Sunday 25 May 2008

Perfumed Gardens

I have been on holiday since last weekend so I have only just caught up with last weekend's papers. I was thrilled to come home to this article
on gardens and perfumers. I haven't read a piece like this before and for me as a real perfume enthusiast this was a bit like an early birthday present.

I was particularly interested to read that Penhaligon's Elizabethan Rose was inspired by the gardens at Sissinghurst Castle- one of which is pictured above- I long to go.

L'Enfant A L'Orange

Recently there were lots of articles about the sale of the one of Vincent Van Gough’s last paintings, L’Enfant A L’Orange. The painting was being described as one of his happiest works. Often we think of happy art as rather twee. I think we also therefore feel we should be less moved by ‘happy’ paintings or other work and that it should have a lower ranking on the lists of art we admit to loving because it is happy.

I must say I held somewhat to this view of ‘proper’ art often being more sad or melancholy myself. I like retro advertising or prints of flowers on my walls but in a gallery I am more drawn to the strange, sad or unsettling pictures than the chocolate box landscapes and ruddy faced people looking jolly.

However L’Enfant a l’Orange has definitely made an impression on me, despite being in the ‘happy’ category. It’s an incredibly evocative painting which appeals to my senses far more than other paintings I can think of- and I haven’t even seen the real canvas but am relying on internet and newspaper pictures.

The orange looks so real, ripe and ready to bite- and I don’t even particularly like oranges. The way the enfant’s cheeks are flushed with heat and excitement makes my own cheeks remember how it feels to burn red and then start to cool as I relax- so that I feel both the hot sensation in my face and the cold to touch sensation of sweat cooling and drying on my skin. The enfant’s cheeks look slightly aggravated as if perhaps she has already eaten an orange and is a little allergic- but the anticipation on her face is such that she can’t have bitten yet.

The child is transfixed, almost hypnotised, by the thought of the cold, sweet and sharp tang of biting at the orange flesh and feeling the acid juice mix with the salt a hot day has left on her lips.
I really want to own a copy of this painting, just a postcard or picture in a book. It is such a fabulous example of how real painting can look and how it can transport you. Every time I look at the girl with the orange I am transported to the summer.

Picture courtesy of The Independent.

Tuesday 13 May 2008

Fleur De Sal

By chance the power had to be turned off at work recently, so I found myself unexpectedly but very happily out alone for an hour in Mayfair.

It was a cold, crisp and shining London day, perfect for walking down side streets and chasing warm patches of sun on the shaded pavements.

I decided to go the Miller Harris boutique because I have never made it there. The combination of my long work day and their Bond Street area early closing time don’t mix well.

I have tried most of Lyn Harris’ scents in fragrance departments and did once take advantage of her company’s excellent sending samples service.

However since then a new and right up my street scent has joined the Miller Harris perfume library and I have longed to sample it. Fleur de Sal is the fragrance’s name and I finally had the chance to test it thanks to some work men in W1.

I love salty scents, they seem to be becoming more popular with perfumers and customers alike, but at the moment I treasure their relative rarity. I particularly like Hermes Eau de Marveilles, which smells like beachy skin, but I thought Fleur De Sal sounded equally fascinating.

Perfumes should, of course, never be judged on sillage from the bottle, infused pieces of card or even their initial smell on your skin. This scent proved what I already knew to be true. In the bottle it was nice but not remarkable, on the paper the same. On my skin it initially smelt heavy and earthy but didn’t move me. Then after about two minutes it became very medicinal and I was concerned that my high hopes for the scent would be dashed.

Hiding my disappointment I told the charming lady that I would let the fragrance settle, which I would always do anyway. As I walked back down Bruton Street, then along Bruton Lane (past Rupert Sanderson’s grey courts- oh my!) with it’s old London mews quiet, still, knowing calm and back along Bond Street the Fleur De Sal started to bloom on my skin. By the time I was back at my office I felt as if I was walking towards a quiet beach, strewn with driftwood- and Fleur de Sal was high up on my wish list.

It is all the name implies; salty of course, crashing waves and disturbed rock pools, with hints of damp but drying wood and there are fleurs and rosemary and cold air with a hint of summer just gone or still to come. To me Fleur De Sal smells of days when you walk along the beach with your feet in the waves but it’s too cold to get in and swim. When the sun isn’t fully out or when it has been very hot and dusk is coming and might bring rain; when there are only a few people for miles but they are all enraptured with the day like you; days when breezes blow in your hair and curl it a little and you walk for miles through the ripples of surf before stopping at a beautiful cottage to eat fresh fish by a fire and when you finally go to bed your hair still smells of salt.

Driftwood picture courtsey of

Miller Harris bottle picture courtesy of

Monday 12 May 2008

Scents and the City

It is the world premiere of the sex and the city tomorrow night, in my own sexy city- London (in the not so sexy Leicester Square).

In honour of the premiere and in anticipation of the feature I, in true Carrie style, ‘couldn’t help but wonder’ about what scents Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte might wear.

In the show we see some make- up and beauty products in Carrie’s brownstone apartment (Benetint, Clinique, Kiehl’s) but I don’t recall ever seeing any scent. In real life even non- fans of the show must know that Sarah Jessica Parker has her own scents called Lovely and Covet. However I think it’s more fun to think of Carrie wearing a different scent to the actress who plays her.
While brainstorming I thought I could see Carrie in: Chanel’s Allure, JPG Classique, Jicky by Guerlain and Aqua Di Parma Colonia; all are classics of yesterday or today and for all her love of avant- garde fashion I think Carrie the writer would like a classic sophisticated smell with some history and story behind it. I also thought she might wear one or more of the Bond No.9 scents, they like her are inspired by New York and their NY store is on super trendy Bleeker Street where I am sure Carrie often shops.

Again I think we see lots of products dressing Miranda’s home and I recall seeing a collection of perfume bottles in her bedroom, but despite pausing my dvd I couldn’t recognise any of the bottles.
Miranda probably vies with Carrie for the title of most tricky character to define; for all that I like Charlotte and Samantha they are both more stereotypical in my eyes. Of all the characters Miranda probably changes the most over the series. Certainly initially her character was portrayed as the most masculine in terms of outlook and dress sense. I am inclined to think that Miranda probably wore one signature scent and it wasn’t a particularly conventionally feminine, floral one. I thought L’eau De Issey and Aromatics Elixir were both candidates. I have also read that Cynthia Nixon wears Cashmere Mist and this also seems quite appropriate for Miranda.

We actually see a large bottle of Creed’s Spring Flower in Samantha’s bathroom several times so we know the producers have decided she wears this. It seems a slightly odd choice for her to me. It’s a beautiful scent but it’s association with the polite manners and poise of Audrey Hepburn together with it’s subtle spring like innocence don’t seem to match with Samantha’s characterisation.
I thought better choices for her might be Fracas or Frederic Malle’s Carnal Flower- two big tuberose scents that I really enjoy and would suit a beautiful, confident woman like Samantha.

In many ways I found Charlotte the easiest to think about. I thought she might wear several different scents for different occasions. For day wear and the Hamptons I think Antonia’s Flowers; For city nights and more sophisticated events I think Narciso Rodriguez for her or Chanel No.5 would be very Charlotte; and for fun she should definitely have a bottle of Annick Goutal’s Eau de Charlotte.

I would love to hear what scents other people see the Sex and the City ladies wearing.

Sex and the City the Movie is out on the 28th of May.

Picture courtesy of