Chypre: 70 posts

Madame Carven and Ma Griffe

She dressed Edith Piaf and Leslie Caron. She created uniforms for more than a dozen airlines and dressed French traffic police. When she launched a fragrance, she provocatively named it Ma Griffe, which can mean either “my signature” or “my claw” in French. She was a force and a character. She was Carmen de Tommaso, or as she was better known in the world of haute couture, Madame Carven. Yesterday Madame Carven passed away at the age of 105, leaving behind an incredible legacy, both in the world of fashion and fragrance.

madame carven

De Tommaso was introduced to couture by her aunt Josy Boyriven–the last three letters of whose name, “ven”, got joined with “car” of Carmen to form “Carven”–and she started designing both out of fascination and frustration. She was dismayed by the limited choices for petite women and the lack of attention from the fashion masters.

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Issey Miyake Nuit d’Issey : Fragrance Review

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Many like to knock contemporary masculine perfumery. It’s boring. It’s bland. It’s all fake citrus and sharp lavender, fly the accusations. I have often been the accuser, but today I’m going to defend the valiant attempts to make a sensible masculine fragrance. Folks, making a good masculine is just so darn hard. As far as the audience goes, many men, especially in North America and Germany, are a conservative bunch. The consumer data tell the story: they are more hesitant to try something different. They prefer to wear fragrances similar to what their fathers wore. Many don’t want to admit they even wear scent. “I don’t wear perfume,” says my cousin as he walks around in a huge cloud of Axe body spray.

nuitissey

If perfume companies assume that men will wear anything under a familiar label, they make a mistake. Even if your average guy doesn’t want to push his boundaries with new scents, he still wants quality and classical good taste. When my cousin’s beloved Axe Apollo got reformulated and lost in diffusion and finesse, he instantly noticed it. What resulted was a soliloquy worthy of a Greek tragic hero.

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Ralph Lauren Safari : Fragrance Review

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Elisa on Safari, a ’90s classic with an ’80s spirit.

The ‘80s were a time that fetishized “adventure” – I grew up watching movies that took a page from Heart of Darkness, portraying Americans or Brits confronting the terrifying Other-ness of primitive African, Asian, and aboriginal cultures. Today’s audiences would find most of these films (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Crocodile Dundee, etc.) unwatchably offensive, and rightly so; their cultural moment has passed.

ralph-lauren-safari

Ralph Lauren Safari, composed by Dominique Ropion, was released in 1990, but feels to me like an ‘80s scent (cusp years cling more tightly to the previous decade than the following, I’ve found). As a concept perfume, it perfectly fits the adventurist trend, and I associate those striking Bridget Hall ads that I saw in every magazine as a kid with the old Banana Republic stores. (If you’re younger than me, you might not remember that their stock in trade at the time was khaki shorts and branded t-shirts, not pinstriped office-wear.)

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Yves Saint Laurent Y : Perfume Review

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Elisa on a timeless, elegant and somewhat underrated chypre.

A green chypre can feel golden and warm, like the opulent Safari by Dominique Ropion, or chilly and aloof with iris, such as the archetypal Chanel No. 19 and Paco Rabanne Metal. I associate the warm, galbanum-dense chypres with autumn, while I always seem to reach for cool chypres like Metal in spring.

ysl y

YSL’s Y, released in 1964, is immediately recognizable as a green chypre, but has a different feel from others in this family. To me, it’s a summer chypre, with the same aspirational mansion-in-the-Hamptons air as Estee Lauder White Linen. When I play tennis, I do it on free courts, not in backyards, but either way, this seems like the perfect perfume for a doubles match, especially if you’re wearing a skirt. If you prefer to watch from the lawn with a glass of white wine, it would be lovely for that too.

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Caron En Avion : Perfume Review

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I’m not sure why exactly I decided to revisit Caron En Avion after so many years, but it might have been inspired by my reading of Miklós Bánffy’s The Transylvanian Trilogy. An epic novel set in the Austro-Hungarian Empire just before the First World War, it paints the vanished world of the Hungarian aristocracy, the era that was quickly coming to a close. There is something equally poignant and nostalgic about En Avion, a perfume created by Caron’s owner Ernest Daltroff in 1932, just a year before Count Bánffy started writing his masterpiece.

caron

En Avion, as the name suggests, was inspired by the first pilot women such as Helen Boucher and Amelia Earhart. It was a luminous but dark orange, dipped in the sweetness of jasmine and the incense-like warmth of opoponax. It was spicy but also cool and mossy. The kind of fragrance that could only have been the product of Daltroff’s eccentric pairings and the era’s penchant for perfumes thick as fur coats.

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Latest Comments

  • Joy in Recommend Me a Perfume : January 2017: What a unique bottle! Your description sounds very intriguing and I will have to give it a try. January 21, 2017 at 11:15am

  • Joy in Recommend Me a Perfume : January 2017: Lily, many thanks for all of your diverse recommendations. All but Hermes Eau de Merveilles are new to me. In fact I tried Eau de Merveilles the other day and… January 21, 2017 at 11:10am

  • Lily in Recommend Me a Perfume : January 2017: So your lists of likes/dislikes almost completely overlap with mine (only exception that I do like fig and all spices!). But not that many of my perfumes have an opposites… January 21, 2017 at 10:15am

  • DP in Elie Roger and Estee Lauder Knowing: Wrappings is amazing. I do not understand why it is considered a seasonal or holiday fragrance. It is notoriously difficult to find except in December. It is definitely a Lauder… January 21, 2017 at 9:18am

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