Those of us who sniff obsessively and/or write about perfume are always seeking a background story and a cultural context for the perfumes we review. We make connections and associations, look inside us for what the scent makes us feel, hoping to be transported and transformed in the process. To borrow a phrase from Tim Gunn, we're looking for a "soul stirrer". Let's just say we rarely find it at Macy's.
Andy Tauer of Tauer Perfumes and filmmaker Brian Pera, two indie artists, collaborated on a soul-stirring project. It's a ten year collaboration (!) of film and perfume: a new line of fragrances, Tableau de Parfums, and the series Woman's Picture, an ongoing collection of short films that inspire these scents. The Tableau fragrances are packaged with the films and accompanying novelettes inspired by the principal characters of the series:
Miriam, the first fragrance of the Tableau de Parfums line, reaches back in time. It is a fragrance inspired by the first episodic short of Woman’s Picture, featuring Ann Magnuson in the title role, which gives life to a character in the middle of a storm of memories and an uncertain future. The Woman's Picture series and Tableau de Parfums focus on perfume and memories: To celebrate the launch of the projects, Brian Pera conducted filmed interviews with women involving their childhood memories of the perfumes their mothers and grandmothers wore.
You see, it's all there: heartbreak, memories and a mother-daughter connection amplified by perfume. Such perfumes have a certain nostalgic character. They're decidedly perfumy, with every intention to be smelled and noticed. Miriam by Andy Tauer is exactly that. The aldehydic floral opening is unmistakable "vintage". You don't get to smell such things unless your collections includes gems of yore that have retained their potency like vintage Arpege or Chanel No. 5. But Miriam, despite that beautiful and almost familiar rose-violet-jasmine veil does not imitate the past. As a matter of fact, even while evoking the elegance of the past, fans and followers of Tauer's work will be able to identify his thumbprint.
In an interview with Elena of Perfume Shrine, Andy Tauer says:
My challenge was to come up with a fragrance that is born in the forties of the last century, but created today: How to find an aesthetic language that bridges this gap! How to create a fragrance that conserves this vintage spirit but fits with Miriam who lives today. I hope I managed. Miriam is definitely vintage, or rather vintage-like.
It's quite interesting, actually, to smell Tauer's recognizable ambergris accord behind and around the various facets of Miriam. Petal pink that draws you closer with its soft smile; a crisp but almost sweet green that speaks of neat dresser drawers that hold mysterious feminine accessories; a compassionate warmth of a woody embrace. It's all there, as well as an elegant powder puff that was left on top of the vanity.
My own mother wears bold white flowers with an enviable flair. She avoids anything aldehydic, as those were the signature perfumes of her mother whom I never got to meet. Maybe that's why I find it so easy to wear Miriam and make it my own. It's both a luxurious and a very sexy perfume that sits beautifully on my skin for very long hours (the entire day, actually). Once the initial assertive sillage disappears, I'm left with a just-above-the-skin sweet woody and creamy perfume. To me, Miriam is a very feminine fragrance: pearls, girdle and silk stockings. Of course, it is just as seductive in jeans and boots, maybe even more so, as it hints on some delicious and hidden secrets.
As part of the blogging project, Brian Pera has conducted a series of interviews with women about their childhood memories of the perfumes their mothers and grandmothers wore. I'm proud to present you with a very special video, an interview with a beloved perfume blogger, Pat of Olfactorama:
"Couldn't afford it, but I bought it anyway": Pat from brian pera on Vimeo.
Notes for Miriam: bergamot, sweet orange, geranium, violet blossom, rose, jasmine, ylang, violet leaf, lavender, vanilla, orris root, sandalwood
Now, for the giveaway:
Brian Pera and Andy Tauer have provided five lucky winners with samples beautifully packed with a DVD. In order to participate, leave a comment on this post and tell us either about a scent memory, a beloved long lost perfume or a special scent that, like Pat, you "couldn't afford it, but bought it anyway" because it meant that much to you.
Sadly, I have to limit this giveaway to US resident. Our post office has become more impossible than ever, to the point that the last package I tried to send overseas was returned to me a couple of days later.
You will get an additional entry to the draw by tweeting or retweeting this post, just make sure to copy me @the_non_blonde on the tweet so I can add it to my list. The draw will be open for exactly one week, until Tuesday, October 4th at 11:59PM (Eastern time).
Miriam EDP will launch in early October in Los Angels at Scentbar/Luckyscent. It will also be available for purchase on Evelyn Avenue. I don't have pricing information yet. The sample for this review was provided by Andy Tauer and Brian Pera. Also, don't forget to visit Perfume Posse next week for the last part of this exciting project (and another giveaway).
A 1950s photograph of Barbara Goalen by John French and a 1946 hosiery ad, both from myvintagevogue.com.