Yves St. Laurents ~ Paris

By now almost everyone knows of my passion for Nuit de Noel at Christmas time but besides my beloved Caron the other fragrance that I crave in December is Yves St. Laurent's completely irrepressible Paris!  For some reason, this is the perfume that I love to travel with and do so as often as possible! Maybe it's simply a matter of the power of suggestion, could anyone possibly resist a perfume named after the one of the sexiest, most luscious cities in the world?  I don’t know about you but I’m just not that strong! 
I personally find Paris to be a very appropriate winter fragrance for many different occasions, whether it  be a December wedding, Christmas tea, or a slowly unfolding morning spent with the New York Times Style section while drinking tea and eating warm chocolate croissants with your lover in bed.  Paris is a fragrance that works equally as well with denim or cashmere and I've worn it with all that or nothing at all.  It’s a bit like your favorite gold necklace, you know....the one that nestles between your breasts just so and warms very quickly, smelling of sweet skin and metal. 
This isn’t a pretentious fragrance, it's lighthearted, fun and just sweet enough to be coy, yet when that vanilla warms up watch out because Paris not unlike the city it’s named for is just so very sexy and  as so many things Parisian tend to do becomes very edible.  Whenever I wear this one,  I’m usually struck by a sudden longing for a bottle of Veuve Cliquot and a fancy box of foiled covered marrons glaces from La Maison du Chocolat ...... not to mention my utterly darling husband.   Did I fail to mention that it also inspires a strangely obsessive craving for just about anything La Perla and last but not least  any saucy thing written by Nin or Colette? I’m completely serious....try it and see!
Every year a new limited edition version of this scent is launched with a different and gorgeous variation of the bottle, however the traditional formulation of Paris still remains my tried and true favorite.  It just makes me so happy every time that I wear it because I'm always whisked back to the pastries and macarons from Bouchon Bakery, fresh flowers and the strolls down 5th Avenue in December that I enjoy with Jim while we munch on  bags of steaming, freshly roasted chestnuts.   Paris is a brightly contemporary yet truly seductive fragrance, elegant and redolent of vanilla, rose, bergamot and sandalwood, conjured with just enough violet to make any sort of holiday magic possible!
If you are now so very tempted  (And I hope that you will be!) you’ll find Yves Saint Laurent's Paris very easily at almost any Nordstoms, Dillards or Saks Fifth Avenue.
Originally Published in The Perfume Magazine

Ramon Monegal ~ Pure Mariposa

“I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naive or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.” - Anais Nin
I believe Ramón Monegal to be such a man. 
When you get to enjoy as much new perfume as I do every year, there is always the chance that you’ll eventually become a little bit jaded. In 2012, a year where there were approximately 1400 new fragrances introduced into an already swollen marketplace it would be hard to envision anything that would stand out so much that I would end up feeling as if I couldn’t sleep peacefully until I’d owned at least one bottle. 
I have written prior to this that I truly wasn’t looking forward to the onslaught of fragrance introductions in 2013; however I have found that I must now eat my words. The perfumes of Ramón Monegal have completely captivated me and allowed me to believe once again in the magic and true artistry that can be created when an exquisitely talented nose is given free rein over the tools needed to create olfactory alchemy.
He has the sorcerer’s touch; the ability to create perfumes that are instant and enduring classics. These are the perfumes that I know that I’ll be reaching for 10 and 20 years from now because they are crafted of pure emotion and the notes used are woven together like a rich and subtle tapestry. These perfumes spin fascinating tales told not through melody, paint or prose, but that are instead experienced through the most primitive of our senses which is why I believe that a RM perfume hits it’s desired mark every time. Move over Tom Ford. I think that I’ve fallen in love.
I first became acquainted with these extraordinary fragrances when last month I walked into a perfume store in La Jolla, California that had changed hands in the last year. I definitely need to admit right here and now that it’s always a lot of fun when people find out that I write for the industry because that’s when they begin to break out their very best bottles. It’s not only flattering but I always get to learn a thing or two. 
“Have you smelled anything by Ramón Monegal?” I was asked and then they slowly and effectively began to peel away my willpower with some of the loveliest and most creative perfumes that I’ve enjoyed in years. I mean, how can you possibly not adore a perfume named “Kiss My Name” or “Impossible Iris”? Resistance was futile and anyhow would have taken a far more sensible woman than I know myself to be.
I returned home from California and a few days later received a positively ebullient phone call from Raphaella Barkley, my Editor in Chief. “I have something that you must smell immediately, ” she said. I was ecstatic when I discovered that the scent in question was an exclusive for Neiman Marcus; a beauty named Pure Mariposa. Mariposa means “Butterfly” in Spanish and was created by the same brilliant nose whose acquaintance I had just made two weeks before.  
Whereupon reading the first few lines from the press release I was completely intrigued, The Inspiration: “The butterfly is an extraordinary creature that embodies many of the values that motivate me when I look for inspiration to fashion an olfactory tale in the form of a perfume”  
By the time I’d gotten through the first descriptive paragraph I just knew that I was going to love it.
“The Perfume: Memorable, feminine, resplendent, light and persistent. A harmonious, colorful and elegant floral nectar accord (tuberose, gardenia, orchid) with a festive tone (orange blossom) dressed in a dew covered green forest (oak moss, sandalwood), pure and vital, surrounded by a rejuvenating breeze of ozonic air on a majestic and rich bottom accord of a noble amber and silky musk” 
Ramón Monegal is a Spanish perfumer who is based in Barcelona, blessed with impossibly good taste and the incredible ability to create perfumes that are at the same time progressive, bold yet undeniably sophisticated and worldly. To say that these fragrances are well crafted would be an insult because they are without a doubt some of the finest examples of the modern perfumer’s art that I’ve had the opportunity to smell in my entire life. Because he is also a designer of the highest caliber there is not a single detail in the presentation of his line that has been overlooked. The encompassing experience of one of his fragrances is that of a piece of wearable art, designed to leave you feeling strong, wonderfully feminine and utterly exotic. 
I waited impatiently and the day arrived when the box appeared at my door, but not surprisingly it took me over an hour to sniff because I was so completely taken in by the packaging. Pure Mariposa is fashionably dressed in one of the most beautiful presentations that I’ve ever seen, enrobed in a kimono of hard white lacquer and imprinted with gossamer butterflies that would have been enough of a first clue to let me know that the perfume inside was very special indeed.  
I turned the box over and over in my hands and almost reluctantly twisted it open. I was immediately enchanted to discover the most stylistically strong perfume bottle that I’d ever seen, fashioned from a piece of Baccarat quality crystal with a perfectly fitting lid that flipped open easily, the effect of which sent me reeling back in time to the table lighters that I remember from my childhood and the glamorous women who I’d seen using them. I have no fancy ritualistic behavior that I adhere to when it comes to smelling a new fragrance; I generally just open up the sample and spritz it on. This was to be a very different day. Before I took my first sniff I was strangely compelled to go upstairs, enjoy a warm bath and dress for dinner; the second clue that I was about to be dancing with a master.  
Pure Mariposa is an absolutely gorgeous long cashmere wrap of a fragrance that clings to the body and shimmers subtly without even trying, like a long rope of milky pearls or diamonds by the yard. It is a true sophisticate and it’s not a perfume that I’d ever wear casually because it makes absolutely no sense to me in that context. It needs a bone deep and smoldering heat to bring its powerful elegance into focus. 
A veritable Garden of Eden dripping with green mosses, drenched with fleshy white flowers, juicy fruits and slippery with musk, Pure Mariposa somehow manages to be at the same time both tempting and restrained. My husband called it a laser beam of a fragrance and I think that’s quite a fine description. Personally I find Pure Mariposa to be teasingly restrained yet as bewitching as a tango. In fact I’m completely sure that if Anais Nin were alive today her signature fragrance would be Pure Mariposa and that’s the greatest compliment that I could ever give it. 
Ramon Monegal has created a line of perfumes that is that compelling, daring and courageous. You owe to yourself to try every single one. 
You can experience Pure Mariposa exclusively at Neiman Marcus.
This was originally published at The Perfume Magazine 

Carthusia "Forget me Not " Capri

As one who spends a good bit of time writing, sniffing and analyzing on an almost daily basis, I get to enjoy many unique and unusual perfumes and the discovery of each precious new scent is still a treat for me. Yet rarely do I find one that I want to own or rather that I could call my own, one that blends with my particular essence so well that feel a need to possess it.  I had long known of the House of Carthusia yet had never tried any of their fine fragrances so when I opened the provocative packaging sent to me from Raphaella while she was at Exsence in Milan, I was terribly excited to see that it contained their newest release due out in September of 2012.
Carthusia’s beautiful new perfume “Forget me Not” Capri verily defies my expectations of what that sort of fragrance should be. It’s gorgeous and because I have not one note nor pyramid to describe it with I’m left with simply prose.
I hope that my words will be enough to convey the poetry of this scent because it’s all I’ve got!
Somehow that seems appropriate because even if I knew the complexities of this particular blend I don’t think that it would mean anything. “Forget Me Not" Capri has an alchemy all of it’s own, woven of artistry, song and mythology.  This is a perfume that  literally dances with the sounds, flora and fauna of the island from which it was born.  It is captivatingly sweet and joyous.
Forget me Not Capri is a juicy fragrance, yet it’s also cool and very earthy; a perfectly witchy blend of all of the elements. On my skin it turns instantly to warm fresh figs, juicy citrus and smoky earth and soon afterwards a hint of mint comes dancing in, along with a lovely honeyed note and eucalyptus or something very sage like, I’m not at all sure what it is. 
But any perfume that can make me hungry in every sense of the word is a perfume that I want to be owned by for many years to come. 
This fragrance makes me dream of Italy, of bowls of fresh figs and creamy burrata cheese and huge platters of pasta with peas, ricotta and fresh lemon and baby lamb roasting on a fiery spit with long stems of fresh rosemary and stuffed with garlic and raisins.  In this dream there are fresh beeswax candles, the soft marine smell of the sea and coastal flowers. There is a dress of the softest linen and  a lovely evening view.  Of course because it's my dream there are plenty of soft sweet kisses to be enjoyed while wearing it, because Carthusia’s “Forget me Not” Capri is a fragrance that beckons you to come closer, to linger, to murmur and explore with your lips and tongue. 
Many a fragrance is an infusion of intense and passionate artistry and you wouldn’t really want to bury your nose in them for too long a time but this handsome Italian is different.
“Forget me Not “ is pure poetry in motion, succulent, sweet and a bardic delight that will relax, enchant you and bring you memory after memory long after the sun has set over the Tyrrhenian Sea.  I hope that I’ve whet your appetite, but sadly you’ll have to wait a while longer. Expect to see “Forget me Not “ Capri wash upon our shores in the early autumn but until then, you’ll just have to dream…

The Capri Forget Me Not is not only a Travel set, but a line that includes:
perfume (only size 50 ml) not yet in distribution  (new product –launch beginning of July 2012) (picture n.1)
a  room spray (100 ml) not yet in distribution (new product) –launch beginning ogf July2012 ) (picture n.2)
a fig scented candle
travel atomizer with three refills (medierraneo and fiori di capri scent)  
The whole line has the fragrance with mint, fig and vanilla notes. The candle smells more of fig while for the atomizer at the moment are available only in mediterraneo and Fiori di Capri scent, very soon they will come also in Capri Forget me not fragrance.
This was originally published in The Perfume Magazine

Velvet and Sweet Pea's Purrfumery ~ Fleur de Caramel Parfum and Eau de Parfum

Whenever I come home and see a package from Laurie Stern's delightful Velvet and Sweet Peas Purrfumery, I just know that my day will have taken a turn for the better. For those of you who don’t know her, Laurie is a natural perfumer and artist working in northern California who creates the most luxurious scents and body frostings that you could possibly imagine.  Her studio which she has lovingly named Velvet and Sweet Peas Purrfumery (after the adorable feline muses who live with her) is nestled high above the cliffs of San Francisco and it is here that she has created a home filled with flowers, gorgeous natural scents and all kinds of lacy treasures. Her gardens are a fragrant Shakespearean paradise that she tends lovingly with a master gardeners touch and they are filled with fuzzy fat honeybees and hummingbirds that dance like Titanias fairies, flitting from petal to petal, creating the fragrant effervescence that I am always aware of within two seconds of touching any Laurie Stern perfume to my wrists.  Her body frostings are unimaginably luxurious and so rich that she can only ship them at certain times of the year; a fact which makes them all the more precious to me. 
Laurie Stern is a true artist who makes everything that she touches more beautiful; actually I don’t think that she can help it.  Her very nature is to transform the ordinary into something extraordinary and her products although perfect in every way are only part of the magic. Getting a gift from Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery is like opening a Christmas stocking that feels so lovingly prepared that you know it will be filled with all of your favorite treats.  Laurie’s scents are filled to the brim with her wonderfully Californian hippy witch sensibilities, but make no mistake because these are serious perfumes, hand crafted only with the most beautiful natural ingredients that unfold on your skin like a blowsy old fashioned Bourbon rose as it warms up in the sun after a wee bit of gentle rain. Add a touch of oozy rich caramel and the best vanilla, a lovely Agent Provocateur bra, a velvet cape and a full moon….stir three times widdershins and watch out!  No one has perfected the art of the love potion better than she.
If you are interested in cruelty free fragrance yet want perfumes that are gorgeous, lush and sophisticated you will find them here. Laurie is a dedicated environmentalist and animal rescue Warrioress so you will never find her using any animal products in her perfumes except beeswax or raw honey.  It goes without saying that as a passionate protector of all kitties she is absolutely against the use of the natural civets or musk’s.  
Here is a link to her article entitled “The Dark side of Perfume”, which presents a detailed accounting of the journey that led her to the understanding that she could create beautiful perfumes made from cruelty free ingredients that were every bit as delicious and long lasting as anything made with essences taken without regard for the suffering of the animal that provides them. I do wish myself that there was less reliance on these ingredients so I applaud her for taking such a strong stand against them.  They come at a terrible cost to the creatures that we "harvest" them from.
I have loved all of her perfumes and until now, my favorite has been her yummy “Black Cat”, which of course I wear every Halloween!  
Laurie has given me something new to enjoy in the form of a delectable new perfume that she debuted at Taste TV’s Artisan Fragrance Salon held last month in San Francisco aptly named "Fleur de Caramel".  The packaging is incredibly beautiful in the way that only she can do. Pouches of the loveliest fabric, ribbons, lace, velvet, handmade flowers and bits of glorious gilded paper turn this bottle of eau de parfum into a luscious bon bon. Anything Laurie touches becomes precious, sensual and absolutely decadent.  She’s an artist after all and I do believe that she made exquisitely sexy wedding lingerie for either Barneys or Henri Bendel at one point early in her career so her packaging really reflects that in the most delightful way!
I find Fleur de Caramel to be absolutely bewitching and obviously I wasn’t the only one to fall hard under its spell. In San Francisco, Fleur de Caramel walked away with a Bronze Best of Salon award for best new product, as well as the Gold award for best natural scent and the Silver award for the most unique scent. I’m wearing it right now and it is gorgeous, spellbinding and edible. All of my favorite notes are here in a yummy caramel accord that she’s created of night blooming frangipani and cognac, jasmine, tuberose and a very rare sandalwood that she’s kept for ages just waiting for the right perfume to unleash its magic. Fleur de Caramel opens sweetly on my skin with a kiss of something tropical, but then very quickly melts into a rich, gooey pool of buttery brown sugar, falernum and spiced rum.  This is one of those “heaving cleavage”, very sensual perfumes that my husband loves. 
I took it to Castine, Maine on vacation with me and wore it every day. The warm and salty Atlantic air morphed it into a “Fleur de sel Caramel” which got better by the hour. My husband took one sniff and went all Captain Jack Sparrow on me.   Thank you Laurie….
Fleur de caramel is available as a beautiful perfume, eau de parfum and gorgeous crème solid. You can purchase it at
Originally published at The Perfume Magazine

She comes in colors everywhere ~ Perfumes to fall in love with this spring

I think that it was Robin Williams who said “Spring is Natures way of saying Let’s Party!”  These days I couldn’t agree more. It’s been unusually warm here in Cleveland, 86 degrees yesterday and it would seem that March has become the new May! Daffodil’s and forsythia are blooming everywhere, my crabapple trees are filled to bursting with creamy pink and white buds and every rose bush in my yard is filled with beautiful green leaves and the promise of many a bloom. It’s usually still snowing here this time of year so all fears about climate change aside I’ll take it!  Here in Ohio we’re definitely due for a break! It’s been sunny for well over half of the winter, a welcome change from the normal gray skies that usually settle over us Midwesterners for well over 5 long months of the year.
I’ve noticed though that this very warm weather has made me crave my favorite springtimescents earlier than usual. The smell of spring is everywhere and my senses are definitely and delightfully confused. My beloved lilies of the Valley are sending up green shoots everywhere causing me to grab my bottle of Annick Goutal’s Muguet eau de parfum and spray myself with abandon.  I’ve worn Muguet for several years now and I never tire of it, but usually it doesn’t smell right to me until May when my skin is warm and the air is heavy with springtime.  Muguet is definitely a fine lily of the valley perfume yet there’s a fruity twist lingering in it….something that has always seemed to me to be a splash of ripe pear or magnolia.  It’s playful, fairy kissed and more than a little delicious.  Speaking of which, my magnolia is in full bloom and it’s only March 20th. WOW…no wonder my senses are confused!
I’m also currently spraying lot of Pacifica’s lovely and very romanticFrench Lilac which is an absolute must if you’ve never tried it.  Don’t be fooled by the inexpensive price tag because it's really beautiful and it lasts! It’s quite a guilty pleasure for me and  generally you can find it at any Whole Foods store.  Because this delicious Lilac is so affordable I end up buying a couple of bottles and some of the candles and use it to scent everything from all of my linens to the dog. It’s really quite fabulous and is to me the scent of the wonderful old farmhouse that my husband grew up in and more recently our cotton hammock which is about to make an early appearance in our yard, strung up between the two lovely old apple trees. Did I mention that they’re about to start blooming as well? Everything is fecund; simply covered with bees and buds!
However If I were to choose a fragrance that is for me the very essence of springtime  it would have to be Diorissimo, that truly lovely fragrance by the House of Dior that hardly needs any introduction at all.  Diorissimo has been my signature scent since I was very young, one of the most famous of the lily of the valley perfumes and for me none of the others will ever compare. I’m never without a bottle of it; it is my Chanel Number 5, the classic that I turn to time after time when nothing else seems to work. Diorissimo always feels just right and I always begin to wear it as soon as the first buds are just beginning to appear. This fragrance makes me feel light hearted, sexy and optimistic; I love it because I can spray it all over with abandon but still only leave a sheer and practically effervescent sillage in my wake!
By Beth Schreibman-Gehring
I have to laugh when I tell you that not so innocently I tried this perfume for the very first time at age 18 when I learned that it was Mick Jagger's  favorite.  Once I bought my first bottle I was smitten but sadly Mick never discovered that I was alive, despite my persistence in following the Rolling Stones around on tour for an entire summer.  The best news though is that my husband Jim totally adores it and so does my son, who announced to me one day that he would know if he’d found the right girl because she’d smell like his grandmas lilies of the valley, a scent from his childhood that was truly provocative for him and a passion that I understand as lilies of the valley are my very favorites of the springtime blooms.  I’ll never forget when he shyly told me that the lovely young girl that he’d fallen madly in love with at the tender age of 15 had come dancing up to him with the gift of a fresh sprig of those shimmering white flowers in her hand; he was completely smitten. 
Diorissimo is Coty's Muguet du Bois on steroids, a true Lily of the Valley fragrance and is the only one of it's kind to really capture the essence of that beautiful little flower that appears mysteriously for a few fleeting weeks come the merry month of May. It is innocent yet very sexy and the word “mod” comes to mind, yet at the same time it’s a true classic, a total paradox of a perfume. I can imagine wearing it with a jaunty cap, go - go boots and a sexy brightly hued mini dress in the late 60’s yet at the same time it can be is such a dressy fragrance.  I’ll wear it dancing at a black tie ball yet just as often with torn denim and linen. I love to wear it when I go out riding and it smells the best when mixed with the scents of fine bridle leather , a glorious thoroughbred and the springtime forest. If I had a grand daughter, I wouldn't hesitate to buy some for her, because Diorissimo is very innocent, wonderfully lady like and like a perfect strand of pearls , always just right. I doubt that there's anyone left in the world who hasn't tried it, but if you've never smelled this beauty this would definitely be the time. After all, it's spring and just the right time to fall head over heels in love again. If you don't believe me, just ask my husband……
Originally published in The Perfume Magazine

Robert Piguet ~ Mademoiselle


My first response upon opening a generous sample of Robert Piguet’s newest fragrance Mademoiselle was to be completely intrigued because I wasn't at all sure what to expect. At first glance the presentation was exquisite and classic Piguet, but there was something just a little bit decadent about it leaving me to wonder what sort of treat I was in for. I opened the package and was mesmerized by the glossy bottle, turning it over and over in my hands. It was stunning, the traditional tall black glass flacon with the prettiest fuchsia and white label that was the color of an abundant bougainvillea tumbling over a wrought iron gate in the courtyard of an antiquated Bourbon Street garden. I knew before I sprayed it that I would love it, but I really didn’t know just how much. I have been a devoted Fracas wearer for my entire life because I love the way it makes me feel. Fracas is fleshy, sultry, gorgeous and I wear it when I want to bring the bombshell out to play.  Mademoiselle is another sort of perfume entirely. It wants to take me to Claridge's for afternoon tea in a vintage black dress, sassy garter belt and pearls. It's definitely a bombshell, but it's just a little more demure.  
​The Press from Robert Piguet states that the "Radiant Mademoiselle Piguet captures the beguiling beauty of orange blossoms, from their bright verdancy to their rich warmth. The exhilarating citrus prelude suggests a lighthearted character, while the smoky sweetness of tonka beans lends Mademoiselle Piguet a sensual touch. Clinging to the skin like warm silk, Mademoiselle Piguet enchants with its gentle and charming scent. She is delicate and irresistible, innocent and sultry, part Lolita and part Louise Brooks". 
"With Mademoiselle Piguet, Robert Piguet Parfums has chosen to pay tribute to both the romantic and sensual associations of orange blossom. Mademoiselle Piguet is a new generation floral fragrance, but its alluring character makes it a perfect addition to the Piguet family of feminine masterpieces". 
Created by star Perfumer Aurélien Guichard, the lovely Mademoiselle is simply the most feminine perfume that I’ve enjoyed in many years. I’ve noticed that it’s a real head turner, probably because it's instantly recognizable and emotionally unforgettable. It seems timeless to me and not very easy to define, which is why I love it so much. When I wear it, Mademoiselle conjures in me the same emotions that I experience every time I look at that amazing Eisenstadt photograph, which you'll remember as the iconic image of the sailor swooping up the lovely unknown woman for a passionate embrace on V-J Day. 
It’s so completely romantic that it's perfectly suited as a Bridal or Cotillion fragrance, but that's not why I love it. To my devil may care heart this new Piguet is soft and beautiful but with a very sexy and reckless edge. Knowing myself as I do it’s probably a dangerous perfume for me to wear but alas it's too late…I am completely smitten with it.  
It's just so very French and feminine and in my mind no other perfumer can create that aromatic razor's edge of sensual/sexual tension like Aurélien Guichard. He is the master of the heady erotic art of tortuous understatement in perfume. 
There's a shimmering sweetness in Mademoiselle that is reminiscent of an afternoon spent drinking Kir Royales and eating some fabulous chocolate yet at the same time.
This perfume possesses a hidden sultry twist somewhere deep in her heart that's a bit reminiscent of a Royal gin fizz drunk in the wee hours of the morning, soft and sweet on the tongue and drenched in orange blossom, smoky sweet tonka bean, refreshing bergamot and just a bit of Coltrane mixed in for the magic. It makes me crave a cigarette but just not any cigarette… I want a hand rolled cigarette.  
I want to be in Paris with my husband at The Hotel San Regis, smoking that cigarette and lounging about in a warm and creamy cashmere robe. The only other thing that I’d need would be that Gin Fizz and perfect Egyptian cotton sheets but at this point I will stop myself and say no more.
However as wonderful as Paris could/would be, at this very moment I’m sitting in a fabulous ocean front hotel patio in La Jolla California overlooking the azure waters of the Pacific with an icy cold Chopin martini in hand, perfectly mixed by my husband, sunset, sailboats and seagulls in the distance and Miles Davis playing through the Jambox. I'm wearing a flowery Lily Pulitzer, pearls, smoking that same cigarette and wearing just a bit of Mademoiselle. It still feels and smells absolutely appropriate. 
Life at this very moment couldn't be more delightful and Mademoiselle is the perfect touchstone for this time and place. Mademoiselle Piguet is a bottle full of toothsome magic and comes complete with a beautiful genie who knows how manifest your most deeply hidden desires. With the odds so cleverly stacked in your favor why would you not dare to make all of your dreams come true?  
Originally published in The Perfume Magazine

Robert Piguet ~Douglas Hannant

Upon my first glance at the Robert Piguet black bottle with it’s fabulous crème label that bears the cipher of society fashion designer Douglas Hannant, I was thoroughly intrigued! Douglas Hannant de Robert Piguet is the first original fragrance to be released by the venerable House of Robert Piguet since the 1960’s and since Fracas has been a staple in many a woman’s fragrance wardrobe since the late 40’s  (including yours truly!)  I figured that it would have to be pretty special to be allowed to bear the branding of that iconic fragrance house.
I wasn’t disappointed, greedily I opened the sample, sprayed a bit on my wrist and fell madly in love!  Douglas Hannant de Robert Piguet takes my breath away every time, it simply smolders with sexiness yet exudes a buttery rich creaminess that makes it stunning and easy to enjoy.Aurelien Guichard, the incredibly talented and decadently handsome perfumer for Robert Piguet has blended Gardenia and Tuberose with so much skill that this has become a fragrance that I love to wear everywhere and for almost every occasion. 
Douglas Hannant has made his niche by dressing the well heeled society set so of course this was the perfume that I had to wear the day that I chaired the 90th anniversary fashion show for the Women’s Committee of The Cleveland Orchestra. I chose it as my fragrant talisman along with my very patrician mothers opera length grey pearls, but I’ve also taken it to play in the California surf, to a Derby Day party, sailing on Lake Erie, to the Field Hunter Trials and the Oak Room for drinks as well as several lovely cities east and west including Las Vegas where it took me dancing way to long  past midnight. Wherever and whenever we go out to play, it never fails me.
Whatever alchemy was used by the Aurelien Guichard to create this fragrance is a very powerful bit of magic, very  strong and sensual yet at the same time sweet with just a little bit of steel and fabulously rich, not unlike like the leggy thoroughbred women that it was designed to captivate. 
Aurelien and Douglas have added a bit of fruit to the original Fracas formula in the form of a buttery Bosc like pear that my skin instantly loved and blended it with the Fracas Foursome of Gardenia, Tuberose, Jasmine and Orange blossom, but to me that’s where the similarity ends. Fracas is the fragrance that I reach for when channeling my inner Marilyn, but Douglas Hannant de Robert Piguet has become the perfume that I take with me on all my travels because it so graciously dances with anyone anywhere; truly the lovely young belle of the debutante ball.
But don’t be fooled because as the hands turn past midnight, this lovely perfume unleashes a tricky little twist of sandalwood and musky blond magic that is absolutely bewitching; mix a little bit Deneuve and a whole lot of Bacall and add the caress of a hammock swinging softly in the night sea breezes, a good cigar and a well mixed Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and you’ve got the picture.
I’ll happily swing out on a limb here and say that Marilyn herself would have been easily seduced from her beloved No. 5 by Douglas Hannant de Robert Piguet, which is by many lengths easily the best new perfume that I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying this year. 
Try it…I promise you’ll adore it!
For more information or to purchase Douglas Hannant de Robert Piguet

Originally published in The Perfume Magazine



Eau d Italie’s luscious Jardin du Poete

Every now and then you are blessed with the gift of a perfume that is so truly wonderful that you feel that you could never live without it. For me, Eau d Italie’s luscious Jardin du Poete or The Poets Garden is that precious scent touching a very deep nerve and igniting my passions and my way too vivid imagination! 
Jardin du Poete is a 2011 release by Eau d Italie that has been created for us by the absolutely brilliant Bertrand Duchaufour; a perfume so sumptuous, fresh and imaginative that from the moment I opened the bottle I had the feeling that I had been stolen from my life and dropped into the middle of a feisty historical romance.
I know that you know the type; a gorgeous and  gossamer tale that is spun in the 17th century with a beautiful terraced garden and a wonderful heroine who dresses clothing made of finely spun silk and softened hemp; a women blessed with a mysterious duality born of royal blood but thoroughly modern for her day, rebellious to be sure but with quite a bit of a past. Her breasts are scented by the precious sprigs of sweet lavender, rose and helichrysum that she wears tucked within the folds of her gown and her breath is perfumed provocatively with the sweet smell of candied angelica root. To me she looks to be something created by the pre Raphaelites, beautiful and heavy lidded with soft full lips, a wild mane of hair and a bent towards a full throated laughter that is refreshing and more than a little bit bawdy .
When I first experienced Jardin du Poete, I shut my eyes and tried to take a long walk around the exquisite  gardens that were instantly conjured up in my imagination and I quickly found myself standing in a walled garden overlooking a ledge somewhere near Mediterranean sea.  Rows of herbs and dancing flowers, vegetables (I saw artichokes!) and espaliered fruit trees filled my mind and the salty sea scent of fresh basil with a blast of sweet grapefruit, spicy pink pepper and bitter orange was present in a very sensual and unexpected way.  This is a perfume that I can taste as well as smell and I love that.
Many of you know of my love for cooking and my passion for perfume is always inextricably tied up with my passions for fabulous food.  I would love to be sitting with my husband in this Poets Garden that I have seen in my dreams. We would be enjoying a decadent meal of Muscata and fresh figs, peeled oranges and creamy smooth burrata  all spread onto thick slices of grilled crusty bread  and drizzled with wild sage honey. That would be followed by a slowly roasted  rosemary infused lamb shank, fresh young peas and a simple side of garlicky potatoes with a dipping sauce made of thickened fresh yogurt scented  with lemon, sea salt and mint.
Of course this would all be eaten by candlelight by just the two of us wearing nothing but a soft cloud of this perfume,  the warm ocean breezes and listening only to the soft lashing of the ocean and the symphony produced by the buzz of the honeybees.
Jardin du Poete is a truly unusual citrus fragrance in that it lasts for hours on my skin. The initial kick of the grapefruit and orange is juicy and delicious but then Jardin du Poete moves swiftly into an herbalists grimoire of angelica, basil and pink pepper.  Vetiver, precious  musks and a sweetly smoky cypress give this perfume a smoldering, wet sensuality that is hard to achieve in something so very fresh and green.
I know that you’ll love it so give it a try! It is a surprising perfume that dances from dusk til dawn easily and with more than a bit raw sexuality, pure elegance and grace.
Jardin du Poete is available in the United States through Lafco, New York and can be found online at their website and is 140. dollars for a 100ml.  3.3 ounce bottle. 
Originally published on the Perfume Magazine

The Naughty Socialite ~ Hermes 24 Faubourg

Co-Founder, creator and artist of A Dozen Roses, Sandy Cataldo, signing bottles
I am a very naughty socialite.  I play the game of society my own way and I love being the rebel. My mother was quite the opposite and was brought up to be incredibly well to do until her family lost all of their money in the middle of the great depression. She had grown up in Urbana, Illinois, the granddaughter of one of the fine gentlemen who brought the University to Champaign, and had been utterly and completely spoiled for the whole of her young life!  When her parents decided that they needed to move to Shaker Heights, which was/is a lovely city just east of Cleveland my mother was appalled. There wasn’t enough help as far as she was concerned and she was forced to go to a “completely horrible” school named Hathaway Brown, an all girls prep school that is still one of the most fashionable in Cleveland. She had to live with her grandmother, a woman who could out chill the Queen. There was no longer enough china or sterling and definitely not enough imported French soap or perfume. My mother was completely miserable. 
I guess that within a fairly short amount of time my very patrician grandmother decided that she’d had enough of my mothers moaning and groaning so one day she dragged her kicking and screaming to the nearest soup kitchen.  “Barbara” she said, “You are going to spend everyday working here after school and you WILL come to see just how good your life is."   Of course she did as she was told and the rest is history. She told me when I asked her about her passion for charity work that it was the children that she met in the soup kitchen that completely changed her life forever.  She stopped complaining when she saw just how happy they were with such little means.
She stepped into her power at that moment and became heavily involved in rebuilding the foundations of our city.  Make no mistake, she was always the proper princess even until the day she died. In all of the years that I knew her, I never saw her use the wrong fork or glass and there was never a hair out of place. The moment that she woke from quadruple bypass surgery she begged me for her lipstick, pearls and Shalimar. She bathed in beautifully scented oils every night and she had complete disdain for showers. She could tell a wickedly dirty joke and she absolutely loved them. They just don’t make broads like that anymore; she was just so wonderful! 
My mother eventually became the President of many of the organizations she served but until the day she died her heart belonged completely to The Cleveland Orchestra, probably because she was completely tone deaf and she longed to be able to play an instrument.  She served on The Women’s Committee of The Cleveland Orchestra Board for decades and of course because I was her daughter I was forced to serve on many boards as well and protesting all of the while.  I’ll never forget the day that I was kicked out of the Junior League because of my refusal to go to noontimemeetings. You’d have thought that I’d robbed a bank by her chilly response.  The night that I ditched my Assembly ball date to go smoke pot with the cute preppy boys at the party was the final straw. She put her pretty foot down and demanded that I become a fully functioning member of high society. 
I must admit to loving the fashion shows and the glitz and glamour that go along with beinginvolved in quite a few top shelf organizations, but until recently I’ve never stepped up my role to be anything other than a volunteer. I received the call from the nominating committee from the orchestra shortly after she died. “You’ve been nominated to be the President.  We hope that you’ll say yes”.   Well, I can tell you right now that after saying no for the 4th time that all of my familial guilt crept in.  So taking a deep breath I said "yes" to the persistent voice on the other end of the phone and then I did what any red blooded perfumista would do after agreeing to take on such a daunting task. 
I went sniffing!
I knew that I needed a new fragrance, something that suited this Herculean role that I’d stepped into and that I could charge like a talisman to help me feel glamorous, powerful and sophisticated. I knew that I needed to find a fragrance that would allow me to feel like I belonged. So for a month I danced with the Serge’s and jitterbugged with the Creeds. I tangoed with the Bonds and waltzed with the Fords but nothing would do until I met Hermes 24 Faubourgand it was love at first sniff.  I knew instantly that it would be perfect.
Hermes 24 Faubourg is a very beautiful perfume.  It’s named after the flagship store in Paris and we all know the richness and luxury that can be found behind those doors. Hermes scarves are legendary and when I was a child I coveted an Hermes saddle, a beautiful thing that was built by hand out of the softest sweetest leather.  It makes sense that a fragrance bearing the name of such a beautiful legacy would encompass so many of its aspects. Theminute that I put it on I felt relaxed,  fabulous and dare I say it, completely grown up!
24 Faubourg is sweetly floral with lots of Jasmine and ylang ylang but it also has a very indolic quality that lends a subtle sexiness that reminds me of my favorite riding gloves.  There’s even a mineral quality to it smells like sun warmed gold and sea glass.  I think that 24 Faubourg is classic and very French and is ultimately one of the most womanly fragrances that I’ve ever worn.  It’s just right for this period of my life with its emphasis on striding into my own power. These days  you’ll often find me tying on one of my mothers Hermes scarves and donning her pearls and sapphires in preparation for a board meeting.
One strategically applied spritz of 24 Faubourg and I begin to feel up to the challenge of leading the most remarkable group of women thatI’ve ever known. 2 sprays and I’m more than prepared to tackle the new world order.
I bought my bottle of the EDP at Bergdorf Goodman’s, but I’ve also seen it at Neiman Marcus.  Do promise me that you’ll definitely splurge on the 24 Faubourg Body Cream and the Shower & Bath Cream. They're impossibly luxurious and if my mother were still alive she’d be finding it in this years edition of her Christmas stocking.
Hermes 24 Faubourg is a beautiful perfume and I know that you'll enjoy it. Spray a bit of it on your wrist and let it warm to your body. You'll be amazed by the sweetly amber'd nuances and wowed by the one-two punch of the citrus. Try it and let it help you create the life you've been dreaming of!
Originally published in The Perfume Magazine

Pearls Perfumes and Passions ~ Naughty Secrets from the Women who paved my Way

From The Women Who Paved My Way....
My mother's natural blue gray pearls were actually her mother’s pearls and her grandmother's and great grandmother’s before her.  I inherited them when she died 3 years ago and they are beautiful, longer than opera length and even when wrapped in three strands they fall fluidly way beyond my breasts. These pearls are the loveliest silvery blue, the bewitching shade of the sea before a storm.  Because they are natural pearls and at least 130 years old there is a whole other lineage of women that I'm linked to through them, Japanese free divers who often risked their lives to obtain these coveted beauties.
There was no other way to collect pearls before the 20th century and sometimes the divers had to go as deep as 40 to 125 feet into the sea and because of the extremely fickle nature of natural pearl growth, any pearls found were extremely rare. To harvest the pearls that I now call my own women that I've never met had to brave uncertain tides, dangerous creatures and hypothermia. More important even than the stories of these pearls are the untold stories that I will never know, but that I can feel. Women who had no other way to feed themselves became pearl divers and were probably paid what amounted to pennies to fashionably adorn my family’s bosoms and as glamorous as they make me feel I cannot wear them ever without acknowledging their true cost.
In 1983 on New Year’s Eve my mother let me wear them to a fabulous Black Tie dinner dance because she thought that they went beautifully with my silver-toned crushed velvet dress. Somewhere in the moments between the last dance and dawn I was seized by a bit of nostalgia. I picked up one of the strands, lifted them to my nose and inhaled their sweet/salty perfume. Surprisingly these pearls have never needed to be restrung and even though they are so very old are lustrous still and perfumed with the essence of all of the women who have treasured them before me.  Sandalwood, violet, jasmine and rose and my mother’s Shalimar, which she wore until the day that she died. Maybe it’s my imagination but I’d swear to you that they still smell of the bottom of the sea. Even though I’d heard about all of them for so many years it was the evening that I truly met all of my maternal grandmothers for the very first time.

My maternal grandmother Frances died before I was born and was known to have loved rich oriental fragrances like sandalwood, patchouli as well as single Florals like violet , lilac and rose.  She is the one that I am said to resemble the most in looks and spirit. She was a painter, one of the original artists in a notorious and somewhat scandalous Greenwich Village colony at the turn of the century, beautiful  and very provocative, at least until she married my grandfather, a terribly sweet gentleman farmer from Champaign Urbana who was probably a very settling influence on her.  Somewhere in all of my trunks and treasures there exists a worn and incredibly provocative and sepia photograph of a woman that I could recognize as myself wrapped naked in a bearskin rug, smiling and holding a long cigarette holder.
Taken over a century ago she is draped in yards of pearls that I recognize as my mother’s pearls... my pearls. As I fall backwards through time the distinct fragrance of her attar of violets, sandalwood perfume and tobacco seems to linger alongside her throaty laughter as she makes herself known to me through this delicious photograph. Her long auburn hair is swept up in gorgeous combs made of  sandalwood, mother of pearl and 18 karat gold and is surely scented with the simple single floral perfumes of jasmine and rose that she preferred, nothing too heavy. I am told that she always knew just the right moment to undo the combs, letting her gorgeous hair cascade magically down around her face bringing with it a cloud of soft sweet scent. She must have been amazing.
My mother taught me to do this with my own long hair. Just one spray of a single floral note warmed in the hand with a drop of olive oil and then finger combed through from the temples back. Then take some beautiful hair combs and twist your hair up or back in a chignon, pull the front pieces back; whatever you like, but keep it simple, two combs maximum, one is the best. Then at the right moment, just smile, tilt your head, release your hair and toss it gently while never breaking your gaze. It’s an old fashioned sleight of hand but I promise, he won’t know what hit him. The simple floral perfume keeps it from seeming too obvious; your hair should just smell clean and pretty, not drenched with scent.
After she died, my mother inherited most of her mother’s jewelry and delighted in wearing the beautiful pearls as often as she could. She would always wear them draped against gray silk and satin, nestled against her   chest. When I miss her the most I go to my jewelry box and put them on. They still smell a bit of her sweet almond soap and Shalimar perfume, a wonderful fragrance that’s lighthearted and giddy; the scent of a woman who was always the belle of the ball. My mother was quite beautiful and more than a little bit bewitching to my father who was quite besotted with her. I still remember watching the magic that passed between them as they’d leave the house together, excited for a wonderful evening out. My mother was one of the original Yardley English Lavender girls so she’d been taught that fine fragrance was a magic spell that needed to be wielded powerfully. She had many delicious secrets and her ritual for applying perfume was one that I still use to this day; one spray on the nape of the neck, one spray at the point where the soft flesh of the breasts meet and depending upon what she was wearing one spray at the ankles.  “Remember darling” she’d say “Only just enough perfume to be enjoyed by the lucky fellow who is close enough to kiss you, never so much that it tosses you head first  into the room.” 
I loved all of my mother’s beauty rituals and over the years I’ve made most of them my own.  To her and all of the women who came before her, baths and dressing rooms were the place where the glamour that they were known for was created. My mother took it all very seriously, this business of beauty. She took baths in lovely oils, forever eschewed showers and she always had scented candles burning in her bathroom. She loved floating feminine hemlines and she would always be sure to put a few drops of her perfume on them so that there was just a subtle scent when she moved through the room.  It was she who taught me the easiest trick I know; that a few drops of vanilla mixed with a bit of fragrant bath oil rubbed into my breasts has the effect on any man of creating almost instantaneous and lasting hunger. She taught me how to apply my lipstick perfectly without a mirror, a nifty little trick that has never failed to disarm any man who just happened to be watching. When I married she gifted me with a sterling and tortoise shell comb, sable brush, mirror and instructions to never allow my husband to see me looking ill even if I felt like I was dying, advice that I've almost always heeded to this day. Her own husband rarely saw her without lipstick and even when she'd just woken up from open heart surgery. Her first words to me that moment were a breathy “Your father can't see me like this, did you bring my hairbrush, lipstick and perfume?"  And of course because she was my mother I'd known that she'd want it immediately. He had to stand impatiently outside of the ICU until I'd made her up to her satisfaction, barely conscious she still had that sense of herself. She was a pretty smart woman. Some of you may be reading this and completely disapproving, but my parents were pretty happily married for 67 years. She definitely knew what she was doing!
Someday, I hope to have a granddaughter of my own with whom I will share all of the intimate secrets that my mother taught me. I will love those moments and share all of the family stories with great pleasure, especially the really wicked ones! Continuing the tradition started so long ago one day the lovely pearls and combs will be passed down to her , along with my collection of perfumes that I hope she will treasure. She will hopefully be blessed as all the women in my family have been with a wicked sense of humor and a penchant for naughtiness but if not the pearls will probably still fit her like a custom made glove. I don't wear them at all the same way as my mother did, she preferring blouses of flowing silk and I am most comfortable in Ralph Lauren.  Yet I remember my mother wearing them once when I accidentally walked into my father’s studio late at night...she was lying naked on the couch draped only in the pearls and a soft cloud of Shalimar, as sensual as a beautiful odalisque in a museum. He was painting her and the canvas was fairly glowing with his adoration. I still have that painting, I've never forgotten that moment and I don't think that the pearls have either,  immortalized as they were in love, linseed oil and canvas.
I know that it sounds terrifically romantic but I promise that it wasn’t the martinis. Those of us who are truly mesmerized by perfume can attest to its abilities to conjure visions at the deepest level of the soul. That was the moment that I became obsessed with scent as the catalyst for memories and began looking for other ways of wearing it, ways that were more meaningful to me as a woman than simply just spraying on the latest perfume that was currently in vogue.
Those pearls are among the most sensuous pieces of jewelry that I own, probably because they are forever imprinted with the souls of the women who wore them before me. My grandmother's were beautiful and worldly women with lavish tastes and hearty appetites for life and their men adored them. They had all sorts of wonderful tricks, seductive ways that kept their husbands enchanted with them for decades. Violet pastilles to keep their breath sweet and rose scented lip balm, leather gloves that were perfumed with precious oils so that every touch from their hand was as soft as petal and smelled just as sweet, orange flower and rose waters that were not only good for the skin but perfumed so that a cheek offered for a simple kiss became a soft pleasure for the lucky gentleman. 
Many of the wonderful Indie perfumers that I’ve met are exploring this concept, recreating and bringing back age old traditions of scented waters and lip balms, exploring the connections between smell, memory, scent and sensuality in a way that is completely familiar and captivating. These days you can walk into almost any store and find a suitable bottle of perfume, but to me that’s just the beginning. Beautiful fragrance is made to be worn, not the other way around. My interest lies in finding new ways to accessorize myself with scent that are perhaps not quite as obvious.
Tomorrow evening I will take them dancing in Manhattan to the black tie wedding of a dear friend and because it is not yet New Years Eve I will still be wearing my beloved Caron Nuit de Noel. My dress is long and sewn of flowing black velvet, full sleeved and adorned with a faux sable collar that floats all around the top of the dress which is worn off the shoulders. Because it is such a romantic dress I have brought the combs for my hair and I am happy, almost giddy with anticipation of a wonderful evening spent in the arms of my boyishly handsome husband. As I write this somewhere my mother is smiling...She would most definitely approve.
Authors note: If you have lovely pearls of your own please remember not to put them on before you apply your fragrance because it’s not good for them to come into direct contact with the fragrant oils or hairspray. The little bit on your skin or clothes will be just fine.
Originally published in The Perfume Magazine