Thursday, August 16, 2012

What Brings Us Joy? Joy by Jean Patou, of course!

WHAT BRINGS US JOY? JOY BY JEAN PATOU, OF COURSE!  "And I will make thee beds of roses and a thousand fragrant posies," wrote that fabulous Elizabethan dramatist and poet Christopher Marlow.  Little could he have ever imagined that one day, many centuries later in France, someone would combine the scent of beds and beds of roses and thousands of fragrant posies in a perfume that would captivate the world.  That person was Jean Patou, a couturier who opened a small dress salon in Paris in 1912 called "Maison Parry" -- and, at that time, making perfume and becoming forever internationally renowned because of that alone was far from his mind -- but world events later on would change all of that! Of course, Patou was content creating dresses until World War I came along and Patou was mobilized as a captain in the light infantry regiment of the French Zouaves until he could return in 1919 and once again set about creating a plethora of fashionable items such as lingerie, jewelry, hats and sportswear for women such as knitted swimwear, tennis wear, cardigans and "designer" ties -- and even the first suntan oil "Huile de Chaldée" in  1928 (remember when Coco Chanel got accidentally sunburned on the French Riviera in the 1920s and inadvertently started the suntan craze?).  As the 1930s were approaching, Patou was selling a great deal of his clothing to wealthy American ladies -- but the stock market crash of 1929 plunged the global economy into a depression and Patou, like so many others in the world of fashion, suffered a heavy blow. But the resourceful Patou was about to change his fortune when he asked renowned French perfumer Henri Alméras in 1930 to conjure up a fragrance that would be a 'gift' to his American clientele that would hopefully be unlike any other -- and, boy oh boy, what a scent-sational fragrance Alméras created: Joy!! It was an instant success and understandably so. The primary notes are jasmine (10,000 in 30ml of parfum) and rose (336 roses, give or take a bloom in 30ml of parfum) mixed and mingled with heady tuberose, michelia (related to magnolias) and the deep, rich ylang ylang for a scent is that is simple, complex and totally intoxicating at the same time (we love that!).  The original bottle (based on the Ancient Greek principles of "divine proportion") was designed by French architect and furniture designer Louis Süe (his Art Deco furniture, by the way, is highly collectible) -- and like the Chanel No. 5 bottle (see our May 26, 2012 report) the Joy bottle became a symbol of modern couture and all things chic from Paris.  Every time that we at Studio of Style get a whiff of Joy parfum, we are transported to paradise and hopelessly lost in a romantic reverie -- and we have to savor the scent once again and those thousand fragrant posies and beds of roses so eloquently mentioned in Marlow's Elizabethan poem come to mind -- and all we can say is "Joy to the world!"

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

When Beauty Reigns Eternal: Grace Kelly

WHEN BEAUTY REIGNS ETERNAL: GRACE KELLY -- She was always beautiful, wasn't she?  Here at Studio of Style, we have always likened actress-turned-Her Serene Highness Grace Kelly to a rose -- yes, a rose.  Beauty and simplicity are found together so abundantly in nature, of course, but in that crazy world of Hollywood the two rarely come together, for Tinseltown more often than not craves artifice, hyperbole and all things sensational to grab the money-paying public's attention.  But that was never the case for Kelly.  It seemed that from the get-go, this was a gal who never let her beauty overshadow her love for acting -- for in her simplicity of style, manners and the economy of her acting gestures one could easily see her true beauty.  And that is something no amount of makeup or fast-talking agent could ever instill into a star! Today, August 14, Variety announced that actor Tim Roth would play Monaco's Prince Rainier III opposite Nicole Kidman's Grace Kelly in the upcoming film Grace of Monaco -- with production scheduled to start in France this fall. Interesting and thoughtful choice, Kidman. But back to the rose! With every moment of its existence, a rose is forever beautiful. From the tight bud, hiding the promise of its color and perfume within those entwined petals -- to the moment of opening and issuing forth a display of color and fragrance -- to the gentle tumbling of each delicate petal, there is joy to be had at every stage for those who know how to observe and appreciate this most noble of all flowers.  Such was the appreciation for Kelly.  To see her in the early photo shown above, dressed in nothing but a simple jacket with its knit collar and cuffs, minimal makeup and her naturally wavy tresses, one can see the rose bud awaiting its full bloom which would mesmerize admirers during and long after her reign in Hollywood and Monaco alike. "I don't want to dress up a picture with just my face," Kelly once said -- and those who understood the true nature of her beauty respected that, such as acclaimed Hollywood directors John Ford (Mogambo) and Alfred Hitchcock who used her talents and charm to their best ever over the course of three iconic films: Dial M for Murder; Rear Window; and To Catch a Thief (love that one, for sure!!). "I've worked with many fine actresses," recalled debonair heartthrob actor Cary Grant, "but in my opinion the best actress I ever worked with was Grace Kelly.  Grace was the most extraordinary actress ever." And Grant should know!  A smallish, but tranquil rose garden (4,000 bushes and 150 varieties) in Monaco overlooking the sea honors the memory of Kelly -- and there is a hybrid tea rose "Princesse de Monaco" named in her honor as well, bred by Marie-Louise Meilland of France (it's cream with pink edges with a mild fruity fragrance).  So the next time you see a rose, we hope you will think of that beautiful confection that once graced the silver screen of our hearts: Grace Kelly.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

La Dolce Vita is Oh, So Sweeter...with Campari!

LA DOLCE VITA IS OH, SO SWEETER...WITH CAMPARI!  The month of August has only just begun -- and the best parties up and down the Italian Riviera (as well as all over Italy) have just begun too! As the weather becomes all the more sultry, thirsts are needing to be quenched -- and there is no more popular thirst-quencher throughout Italy than that amazing gorgeous red nectar of the gods: Campari!! On January 7, 1880, the first Campari advertisement appeared in the popular Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera and we suppose that everyone was curious about what "Bitter Uso Olando" (as it was first called) tasted like. The history of "taking bitters" is a centuries-long tradition in Europe of using bitter-tasting herbs to stimulate the digestive process -- and with Campari, the custom of having bitters after one's meal became reversed to having this liquid before the meal, thus starting a new drinking trend.  Posters by artist G. Mora in the company's first ad campaigns captured the cosmopolitan lifestyle of La Belle Epoque to a tee.  Aperitifs in European cafes became all the rage with the delightfully bitter Campari being among the most requested among the art and society set -- and then somewhere between 1919 and 1920, a bartender at Caffè Casoni in Florence -- Luca Picchi -- began to serve Count Camillo Negroni his usual "Americano" Campari (with Cinzano rosso vermouth & soda) with an extra shot of gin -- and the now-famous "Negroni" cocktail was born! Comprised of a secret recipe of herbs, aromatic plants and fruits by Gaspare Campari in 1860 in Novara (about 58 kilometers west of Milan), Campari is prepared in numerous ways -- but we at Studio of Style just love the Orange Passion version (shown in top photo) -- especially as how we live in California and can't get enough of our beloved oranges! In this recipe, the addition of brown sugar muddled with slices of orange add a wonderfully sweet edge -- yum! And speaking of sweet, the adorable Milla Jovovich (sigh!!!) is featured in the company's 2012 calendar (see below). If the video doesn't make you want to reach for a refreshing Campari cocktail, then perhaps a trip to Italy and finding the nearest outdoor cafe is what will do the trick!  After all, the Italians invented la dolce vita -- and it's fueled by generous rounds of Campari and enjoyed with friends and loved ones under the golden summer sun! Salute!!
Campari Orange Passion: