Friday, June 22, 2012

Ambergris

This should be an interesting book: Floating Gold. Christopher Kemp wrote a (perhaps the) book on ambergris. Ambergris is either whale dung or whale puke, it depends on who you ask. Who's right? Doesn't matter really, the substance ambergris is what's most interesting. Ambergris is/was used as a component in some perfumes and is worth its weight in gold. Literally.

A really great ambergris story can be found in Chandler Burr's excellent but slightly technical book The Emperor of Scent, see below. Mandatory reading if you have only a little bit of interest in the perfume industry and the way we smell stuff.
"The best Guy Robert story is this. The House of Dior started making perfumes in the 1940s. Very small scale. The first two, of which Diorama was one and Miss Dior the other, were made by Edmond Roudnitska, a Ukrainian émigré who'd studied with Ernest Beaux in Saint Petersburg because Beaux was the perfumer to the czars. So Dior approached Guy Robert-they invite him to dinner, they're talking over the cheese course, no sterile meeting rooms, this is a brief among gentlemen-and they said, 'We're doing a new perfume we want to call Dioressence, for women, but we want it very animalic. The slogan will be le parfum barbare, so-propose something to us.' Oh boy. Guy can hardly wait. Of course he wants a Dior commission. And the challenge of mixing the florals of the traditional Dior fragrances into an animal scent (because this isn't just any animalic, this is a Dior animalic, if you can imagine such a bizarre thing) is just a bewitching challenge, who else would have the guts to attempt joining those two. So he gets right to work, plunges in, and he tries all sorts of things. And he's getting nowhere. Nothing's working. He's frustrated, he doesn't like anything he's doing.
"In the middle of this, someone in the industry calls him, and they say, 'There's a guy with a huge lump of ambergris for sale in London-get up here and check it out for us.' Ambergris is the whale equivalent of a fur ball, all the undigested crap they have in their stomachs. The whale eats indigestible stuff, and every once in a while it belches a pack of it back up. It's mostly oily stuff, so it floats, and ambergris isn't considered any good unless it's floated around on the ocean for ten years or so. It starts out white and the sun creates the odorant properties by photochemistry, which means that it's become rancid, the molecules are breaking up, and you get an incredibly complex olfactory result. So Guy gets on a plane and flies up to see the dealer, and they bring out the chunk of ambergris. It looks like black butter. This chunk was about two feet square, thirty kilos or something. Huge. A brick like that can power Chanel's ambergris needs for twenty years. This chunk is worth a half million pounds.
"The way you test ambergris is to rub it with both hands and then rub your hands together and smell them. It's a very peculiar smell, marine, sealike, slightly sweet, and ultrasmooth. So there he is, he rubs his hands in this black oily mess and smells them, and it's terrific ambergris. He says, Great, sold. He goes to the bathroom to wash his hands 'cause he's got to get on an airplane. He picks up some little sliver of dirty soap that's lying around there and washes his hands. He leaves. He gets on the plane, and he's sitting there, and that's when he happens to smell his hands. The combination of the soap and ambergris has somehow created exactly the animalic Dior he's been desperately looking for. But what the hell does that soap smell like? He's got to have that goddamn piece of soap. The second he lands in France, he sprints to a phone, his heart pounding, and calls the dealer in England and says, 'Do exactly as I say: go to your bathroom, take the piece of soap that's in there, put it in an envelope, and mail it to me.' And the guy says, 'No problem.' And then he adds, 'By the way, that soap? You know, it was perfumed with some Miss Dior knockoff.'
"So Guy put them together, and got the commission, and made, literally, an animalic Dior. Dioressence was created from a cheap Miss Dior soap knockoff base, chypric, fruity aldehydic, plus a giant cube of rancid whale vomit. And it is one of the greatest perfumes ever made."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Eau Sauvage Parfum - Got it!

I bought it last sunday. Got a 20% Father's Day discount. Took home a 100ml bottle. No-brainer.

Sleek glossy black box with silver lettering. Lovely classic Eau Sauvage bottle. Magnetic cap has the CD initials inside it. Classy!

Stunning scent, deep and dark! Starts out citrus-y fresh, then the smokey vetiver and resinous myrrh join the fun. Marvelous longevity, 2 sprays shortly before 8 a.m. and I can still smell it past 11 p.m. the same day. The paper test strip I sprayed it on a week earlier still smelled nice after a week.

Not for young boys IMO, better stick with Acqua di Gio or 1 Million instead.







I might even buy regular Eau Sauvage for next year's summer...


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New DE razor and Eau Sauvage Parfum

I bought  a new DE razor recently. I have a Merkur 23C that's still in excellent shape. Why a new razor? Well after I discovered that shaving with a double edged razor is really "my thing" I had seen so much more razors I just had to have a backup one. I thought about getting an adjustable one for a short while but settled on a regular one instead. The Edwin Jagger DE89 razors are highly thought of and have a nicer finish than many Merkurs do. The DE89 "Barley" took my fancy. It didn't even cost much more than the Merkur did.

The DE89 Barley looks and feels like a luxury item. Unlike the Merkur 23C which is utilitarian at best. The DE89 is heavier and the handle isn't as pencil-like thin as the 23C. Loaded with a Feather razor blade I get excellent shaves. A keeper!

While on the topic of grooming, I had the chance to sniff Dior's Eau Sauvage Parfum recently. Wow, very nice scent! Eau Sauvage Parfum (not really perfume strength, more like eau de parfum) is inspired by Eau Sauvage but is a whole new fragrance. It opens like Eau Sauvage but quickly goes off on a tangent. There's smokey vetiver and myrrh. The resinous myrrh lasts long. I like it. I did compare it to the original and highly regarded Eau Sauvage. Eau Sauvage is very nice too but is much lighter and doesn't last as long. Eau Sauvage would make a nice spring/summer scent though. Currently Dior Homme Sport is my spring/summer scent, I might buy Eau Sauvage for next year's spring & summer. The bottle shape is still unchanged, its glass is now is almost black and with its green juice it looks pretty cool. The cap is magnetic, though not original it's a nice feature to have. Eau Sauvage Parfum is gonna be my next buy.