Category Archives: perfume

A Leyendecker Christmas

While Norman Rockwell is lauded for depicting the quintessential American ideal, it was actually his mentor, J.C. Leyendecker, who invented the genre. Leyendecker became a prominent illustrator at the turn of the century executing advertisements for Arrow Collars and Shirts and covers for The Saturday Evening Post. His images evoked a naïve innocence of quaint American life that was contrary to his personal life — Leyendecker was a homosexual and riddled throughout his body of work are numerous homo-erotic themes masked as neo-classical virtue. Leyendecker created the blueprint with which Rockwell would go on to create some of the country’s most iconic images, hidden in them a subversive message, becoming the basis for America’s nostalgic memory.

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Grey Flannel, Geoffrey Beene

greyflannel copy

Sloane Wilson’s The Man In The Grey Flannel Suit was one of the first publicly voiced criticisms of American post-war life. Adapted to film in 1956, Gregory Peck portrayed Tom Rath, a WWII veteran struggling to deal with his memories of the war and settle himself into a hard bearing corporate world and a tumultuous domestic life.

If there is one product left in the Geoffrey Beene range that remotely represents the designer’s vision it is ironically their men’s fragrance Grey Flannel. Released in 1976 in conjunction with Elizabeth Arden, the scent was overseen by Beene himself, achieving what has become an incredibly classic and intelligent fragrance for men. It is centered on a violet note, and when paired with the sage, citrus, and sandalwood the effect is incredibly masculine and sensual. Once, when wearing the fragrance out it was mistaken for Donna Karan’s Cashmere Mist, indeed the comforting smell of a woolen fabric is there, but GF is notably richer and deeper. Defying the current trends of antiseptic (bathroom cleaner smelling, really) synthetic based men’s scents; it is alarming and familiar at the same time.

The best bit is that you can find the original formula almost anywhere for a steal, check out the dreary (but treasure filled) perfume section at Walgreens.

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Irving Penn 1917-2009


Issey Miyake as seen by Irving Penn, 1987

One of fashion and American photography’s most prolific artists has passed away.

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Kouros, YSL

I suppose the idea of the scent was to evoke the energy of a sun tanned Greek Adonis, sweaty and virile, as if Pierre Bourdon was given the dirty underwear of a conquest from a stay in Mykonos as a brief.

Created in 1981 the scent defies all current trends for men’s fragrance. The move towards “clean” smelling scents, as if men needed to puritanically oppress their body odors, has created legions of fragrance that smell like bad shampoo. On the contrary, Kouros smells quite “dirty” and is mistakenly attributed to contain civet (the fecal smelling perfume ingredient procured from the glands of a cat). Perfume critic Chandler Burr declared that the scent should only be worn by the French, in France. I tested the smell with a French friend, upon taking a whiff she exclaimed “Ewww! It smells like sex, not in a good way”.

The scent has been called a work of genius by critic Luca Turin, and indeed, once disposed of any contemporary bias, the scent is a masterpiece. Its sensuality and depth are heightened in the clouds of Issey Miyake and Acqua Di Gio. What a prudish nose detects as a lack of “cleanliness” is perhaps the catalyst for insatiable carnal delights. Get it now as there are rumors the scent will soon be discontinued.

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Paloma Picasso by Paloma Picasso


Nepotism at its best, Paloma Picasso’s celebrity is in fact well deserved. It may have been her father’s role as the patriarch of modernist art that brought her into the established circles but it was her own charm and elegance that made her a brand of her own right. This is the kind of woman so delicate in taste and etiquette that when she was married she wore an YSL suit by day and a Karl Lagerfeld dress at night as to not offend the sensitive egos of her two good friends and rivaling designers. She even put out her own fragrance. This is what perfume critic Tania Sanchez has to say about it:

Though the herbal-jasmine-spice-oakmoss structure of Paloma Picasso (1984) is derived from previous sleek, green, serious chypre fragrances like Cabochard and Givenchy III, part of its considerable appeal is that is smells wonderful while still smelling confidently cheap – there’s no effort to throw in an extra pound of butter or more egg yolks in the cake. Instead, it gives an overall impression of one smart gal – comfortable, breezy, sharp, and fizzy in the jasmine section, and terrifically mossy-patchouli in the drydown, put together perfectly without making much fuss.

– From Perfumes: The Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez
they gave the scent 4 out of 5 stars

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Opium, YSL

Opium was imported to China by the British, who procured it from their colonies in the Indian subcontinent. It was introduced in order to create a market demand for British product where there otherwise was none and reduce the cost of trading for Chinese tea and silk. The Chinese eventually banned the drug as it reduced their society to narcotic addled degeneracy. The resulting retaliation led to the Opium Wars, which the Chinese lost, and the cession of Hong Kong into the British Empire.

Noses Jean Amic and Jean-Louis Sieuzac created Opium for Yves. St Laurent in 1977. In perhaps no other YSL scent is the designer’s disposition for the exotic more present. It was launched with a couture collection featuring pagoda shoulders and mandarin jackets, the mysteries of the orient echoed by the scent’s notes of mandarin, plum, cinnamon, jasmine, and orris. The scent is special in its sweet woody base notes including sandalwood and musk, creating the female equivalent of Old Spice. It’s a bold perfume, for a woman, not a girl, and as it wafts into the nostrils its effect is the kind of seduction that is pure St. Laurent. It is just as potent now as it was in 1977.


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Chris Cunningham for Gucci

You may be familiar with Chris Cunninghams’s work, he’s done music videos for Aphex Twin (“Windowlicker”) and Bjork (“All Is Full of Love”) and now has lent his hi-tech macabre vision to Gucci’s newest scent, Flora. With an enchanted rendition of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” floating in the background the tv spot gives Gucci’s ad campaigns shot by Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin a bit more body and much more edge.


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