Monday, September 26, 2011

Dirt

"Miriam" winners: I still haven't heard from three of you. Sept.30 at midnight US Eastern Daylight time is the deadline -- after that I'll pick alternates.





I’ve always been an enthusiastic cook. When I was first married, about a million years ago, a series of layoffs and career changing left us broke. For a year and a half we didn’t go out to eat unless the in-laws treated us. I mean not at all. Not even coffee shops. I was working from home, trying to build a clientele for my writing and copywriting. It was a difficult time.


Every Wednesday, I’d go to Santa Monica for the farmers market there. (Hard to believe now, but their vegetables were cheaper than the supermarket’s. This greenmarket had originally been formed to provide the senior residents of downtown Santa Monica with fresh produce they could afford. Seems incredible now, doesn’t it?)

Anyway, that was when I really learned to cook. My favorite resources were  “Cook’s Illustrated” magazine and Julia Child’s “The Way to Cook.” My ingredients, thanks to the market, were the very best. 

I can still see, and taste, the produce from that Wednesday market. Lettuce varieties that tasted different from any I’d ever had; actually, make that lettuce that had a taste. Golden beets and purple string beans that turned green upon cooking. Yellow crookneck squash so fresh it still had the whiskery bristles. Perfect white aubergines, the size and shape of hen's eggs. (The market had those, too.) Those long french radishes with the white tips. Baskets full of basil so fresh it nearly quivered when touched.

Everything was organic. It was required to be, and also had to be harvested within the previous 24 hours. Therefore, no tomatoes in December. Winter was the time of the root vegetables with their greens; beets, and turnips, and cabbages, carrots, brussels sprouts still on the stalk. Summer was for the nightshades — tomatoes and eggplants and summer squash in endless variety — and the herbs. Having grown up on supermarket food, I hadn't realized that broccoli was a winter vegetable and squash a summer one. Forced to cook and eat seasonally, I became more attuned to other natural cycles, too. 

There were no chef-y demonstrations or wildly expensive designer vegetables at this market. It was just food and flowers. I’d buy big bunches of daisies for a dollar. Sometimes street musicians would show up and play, and the benevolent city government would let them. But none of it ever felt contrived.

Most places have greenmarkets now — we have one in my little-town-inside-big-city — but they’re very expensive, a few tables set up with baskets of $5 tomatoes (that's per tomato, not per basket)  — so I’ve learned to buy produce elsewhere at a vast shedlike “farmers market” here that’s really an international grocery store. But I miss that  California cornucopia, four blocks of the earth’s best, to this day. 

I bring this up because of the way appreciation of perfumery opens appreciation of taste. Whereas once I’d just retrieve the (one) bottle of cinnamon from my spice pantry and spoon out some, now I hold one of the several kinds I have to my nose and consider which would be best for the dish, performing those little sniffs as I do when testing a perfume.  So many cinammons, all so different; some warm, some cool, some pungent. I buy whole spices, and grind my own mixes from them. This is a lot like painting, like knowing your pigments so well that you can confidently choose not just a white, but which white;  warm? Cool? Pasty? Opaque, semi-transparent, goopy, ropy, what?

I’ve been playing around with fragrance oils and essential oils lately. Last week I got one called "Dirt." It smells like, well, dirt. It smells just like dirt. Garden dirt. The humus-y, dark, rooty kind. I don’t know what’s in it, although it’s got some patchouli; that I know. I also know this. Open that bottle and I’m back at the market, my nose pressed into a bunch of beets I’ve just bought, dug out of the ground that morning and smelling more earthy than the earth that they grew in.

We get caught up in reviewing and comparing and comparing and reviewing readymades; what is that note, damn it, why can’t I place it, aaaargh! Or comparing this perfumer or that perfumer’s work. I lose track, sometimes, of why I do this. Many reasons; the interesting friends, the sense of community, the samples and swaps, the sheer opportunity to spend time writing about something I love and knowing (well, hoping) that it will be appreciated by the like-minded. And it’s all great. But every now and then it’s good to slow down, empty the mind, and smell the dirt.



Photo by Zigzagmtart, used under license from Dreamstime.com.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Miriam: The Winners

Thanks, everybody, for reading these posts! So let's get to it: 




The sample and DVD's winners from yesterday were: Womo531 and Elisa!


The Grand Prize -- the purse-sized flacon of "Miriam" --goes to Jaki!


Congratulations to all the winners! Get in touch with me at the email address to the left for postal info.


As always, winners were chosen using random.org.

Next up, Wednesday the 21st: Perfume Smellin Things






Other participating blogs are:



I'll be back next week with a regular post.





Sunday, September 18, 2011

Miriam: A Serialized Interview with Brian Pera -- Part Five of Five

Yesterday's winners of the "Miriam" sample and DVD are a.k.a. Warum and Zerami! Get in touch with me at the email address to the left and I'll send them.
(To all commenters: the Grand Prize winner will be announced tomorrow, Monday Sept. 19th, at 9:00a.m. US Eastern Daylight Time.)
“For me, serialization means a story keeps on deepening and expanding over time.” -- Brian Pera, Writer and Director 
“Woman’s Picture,” the film, is a beginning. Filmmaker Brian Pera plans to continue exploring these characters in an open-ended series of short, web-based films over the next ten years or so. 
The segments, while at first view may seem unrelated as stories, do relate on “subterranean levels of mood and theme,” according to Pera. This is a process he likens to perfumes from a long established house like Chanel. Compare two of them, and the differences are obvious. But, when looking at the line through time, the differences become more muted, while the parallels become more apparent, and more complex.
Visit the other participating blogs for different angles. They’re listed at the end of this (and subsequent) posts. And stop by Evelyn Avenue  for all sorts of interesting stuff. “Miriam,” which is to be released in early October, will be sold there, and through Lucky Scent
For a look at Brian Pera’s short film “Melissa,” which was featured here yesterday, go here.


Question 5:

Have you ever known anyone like Miriam?
Pera: “I'm a lot like Miriam myself.  Because creating a character is a form of impersonation for me, a lot of who I am goes into it.  I try to understand what I would do in the situations that (the) character is in.  I've been frustrated and placed in positions of paranoia like Miriam, and I empathize.  She handles it about how I imagine I would.  She's in a situation where she doesn't know whom to trust and can't evaluate other people's motivations properly, or her own judgment, and she's faced with what for me is the ultimate test of endurance, the gradual loss of a loved one.
Miriam is also me trying to understand, drawing from my own experience, how the women I've admired (particularly my grandmothers) coped with adversity or their ambitions and the people who generated resistance to them.  Miriam is a hard working, driven person who wants to see the good in things rather than focus on the bad.  I appreciate that in people.  
A lot of my experience found its way into all of the Woman's Picture stories we've filmed so far, but nowhere more than MIRIAM, because of all the characters, she was closest to my memories of my grandmothers and the frustrations I felt they faced in life.  Miriam is ambitious and a creative soul, and she doesn't always know what to do with that.
Like her, I try to make something productive out of my frustrations, and sometimes that means living partially in a fantasy world.  You create the world you wish you lived in (for me, that's film; for her, it's a TV show and a TV persona) and you can find pretty quickly that you prefer the fantasy to reality, because in the fantasy you can work things out to your advantage and resolve things which can't be resolved in any other way.  You can imagine that your perceptions of people and their motives are exact rather than ambiguous and opaque.  Most of the people I know are like Miriam in that respect. We all have imaginations and visualize things before we do them.  We want the best for ourselves and to think the best of others.  And fantasy permits that.
I've known many women who, like Miriam, give a lot to a relationship, trying to keep it going, and suffer for it.  They're trying to be the best they can be, even when it goes against self interests.  They lose themselves somewhere in the process.  I watched some of the women in my family do that, sometimes repeatedly.  
I think it's easy to blame women for things.  I wanted to put a character you want to blame in a situation where you gradually see how ridiculous your judgment of her is.  I always disliked the way the men in my family judged women.  I had nowhere to put those feelings, and MIRIAM offered me the opportunity to address them and deal with them constructively, and to bring my grandmothers back in some way.  I felt like they were on the set with me.”


This post concludes the five-day interview serialization. Thanks for reading, everybody!


Visit the other participating blogs for more exploration of “Woman’s Picture,” reviews and short films in which women talk about their memories of perfumes. Links appear at the end of this post.
Andy Tauer has provided a very generous allotment of sample prize packages for the drawing, too. Details appear below.

 The drawing: Each day, I’ll pick two winners at random from that day’s comments, who will each win a package from Tauer Perfumes. This includes a sample of the fragrance “Miriam” and a DVD version of the “Miriam” short film, which opens in October. I’ll announce the names of the previous day’s winners with each day’s post.
Previous winners of the “Miriam” package won’t be eligible to win again until the drawing for the Grand Prize, a purse-sized sprayer of “Miriam,” which all commenters are eligible to win. That random drawing will be held at the end of the five-day series, and announced at 9:00 a.m. US Eastern Daylight Time, Monday, Sept. 19th
All winners must contact me with postal details at the email listed to the left, by midnight US Eastern Daylight Time, Friday, Sept. 30th. Otherwise, I’ll do a random drawing to select alternates.
Other participating blogs are:
The photo is a still from the film, of Ann Magnuson as “Miriam.”

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Miriam: A Serialized Interview with Brian Pera -- Part Four of Five (featuring the short film "Melissa")

Yesterday's winners of the "Miriam" sample and the DVD are: Veta and Alicia! Get in touch with me at the email to the left and I'll send out your prize packages!

“For me, serialization means a story keeps on deepening and expanding over time.” -- Brian Pera, Writer and Director 




“Woman’s Picture,” the film, is a beginning. Filmmaker Brian Pera plans to continue exploring these characters in an open-ended series of short, web-based films over the next ten years or so. 


The segments, while at first view may seem unrelated as stories, do relate on “subterranean levels of mood and theme,” according to Pera. This is a process he likens to perfumes from a long established house like Chanel. Compare two of them, and the differences are obvious. But, when looking at the line through time, the differences become more muted, while the parallels become more apparent, and more complex.


Visit the other participating blogs for different angles. They’re listed at the end of this (and subsequent) posts. And stop by Evelyn Avenue  for all sorts of interesting stuff. “Miriam,” which is to be released in early October, will be sold there, and through Lucky Scent


Andy Tauer has provided a very generous allotment of sample prize packages for the drawing, too. Details appear at the end of this post.


Pera has also done a fascinating series of short films in which women talk about their memories of perfumes, loved ones and the links between them. Here is one of them:

"She was a very clean woman": Melissa from brian pera on Vimeo.
   
It seemed appropriate to serialize this interview, which was conducted online, as well. So it is appearing over a five day period.


Question 4:

You have said “to me, ‘Miriam Masterson’ is a role Miriam plays, based on childhood memories of her mother’s public mask.” In trying to identify her mother’s old perfume, is Miriam showing us her fear of being unmasked?


Pera:  "I think Miriam is terrified of losing her mother.  Like everyone she has a terror of unfinished business.  She has an active fantasy life, and her mother, or her idealized version of her mother, is a big part of that fantasy life.  I think for a long time Miriam has been able to enjoy a certain level of denial about her mother's mortality.  Her mother has been so alive and so fixed to her within her TV fantasy space, within her imagination.  When her mother becomes ill I imagine it's just a rising awareness for Miriam that her mother is "slipping", and I think she knows that the fantasy version of her mother can only exist and flourish in any useful way while her mother is still alive to contrast against it.  That uncertainty and transitoriness calls everything into question for her, and nothing seems stable or secure, including her conception of herself.


So in a way, yes, I think you're right.  Miriam's afraid of the reality underneath the fantasy, which is that people are imperfect and mortal, secretly incomplete, and that they don't just live but die that way, taking their secrets with them.  They leave mystery behind. While Miriam respects the mystery of her mother, she's terrified of being left without answers and having to trust her own judgment.  She'll never truly know who her mother was - only who she wanted to think she was.  All of her memories have been so influenced by fantasy that she can't properly parse through them.  Her mother is everything to her, even though they've had a troubled relationship, a very complicated one.  The whole thing about her obsession with her mother's perfume comes straight from my life.  I had a tiny bottle of perfume my grandmother left in her medicine cabinet - the only fragrance she owned.  I took it when she died.  And it was a big part of me.  Somewhere in my mind, that perfume was her.  And when it broke, and ran down the drain, it was like another death, as crazy as that sounds. I still haven’t gotten over it.


Like Miriam, I never knew the name of the perfume.  So I only have the memory of that scent now, which is practically nothing.  And it fades a little each year, the way memories of people do."


Visit the other participating blogs for more exploration of “Woman’s Picture,” reviews and short films in which women talk about their memories of perfumes. Links appear at the end of this post.


 The drawing: Each day, I’ll pick two winners at random from that day’s comments, who will each win a package from Tauer Perfumes. This includes a sample of the fragrance “Miriam” and a DVD  of the “Miriam” short film, which opens in October. I’ll announce the names of the previous day’s winners with each day’s post.


Previous winners of the “Miriam” package won’t be eligible to win again until the drawing for the Grand Prize, a purse-sized sprayer of “Miriam,” which all commenters are eligible to win. That random drawing will be held at the end of the five-day series, and announced at 9:00 a.m. US Eastern Daylight Time, Monday, Sept. 19th. 


All winners must contact me with postal details at the email listed to the left, by midnight US Eastern Daylight Time, Friday, Sept. 30th. Otherwise, I’ll do a random drawing to select alternates.




Other participating blogs are:







The photo, a still from the film, is of Ann Magnuson  as "Miriam."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Miriam: A Serialized Interview with Brian Pera -- Part Three of Five


Yesterdays two winners, chosen using random.org, are Fernando and Zazie! Get in touch with me at the e-mail to the left and I'll send your prize packages posthaste!




For me, serialization means a story keeps on deepening and expanding over time.” -- Brian Pera, Writer and Director 



“Woman’s Picture,” the film, is a beginning. Filmmaker Brian Pera plans to continue exploring these characters in an open-ended series of short, web-based films over the next ten years or so. 


The segments, while at first view may seem unrelated as stories, do relate on “subterranean levels of mood and theme,” according to Pera. This is a process he likens to perfumes from a long established house like Chanel. Compare two of them, and the differences are obvious. But, when looking at the line through time, the differences become more muted, while the parallels become more apparent, and more complex.


Visit the other participating blogs for different angles. They’re listed at the end of this (and subsequent) posts. And stop by Evelyn Avenue  for all sorts of interesting stuff. “Miriam,” which is to be released in early October, will be sold there, and through Lucky Scent




Andy Tauer has provided a very generous allotment of sample prize packages for the drawing, too. Details appear at the end of this post.


Pera has also done a fascinating series of short films in which women talk about their memories of perfumes, loved ones and the links between them. Look for "Melissa" here on Saturday, September 17th.


It seemed appropriate to serialize this interview, which was conducted online, as well. So it is appearing over a five day period.




Question 3: Which Miriam does the completed, real-life perfume “Miriam” represent to you? 


Pera: “The Miriam perfume is amazing to me.  I think Andy based it on the character and her world, as well as on Ann Magnuson's performance, but also on the things I'd written about my grandmother's perfume, and losing it, and how that felt.  So it's like another creative mind was there with me when that bottle of perfume shattered. Andy rescued it in a way by paying it homage.  The perfume he created isn't the same as my grandmother's was, but it doesn't need to be.  


What matters is that, based on this story I filmed -- which is grounded in real experience for me -- he created a new memory. That helps me deal with the fact that my grandmother's perfume, and my grandmother, are gone.  In a way, they're not gone now.  They live on in Miriam - in someone's appreciation for and understanding of what this person and her fragrance represented to me, the same way that Ann's performance memorializes them.  As far as how the Miriam perfume relates to the character in the film, it's replaced any perfume I might have imagined while we were shooting the piece.  For me, it's become the fragrance Miriam's mother wore, and when I smell it I feel like I might be a little closer to sharing in its importance to her, something that only exists in smell, way outside of words.  


By the time we filmed ROSE, the film which revisits Miriam and her mother, which takes place several years earlier, I imagined that the perfume we were all talking about was the one Andy's created.  So it was a nice creative exchange that way - my work inspiring him, and his inspiring mine.  The “Miriam” this fragrance represents to me is the one who values the past and lives with it both comfortably and uncomfortably, trying to reconcile it with the realities of the present.  The perfume is dreamy and strong like her, a space for the imagination.  It embodies her respect for people and places and the continuum of history and feeling they exist within.”




Visit the other participating blogs for more exploration of “Woman’s Picture,” reviews and short films in which women talk about their memories of perfumes. Links appear at the end of this post.




 The drawing: Each day, I’ll pick two winners at random from that day’s comments, who will each win a package from Tauer Perfumes. This includes a sample of the fragrance “Miriam” and a sneak-preview DVD version of the “Miriam” short film, which opens in October. I’ll announce the names of the previous day’s winners with each day’s post.


Previous winners of the “Miriam” package won’t be eligible to win again until the drawing for the Grand Prize, a purse-sized sprayer of “Miriam,” which all commenters are eligible to win. That random drawing will be held at the end of the five-day series, and announced at 9:00 a.m. US Eastern Daylight Time, Monday, Sept. 19th. 


All winners must contact me with postal details at the email listed to the left, by midnight US Eastern Daylight Time, Friday, Sept. 30th. Otherwise, I’ll do a random drawing to select alternates.




Other participating blogs are:






Perfume Posse


Photo by Andy Tauer.



Thursday, September 15, 2011

Miriam: A Serialized Interview with Brian Pera -- Part Two of Five

Yesterday's 2 winners are Ewik and  CC Douglas! Get in touch with me at the email to the left and I'll send out your prize packages posthaste! (Winners chosen using random.org)


“For me, serialization means a story keeps on deepening and expanding over time.” -- Brian Pera, Writer and Director 
“Woman’s Picture,” the film, is a beginning. Filmmaker Brian Pera plans to continue exploring these characters in an open-ended series of short, web-based films over the next ten years or so. 
The segments, while at first view may seem unrelated as stories, do relate on “subterranean levels of mood and theme,” according to Pera. This is a process he likens to perfumes from a long established house like Chanel. Compare two of them, and the differences are obvious. But, when looking at the line through time, the differences become more muted, while the parallels become more apparent, and more complex.
Visit the other participating blogs for different angles. They’re listed at the end of this (and subsequent) posts. And stop by Evelyn Avenue  for all sorts of interesting stuff. “Miriam,” which is to be released in early October, will be sold there, and through Lucky Scent
Andy Tauer has provided a very generous allotment of sample prize packages for the drawing, too. Details appear at the end of this post.
Pera has also done a fascinating series of short films in which women talk about their memories of perfumes, loved ones and the links between them. Look for "Melissa" here on Saturday, September 17th.
It seemed appropriate to serialize this interview, which was conducted online, as well. So it is appearing over a five day period.
Question 2:
“When you originally imagined Miriam’s mother’s perfume, what was it like?”
Pera: “In the film, Miriam keeps her mother's unnamed signature perfume off to the side of her vanity, in a crystal decant it must have originally come in.  It's like a shrine there, and she has a ritual around it.  People who love perfume will recognize that ritual and I think relate to it pretty strongly.  Dressing the set, I put a tray nearby on the vanity with a variety of perfumes I selected from my own collection, all of them things I imagined Miriam would have inherited from her mother.  All those bottles are pretty full, which indicates that her mother didn't wear them much, whereas her mother's signature perfume is almost empty.  It's special.  
Those other perfumes I put out were clues, pointing to what Miriam's mother's perfume might smell like, a combination of fragrances that would have been released around the same time.  They give her mother's unnamed perfume some kind of context for the viewer, showing where it situates itself in time.  I don't remember all of these perfumes I set out but I think they included Miss Balmain, Bal a Versailles, and Balenciaga Le Dix, some of my favorites.
All those perfumes represent a bygone era and signify how temporary things are. But, at the same time, because Miriam has kept them, we see how we can make things last, carrying the past forward with us.  At the same time, I feel like Miriam's mother's signature perfume does something none of the others can, together or separately - which is why both women have revered it and kept it separate.  Somehow, Miriam and her mother made a strong personal connection with this fragrance, and I'm fascinated by that.  What endows one fragrance with those emotional properties, and not another?  How does a fragrance speak to us that way, cutting right to who we are and how we feel about things?  Miriam and her mother have a relationship with this fragrance which is like a relationship with a person.  It's definitely a relationship with each other, through this perfume.  For me that shows how huge a fragrance can be, how powerful and unique.
The perfume I had in mind as Miriam's mother's perfume while writing the script was Youth Dew by Estee Lauder.  I liked the idea of Estee Lauder because I'm fascinated by that brand and what it means to women in America, the way it has bonded mothers and daughters in this realm of fantasy and luxury and ideas of everyday American femininity over the years, and the way that's a shared fantasy, similar to the way Miriam shares her fantasy world of perfection with her viewers.  However, once I smelled Andy's version of Miriam, I couldn't picture anything else on the vanity there.”
Visit the other participating blogs for more exploration of “Woman’s Picture,” reviews and short films in which women talk about their memories of perfumes. Links appear at the end of this post.

 The drawing: Each day, I’ll pick two winners at random from that day’s comments, who will each win a package from Tauer Perfumes. This includes a sample of the fragrance “Miriam” and a sneak-preview DVD version of the “Miriam” short film, which opens in October. I’ll announce the names of the previous day’s winners with each day’s post.
Previous winners of the “Miriam” package won’t be eligible to win again until the drawing for the Grand Prize, a purse-sized sprayer of “Miriam,” which all commenters are eligible to win. That random drawing will be held at the end of the five-day series, and announced at 9:00 a.m. US Eastern Daylight Time, Monday, Sept. 19th
All winners must contact me with postal details at the email listed to the left, by midnight US Eastern Daylight Time, Friday, Sept. 30th. Otherwise, I’ll do a random drawing to select alternates.
Other participating blogs are:
Perfume Posse

Photo by Andy Tauer.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Miriam: A Serialized Interview with Brian Pera


“For me, serialization means a story keeps on deepening and expanding over time.” -- Brian Pera, Writer and Director 


“Woman’s Picture,” the film, is a beginning. Filmmaker Brian Pera plans to continue exploring these characters in an open-ended series of short, web-based films over the next ten years or so. 


The segments, while at first view may seem unrelated as stories, do relate on “subterranean levels of mood and theme,” according to Pera. This is a process he likens to perfumes from a long established house like Chanel. Compare two of them, and the differences are obvious. But, when looking at the line through time, the differences become more muted, while the parallels become more apparent, and more complex.


It seemed appropriate to serialize this interview, which was conducted online, as well. So it will appear over a five day period.


Visit the other participating blogs for different angles. They’re listed at the end of this (and subsequent) posts. And stop by Evelyn Avenue  for all sorts of interesting stuff. “Miriam,” which is to be released in early October, will be sold there, and through Lucky Scent


Andy Tauer has provided a very generous allotment of sample prize packages for the drawing, too. Details appear at the end of this post.


Pera has also done a fascinating series of short films in which women talk about their memories of perfumes, loved ones and the links between them. Look for "Melissa" here on Saturday, September 17th.




The first question:


“What was the fragrance’s development, the process of collaboration with Andy Tauer, like?”


Brian: “Andy and his work represent for me, in a way very few people do, what it means to be truly independent now.  Indie and independent are words which are used very loosely these days, but Andy sets an example which really clarifies what those terms essentially need to mean for me.  I feel a real kinship with his creative philosophy and practice and that's the reason I approached him in the first place.  It's the way I'd like to make films, not just now but always: following my own instincts, doing much of it myself, getting my hands dirty, making things, producing them, in a meaningful way which feels hand crafted and sincere rather than hyped and distorted by a thousand intermediaries.  It requires a strange admixture of humility and confidence, and I hope I'm moving toward that equilibrium as successfully as he has.


Andy read the screenplay and said yes, which shocked me.  I expected him to say no.  I felt I needed to ask and get it out of the way, and once he said no I could move on to others.  But he said yes, and away we went.  From the beginning he showed a lot of trust in me and faith in what I wanted to accomplish.  He started working on the fragrance very soon after he said yes.  He saw a first cut of the first three Woman's Picture short films, including MIRIAM.  We exchanged many letters discussing Miriam and her influences, relating it to our own experiences.  He told me pretty early on what direction he was considering going in.  We then talked about that, and I think he made a few modifications, as did I, and we moved on from there.  


I think the creative process is both singular and universal, and I found that while the art of perfumery is obviously a lot different than filmmaking, the practices share many of the same struggles, challenges, and inspirations.  In one of the essays he wrote on perfumery, Edmond Roudnitska talked about imagination and the way it works - by association, by organization of accumulated influences and inspirations.  It means being open.  "The most insignificant detail - occasionally even one that is alien to the field of perfumes - can trigger a first association of ideas, which can entail another such association..." and so on, and all those associations graft themselves onto an initial idea like base notes and modifiers in a perfume. 


 That's filmmaking, too, really.  So when Andy and I talk about combining the arts of perfume and film I think we're not just talking about the result but the process, the engagement; as artists we're both inspired by each other's creative world to make something new, and our imaginations work alongside each other, producing some third piece of art which exists in the mind of the smeller and viewer, who relates these things for herself.  


Collaborations are pleasurable to me and I feel very comfortable with them, but few have been this rewarding and gratifying.  I think everyone who knows Andy's work knows something of Andy - that's the kind of artist he is, a very personal one.  I can tell you that's sincere and real.  He's a uniquely committed individual and I consider myself more than lucky to have engaged in this with someone so creatively generous and fearless.” 





The drawing: Each day, I’ll pick two winners at random from that day’s comments, who will each win a package from Tauer Perfumes. This includes a sample of the fragrance “Miriam” and a DVD package with excerpts from "Woman's Picture," a bonus 15 minute short from the movie, and related short films from Evelyn Avenue, and the “Miriam” short film, which opens in Los Angeles in October. I’ll announce the names of the previous day’s winners with each day’s post.




Previous winners of the “Miriam” package won’t be eligible to win again until the drawing for the Grand Prize, a purse-sized sprayer of “Miriam,” which all commenters are eligible to win. That random drawing will be held at the end of the five-day series, and announced at 9:00 a.m. US Eastern Daylight Time, Monday, Sept. 19th. 


All winners must contact me with postal details at the email listed to the left, by midnight US Eastern Daylight Time, Friday, Sept. 30th. Otherwise, I’ll do a random drawing to select alternates.


Visit the other participating blogs for more exploration of “Woman’s Picture,” reviews and links to the other short films from Evelyn Avenue in which women talk about their memories of perfumes.


Perfume Shrine  (post up now)
 Persolaise (post up now)
Perfume Smellin Things (September 21)
Perfume Posse (October 5)


Photo by Andy Tauer.



Monday, September 12, 2011

Coming Attractions: "Woman's Picture," featuring "Miriam"



A Five-Part Interview with "Woman's Picture" writer and director Brian Pera, and a generous daily drawing of "Miriam" samples, courtesy of Andy Tauer!

Beginning Wednesday, Sept. 14 and wrapping up (with a Grand Prize drawing) on Sunday, September 18.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Two from the Permanent Collection


I'm still on vacation, officially. This is a reprint from November, 2008, about two old favorites: Coco by Chanel, and Scherrer II by Jean-Louis Scherrer. I'll be back on Wednesday, September 14 with a new post on "Miriam" from Andy Tauer, and Brian Pera's film "Woman's Picture." 


Before I became a semi-perfumista, I had two scents that I wore from time to time, but only in winter. They were Chanel No. 22 EDT and Jean-Louis Scherrer 2. Both were strong and sultry, and I thought of them as “old and French.” (This is not a joke.)


They just didn’t smell American. They weren’t light or fresh or clean. They were accessories for a Big Night, obviously seductive, with huge sillage and forever longevity.


The Scherrer, especially; to this day it is my longest-lived perfume. And this is EDT, mind you. (A disclaimer here: my bottle is from the early Nineties, as is the Chanel, so chances are we’re talking about real, unreformulated juice.) I always thought of these two in tandem. They’re different of course; different notes. The Scherrer is a rich, dark take on the white floral. The Chanel (also early 90’s EDT) is all about aldehydes and incense. But they share a table.


I don’t think anyone reading this needs to know more than they already do about Coco Chanel and the Chanel fragrances. No. 22 seems to be in great demand, particularly the perfume, everywhere. The Scherrer is different. It's a bit of a secret. (Jean-Louis Scherrer also makes the excellent big green Chypre “Jean-Louis Scherrer,” released in 1980. That one is a little more well-known than this, but not much.)


I got curious about Jean-Louis Scherrer, the designer. It appears that he dressed some of the world’s most opulent women: Queen Noor, Francoise Sagan, Sophia Loren. (I use the past tense, because in 1992 he was fired from his own company due to financial problems. He sued and won some money, but not the use of his name.) He dressed many wealthy Arab women, a specialty. My guess is that Scherrer 2, released in 1986, was made for them.


Chanel No. 22 was released in 1922 and, I was a bit surprised to learn, has been associated with bobbed hair, ropes of pearls, chemise dresses – in other words, flappers. I think of Habanita in those terms, but this would make sense, too; the sparkly aldehydes bubbling up like champagne; the in-your-face, supremely modern quality it would have had at that time. One couldn’t have ignored it then. One can’t ignore it now.


The Scherrer, though, is my favorite of the two. I love its dark honeyed floral essence. This scent says “rich.” It’s an Eighties fragrance fer sure, with that long, long list of notes. I can smell it on a fur coat, not that I have one. If Chanel No. 22 is pearls, then this is pigeon-blood rubies, or maybe big flashy diamonds, or how about pigeon-blood rubies surrounded by big flashy diamonds? (Hey, I didn’t say it was subtle – it most certainly is not.) To me, it still smells “French.” And it comes in a beautiful Art Deco bottle.


Once in a while, it’s kind of nice to feel rich. To give up the tasteful lady act. Like on Christmas Eve, or New Year’s Eve. Especially when one can find something like this for around $35.00 at the online discounters.*


Hey…I won’t let on about that if you won’t!


*Scherrer II has been discontinued and is rarer than it used to be, but is available here and there for around $40. 


Notes for Jean-Louis Scherrer 2 include aldehydes, bergamot, “green notes,” pineapple, anise, jasmine, Mandarin, orris root, peach, Lily of the Valley, honey, rose, musk, sandalwood, amber, vetiver, benzoin and vanilla.

Notes for Chanel No. 22 include aldehydes, jasmine, rose, tuberose, ylang-ylang, incense, vanilla, opopnax and vetiver.

Photo of Parisian lady by Eric for Paris Daily Photo.com (http://www.paris.dailyphoto.com)








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