men is also available.

Verdict: a warm, intense fragrance best served on sun soaked skin ready for secret rendezvous in dark back-alleys

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There will always be stress wherever we go – at work or school and even while commuting. When we let these stressors consume us, beauty problems such as acne, wrinkles, hair loss, and weight gain often develops, making the situation more stressful than it already is. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on vacations and spa treatments every time you feel stressed out, you can use these affordable, not to mention effective de-stressing activities as alternatives.

Soak in a sea salt bath 
Assemble a fast, easy detox treatment right in your bathroom by adding a cup of sea salt to a warm bath. According to an article posted on NaturalIngredient.org, bathing in salt, especially the Himalayan kind, “stimulates circulation, hydrates the skin, increases moisture retention, promotes cellular regeneration, detoxifies the skin, and helps heal dry, scaling, irritated skin.” To make the experience even more rejuvenating, pour a small amount of your favorite essential oil in the water and light some candles.

Play games 
Playing games is more beneficial than you think. The East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina has made a study about this matter, and found that playing nonviolent video games on any gaming platform can decrease stress and improve one’s mood. “Getting absorbed in games provides a distraction and relaxes the nervous system,” explains resident professor Carmen Russoniello.

If you don’t have a video game console at home, you can use your laptop as a substitute and visit interactive social gaming websites. FoxyBingo, for instance, doesn’t just allow players to de-stress by playing bingo, it’s also a good venue to socialize and meet new friends. Since this is a bingo-based website, there will be no added pressure as you play. You just need to slow down and keep an alert mind while you wait for your bingo numbers to come up.

Take a mental vacation 
Find a spot in your home where you can sit on comfortably, and then “close your eyes and imagine a relaxing place, such as a beach or a mountain view,” says Yahoo! Shine. The site adds, “visualize the sights and smells. The more vivid a picture you paint in your mind, the more your body will respond to the invitation to relax.”

 

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Bellodgia is Caron’s carnation study that brings in forth the essence of the work of renowned perfumer, Ernest Daltroff and one-time dress maker Felicie Vanpouille, who lent her fashion expertise to the company’s scents.

Debuted in 1927, the notion behind the creation was inspired by a small Italian town called Bellagio on the banks of Lake Como well known for its beautiful countryside with sprawling carnation fields.  It intended to provide its loyal wearers with sunlight soaked carnations, an idea appealing French and American fragranceonistas alike.

 Bellodgia is rich and sophisticated. She is unflinchingly feminine and demands the same of her wearer. Although considered a single flower scent, this not entirely true, as the additional notes that Bellodgia hints upon are rose, violet, jasmine, sandalwood, musk, vanilla and the famed lily of the valley.

Bellodgia is one of the most well known Caron scents today, considered not only a classic but a somewhat sinister dark-side scent with its thick knot of carnations on an animal, musky base.

The perfume was originally meant for the high society women who desired to live in the aura of exoticness and royal charm. While the original recipe still lasts, cracking a bottle will head on take you to a complex heady, sweet yet nocturnal world. The overall essence could best be described to be something rich and dense whilst warm and peppery with added floral notes over the famous Caron base. The carnation scent is however the star of the show but is stylized and soft to a higher degree. The scent is also far too elicited to associate with any prom corsages or funerals.  Bellodgia revives all the dusky features of a 1920 era perfume, mossy and creamy, and on its own right, smells considerably fresher and brighter. However, if you are not a Caron fan, the animalic and mossy notes in Bellodgia may strike you to be comparatively dated and musty.

The vintage formulation of essences that we see in Bellodgia is to a large degree guilty in ladylike impact and powderiness. If you are really worried about the originality of the bottle that the boutique presents, one must note that modern versions are produced in purple labels, or are encased in shagreen tubes while the original older versions continue to sport a classical white label.

Bellodgia from Caron is available in Eau de Parfum, Parfum extrait and Eau de Toilette. The extrait is readily obtainable online and various perfume counters and obviously the Caron boutiques. A 15 ml sells for $63 and although often considered a night-time perfume, can be worn at all occasions as long as the wearer is prepared for the heady fragrance that awaits them. And to quote 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.”

Famous Wearer: French actress Isabelle Adjani

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