Maria Candida Gentile Rrose Selavy ~ fragrance review

Belle Haleine Eau de Voilette

“Rrose Sélavy, the feminine alter ego created by Marcel Duchamp, is one of the most complex and pervasive pieces in the enigmatic puzzle of the artist’s oeuvre. She first emerged in portraits made by the photographer Man Ray in New York in the early 1920s, when Duchamp and Man Ray were collaborating on a number of conceptual photographic works. Rrose Sélavy lived on as the person to whom Duchamp attributed specific works of art, Readymades, puns, and writings throughout his career. By creating for himself this female persona whose attributes are beauty and eroticism, he deliberately and characteristically complicated the understanding of his ideas and motives.” 1

The name “Rrose Sélavy,” interpreted/translated in at least two ways: “Eros, c’est la vie” (eros, that’s life) and “Arroser la vie” (to drink to life or, more sensually, to moisten life, as in arousal), is niche perfumer Maria Candida Gentile’s toast to Marcel Duchamp and his female (drag) creation, Rrose Sélavy. As perfume inspirations go, it’s intriguing and FUN — just like Gentile’s Elephant & Roses idea…

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Top 10 Winter Fragrances 2016

Mikhail Vrubel, The Snow Maiden, detail

I am on record, here and elsewhere, as hating winter. The forecast for this weekend — snow, snow, and then more snow — just adds insult to injury. I’ve mostly managed to avoid the winter rotation in our seasonal Top 10 lists, but I did get stuck with it back in 2011, and reviewing that list, yes, I could easily go through the winter with just those 10 (and I am convinced I could make it through any winter with just Fendi Theorema, if I had to).

To avoid repetition with my 2011 list and the winter lists we’ve done since, I decided to come up with a cold-weather wardrobe based solely on newer fragrances…and then once I’d decided on my 10, I realized, too late, that this post is essentially an abridged and annotated version of the Best of 2015. So much for good intentions. If you have some new ideas for winter, do comment! And do check out the lists at Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc and The Non-Blonde

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Maria Candida Gentile Lady Day ~ perfume review

Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald

Some time ago, the indie brand Strange Invisible Perfumes had a Lady Day fragrance.1 It was, as you’d expect, a gardenia (Billie Holiday, aka Lady Day, was known for wearing gardenias in her hair onstage2), and it was, as you’d perhaps also expect, big, as in a BWF (big white floral). It wasn’t dark, really, or melancholy, just big and lush, and it also wasn’t the oddball take on Lady Day that you find in Serge Lutens Une Voix Noire, which Kevin found more Gaga than Holiday.3

Italian perfumer Maria Candida Gentile takes an entirely different approach, and if I can’t really connect the smell with what I know of Billie Holiday, that’s neither here nor there I suppose, and we’re always happy to have an excuse to post another image: she is shown here with The First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald…

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Maria Candida Gentile Elephant & Roses ~ fragrance review

elephants and rose

I “met” my first elephant in a zoo when I was little and a life-long fascination with elephants was ignited. My elephant-love led me from Babar children’s stories and elephant picture books, to studies on elephant physiology and behavior, and the symbolism of elephants in art and religion, especially in Buddhism and Hinduism. My house is full of Ganesha statues and amulets, and I always go to Seattle’s Asian Art Museum when a tiny statue of Kangiten is on (rare) view — two elephants stand face to face and tenderly embrace. I love the Indian paintings of Airavata, the white elephant god and mount of Indra, who emerged from the churning of the milk ocean, an event that made the nectar of immortality available for the Hindu gods to drink. (You may know him as Erawan; in Thailand, you’ll see him depicted with three, or more, heads.)

I used to perk up with excitement when I’d see a photograph of elephants in a magazine or newspaper or hear their trumpeting on TV. Now? I approach such images and sounds warily…

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