our profession is based on the notion of secrecy

A Rose By Any Other Name

So… here’s the thing: Auxeos is not a word. I got the root word for auxetic materials all wrong. (Going to go crawl under a rock now and then die there from embarrassment. Yes indeedy, I will.)

Now, on the one hand, one could argue that cosmetic companies make up words all the time, especially absurd quasi-French/quasi-English ones. On the other hand, auxeos is not a word.

It basically boils down to this: Laurent’s fragrance for me needs a new name. It’s something I’ve been mulling over for a little while now. I’d sounded out my husband Jon for some ideas, which gleaned nothing. To wit –

“Honey, what would you name a perfume?”

“Hm… I think I’d name it Steve.”


“C’mon! I bet there’s not any other Steves out there on the market.”

“Uh, no.”

“Okay, fine. How ’bout Craig?”

So then I was thinking, oh I know, I’ll name it “A Million Bucks.” And that way, when someone says to you, “Omigod, you smell like a million bucks!” you could be all, “Dude! I KNOW!” But that’s no good. Especially for my Canadian friends, who just won’t smell as quite as nice, what with the exchange rate and all. (Hacky currency joke! Apologies!)

Funnily enough, Nobi floats the name “Slinky” in the comments for his last post. Which… yeah. I like that. What do you all think? Does “Slinky” work?

Got your own ideas? What would YOU name a fragrance? And what might you name this particular fragrance?

(Please note, per conversations with Jon, that “Yoda,” “Stan,” and “Peggy” have already been rejected. As was his suggestion of “Jon,” because no one wants to hear they smell like the john.)

Dirty Mind

“Je reviens en trois jours, ne te laves pas!”
The name of the classic perfume by the house of Worth (Je Reviens, 1932) was based on a letter sent by Napoleon to Josephine. A great classic, but the scent apparently has nothing to do with the natural odor of the empress. Now, there’s a new project inspired by this famous note to recreate Josephine’s odor. I don’t know much about it but trying to figure out who’s going to create the scent. The perfumer has to be excellent in classic French perfumery, that’s for sure. What else? Well, this is the kind of idea that makes me (=straight, dirty minded) wild, and I would like the perfumer to have the same degree of excitement. So, if I’m allowed to select the candidates, they are Dominique Ropion (IFF), Maurice Roucel (Symrise), Alberto Morillas (Firmenich).

I will follow up with more detailed information later.


Villa dall’Ava

villavallava.jpgSeveral years ago, when Rem Koolhaas became one of the most talked about architects, I had the rare opportunity not only to visit one of the houses he designed, but also to stay there for a few days while in Paris. The house called Villa dall’Ava, which was completed in 1991, had received worldwide attention in the architecture world.

I had first seen Rem Koolhaas’s work (it was an architecture model) at MOMA in the early ’90s, right around the time the distinguished Japanese architect Tadao Ando had his major exhibition at the museum. Ando back then was considered to be one of the ten most important architects in the word, and Koolhaas was still on the rise. However, although I don’t remember much about Ando’s exhibition at MOMA, I can still clearly visualize the architecture model by Koolhaas in my mind.

Generally, for Japanese, precision craftsmanship means average in skill, and the architecture model I had seen at MOMA was almost sacrilege in that respect. Everything was out of alignment and irregular, hardly anything was straight. I couldn’t understand how someone could make something with such a lack of precision… and had wondered how the actual architecture would look like, especially the details of it.

An architecture model is neither a sculpture nor a painting – it is merely a tool to examine the design and get some degree of understanding of how the actual architecture will look. Much against my expectation, Villa Dall’Ava turned out to be an architectural gem. There was a strange harmony of strength and fragility. To tell the truth, I was disappointed not to find any sign of “sacrilege” there. However there was something convincing and persuasive about the design… the house was whispering in my ear, “Imperfection is beautiful.” The house felt like it has its own life. It was cold but warm, heavy but light, filled with intimate contrasts which I’ve never found in Tadao Ando’s architectures.

This is, of course, not to say imperfection would necessarily add a human touch to a work of art, but after having used my hands to create art for many years, I have finally realized that a work with impeccable finish often lacked the warmth of human ki (qi or 気).


100% LOVE

The video below was added to this post in May, 2008.

Superkitchen スーパーキッチン

superkitchen.jpgLike many young Japanese men in the ’80s I loved Ferrari. I still remember the the mind-blowing, shivering sensation I had when I saw one of the few Ferrari F40s landed in Japan. The body designed by Pininfarina was a sculptural masterpiece, and after two decades since it’s debut I still marvel at the elegant and uncanny design. Ferrari to many is not Ferrari without Pininfarina badge on the body, and Ferrari F40 was the culmination of their many years of collaboration.

Enzo Ferrari passed away the year I moved to New York, and that pretty much ended my Ferrari worship. So did my admiration to Pininfarina design which had always been tied to Ferrari. I didn’t expect anything more from Ferrari since the F40 was Enzo’s last masterpiece just as much as the Rondanini Pietà was for Michelangelo.

When I was looking through an architecture magazine recently an image of a somehow futuristic kitchen caught my eyes. It was the ad of a kitchen appliance maker, and at the corner of the page I found a small logo which I hadn’t seen for many years, a logo which had always been on the body of a Ferrari. I could feel a grin spread across my face, a feeling similar to an unexpected reunion with an old classmate.

There’s something about this kitchen that made me feel it was for men. I am sure my partner Veronique wouldn’t like it but am happy to see a design for a kitchen that makes a Viking or Wolf look old fashioned and boring.



Laurent’s Reply: Moving on to Round 4


Firstly, I would like to wish you a happy new year, and hopefully your dream fragrance will come true.

I was very happy to see that you enjoyed the last round of mod, and it even sounds like you are not the only one. I just want to take this opportunity to say that our phone conversation was very much a turning point, and that it shows how important it is to communicate and make sure that we are talking the same language.

I have to say that I am very impressed by your knowledge and you are right on target. Mod J is definitaly more balsamic aromatic: It is a combination of different resin like labdanum, peru balsam with geranium, coriander and thyme. Where mod K is more olibanum, musk and woody notes.

So for the next round and maybe the last, I am going to try to combine the best of these two mods and I will keep in mind the comfort of J and its saltyness.

I really enjoyed reading all the comments on the blog,

Talk to you soon,