Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Jean Patou's Parfum Couture Service

Thanks to the most wonderful Catherine, who is in charge of the fabulous Patou's boutique on rue Castiglione, I was shown around on how one can get a Parfum Couture Service.

This is a truly amazing service where you can have the house of Patou create a personal fragrance that is like no other in the world. You own Joy or 1000. The price of this service is 42,000 Euros and the process is as follows:

The first meeting a client has is with the master perfumer, a charming Jean-Michel Duriez, (who created the gorgeous Julye to present to clients the idea of a couture parfum) who has taken the place of the legendary perfumer Jean Kerléo. As part of the first meeting, the client is taken on a discovery tour of Paris in a Limo which is a great way for the perfumer to understand what makes the client tick and get to understand their likes and dislikes. A few places are visited to understand the client and get to know them - the stops could vary from a famous patisserie, a church or temple to a garden. The idea is also to ask about 40 specific questions during that trip which may seem mundane to us (for example, their favourite colour to their best memories) but it does have a significance to the perfumer and his creation process. Then in about 2-4 months, the client is presented with three different fragrances. The client then decides what he or she likes best. If for example the client likes two then a mix is presented and then given to the client to test for a while. Then in a few months while the perfume is being finalised the client then gets to a stage where he or she is totally satisfied with all the facets of the creation.

Then the Patou labs test these perfumes thoroughly to make sure that nothing in the perfume can cause allergies. This is a very important part of the process. The entire process can take anywhere from six months to one year. Then the perfume in given in a giant baccarat cube - which is fascinating with its special system of decanting. Then there is a leather vanity bag in which the client gets a 90 ml of the parfum made again by Baccarat - the shape is similar to Joy perfume and one can get their names engraved in case they forget their names (couldn't help that - from my favourite Jeeves and Wooster where Jeeves disapproves of initials etc.)
That is not all - the client also gets a lovely metal compact with a 15 ml Baccarat crystal spray for that journey away from home.

Well it was a fascinating experience and seeing the wonderful fragrance bar, the Grand Salon, the Petit Salon. In the fragrance bar there are 200 essences lined up and is only one-fifth of the total number of quality essences in the lab. This bar is a replica of the old boutique on rue Saint-Florentin. The colour pink in the decor thoughout is a hommage to Jean Patou's favourite flower rosa centafolia.

The total experience for any client, who gets a perfume created for them, will therefore leave Patou with a unique creation and hopefully never ever get bored. Well I try and not use the word never...

I do hope that they get many clients, because there are many people out there who have the intention of spending this kind of money and time on a perfume that is unique and created only for them. Finally, since I can only dream of such an involved experience to have a perfume created for me, I will not judge those who can afford and only wish that we perfume lovers could have this experience at a much reduced rate - as part of a service to perfume lovers - as we would really appreciate - then again would we enjoy one perfume for long? Hmmm - maybe I need to think about a better conclusion. Off to think a bit more....

For a great post on the perfumer and the Patou boutique please see Luca Turin's blog.

Sunday, September 25, 2005



Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Caron is one of my favourite perfume houses and I have worn their perfumes for almost two decades. My first love was En Avion, mainly because it is a perfume my mother has been wearing for many years. In my early twenties, I enjoyed wearing Infini, then Nocturnes, then I graduated to Fleurs de Rocaille which is a gorgeous aldehydic floral and also wore Nuit de Noel. In my thirties, I started loving their bolder perfumes and have fallen for many of them including French Cancan and my current fascination is with Farnesiana. This is a misunderstood but highly wearable perfume. I always reacted to Farnesiana as being too gourmand just like I did with Rahat from Serge Lutens. To hell with gourmand because the drydown is gorgeous when you try Farnesiana. Besides I love the name and it takes me to my beloved Rome and the Villa Farnesina - please see http://www.abcroma.com/Monumento_i.asp?N=25. Tabac Blond is great but I seem to be drawn to Serge Luten's Cuir Mauresque. Poivre is intriguing but not full bottle worthy unless you love peppery scents. The rather poor quality pic above is that of a 50th anniversary presentation of Poivre. It is great to layer Poivre with rose based perfumes to give them an extra kick and make the rose perfumes more characterful. This suggestion is strictly for wannabe rose lovers. ;D

I also happen to be a great fan of their superfine powders and the delightful puffs which are simply gorgeous - you can get them in various shades and sizes. They make special gifts. They are amazingly gentle and a treat for use everyday. The powder is perfumed with the perfume N'aimez que Moi. If you like your powders unscented - don't bother to try these. On that subject, I have to write that I find everything (almost) in France perfumed including loo rolls. I am serious and it is ridiculous. You have to ask for UNscented products and people give you strange looks.

Here are a few photos for you and so let me know your favourite Caron perfumes.
The boutique I enjoy going to is on 90 Fauboug St. Honore because their service is always impeccable. The other boutique on Avenue Montaigne is nice but I cannot say that their service is impeccable. :)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The luxury "Confidentiel" range from Fragonard..

Fragonard and I have never been good friends. However, recently I came across the brand new Confidentiel range with four fragrances - the notes are from their press blurb and my thoughts in italics.

These are truly international in spirit (see notes and where they all come from) and it is a real spice fest. These perfumes happen to be less linear and unisex than many I had previously tried from Fragonard. The bottles are rather tall, clear glass, modern and simple and yet quite stylish.


According to Fragonard - an instant of eternity....an impertinent fragrance that swathes you in light........(from their blurb)

Top: green mandarin from Italy, lemon, bergamot from Sicily and neroli

Heart: cardamom from Guatemala, blackcurrent buds, jasmine, orange blossom etc.

Bottom: Gaiac wood from Paraguay, cedar and musk

My thoughts: this has a rather fresh and soapy feel - a little spicy to start with but then it goes rather clean and the orange blossom and the cedar become more prominent.

Cette Nuit La

Top: galbanum, neroli, bergamot from Sicily

Heart: cinnamon tree leaves, essence of coriander and caraway, essence of Bulgarian and Turkish roses, iris absolute, jasmine, heliotrope

Bottom: sandalwood from Australia, essence of patchouli from Indonesia, amber, leather, vanilla and musk

My thoughts: very interesting fragrance - the fresh start becomes warmer in a few minutes and more oriental in its feel. It is not a fragrance without character. The drydown reminds me very slightly of Coriolan by Guerlain and also of Eau de Charlotte by Annick Goutal.


Top: bergamot from Sicily, grapfruit, ginger, green leaves, cardamom

Heart: nutmeg, clove, essence of celery seeds, caraway, tea rose, fresh jasmine

Bottom: cedarwood from Virginia, vetiver from Haiti, sandalwood, lavender absolute.

This starts very nicely - all rather light, fresh and spicy and then goes into a cheap cologne phase that I did not care for. Drydown is spicy and slightly woody.

Apres Tout

Top: essence of Bulgarian rose, bergamot from Sicily

Heart: essence of rose de Mai, violet, raspberry

Bottom: cristal rose absolute, oak moss, patchouli from Indonesia, amber and musk.

My thoughts: this is a must try for rose lovers. It is a musky-fruity rose and it is also the lightest of the four. The patchouli is not a heavy head ache inducing variety so you may want to try this even if you detest patchouli. Something smells awful on me - maybe raspberry (for a few minutes before the drydown) - I love to eat raspberries but strangely do not care for the smell in my fumes...

Friday, September 16, 2005

A few pics from my holidays...

Clockwise - Left: view from Villa Kerylos, view from Gourdon, a bookshop in Grasse, inside one of Galimard's boutiques..

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Time flies any which way!

This week has been a very hectic one. There were a few things that had to be done. Firstly, I spent two days autumn cleaning - I do this twice a year with massive amounts of paper we seem to accumulate. Granted that I possibly am not the most methodical person around, I do try to shred credit card receipts once a month if I can. Anyways, before I bore you to death about such mundane matters - I just wanted to know whether I am the only person who detests filing with a passion? I absolutely HATE it. At least these days we do not get the junk mail we used to get in London. Luckily for us, we have someone (our Gardienne) sort all the junk and the sorted post is delivered to our door - thank heavens for that! I remember throwing out bags of letters stating "We are very interested in purchasing a property in this area and would appreciate if you could please contact us blah blah blah."

Anyways - rest of the week was quite glorious weather wise, work wise and company wise. We had friends visiting from various parts of the globe. Also, all my Parisian friends are now back from their holidays and are happily making plans for christmas! Oh dear! I cannot think of next week. They even go back to their "country" homes (the ones who have them) on the weekend. I asked a friend recently whether she had enjoyed the city during any weekend this year - actually with a teeny bit of sarcasm in my voice. She said just two weekends because they had some concerts to attend to on Saturdays. How do they get the energy to leave each weekend. I guess we do drive out every few weekends but I doubt I could cope with the peripherique (the nightmare ring road around Paris) each and every weekend!

How have all you been?

The first person to identify where the photo was taken will get samples of my two perfume creations - so guess away at your peril! ;)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Have been feeling like an Alien..

Theirry Mugler's new Alien just launched at Galeries Lafayette in a big way this week. The central panel in this store is something from out of space. However, with the first spritz I felt I may like it. It was a blast of jasmine - a favourite flower of mine that makes me think of summer. Then there is some cashmeran that lends it tremendous amount of warmth. Not being a fan of any of his previous creations, I was happy I liked this. The bottle looks kinda ugly if you ask me. However, some may love it. It is a gorgeous purple - so that aspect I love. Test this if you can at your nearest departmental store.

Next - my friend V and I was pounced on by a SA from Armani to test Glamour for Her - it is a rose and patchouli blend. I can't say I disliked it. It was pleasant but not my cuppa. The men's version City is better. Cannot remember the notes.

Then there was a pretty young school leaver with a rather enthusiastic face at Nina Ricci at Printemps, who encouraged to make me test the new Premier Jour Lucky Day with a rather pretty frosted floral bottle. This is a very fresh and flowery fragrance is made up of subtle gardenia, heliotrope, cassis, orchid and vanilla mixed with more powerful notes of musk and sandalwood.

The result of this afternoon was that I came home smelling like a Vogue magazine.
I am going to have a long soak now as I have had enough of department and designer perfumes for a while....

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Oh my! Oh my Borneo!!!!!!!

Today was my perfume testing day of the week - on a very warm early fall day and I had such a fantastic time enjoying this afternoon with a dear friend.

We visited Palais Royal first and neither of us could not wait to try the much talked about Borneo 1834, which was launched on Monday. This was one perfume I had sort of decided that I may not like - thanks to the fact that there is patchouli in it. I was so wrong because I fell in love with it almost instantly - I did get a lot of chocolate and the dreaded but rather magically blended patchouli (which i dread in any dosage in most perfumes frankly) - then the perfume evolved into a warm and beautifully seductive drydown - almost ambery. I could not stop sniffing my wrist. It is very addictive and I would like to warm that you may love it too. It reminded me of Fumerie Turque just before the drydown.

Then we headed to the new boutique of The Different Company on rue Chabannais. I had received an invitation for the opening in July - which sadly got delayed due to works etc.. Had been busy since and they formally opened while I was in the south of France. Today was a perfect day to go there but I sadly forgot to take my camera - so will post pics next time I visit.
It is a very modern boutique in white. The boutique reflects the trendiness of their perfumes and the concept of the bottles. They have no new perfume to mark this opening but they have several accessories like special leather cases for the bottles etc. and also will have 50 ml refills (like the 48 hours) exclusively available at this flagship boutique. They have all the perfumes in all shapes and sizes. They have some of the candles in three of the perfumes. There is one section where you can smell their perfumes in large wine glasses.

Then we went to have some tea at Nina's and then went to Chanel where I re-tested Chanel 22 parfum (yes this time the kind SA found some for me to try!). I think I love it more each I time I try this.

However, I have been donating my perfume allowance for the next months and more - so I will not complain but will be going back to try Borneo again very soon. Chris Sheldrake is indeed a genius of a nose.

I am delighted that over this summer - Serge Lutens and Chris Sheldrake have proved their brilliance as magicians yet again by creating two hits in a row.....

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

La Rentrée ...

in other words - the Great Annual French Return - (from their long holidays over summer to a new school term and working life). It is a very important time for parents with school going children as they clamour for new books, backpacks, computers, occasionally pens and pencils etc.. It is like a cultural ritual....

We are back from a wonderful holiday and even though I felt my share of post holiday blues yesterday, I cannot deny the excitement I feel because I simply love this time of the year in Paris. Things in general pick up just a bit of speed after those long summer days when most residents here take off and let the tourists invade. It feels like being back home after two months of wondering whether we will have an unbearable summer or not - then going away for a great few weeks. I went to my marche today and I was greeted warmly by all the shopkeepers (even the rather indifferent ones) - it felt good being back. The traffic jams are back to being horrendous, people just have a wild time honking at double parked delivery trucks, pedestrians, other cars, passing infants - whoever is in their way - it does not matter. Parking spaces that seemed abundant during the last couple of months are now worth sacrificing a first born for etc.

Anyways - Paris will be this way till next summer - so I will write more about local peculiarities soon...

On a personal note - the next weeks are packed with action - work mainly and life of course - so I will try to find time to write as much as I can.

The photo above may give you an idea of where we are back from or maybe not. ;)
It was taken in Nice (from our car) when we were heading to go to Cap Ferrat.

I also met a couple of friends earlier today and they felt happy being back - one was nostalgic about having grey skies in some parts of France. We were indeed lucky with the weather. However, with all the natural disaster and subsequent relief op tragedy in the southern states of the US - I frankly feel lucky to be safe and alive. My perfume allowance that I give to myself and much much more has been going towards this cause. I pray that people can rebuild their lives and I am particularly sad about New Orleans....

Bonne rentrée!!

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