One of Diana Vreeland’s quotable quotes was, “Style, all who have it share one thing: originality.” If you’re going to do a perfume line which carries the name of Diana Vreeland, originality should be a given. The new five fragrance Diana Vreeland line of perfumes which was creatively directed by her grandson Alexander Vreeland is almost entirely devoid of originality. Four of the five fragrances are routine reworks of popular styles of perfumes. Like a box checking exercise there’s an oriental, a rose, a tuberose, and an amber. They are all so forgettable and banal that it seems almost a crime they carry Ms. Vreeland’s name. They are all so unoriginal that as I started to try the fifth one Perfectly Marvelous I was already stifling my yawn. In a true contest of diminished expectations it is by far the best of a bad lot. As I wore it for a couple of days my attitude brightened somewhat toward it.
Perfumer Celine Barel was, according to the website, inspired by another of Ms. Vreeland’s quotes, “If it isn’t a passion, it isn’t burning, it isn’t on fire, you haven’t lived.” Mme Barel does not deliver a fire with Perfectly Marvelous but she does deliver something a bit different on a basic jasmine theme. She takes a few variations on well-understood tropes and makes Perfectly Marvelous the only one of this collection I could enjoy.
Diana Vreeland surrounded by red
Ms. Vreeland’s favorite color was red and she was known for the red décor of her home and her red nail polish. Another of the descriptors from the website was for Perfectly Marvelous to evoke red lacquered sandalwood. In that desire I think Mme Barel comes closer to the mark. She starts with a soft swirl of spices centered on pimento. The pimento is probably the most original ingredient used in all five perfumes in the collection. Mme Barel doesn’t squander it as she uses jasmine sambac as floral contrast. This version of jasmine is the kind with the indoles mostly neutered. Every time I wore this I wondered how much better this might have been with a bit of feral indole in the mix. What is here is pleasant and in place of the indole she uses cashmeran to add its very polite muskiness along with sandalwood. The cashmeran feels too proper for a trailblazer like Ms. Vreeland.
Perfectly Marvelous has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.
Perfectly Marvelous suffers from a distinct desire to play it safe something which can be used to describe the other four perfumes in the line. At least in the case of Perfectly Marvelous Mme Barel was allowed one tiny moment to allow Ms. Vreeland to channel some originality her way. It makes Perfectly Marvelous sort of original which is a very sad thing to say about something which carries Diana Vreeland’s name.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples I received at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball.
If you’ve been following along you have figured out that I have many things I am interested in. Over the weekend of October 9-12, 2014 two of them combined to give me one gigantic weekend of immersion into my passions. Over these four days I attended New York Comic-Con and Sniffapalooza Fall Ball. Two years ago the same confluence of events happened and I dubbed the weekend ComicSniffaConPalooza. I would spend Thursday and Friday at Comic-Con (Comic). Saturday would be a day of perfume in the morning and comics in the afternoon (SniffaCon) finishing on Sunday by spending the whole day with my friends downtown sniffing new releases (Palooza). Since this is the sequel to the first one it needed a catchy subtitle which really makes no sense except Kilian really was there.
I awoke at 3:30AM to catch a 5:00AM bus to NYC from DC. By Noon I was walking on to the show floor at the Javits Center headed for the Marvel booth to get an NYCC exclusive Rocket Raccoon plush doll. Others around me were dashing for their particular obsessions as well as Green Power Rangers sprinted to the BanDai booth for a statue. Others headed to the Hallmark booth for the exclusive Star Wars holiday ornaments. Others actually headed to comic brands to pick up exclusive printings of specific titles. It is fascinating to see what each person really wants because you can only really get one and the way everyone spreads out is a fascinating exercise in consumerism and the desire to have something exclusive.
With my bag of Marvel swag under my arm I was ready to walk around a bit. One of the things which has expanded greatly at Comic-Con has been people who walk around in costume. Costume Playing or CosPlay for short. This year I saw one of the sweetest moments I have ever observed. I was walking next to a woman dressed as Elsa from Frozen. A brother and sister I would say were both under 10 screamed at the top of their lungs “Elsa!!” and ran headlong for her hugging her around her knees. The children’s mother was horrified but the young woman in the costume leaned down and fully in character talked with the kids. There were smiles everywhere.
I would spend the next two days seeing panels with one of my favorite authors, Kim Harrison. One of my favorite TV shows Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. One of my favorite comics The Walking Dead. One of my favorite personalities in all of media Kevin Smith. I was soaking it in but as I went to sleep Friday night I knew it was time for the perfume portion of the weekend to begin.
Kilian Hennessy at Bergdorf Goodman
At 8AM I showed up at Bergdorf Goodman and sat down in the café with my fellow perfume lovers to have the wondrous new releases displayed to us while sipping coffee and eating croissant. There were a lot of things new to me this year. The most impressive collection of the morning was the new Diana Vreeland perfumes. Ms. Vreeland was the person who created the editrix position at Vogue when she joined in 1962 and shepherded the magazine through the remainder of the decade before moving to the Costume Institute at the Met. She was influential and she was dynamic. I am happy to say the new collection of five fragrances capture the essence of what Ms. Vreeland was all about.
The other new perfume to me was the new B Balenciaga, It stands out for the use of an edamame accord on top which actually works well with the rest of the perfume.
Our final presenter was Kilian Hennessy who presented his Addictive State of Mind collection. Because I had already tried it I had a lot of fun watching others in the room reacting to the three perfumes for the first time. Based on my unofficial consumer research I think all three hit the mark for someone in the room. He also presented the wearable jewelry which can be scented. A couple of the necklaces were gorgeous. There really was no wrath here just well-done perfumes and accessories.
Next it was off to lunch where I heard from multiple speakers the highlight of which was Karen Dubin putting Chandler Burr through the questions James Lipton uses on “Inside the Actor’s Studio”. It was very funny when Chandler turned the tables on Karen when he had a hard time answering and asked her the question. Very fun way to see a different side of both of these people.
The clock was ticking and I had to bolt for the Javits Center so I could catch the panel for The Walking Dead TV show. The panel was completely crazy with the crowd roaring and screaming as everyone was introduced. My favorite moment was actress Melissa McBride talking about how the cast is a family and without that support she couldn’t have the courage to hit her performance week after week. It was sweet to see the love for a cast and crew in a show about a zombie apocalypse.
One last panel to see a preview of the upcoming Netflix series for Marvel’s Daredevil. I was giddy with excitement how one of my favorite comic book characters might just get done the way I want it to get done. The clips we saw have me ready to binge watch as soon as it is released in 2015.
Sunday began at Osswald downtown where Carlos Huber of Arquiste took the crowd through the entire Arquiste line of perfumes ending with the fantastic new release The Architects Club. Next stop was Sue Phillips’ The Scentarium. It is where she will guide you through the process of making your own personalized perfume using pre-blended accords. This is all done with a wonderful joie de vivre which makes the experience feel very personal.
It was my turn to be the entertainment at lunch as I introduced the speakers. The two speakers who had perfume were the new brand Kiori and the young brand Phoenix Botanicals. Both perfumers presented perfume oils which are starting to become more common and desired by the consumer. Both new perfumes were very good and I will be reviewing both shortly.
It was now time to head for my bus to take me back home but I will be dreaming of superheroes and perfume all the way home.