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November 25, 2019

The Art of Perfume


Anastasia Brozler (above) is the founder/owner of Creative Perfumers, a haute couture perfume company she started in 1999.

Born in Vienna in 1966, Brozler previously was head of perfume marketing in Europe for L'Oreál and Estée Lauder.

Michael Clerizo interviewed her for the Financial Times and explored with this artist of scent the underpinnings of her world view and ordering of things.

I found the story most interesting, not least because of Brozler's extended soliloquy about Doogle, her teddy bear and most treasured possession.

I have found that many women in positions of power, authority and influence have an enormously strong attachment to such beacons from the past, so much so that many — if not most — travel with a teddy bear or similar object tucked securely in their luggage.

Here's the article.

Anastasia Brozler, former head of perfume marketing in Europe for L'Oréal and Estée Lauder, founded Creative Perfumers, a haute couture perfume company that provides clients with "unique-to-you" perfumes and colognes. Born in Vienna in 1966, she divides her time between her home in the Netherlands, where she tends a six-hectare olfactory garden, and the London offices of her company. If Marcel Proust had ever had the chance to meet Anastasia, he would have learnt that, as with the taste of a madeleine, objects hold several novels' worth of memories — and provide useful aesthetic pointers.

1. It all goes back to childhood.

"The things you really love, they come from different sources. For me, the first place they come from is childhood. As a child, I was always interested in going into places where I was not supposed to go. One of the places was my grandmother's bedroom. My grandmother, always on her bedside table, had a tiny chair that came from Russia." The chair is silver plated and 3½ inches high with a back, seat and legs decorated with arabesques in blue, red, purple and white enamel. The seat lifts, revealing a miniature box.

"In the first instance, that you could go into this room was already a thrill and the second thrill was to see this chair. I knew that it was special, that it had something very magical about it. In those days we all read "Alice in Wonderland". I remember running into my grandmother's bedroom, seeing the chair and pretending I was Alice in Wonderland, that I could lift the seat and discover a little door in there and suddenly everything would change.

"The chair was left to me by my grandmother and now it sits on my bedside table. It is not solid silver, it does not have any precious stones, but for me it's very special. I love it. It follows me wherever. We were raised in Egypt, in Spain, in England, lived in Austria and Germany and this has always followed me. With this chair, I hang on to my childhood memories."

2. Even a teddy bear isn't just for Christmas.

"From my childhood I also love my teddy bear, Doogle. He is too ugly to show anyone. Doogle was meant for another child but I just grabbed him when I saw him, when I was two, and decided that I wouldn't let him go. It caused a terrifying moment for my parents because it was Christmas and there were several teddy bears under our Christmas tree. There was a pink one meant for me and a black and white one meant for someone else, that was Doogle. I just went for that panda bear. I instinctively knew that he wasn't supposed to be mine, so I never let him go because I knew that if I let him go he would never come back.

"He's been in fires, he's been soaked. He's been through everything. When I was a child, if I didn't have him I would go crazy. So my mother took enormous patience in restoring Doogle, sewing on bits and pieces, and giving him complete face lifts. Almost the only thing left that was original were the ears but about four years ago even they wore out and are now covered with black velvet. Now he goes everywhere with me. I'm sure that there are many, many people who travel with their teddy bears. They just have better-looking teddy bears."

3. When it comes to perfumes, nature knows best.

"My attraction to oils and scents began in Cairo. We used to visit the souks where stalls sold oils, and essences. There is one oil I would own even if I weren't in the perfume business, Gaharu oil. It's from a tree called Aquilaria Malaccensis. The tree is found in jungles in Asia. When the tree is attacked by parasites it produces a resin to protect itself. You cannot see this resin, you don't know whether Aquilaria Malaccensis has it.

"I went to the jungle to see how Gaharu oil is obtained. One jungle I visited in Malaysia is owned by the indigenous people there. These people know which of the Aquilaria Malaccensis trees have Gaharu wood. They knock the tree with a tool; if the resin is there, the tree has a particular sound. The Gaharu wood is obtained from the trunk of the tree during a ritual. Women are not allowed to take part in the ritual, so I had to sit very far away and watch.

"After the ritual, the wood is soaked in big copper drums and then distilled. It becomes this sort of red gooey, heavy oil. Just a drop of it is sufficient on your wrist, behind your ears, to make you feel tremendously peaceful."

4. Always carry an emergency fund.

"As children, one of my sisters always had a full piggy bank, the other one had a piggy bank that was often full, and mine was always empty. As soon as it rattled with coins, I cracked it open and went to the sweet shop.

"I am a true spender. Because of this my parents, before I left for my first trip around the world when I was 18, gave me a piece of jewellery, which is also a moneybox. Koechert, the royal jeweller in Vienna made it in about 1890."

It is a gold pendant, about three inches long and shaped like an arrow quiver, that opens lengthways. Rolled up inside is a $20 note. Brozler removes a pin hidden in a tiny cavity near the hinges and with some difficulty prises the note from the pendant. "It holds just enough to get you home in a taxi or to give someone a tip. I always used to get into situations like that. So when I was travelling around the world my parents said that this is one thing that you need. You won't be able to spend the money inside because it is so difficult to remove. It's a curiosity, too; the only one of its kind in the world.

"When somebody really knows you and loves you and knows all your faults, the gifts they give you are tremendous. This gift is acknowledging one of my faults with a beautiful piece of jewellery."

5. The "unnecessitities" of life are also important.

"The other things that I absolutely love I put together under the headline of the un-necessities of life. There is absolutely not one thing among the things that I adore that is necessary. For example, I love everything you put on your head. This was given to me by my fiancé" - a solid gold winged insect, about 1½ inches long and decorated with pearls and a ruby - "and I thought 'what a beautiful brooch', but when I saw it has a hairpin, it suddenly meant even more to me. You pin it to your hat or in your hair and it appears to hover over you.

"I adore small hats, but big hats are glorious if you don't want to socialise. You can't say hello, you can't embrace, nobody can see you. The smaller the hat the better.

"This hat sums up all my hats in that it is almost like a little black dress. It's just a plain thing, a totally simple skullcap with grey and white pheasant feathers, which you can adorn with whatever you like. I am totally into hats of the 20s, 30s and 40s. They just add this tiny little touch to your clothes. The beautiful thing about a small hat is that you don't feel it, and you can see everyone, you can embrace, you can kiss people, you can talk.

"I also love old gloves. Luckily, in the olden days women used to have 10 or 15 pairs of glove made at the same time. You can still find, in antique stores, boxes with stacks of the same glove in different colours inside, wrapped in tissue paper and tied with ribbons.

"Once I came across a muff, the absolute peak of the glove because it is useless. When you wear a muff you can't do anything, you can't carry anything. You need people around you to help you all the time. It's fantastic!"


November 25, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Valentino Noir Capsule Flat


I like shoes with a mixed message.

A 2012 design by Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli.

November 25, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Heat does not shrink clothes"


Say what?

So said Lucinda Ottusch in a post that originally appeared here on November 18, 2004.

Who's she to debunk something we all believe and know is true?

Well, she's a fabric technologist for Whirlpool.

She spoke with Washington Post reporter Katherine Salant for a story published November 6, 2004.

Among the fascinating things I learned:

• Dryer heat does NOT shrink garments. Rather, said Ottusch, shrinkage is caused by the tumbling action as the garments hit the sides of the dryer. Shrinkage is also caused by the washing process itself.

• When a garment is made, the fabric is stretched to its max so slightly less is needed, saving money. Then, when the garment is washed, the cloth fibers shrink back to their natural (shorter) state.

• The warmer the water, the greater the shrinkage.

• Compared with washing, which shrinks clothing, drying them with heat has the opposite effect. As the garment loses moisture, the fibers stretch slightly.

Here's the Post article in its entirety.

Heat Didn't Shrink That Shirt: Fabric Expert Offers the Scoop

One benefit of testing Whirlpool's laundry appliances was the opportunity to talk with Lucinda Ottusch, one of the company's fabric technologists, and demystify some of the laundry process.

The first myth debunked: Dryer heat does not shrink garments.

After all, as Ottusch pointed out, a hot iron does not shrink clothes; in fact, the heat and pressure of the iron cause the garment to stretch out.

Rather, she said, shrinkage is caused by the tumbling action as the garments hit the sides of the dryer.

Shrinkage is also caused by the washing process itself.

When a garment is made, Ottusch said, manufacturers often stretch a fabric to its max so that slightly less cloth is needed. (A tiny bit of fabric factored over thousands of identical garments is a significant savings.)

But when the garment is washed, the cloth fibers will shrink to their natural state.

The warmer the water, the greater the reversion.

If you were to put on jeans when they were wet, you would find they were too small, Ottusch said. 

The degree of movement of the garments during the washing process also affects the fibers, she added.

As a general rule, the tumbling action of a front-loader produces less movement and fiber reversion than the agitation of a top-loader.

A "preshrunk" garment has already been washed, so the garment will not be as affected by the laundering process.

Compared with washing, which can shrink clothes, drying them with heat has the opposite effect.

As a garment loses moisture, the fibers will stretch a bit; as you wear the garment, the heat of your body will increase this stretching.

But, Ottusch said, the drying process can damage fabrics made of natural fibers such as cotton, linen and wool, if too much moisture is removed.

These fibers have a natural moisture content, even when they feel dry (with cotton it's 5%; with wool as much as 17%).

When the fibers are over-dried, they will reabsorb moisture from the atmosphere.

The occasional over-drying will usually not cause a problem, but when it happens repeatedly, the fibers will be weakened and the clothes won't last as long or wear as well, Ottusch said.

A dryer can also affect the appearance of garments.

Dark ones can rapidly lose their brand-new look as they hit the sides of the drum.

This raises microscopically small fibers and gives the seam areas a powdery appearance, Ottusch explained.

With some types of fabric, however, the raised fibers are a plus.

With a towel, for example, the raised fibers make it feel softer.

November 25, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Paintings of the Dutch masters come to life

[Faith is Torment]

November 25, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Straw Straws

Screen Shot 2019-11-08 at 1.32.42 PM

From the website:

100% biodegradable eco-friendly straws made from natural wheat stem.

Screen Shot 2019-11-08 at 1.32.50 PM

• Gluten-free

• Single use

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80 for $10.

November 25, 2019 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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