Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

May the coming year bring peace to the world, among us, and in our hearts.

Photos (from top):
F.C. Gundlach, 1963 (via the  FC Gundlach Foundation Archive)

Cecil Beaton- ‘The Soapsuds Group’ at The Living Posters Ball of 1930
Salvador Dali and Janet Daly, on New Year’s Eve, 1979, by Roxanne Lowit
Sylvia Sidney and Cary Grant in Thirty Day Princess, 1934
Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant (with Doris Nolan and Lew Ayers) in George Cukor's 1938 Holiday

NARS NARSissist L'amour Toujours Eyeshadow Palette

Today's the release date of the  NARSissist L'amour Toujours Eyeshadow Palette. It's one of the most versatile NARS releases I can think of. Twelve eye shadows, all new and unique to this palette, ranging from the most basic neutrals to bright, from matte to complex shimmer, and in two pan sizes: the four everyday colors are larger (3.2g), while the eight other eye shadows come in typical palette size (1.5g). The overall feel of the  NARSissist L'amour Toujours Eyeshadow Palette is cool toned, but there are just enough options there to warm up the eye look when desired.

The textures vary greatly. The mattes for the most part are silky and almost fluid, while the shimmery ones are the familiar NARS tight-pressed and slightly hard that holds together through constant heavy use, requires a flat dense brush and looks true to the pan on the lid. Pigment saturation is top notch, and the possibilities for mixing, layering, topping NARS liners and cream shadows give me a good creative kick. I also think that this is an excellent starting to pint for someone new to NARS eye shadows. It gives you the basics and more.

Here's what you get, numbered from top left on the palette itself, and swatched according to the rows:

I -    Cream Bisque (matte)
II -   Shimmering Pink Sand
III -  Amethyst Ash (shimmer taupe with a hint of purple)
IV -  Black Truffle (black matte)
V -   Golden Starlight (light gold, plain and simple)
VI -  Sunburst Copper
VII - Café Au Lait (wonderful matte taupy brown)
VIII -Pistol Grey (with decidedly green shimmer)
IX -  Industrial Steel (like the one above, only leans blue)
X -   Regal Blue (matte, with my name all over it)
XI -  Shimmering Taupe Cashmere (kind of a satin, really)
XII - Shimmering Licorice

I love these colors. I was a bit apprehensive at first swatch since NARS texture tends to be denser than some of the new palette we've seen lately, but there's a reason these are makeup artists' favorite, and performance ends up to be fantastic. All the shades are useful and easy to wear (I am a blue eye shadow fiend), and the possibility this well-made and sturdy palette offers are many. Is it a must-have? It depends on your attachment to NARS eye shadows and the likelihood you'll use a(nother) palette (how many have you bought in the last two months?) . I'd suggest you look at your collection, assess the number of neutrals vs. blue, are you about to hit pan on a taupe or a sandy color? Do you need a no-brainer ever morning palette that takes the guessing out yet offers enough versatility? If all of the above rings a bell then it's hard to do better than this NARS NARSissist palette.

Bottom Line: love at second swatch.

NARS NARSissist L'amour Toujours Eyeshadow Palette ($59, made in Italy) is available starting today on It was sent to me for review free of charge.

Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 In Perfume

2015 has been a year that required equal parts of tenacity and optimism from those of us who are led by our noses. I kept sniffing and acquiring samples. I also kept kvetching and spending my money on vintage bottles. Because in a sea of derivative and redundant new perfumes, fallen idols, and general vulgarization of the market, true pleasures were painfully few. But they did happen, sometimes in unexpected places. The names missing from my top ten list are as telling as those who made an appearances. The world moves on and nothing stays the same. Not even Uncle serge.

From Last Year:
  • Masque Milano- Russian Tea. Leather and smoky tea, elegant and satisfying. This smallish Italian brand is one to keep watching.
  • Memo- Irish Leather. Actually from 2013, but I spent most of the quality time with it this year. Irish Leather is the husband's choice for the year and I stand 100% behind it. Green leather, need I say more? (I'll get to the newer African Leather in a year or two at this pace)

Mainstream Surprise:

  • My department store experience this year was somewhere between a horror show and an outrageous comedy. Mainstream perfumes have been as bland as the laundry musk in their base. But years after giving up on Bulgari's tea series comes Eau Parfumée Au Thé Bleu and brings us something new and interesting. Iris, tea, and lavender in a blend that has me craving the entire product range.

The Rest:

  • Aftelier-  Bergamoss. Mandy Aftel released her furry chypre Bergamoss first in a solid form and recently as a limited edition eau de parfum that I must review soon. The liquid Bergamoss is shockingly dirty, yet modern in its interpretation of oakmoss. Also must be included: Aftleier Vanilla Smoke. Because vanilla. And smoke. And quality.  
  • Chanel- Misia. Chanel has out-Chaneled itself with this crisp and clear iris.
  • Neela Vermeire- Pichola. The best tuberose of the year for this crazy tuberose person. 
  • Bruno Fazzolari- Seyrig. This was the second Fazzolari release of the year. The first, Room 237, is a brilliant achievement yet causes me real panic attacks. I don't know if there's enough Xanax in the world do make me actually review it, but Seyrig is a glass of champagne, a fur coat, and a proof that modern perfumery can still relate and connect to the great ones of the past without imitating them.
  • Stephane Humert Lucas- Mortal Skin. A departure from Lucas' recent Middle-Eastern style, Mortal Skin is an unsettling spicy musk and skin, clean and dirty at the same time, very intimate and definitely not a crowd pleaser. The bottle representing a snake molting its skin is a perfect fit: disturbing and beautiful.
  • Papillon Artisan Perfumery- Salome. This one was a gift to all of us who collect vintage perfumes and weep over their mostly-dead bodies. Rich, animalic, floral, and mossy, this beauty pushed me to rediscover the rest of the Papillon line and fall in love.
  • Arquiste- Nanban. Full-bodied and spirited, East-meets-West and takes it on a breath-taking tour.
  • Atelier des Ors- Larmes du Desert. Someone had to make a perfect incense fragrance this year and newcomer Atelier des Ors delivered. Dry, golden, and wrapped in myrrh this is a real treat. 
Please visit my friends at Bois de Jasmin,  Grain de Musc, Now Smell This, and Perfume Posse for more top ten and year in review posts. What were your perfume standouts in 2015?

Image via  Carmen Dell'Orefice for Tri-Colore by Michel Cosmetics 1960

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and peace on Earth to us all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Nasomatto- Black Afgano

Here come the dumb,     
The lonely and the rum, 
The wild and the quiet,  
Thud goes the drum.     

Crackle goes the bonfire
Glowing in the white snow,
Swish go the tails,          
Swinging through the light snow. 
Thus goes the drumming
In the black, black night.

Tove Jansson, Moominland Midwinter (Chapter 4, About the lonely and the rum)

The last time I referenced Moominland Midwinter in connection with a winter solstice perfume it was 2009 and I was wearing Fendi Theorema, a warm and joyful discontinued gem that's full of sunshine and holiday spirit. Tonight I was aiming for a certain dark edginess and reached for my bottle of Black Afgano by Nasomatto, a 2009 release that seems to be quite polarizing among fragonerd online communities. Wearing Black Afgano I am yet again confused and slightly amused. Not so much by the perfume itself or its composition but by the reaction and hype around it.

The edginess of Black Afgano was prompted by drug references, similarly to Nasomatto's China white. From the name perfumer Alessandro Gualtieri gave his black juice to the marketing spin (and all the tongue-in-cheek intentionally bad puns in Luckyscent's copy). It can probably also be attributed to the fact that it's a smoky perfume, which is not everyone's favorite thing. Black Afgano is also heavy on the wood notes, from reasonably realistic to a very obvious non-oud thing. I guess it's a love-or-hate thing and I happen to enjoy it quite a bit for reasons I'll explain below. Still,  I have to admit that this perfume is as edgy or offbeat as all those tails going swish in front of the winter solstice bonfire in Moominvalley's black, black night.

On my skin Black Afgano is surprisingly cozy. It took me a while to see the resemblance to Boccanera, another Alessandro Gualtieri fragrance from his Orto Parisi line. Now I get it. While Boccanera is toying with the gourmand by pairing dry cocoa and creamy sandalwood the Nasomatto perfume refused to go there. The heavy (and somewhat heavy-handed) layer upon layer of various woods create a warm nest. You just want to crawl inside with your favorite mug full of hot chocolate and inhale  the wafting smoke.

The wood pile is a bit abstract. I get hints of sandalwood similar to the one in Boccanera (fake and cedar-like, and that's half the point, I'm guessing), a mock oud with whiffs of dry incense and tobacco (the legal kind, as far as I can tell, though I'm not an authority on the subject). The longer Black Afgano remains on skin (and believe me: it remains and doesn't go anywhere, sometimes for days) the balsamic aspect mellows into a sweeter and flatter concoction that I find quite comforting and comfortable. There is a hint of chocolaty patchouli and a splatter of coffee beans, but I never feel like I'm wearing a full-on gourmand perfume.  It's sweet yet not sticky, smoky but not completely burnt, and honestly, more dark espresso brown than pitch black. I don't mind because this is fun and easy to wear, fuzzy like my old shawl, and at this point also as familiar as the outline of  a creature from a favorite childhood book.

Nasomatto- Black Afgano ($185, 30ml extrait de parfum) is available from Luckyscent, Barneys, and Neiman Marcus.

Image; detail from one of Tove Jansson's illustrations for Moominland Midwinter, 1957.

Monday, December 21, 2015

How I Won The Dry Skin War

I think it's finally safe to say that I won the battle against my cuir de crocodile. Long time readers may remember that extremely dry skin on my limbs had plagued me since early childhood. Legs that looked like parched earth, arms that flaked at first touch. You can imagine my mortification as a kid and a teen, the mockery, and the vats of lotions, oils, and other remedies that I've slathered over the decades. I can probably grease my way to the moon and back with all that body butter. It's been under control in recent years. Having access to the best products (of which there are many, unlike in the 70s and 80s) and doing a lot of research has definitely paid off. I've reviewed many oils, lotions, creams, and treatments on this blog over the (nearly ten) years, and a quick search will bring you the best of the best among them. I'm still loving everything shea butter, L'Occitane, Tatcha, and Nuxe products, various elixirs (Aftelier), and have added La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume to my arsenal, as well as the drugstore wonder AmLactin. But the most important part is having a simple routine that works, and exfoliating within an inch of my life. And that's what this post is about.

It starts even before the shower. Dry skin brushing is good for skin, circulation, and feels amazing. I get my brushes on and often see similar ones at Ulta. I also use this brush during my shower, because why not? Best back-scratch ever.

The game-changer is the 5 Acid Body Peel from Makeup Artist's Choice ($52.50, I use various peels on my face, so it makes sense to have one for the body as well, especially since over the years I've learned that lotions that contain some form of AHA are the best long-term treatment. It took me some time to perfect my shower routine around the body peel. The annoying part is that you need to use it on clean skin, then let it sit for ten minutes before rinsing. It's not like I can watch YouTube makeup videos in the shower  while waiting, and since you have this sticky substance on you do not want to wander in the buff all over the house. I find that using on damp skin shortens the waiting time. I use these five minutes to file and exfoliate my feet. It might not be the perfect solution, but it works for me and gives me the coveted results; soft, normal looking skin. The first couple of rounds I did have resulted in visible flaking for the first day after usage. Since then it's just maintenance of that soft skin (the peel contains 20% Lactic Acid, 5% Glycolic Acid, 5% Mandelic Acid, 2% Citric Acid,  and 1% Salicylic Acid, so it's quite potent, and I can't stress enough the importance of patch testing, especially if have no previous experience with these acids).

I love oils for face, body, and hair. Other than my severe (and growing) allergy to coconut oil I've found that I can use almost anything, but my favorite over the last couple of years has been camellia oil. There are some sumptuous blends on the market, especially those from natural perfumers, but I'm hooked on this simple  Japanese-made, organic, cold-pressed oil that can be ordered on amazon (around $27, 16 oz). It's unscented, so all you smell is "oil", and I use it on damp hair and body before leaving the bathroom.

I still use AmLactin (12% lactic acid with the green label and green pump, available at drugstores and from countless online sources, around $20 for 20oz but varies) at other times. If I showered at night it is my morning treatment, and vice versa. I usually keep the bottle by my bed, so it's within reach and sight. It's an AHA treatment, but very very mild compared to a peel, and the results can be seen long-term. The smell is the one problem. Don't use it before a romantic date, unless your thing is burnt plastic with a touch of urea. The only solution I've found is topping it with a scented body oil (Aftelier hair and body elixirs are a favorite, but also Caudalie Divine Oil, Nuxe dry oil, and just about anything to make the smell go away). I also use AmLactin as a hand cream, since it absorbs right away and doesn't smear on the keyboard.

La Roche-Posay Lipikar ($30 at Ulta) might just be the best body cream I know. It's unscented, absorbs right away, and clams my skin if it's itchy or sensitive. I don't need it as much as I used to before my peel+camellia oil routine, but I keep a tube on my dressing room to use before getting ready, especially when tights and lycra are involved. It's also great post hair-removal and gives me that satisfaction that all French pharmacy cosmetics do, like I'm part of a special club. Obnoxious, I know, but these mildly-priced overachieving French products work like nothing else.

There you have it. All my secrets for not looking and feeling like a hairy armadillo. I wish I could travel back in time and help my eight, fourteen, or twenty year old self who felt that all the Nivea cream in the world could not help.

Top image: Basel Zoological garden by Hedwig Keerl Thoma, 1922

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Make Up For Ever 15 Artist Shadow Palette

Nowhere on the packaging or in any of the accompanying materials does it say that Make Up For Ever 15 Artist Shadow Palette is a Holiday 2015 item, but it is a limited edition, even though the eye shadows themselves are part of the permanent collection and can be purchased individually. I picked it because I had my eye on several of these colors, loved the textures and performance, and it is a spectacular value ($59 for $221 worth of product. Individual Make Up For Ever eye shadows retail for $21 each, though there is a sliding scale when you buy more of them, and the eye shadows in the Artist Palette are slightly smaller than the full size: 0.06 oz compared to 0.07oz). In any case, I could not resist the offer and the colors, some of which were completely absent from my collection.

Make Up For Ever 15 Artist Shadow Palette offers fifteen colors from neutral to disco in various finishes. The texture is impeccable, even though if in some of them you need to break into the pan a little before you get the actual perfection. They are smooth, densely packed, saturated to the max, and does not cause fallout on one's cheeks, even if the palette itself can get a bit messy with continued use. The best brushes to use with these Make Up For Ever shadows are of medium firmness, not your fluffiest gray squirrels, but blended bristles instead (Hakuhodo has several synthetic+squirrel and synthetic+goat that work well, as does pony hair). Some of the colors are so bright and bold that I keep them close to the lashline and don't blend them too much, while others can be melted into each other.

Make Up For Ever give their eye shadows letters and numbers instead of magical names. I appreciate the no-nonsense attitude, even if sometimes it's hard to remember which is which. In any case, this is what we have here, top to bottom, left to right (the colors are arranged in trios that can form a full look, though obviously you can mix and match to your heart's desire):

The neutral cool trio:
I-550   an iridescent medium taupe (what MUFE call Iridescent" is what I'd refer to as low-shimmer/satin
S-522 satin beige champagne, super buttery
I-528 an iridescent off-white, a true highlighter, even more buttery.

The warm earthy trio:
I-524 an iridescent peachy-pink beige
D-826 diamond (high shimmer) rosy plum with brown leanings
I-662 an iridescent golden amber

The reason I almost didn't buy this palette trio:
I-916 the palest frosted lilac
D-830 brown with purple glitter. Once you get past the outer layer it is much softer, smoother, and far less glittery. Don't overblend.
I-922 electric violet, actually a MUFE blush color if you can believe it.

The reason I did buy the palette trio:
D-236 diamond Caribbean water
S-228 satin (demi-matte, actually) petrol blue. To die for.
ME-216 metallic (not really, more gleam than metal) medium blue

Ye Ole Smoky Eye trio:
S-102 satin black
S-114 the lightest satiny dove gray
ME-122 super shiny white

Not all of the colors are complex or extremely unique, but they're useful, layer very well to create more combination, and wear the way they should: like a pro product. The little booklet that comes with the palette offers five tutorials to get you started. from there it's a matter of creativity and courage to leave the house wearing electric blue.

Bottom Line: I'm hooked.

Make Up For Ever 15 Artist Shadow Palette ($59, made in Italy) is available from Sephora, online and in store. The palette is a limited edition, the eye shadows themselves are not.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Currently- December 2015

I read the NY Times interview with Charlotte Rampling. She's promoting her new movie, "45 years" based on a short story by David Constantine. I bought and downloaded his collection "In Another Country" and have immersed myself in its melancholy.

An old and good one: Colin Hay- Waiting for My Real Life to Begin.  I love this guy and have seen him live a few years ago. Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman were in the audience. In case you wondered: Hugh Jackman is a wonderful dancer.

Waiting for the new season of Transparent. Tried watching Jessica Jones, and I should have liked it but didn't, despite Krysten Ritter being my girl crush. I guess it's the subject matter.
And can we talk for a second about Once Upon a Time? To say that it jumped the shark is a ridiculous understatement. It's more like the show has somersaulted the shark and was then eaten by it.

Vintage Bal a Versailles. I can't get enough lately. Thankful for having quite a few backups.

All the eye shadows in the world. Each and every one.

Frequently Worn Outfit/Item
Sweaters. It's not cold enough to wear coats or heavy jackets, so it's light cashmere sweaters with everything.

Guilty Pleasure
Ginger snaps. I forgot how much I love them.

I'm in a food rut, actually. Half the time I can't even remember what I like. I miss summer tomatoes.

An old injury (old as from high school) has been bothering me some mornings. Thankfully, cranking up the heat makes it go away.

Our guest room has seen several occupants over the last month, and our living room even more. Apparently I'm more social than I ever thought.

Our annual staycation between Christmas and the New Year.

This is ridiculous, I know, especially since I usually stay far far away from obviously branded items. I have an old Burberry scarf that I love and wear because it's not in the traditional colors and the plaid is more subtle. But here I am, going nuts over this twist on the classic. The polka dots come in other colors, but I love the burnt orange. LOVE. $650 on

Random Thought
My iPod is really cheating when in shuffle mode. And it needs to explain its unnatural attachment to Richard Shindell. Enough is enough.

How are you doing? Please share your recommendations, loves, banes, and random thoughts!

Art: Charles Burchfield- Rainy Night, 1930

Friday, December 11, 2015

FOTD Featuring Kjaer Weis F/W 2105 Collection

I created this casual look centered on Kjaer Weis latest releases for fall/winter 2015. The feel of the collection is quite autumnal and warm, but since the textures are almost ethereal it is not your typical heavy on the berry kind of thing, but more of the melancholy of fallen leaved. It's very pretty, but also sheer and light, and my guess is that Kirsten Kjaer Weis had a somewhat different customer in mind when creating it: a person with pale, almost translucent skin and blue eyes that reflect the northern sky.

On this Jersey girl these colors create an effortless natural look. I could have fortified with colored bases and whatnot, but wanted to maintain the natural lightness of the Kjaer Weis aesthetics. I didn't use the beautiful Kjaer Weis foundation because I'm horribly allergic to the coconut oil in its base. It makes me sad.

Here's what I did:

Face primer- YSL Touche Eclat Blur
Foundation- Edward Bess sheer Satin Cream Compact Foundation in Natural
Concealer- Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage
Powder- Cle de PEau

Kjaer Weis cream blush Above & Beyond applied generally and smoothed out with a Beauty Blender (I could probably use more color).

NARS pencil just through the tail end.

Kjaer Weis  Captivate Kip Tint
Sisley The Glace lip liner (discontinued). It's a perfect match to the lip tint, and I find it necessary to keep the slippery lip color in place without scattering micro gold shimmer all over. The Sisley pencil is wonderful, but I'm sure you can find a MAC equivalent.

MAC Ricepaper all over the lid, applied with a wide and large brush. Then I went in with a Paula Dorf sheer Crease using the Kjaer Weis eye shadow in Transcend both in the crease and outer V, blending it into a semless look.
Eyeliner It Cosmetics Silk Taupe
Mascara MAC Zoom Lash.

Scent of that day was Tom Ford Purple Patchouli (discontinued). You could have smelled me across the bridge.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

It Cosmetics Silk Taupe Liner Love Waterproof Anti-Aging Crème Gel Eye Liner

I was at Ulta, browsing the It Cosmetics display and giving it suspicious looks as I'm prone to do with stuff that tends to be overhyped (and often sponsored) on YouTube. The I noticed two things about the Crème Gel Eye Liner: they had one called "Silk Taupe", and the box said "Made in Korea". Into the basket it went.

Let's get the "anti-aging" thing out of the way first. We're talking about an eyeliner. It goes just above the lash line. Even if it's chock-full of antioxidants and whatnots, how much anti-aging can it actually achieve? It's really nonsense, especially considering that the most effective ingredients for the purpose are various acids of the kind no one puts in a product that goes almost into the eyes. With that said, It Cosmetics' other claim of a waterproof consistency is bang on. As soon as it sets, the eyeliner will not budge, and you need to soak it off with an oil or dual-phase cleanser to remove it. I usually start with Bioderma and then take off the rest of the debris with my oil cleanser, to make sure nothing is left among the lashes.

Application is easy and smooth as promised. The gel-cream is pliable and work well with every brush I've tried. It goes on, stays put, and whatever the "peptide lash serum" they use is, it feels nice. The color can fade a little during the day and appear paler, but since the one I bought (so far) is Silk Taupe that I designated for softer looks, it's not much of an issue. Id love to hear how the black one fares if any of you have it. Of course, I'm also considering Midnight Navy (though one look at my eyeliner collection informed me that I really don't need it).

Silk Taupe is more of a muted brown, a soft and very beautiful color. I love using this kind of shades when doing a heavier than normal line. Using a white primer underneath brings out the taupiness, and I like that it dries down into a matte finish that goes so well with seasonal browns and rust shades. Longevity, as I mentioned, is phenomenal.

Bottom Line: Fabulous.

It Cosmetics Silk Taupe Liner Love Waterproof Anti-Aging Crème Gel Eye Liner ($24, made in Korea) is available at Ulta.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Olivia Palermo x Ciaté London The Smouldering Eye Palette

I told you I was going to do it. I fell deeply in love with the Olivia Palermo x Ciaté London Smoky Suedes Eye Palette I was sent last month, so I could not resist buying its sibling,  The Smouldering Eye Palette. Because blue eye shadow.

I already talked about the wonderful texture and pigment intensity in the other Olivia Palermo x Ciaté palette. I get the most satisfying looks when using my stiffer lay-down brushes, such as Hakuhodo J121G (horse hair) and J127 (same), and blending with the gentlest, fluffiest ones (Hakuhodo S142 is probably the best for this purpose). I don't know what Olivia Palermo thinks of Fergie and her Wet'n'Wild collection, but I find that the primer from that line is the perfect companion to these eye shadows.

The eye shadows in the Smouldering Eye Palette give kind of a moody ambiance. Blue and aubergine can be rather flamboyant, but there's no hint of the 80s in this palette. The colors are opaque but not bold, and the results I get are wonderfully season-appropriate. And have I mentioned how much I enjoy the texture?

Here are the colors:
Top row, left to right-
Camo (murky olive, almost metallic smooth finish that leans bronze)
London (smoky charcoal, matte)
Pisces (gray pearl with smooth bright shimmer)
Double Denim (dark indigo, between satin and shimmer, not as bright as in the pan)
Butler (same as in the green Suede palette, a matte ivory beige)
Bottom row, left to right:
Amaretto (matte aubergine that leans brown)
Mulberry (high shimmer and slightly brighter aubergine)
Penny Jar (stunning high shimmer complex color that looks anywhere between grayed purple and purpled taupe.
Blondie (matte medium greige that leans a bit cool)

Bottom Line: Very very satisfying.

Olivia Palermo x Ciaté London The Smouldering Eye Palette ($39, made in Italy) is a limited edition item, exclusive to Sephora.

Parfumerie Générale- Intrigant Patchouli

I guess this is patchouli week. Last night we talked about Chantecaille's Kalimantan (and Uncle Serge's Borneo 1834), which made me think of another modern favorite: Intrigant Patchouli from Pierre Guillaume's original lineup for Parfumerie Générale. It's another chocolate-free patchouli, supposedly inspired by the great chypres of yore. I must confess, though, that while I understand how the note pyramid is of that classic structure (something that Pierre Guillaume is very meticulous about in his work), the actual living creature on my skin is decidedly a modern patchouli and not a mossy leathery chypre.

I talked about balance in my Kalimantan review, and that seems to be the secret of a good patchouli. The complexity of a fiery opening that crackles and sparkles with spices before it unfolds as a mysterious ambery patchouli. There's a dirty element there that has bits of the forest floor as well as the beasts that inhabit its darkest corners. At the same time, a powdery and slightly sweet note transport us in time to somewhat old-fashioned rooms covered in floral wallpaper.

Intrigant Patchouli moves between two points: a smoldering and rather fierce earthy patchouli and a kind of Victorian sepia photograph, romantic and even melancholy. The connecting piece is an animalic note, musky-civety, that takes both the powdery chintz and the wild patchouli and brings them together into a coherent blend. Weird? Yes, I do think that Intrigant Patchouli is weird. It challenges the concept of vintage-like perfumes, modern patchoulis, and my own idea of a chypre. It  emerges a winner.

Parfumerie Générale- Intrigant Patchouli ($85, 1 oz eau de parfum. Also comes in a 3.4oz) is available from Osswald NYC and Luckyscent (the latter stocks the 1.7 oz).

Photo: model Natalia Semanova for a Vogue Paris editorial.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Vintage Hats Part II

Dovima in the center, photo by Richard Avedon

I got a PR pitch this morning alerting me that next month (January 15th) is National Hat Day and that I should be posting something about it. Their suggestion was that I feature a particularly unappealing brand of woolly hats, but that's not how I do things. So instead I decided to continue the Vintage Hat series with today's post and a third installment on the actual National Hat Day, because, why not?

Anne St Marie in 1956 Photo by Erwin Blumenfeld

Brigitte Bardot in 1968 on the set of Shalako.  Sean Connery was also there, but who cares?

Fashion illustration for Bruyere, 1946. The house also had perfumes that go well with these hats (and gowns)

A 1960s shot of a brunette Catherine Deneuve. I had to do some googling to verify it was really her.

I love the atmosphere in this 1962 photo. I want to be her. Via

This 1959 ad is for Christian Dior shoes but the hat steals the show.

An ad for Coty cosmetics from 1943 (notice the "Buy war bonds" at the bottom. The hat is as awesome as it gets. 
Dior. Who else? Bleu de Perse’. Autumn/Winter 1955-56, photo by Regina Relang.

More Dior, from the legendary 1959 photoshoot in Moscow, by photographer Howard Sochurek for Life Magazine

A couple of decades back: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr and wife Joan Crawford, 1932

Dovima wearing a fuchsia silk dress by Dior.  Photo by Henry Clarke, 1956

Prim and proper, Givenchy 1960 for Ladies Home Journal.

Not exactly the finest fashion moment of Princess Grace. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy seems to agree, 1961.

A modern classic, model Helena Christensen. I wish I had saved my copy of  Vogue September 1991 issue with the Wild at Heart fashion spread by Peter Lindbergh.

And the inspiration: Marlon Brando in The Wild One, 1953.
Any vintage hat post needs a Jacques Fath hat from the 1950s.

Jean Patou coats and matching hats from the 60s. 

Why not match your hat to your eye shadow? Detail from a 1981 Lancome ad.

Among the things I didn't wear in 1986: Laura Ashley.

Mia Farrow in the 60s. Perfection.

Photos via several sources, including, Life Magazine, and Conde Nast archives.