Oriza L. Legrand‘s recent release, Empire des Indes, is an addictive delight with many faces: spicy floriental; gourmand amber; ambered vanilla; ambered opoponax incense; spicy woody amber; smoky, sweet, spicy resinousness; and a few more. There is even a stage where the fragrance smells like spicy vanilla infused with dark, smoky French Roast coffee on my skin. While Empire des Indes skews a little too sweet on occasion for my personal tastes, I would absolutely wear it for myself and I want to buy a bottle some day soon. I loved it.
The legendary Diana Vreeland once said, “Fragrances fill the senses with the mysterious.” Extravagance Russe is meant to incorporate some of that emotion, as well as the iconic Vogue editor’s love of opulence. It is a new fragrance from a new house created by Alexander Vreeland in homage to his glamourous grandmother. Honestly, I’m not too sure what she would have thought about Extravagance Russe. Diana Vreeland stood out, and was the epitome of exuberant boldness (not to mention luxurious excess), but her fragrance is none of those things. Frankly, I find the woman far more interesting than the scent which is meant to encapsulate her.
The name may not ring a lot of bells today for the general public, but Diana Vreeland ruled fashion for decades. She was the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue in the 1960s, after a long tenure at Harper’s Bazaar that begin the 1930s, but she partied like a rock star all the way through to the 1980s. People loved her wit, sense of humour, and charm, even more than they liked her “fabulous” personal style. In short, think of a nice version of Anna Wintour, only more influential and actually liked. She advised First Lady Jackie Kennedy on style and fashion; allegedly discovered Lauren Bacall and Twiggy; and was friends with everyone (from Wallis Simpson to Yves. St. Laurent, Valentino, Andy Warhol, Coco Chanel, Jack Nicholson, and people in-between). She lived life with exuberance, and always with a perfect witticism on her lips.
Into the Gloss has a nice piece on her, along with 50 of her famous quotes. (I was amused by the one about Coco Chanel: “Where Chanel came from in France is anyone’s guess. She said one thing one day and another thing the next. She was a peasant—and a genius. Peasants and geniuses are the only people who count and she was both.” There is also NY Magazine’s full tribute to “The Divine Mrs. V” which talks about some of the difficulties in her life and her marriage. I’ve compiled some photos from NY Magazine’s “Iconic Style” article on the new Vreeland perfume collection, Vogue Italia, Hint Magazine, Fashion’s Most Wanted blog (which has some really fantastic ones), and from the internet in general to put together a gallery of photos, all in thumbnails but which you can see in full by clicking on each tile. Continue reading
Sexy, smoky, and snarling, Ambra Nera is a gritty, punk rock amber that is simply gorgeous. It is a compulsively sniffable parfum from the ancient Italian house of Farmacia SS. Annunziata dal 1561, and is far more than the “black amber” that its name implies. Rich woods, spicy patchouli, incense, sticky balsamic resins, animalic warmth, and earthiness are all cocooned in musky ambergris in a way that feels like amber with an edge. While its essence can be over-simplified down to patchouli-amber-woods, Ambra Nera leaves fragrances like Ambra Aurea or Jovoy‘s Psychedelique in the dust of their golden palaces, where aristocrats lounge near fireplaces sipping cognac. Instead, it chooses to get on its Harley-Davidson, snarling in black leather like Iggy Pop, Billy Idol, or the Ramones, and zooms off singing “with a rebel yell, more, more, more.” It’s a fantastic, unexpected surprise, and a fragrance that lovers of hardcore amber-patchoulis must try.
Farmacia SS. Annunziata dal 1561 is an Italian brand with a long history, and its unpretentious, high-quality, beautifully rich fragrances are hugely under-rated, in my opinion. Most are really extraits in concentration, and tend to focus on one note which is then amplified to great depth. Ambra Nera is a little different than others I’ve tried from the line, as it has more layers and complexity than some of its siblings, but it bears the overall Farmacia aesthetic and made me do a double-take from first sniff. If it weren’t for the size of the bottle, I would have bought Ambra Nera for myself right away.
The Kremlin in the snow, warm ambered light shining into the darkness of incense from a cathedral, and a dry wind that carries the faintest hints of pine trees on the Siberian steppes. That is one aspect of Benjoin 19, an incense and amber duet from Le Labo that I sometimes enjoyed to the point of surprise, though the perfume also ended up presenting a very different version of itself as well, one that was significantly less appealing.