Posts Tagged ‘perfume’

When You’re High on Benadryl, Even Calvin Klein Perfume Commercials Make Sense

I spent much of last week in a drift of medication: an antibiotic, then an antihistamine I had to take after I developed a horrid allergy to the antibiotic and then Benadryl. It was the hottest week of the summer and I didn’t leave my apartment for much of it, except at night when it had cooled down and no one would notice my horrifically disfigured legs, covered as they were with raw, angry hives that looked like blisters from third-degree burns.

I couldn’t do very much. I was either itchy as hell or stoned out of my mind on Benadryl: light-headed, dizzy, with that weird “bell jar” airlessness where it feels like a glass wall has slipped between you and the rest of the world. I had whole conversations with people and didn’t remember a word we said. I watched movies but they felt like fever-dreams, and I’m still not sure if I really saw them. I was convinced every emotional calamity was just around the corner. I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize myself. I wrote gibberish in my journal. I walked to McDonald’s, bought a hot fudge sundae and forgot it on the counter. It was really just the strangest week ever.

I did develop an odd fixation on the David Fincher-directed commercial for the new Calvin Klein fragrance, Downtown, which stars actress Rooney Mara, who played a spectral, ferocious Lisbeth Salander in the U.S. adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I don’t even remember how I stumbled upon it…maybe on some perfume blog or another? I just watched it again and again in my weird little stupor, strangely transfixed by its sleek black-and-white hi-res cinematography, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs song “Runaway” playing as the soundtrack, the crazy resemblance Mara has to Audrey Hepburn in certain shots.


Sparks & Beauties: A Story About Perfume by Jeanette Winterson, Eleanor Whitney’s Book on DIY Business, and My Own Personal Feelings About Generational Limbo

Hello lovelies! I’m writing this in midst of a summer heat wave and it is basically round-the-clock “ugh” in my world right now. But there are wondrous things of beauty to note and fun to be had, and small victories to notch. Anabela at Fieldguided gave a shout-out to , and I’m excited that it’s making its slow, poky yet intrepid way around the world. I’ve been heading into Chicago these past few weekends, which has been inspiring (and I’ll probably write about it later.) I’m also putting finishing touches on a mini-zine and drafting a newsletter for early next week — this one’s about love-tumults, so if you’ve ever wanted to read my intimate thoughts on that subject, do sign up. Anyway, these are the lovely, fun sparks and beauties I’ve squirreled away recently…enjoy, and as they used to write in yearbooks, STAY COOL.

A Lovely Short Story by Jeanette Winterson Inspired by an Oscar de la Renta Perfume

If you were somehow able to slice open my spirit, you’d see that Jeanette Winterson books make up a good part of my spiritual DNA, and The Passion remains one of my most beloved books of all time. Truth be told, though, I haven’t read her latest novels. I am not exactly sure why; I’m sure they are wonderful in their way. So stumbling on this short story commissioned by Stylist magazine by her — and about perfume, one of my abiding favorite passions! — was a bit like running into an old friend on vacation in a gorgeous locale and having a zing of a little conversation, and it reminds you of why you loved them in the first place and maybe you should stay in better touch with them again. “Days Like This” feels like a beautiful meditation on scent, love and desire, with sunlit prose and translucently lovely imagery, and a kind of radiant, matter-of-fact sensuality that suffuses so much of Winterson’s early work. And it’s short. Read it!

If You’ve Ever Wanted to Be Your Own Boss or Just “Take It to the Next Level,” You Need to Read Eleanor’s Book

I’ve known Eleanor Whitney for some time; we are both zine folk and bloggers with a fondness for fashion, music and everyday life. Everytime I have a conversation with her, like I did last weekend when she was in Chicago on her book tour for Grow, I always get a million and one ideas in my head about things I want to do and how I want to do them — she must radiate some pheromone of inspiration and energy or something. I promise you’ll get that same spark of endeavor and purpose from reading her book, which of course you need to get right now, especially if you’ve ever harbored ambitions to start your own creative project or business but don’t know exactly where to start. The book is practical, energetic, lively — like the smart, lively, incredibly fun friend Eleanor is in real life. Get it, get it, get it! (Plus her book is carried by Urban Outfitters in their store: how wonderful is that?)

Generational Angst

It’s funny what resonates unexpectedly with you, like this “22 Signs You’re Stuck Between Gen X and Millenials” Buzzfeed post. Buzzfeed is such a weird place in general, because no one really reads a story at Buzzfeed; you just scroll through it, almost like a weird hieroglyphic or Rorschach test. It’s that feeling after you read something and you’re like “THIS IS SO TRUE” and then you feel a little silly that something so superficial resonated with you. I find really odd comfort in knowing I’m in this tiny sliver of generation that is between cynical Gen X and wide-eyed Gen Y; it’s like knowing you have two superpowers to draw upon, weirdly enough. Because my early 20s were like some weird echo of “Reality Bites” and I did get my first e-mail address in college and I did watch “You Can’t Do That on Television” and I had to sneak in to see Nirvana and SOLIDARITY!!! Despite the Internet’s promises of community and connection, I find it really lacking in genuine solidarity sometimes, but then I find it in strange places like this that lasso together the strange detritus of pop culture and fashions a raft of belonging from it. Or something like that. You know what I mean? Maybe?

Nina Ricci Fairy Tales and Other White Magic

It’s been relentlessly snowy and grey this past week, and so it’s hard to feel all sparkly and uplifted, as good as my intentions are. So this Sparks post is less about la-la-la-radiance-glitter-cupcake and more cocoa-and-cashmere. I feel in a burrow-y type of mood these days: holing up inside with hot gingerbread coffee and slippers, typing away cozily yet industrious under my goose-down comforter, listening to early Sonic Youth and R.E.M. as the early afternoons drift into evening while I make soup. It’s fine: I can save Operation Sparklepony for springtime. Or maybe time there’s a spot of sunshine. But these were some of the things that sparked reverie and dreaming for me this week…what about you?

In Which I Contemplate a New Career as a Parfumeur

Have you ever wanted to know more about how to become a perfumer? I’ve always been curious about this, so you can imagine my great delight when I spotted this YouTube video up at Bois de Jasmin by perfume makers Givaudan on how they train their parfumeurs. Oh, if only I had a million other lives (or a few clones!) — I’d run off and join perfume school!

There’s also videos on the , as well as the . I love this stuff; it’s a whole other beautiful world to enter into and become enchanted by. And I heart his French accent so much; Jean Guichard seems like such a sweetheart of a perfumer.

Oddball Yet Fantastic Iterations of the Modern-Day Fairy Tale

I was really captivated by this Nina L’Eau by Nina Ricci commercial — it’s absolute fairy tale aesthetic, and because it’s a fragrance commercial, it’s also wonderfully ridiculous in the best way possible. There’s something about a magic mirror, lots of running through frost-covered hedges, a white owl that makes me think of Harry Potter and a white tree that makes me think of Return of the King. And of course, there is a lovely white dress and bright red lipstick, which I think is a winning fashion look at any time and very, very Snow Queen-like. (It actually reminds me a lot of these Cade Martin photographs I blogged about earlier.

It gets even better, though! Cut to the next installment, where the girl’s three fairy godmothers-slash-pretty-French-models lounge around a room that’d be a perfect Tim Walker set, talking about what gifts they’ll give her:

And then one of them goes to make perfume, because that is what any good fairy godmother gives her fairy charge:

I don’t know about you, but this is how I want to make perfume, oui? Traipsing around the world’s prettiest kitchen in a floaty dress, singing about gardenias and apple blossoms, reveling in how lovely everything is…

Vespertine is My Spirit Jam

Every winter I like to rediscover Bjork’s Vespertine, her beautiful, lyrical record about cozying up, being content and getting all starry-eyed over your sweetheart. Sometimes Bjork records can be uproarious and clash-of-the-pagans, but Vespertine is intimate, even sweet — it’s my favorite one by her, delicate and beautiful, the one I put on in the background when I’m brewing up a lavender-and-blackberry tisane or making soup. But for maximum soul-for-the-balm factor, I like to just lie in bed and listen to it on my headphones as I drift off to sleep. It makes your dreams really cosmic and ethereal in feeling, like you’re casting white magic spells upon yourself.

My favorite song by her, though, will always be “All is Full of Love,” though. I think it’s a nice thing to listen to as we get closer to Valentine’s Day:

OTHER LOVELY THINGS LIFTING MY SPIRITS: +++++ Really enjoying “House of Cards” on Netflix. It’s not at the genius level of “The Wire” or “The Sopranos,” but it’s well-acted, absorbing and sucks you right into the maw of dirty politics. Kevin Spacey is really enjoying playing such a slimy politician; he manages to elevate the so-so writing into something really great +++++ Going to the symphony today, this time to hear Mendelssohn and Berlioz! +++++ I just started reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck and it’s really, really good. +++++ This video interview of Lee Radziwill, shot by Sofia Coppola! I enjoyed hearing her being on tour with the Stones, how she thought Mick Jagger was “a little repulsive,” and think it’s funny when she says, “The Rolling Stone magazine.” +++++ Also: NEW VIDEO BY THE KNIFE!!! Here is “Full of Fire” and I cannot wait for when Shaking the Habitual comes out!

Sparks: Haunting Dulcet Voices, Earthy Yet Sunlit Lily Perfumes and Some Foodcentric Thoughts

Happy New Moon in January! I hope it’s a lovely one for you, and that any seeds you’re planting for yourself — whether part of resolutions, or just a “Hey, here’s something I need to get on” train of thought — bloom beautifully soon. Here’s what’s been making my life beautiful lately, along with some random thoughts about the connection between radiance, spark and food.

+ It saddens me slightly that new music has become just another source of information I have to “track” and “keep up with” — just another stream of noise that I have to tune out, really, since “tuning out” more and more is my default mode, especially if I want to make something beautiful and worthy to put into the world. I think something about the way publicity is everywhere — on my Facebook feed, Twitter, etc. — it makes it harder to differentiate what is genuinely worth seeking out. I don’t just stumble upon music anymore — I hear about it, then have to decide if something is worth the investment and time to seek it out in a very quick, fast way. Nothing sinks in. I can’t tell if it’s the time, or where I’m at in life. Maybe a combination of both.

But sometimes you click on something, or you stream a track, and it hits the spot. So: I really like this Eddi Front song. It’s moody, elegant, feminine, serene yet slightly dark — she gets compared to Lana Del Rey a lot, but without the quasi-hip-hop affectations and, you know, baggage. I see it more like: if you like Cat Power, or any other moody introspective singer with a lovely haunting voice, you will like her. I do, so I took the time to seek her songs out, and I am glad that I did. Her music fed my spirit for more than a few minutes. Maybe you’ll like it, too.

+ It is no secret how much I love perfumes, and I’m already on the hunt for something for spring. It’s just so nice to smell a bit of vetiver, citron, oakmoss or bluebell in the middle of winter, reminding yourself that things will be all bloom-y and green and verdant again in a few months. Right now my favorite candidate is Stella McCartney’s L.I.L.Y perfume. I love Stella in a way that is irrational — I just feel very friendly towards her because it’s clear she’s hard-working, creative and genuinely woman-centered. She seems like a nice woman to have some soup and coffee with. I really loved her Stella perfume — a lovely dark smoky rose — but it never lasted long on me, and I have a real problem spending a lot of money on some scented liquid that disappears on me in two hours.

L.I.L.Y., I’m happy to say, is a different story. It’s a beautiful floral scent centered around lily, which can get fusty. But here it reads sunlit and radiant. It’s nicely undercut with a truffle note, making it earthy, slightly dark and just a tad edible — though definitely not full-on gourmandish. I really liked it! I have the rollerball — hopefully it holds my interest long enough to invest in a full bottle come springtime! What fragrances do you wear in the spring? Please tell me — I’m genuinely curious!

+ It is funny what people suggest when you tell them that “radiance” is your vague guidepost for 2013. Champagne really is the most popular suggestion, and I am wholeheartedly onboard with this. But, to go the other way, people also love to tell you to go on some kind of “cleanse” or drink lemon water with cayenne or do a raw food fast or something like that. The logic is: clean up your insides and you’ll glow from the inside out. Now, I have done a raw food diet before: I did one last year in January. It was nice, but it did not change my life. I felt lighter but did not feel significantly stronger or more vibrant or vital, really. Maybe it’s because I eat pretty healthy in general. (Outside of my weakness for salty potatoes, but I don’t have them that often, so I should be okay.) But despite the lack of impact that these specialized ways of eating have on me, I thought I’d try something again this year: you know, just mostly plant-based foods, very little carbs and proteins. Just for a few days. A smoothie in the morning, non-processed foods, soup and salad for dinner, that kind of thing.

Well, what do you know: I didn’t make it. Part of it is that I’m pretty active: I run a lot, and you need more fuel. But I realized, I just don’t like feeling hungry a lot. I need a hearty breakfast, not a bunch of liquified fruits and veggies, as delicious as the smoothies are. I think hunger, even in the short term, is anti-radiance, anti-life, anti-pleasure. They work for some people, maybe, but not me. I need a strong, solid diet if I want to feel strong and solid enough in my life to do what I need to do and accomplish what I set out for myself. So I read stuff like Crazy Sexy Diet and that Beauty Detox Solution business, take what works for me (I do think it’s better to avoid high-sugar foods in big quantities) and then fuck all the rest of it that creates hunger. I’m not motivated by feelings of denial, scarcity and deprivation in life — they create fear and judgment. I run towards happiness, pleasure, genuine zest.

I think food is better when it’s healthy, but it should equally be pleasurable, whether that’s eating with loved ones, having a bit of delicious Shiraz with your evening supper, or a fat dollop of Chocolate Overload ice cream. I don’t think pleasure is at odds with healthy eating — I think maybe people have such disordered, tortured relationships with food because it’s so far removed now from pleasure. (I’m not talking about serious eating disorders here, but the strange miasma of guilt, should-think and obligation that surrounds eating and food, especially for ladies.) I think everyone has their own set of food rules for what works for their life and their body. So now I’m been dwelling on what works for me: kind of like my own manifesto for food. Thinking about it; will share a bit more in the future once I’ve, uh, digested the thought a little. And now I’m off to eat my fluffy scrambled eggs for breakfast and drink my delicious hazelnut coffee!