Posts tagged ‘Chanel’

January 31, 2014

Comfort Viewing: what are your favourite shows?

We’ve been watching our way through the Academy Awards nominees, Golden Globe winners and lots of new TV shows recently—and seen some incredible performances. I’m really looking forward to Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club, having loved him since his Dazed and Confused days—which has a brilliant soundtrack that always makes me smile.

But alongside this, I’ve been craving some comfort viewing. The relentless quest for the new can be a bit tiring, and at the end of a seemingly endless January (and never-arriving payday!) I’ve been curling up on the sofa and watching some shows that I’ve seen so often, I could probably parrot every line back to you.

As I’m trying ever-so-hard to be a minimalist, I have hardly any DVDs left. Here are those that are my required comfort viewing, and so I still own. I think there’s only one film and one TV award winner amongst them…

Television

  • The Good Life. Obviously. Because I feel like I know every word. And I understand that the show isn’t really about Tom Good’s quest for self sufficiency. Anyone who has watched it as many times as I have realises that Barbara is the person who keeps the Goods afloat, and really the whole thing is a vehicle for Penelope Keith as Margot to steal the show time and again.
  • The West Wing. Preferably the first series. Everyone is fresh and new; it’s so utterly engaging, even if sometimes the politics baffles me. So many corridors to “walk with me” down. I rarely watch an entire series from start to finish but this is a notable exception.
  • The Darling Buds of May. Absolute rose-tinted cheese fest. I make no apologies for this. Plus, it’s David Jason, who can do no wrong.
  • Poirot. Or Marple. Or any other crime drama in which the actual murdering is terribly civilised and we’re completely confident that wrong-doers will be caught. Because what we’re really looking for in a crime drama is tension, resolution and the return to status quo. That’s the comfort and why they’re so damn popular.

The Good Life. Best TV ever…

Film

  • Amélie. Beautiful, dream-like Amélie. A bit too sweet for some, but I find it charming. Plus it’s set in Paris—albeit a rather different version to the real city—which I love and return to year after year.
  • Die Hard. There’s just something about Die Hard that I find incredibly comforting. The good guy wins, despite all odds. Plus, it’s Christmassy. And Bruce. In a vest. Enough said.
  • Twister. Sorry. I know this is low-brow. But I love Helen Hunt in this.

Documentary

  • Signé Chanel. A totally fascinating French documentary series about the people working behind the scenes to create Chanel Haute Couture. Sits well with Twister and Die Hard, doesn’t it? From Karl himself through to the incredible white-coated women who painstakingly turn his drawings into fabric reality, this peek into the inner world of Chanel is the perfect way to pretend I’m learning French…

There are a few others that I’d add to the list if I wasn’t trying to be a minimalist. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for one, which I was obsessed with in college. Man on Wire is a superb documentary, and Dirty Dancing will always have a place in my heart, as I’m sure it does in many of yours.

What would your desert island viewing be? Is there something that you think is so unmissable that I should add it to the list? 

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October 23, 2011

Expecting the expected.

I had a lesson this week in expecting the expected.

There is a hole in the roof of my house and it’s come as a bit of a shock. In order to get it fixed, I’m going to have to spend the money I was saving up for my trip to Rome in the Spring. I was talking this through with a friend at work, someone who I consider to be something of a mentor, about the situation and the conversation went something like this:

Me: ‘There’s a hole in my house roof! I cannot believe this has happened, it’s a complete disaster. I have no money to fix it, so I’m going to have to spend my holiday money. I just don’t believe that such a horrible disaster has happened, I’m in complete shock..etc etc’

Him: ‘ When was your house built?’

Me: ‘1878, I still have the original deeds.’

Him: ‘ Has the roof ever been replaced?’

Me: ‘No’

Him: ‘Well…it’s not a huge surprise, surely that a roof that’s been around since 1878 might need a bit of work doing on it, is it?’

Me: (In a manner approaching stroppy teenager) ‘Er…no. I suppose not.’

Him: (Knowing that he’d crossed the ‘colleague’ line a bit by now, but going with it anyway, mostly because he knows he’s right) ‘Maybe you could think a bit more about what might go wrong in life, and then you can prepare for it a bit more?’

Afterwards, I’ve spent a bit of time thinking about this. I have come to the realisation that he’s right. Over the past few years, I’ve spent more time thinking of what I would do if I won the Lottery (buy land and several Chanel jackets, build community orchards and set up a charitable trust) than how I would fix a broken boiler (still no idea). Which, given that I don’t even buy a Lottery ticket, is crazy behaviour.

My friend is right, dark times come to us all. I need to get out of a complete Pollyanna state of mind, without giving up on my enthusiasm for life. After all, there are some things we can never plan for. Illness, accident, disease, natural disasters and death. Cheerful stuff like that. With a bit of forethought though, I could plan and therefore cope better with the smaller things. Broken boilers, missing roof slates, worn out car tyres. Those kind of things that always come as a shock, even though they are really to be expected, because life doesn’t always go according to plan. So, even though the really deepest darkest things will always be horrific, the smaller, more everyday problems should become things I can take in my stride. I basically need to save for the ‘missing roof slate’ type things as well as the ‘eating own bodyweight in Italian gelato’ type things – which I’m far better at saving for.

So, I’m finally, setting myself up a ‘home emergencies’ savings account. It’ll be different one to my ‘holidays and sunshine’ savings account because even though it’s all coming from the same salaries (mine and the lovely and long-suffering husband’s), I still like to keep things in little pots, dedicated for a sole purpose. Which is why there are little caches of cash all around the house. Some is food kitty, some is bus fares and never the twain shall meet. Unless I forget to expect the expected!

On the strength of this, I’ve started a list of other things I never expect, and yet should…

  • Christmas. It’s on the same day every year. So, why do I always panic? And why do I spend money in January on things like ponchos in the sale, instead of Christmas cards, wrapping paper and gift tags? It’s always struck me as a bit tight-fisted to do that, but given the number of times I have worn said poncho (once, even though it’s John Smedley and therefore as nice a poncho as you could ever hope to meet) I have come to the realisation that it’s merely being more organised.
  • Half term. It’s always nearly half term. I should know that I need to organise childcare before the day it actually arrives.
  • Other annual, regular things – MOT, insurance renewal, dentist appointments…they’re always on the horizon, so I should be better at planning for the expense.
  • Summer holidays – I will always be rushing to try and lose a few pounds and get a bit fitter, because in the Spring, it feels like it’s ages away. It’s not!!
  • The months between April and June when half of the people I know, and most of the people I’m related to, have a birthday. Feels like a major birthday extravaganza – which thankfully finishes for a few weeks with mine (yay!)
  • But then again -My birthday…booooo. I struggle with my birthday. I always want to do something amazing, and often have to settle for a glass of prosecco and a takeaway. Mostly because I’m not a multi-millionaire with my own private jet ready to whisk me off to Italy at a moment’s notice. (Although my real birthdays are actually lovely, if only I didn’t have to get a year older each time, I’d love them. Especially the home-made cards from my children)
  • Cat ownership. If I expected the expected, I would know that they usually come with the odd flea and the desire to shower you with gifts of the rodent variety. So, it should come as nothing of  a shock to find yourself creeping out of the back door of your house, in your pyjamas, carrying a mouse filled children’s saucepan (only thing to hand) to carry the gifts back outside to the field near your house…apparently!

Looking all innocent now…

Is it just me? Are there things that you should really expect, but don’t? Let me know…

September 19, 2011

Fragrance: Part Three

These days I don’t have a signature scent. I prefer to wear a different fragrance depending on my mood. During the day, I might wear something lighter and greener, unless I need to feel grown up, then I’ll head for the Chanel Les Exclusifs, of which I have written before.

My perfume choice is also affected by the time of year. Summer has me wearing florals such as Balenciaga. I’ve worn this since being introduced to it by Roja Dove and I love the young, summery and violet scent of it. I also love Prada’s ‘Infusion de Fleur D’Oranger’ with it’s neroli and bergamot – which feels pefect for hot summer days in Italy.  As this is the fragrance I wore the last time I was there, it’s linked in my memory with this:

The scent of Italian Lemons

Night Swimming

Il Giardino Garzoni, Collodi.

All of this reminiscing has renewed my passion for travel and made me look all the more forward to next summer’s trip to Rome. Better get the Earworms back on!

In the meantime, I’m going to hunt for a new perfume for Autumn and Winter. Something that I can wear for everyday, so not too heavy, but I do tend to wear things that are woodier, muskier and generally more grown up in the Autumn and Winter. Perhaps it’s time for a classic. Maybe Mitsouko, by Guerlain.

September 9, 2011

Fragrance: part two

Fragrance is an emotional subject, although when you enter a department store to be assaulted on all sides by the latest offerings, it is easy to forget to really take your time and make sure that you love a perfume before parting with your money. It is important to wear a fragrance for a while to fully experience the longer lasting middle and base notes which are the real heart of a perfume and do not truly arrive until after the fresher, louder top notes have disappeared. This is not something that is uppermost in the minds of people trying to get you to buy whatever new scent they are trying to sell!

For me, there are a handful of perfumes that will be forever associated with specific people and moments in time.

The first of these is ‘Eternity’ by Calvin Klein. My perfume bible (Perfumes, The A-Z Guide, by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez)  describes this as a ‘ screechy and soapy’ rose. Which it is. For me,  it is also the smell of Rhodes, a greek island that was the location for my one and only foreign holiday as a child with my parents and younger brother. My mother bought a bottle of Eternity at the airport on the way there and wore it every day. Infused in my memories with the sun, sea and Greek hospitality, this perfume is the one I wear to feel close to my Mum, even though she doesn’t wear it these days.

Eternity, anniversary engraved bottle

‘Envy’ by Gucci fares better with Turin and Sanchez, as a five star green floral. Sadly now discontinued (although you can still pick it up in a few places) Envy was one of the first perfumes I bought for myself,  as I was lured into the undeniable glamour and luxury of the Gucci house, and intoxicated by the smell. I wore this for a long while, and my oldest friend bought some for me, so it will always remind me of her, which is now a memory tinged by sadness as she emigrated to Canada. Rather amusingly, ‘Envy’ is really similar to ‘Pleasures’ by Esteé Lauder. Considering the contrast in the marketing of these two fragrances, it makes me smile to think of how similar they smell.

Another perfume that will always remind me of old friends is ‘Poison’ by Christian Dior. Famously loud, this is not a fragrance to wear when you are going to be in close contact with other people and certainly not out to dinner. We all wore it to dance in night-clubs, pretending to have an air of sophistication beyond our years. It formed the backdrop to many a memorable evening and in my mind is part of our coming of age. We also used to wear ‘Tendre Poison’, a lighter, greener version, which is also now discontinued. Lura Turin says of Poison, “This is the fragrance everybody loves to hate, the beast that defined the eighties…” (Although I’d like to point out that we were wearing it in the 1990’s in case anyone is trying to work out my age!) Apparently, it’s back in style, along with other loud eighties favourites this winter. If you choose to wear it, do so sparingly!

These days, I take great care in choosing new fragrances, and I’ll be writing about new favourites soon. If you’re interested in buying a copy of my favourite perfume guide, take a look here: Perfumes: The A-Z Guide: Amazon.co.uk: Luca Turin, Tania Sanchez: Books.

What are your sentimental perfumes, and why? Do tell…

August 19, 2011

Fragrance: part one

I’ve written recently about fragrance, and of the memories associated with it, but I’ve been reading ‘The Essence of Perfume’ by the incomparable Roja Dove and so my thoughts are still on the subject.

I had the great fortune to meet Roja last year and listen to him give a talk on fragrance, during which he tested us with a series of different scents on white paper strips. He also had with him the original series of bottles in a case from which Mme Coco Chanel chose number 5, giving rise to the perfume of the same name. As you might imagine, it was a great thrill to see them first hand. He is an incredible speaker, and has a great ability to hold an audience completely captivated. I could have listened to him all night.

The sense of smell is developed when we are young, so memories associated with certain smells are imprinted onto our minds. When we smell the same thing as adults, the memories return. This explains why I have a great fondness for the smell of crayons, sweaty horses, old books, mouldy Barbour jackets, cut hay and new trainers!

I have quite a number of books on perfume, one of which is ‘Perfumes The A- Z Guide, by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez. It is, simply, one of the best, funniest and most entertaining books I have ever read. I highly recommend it.

Here is an extract of what they say about my beloved Chanel perfumes:

Bois des Iles: ‘ It is basically perfect and, though eighty years old, seems as ageless as everything Chanel did in those inventive years. If you think of all the best Chanel fragrances as little black dresses – sleek, dependable, perfectly proportioned – Boise des Iles is the one in cashmere’

Cuir de Russie: ‘ There have been many other fragrances called Cuir de Russie, every one either too sweet or too smoky. This one is the real deal, an undamaged monument of classical perfumery and the purest emanation of luxury ever captured in a bottle.’

So far, so perfect. (and, yes, for those of you who read my previous post, this is the Cuir de Russie post accident!)

What I’m interested in now, and what will form the next few posts on fragrance, is where my thoughts on other perfumes differ from the thoughts of others simply because of my memories of them.

So I am planning a series of posts about this, but I am really interested to know what are your favourite smells, fragrances, perfumes – and why?

‘Sit with someone and breathe in their scent and they give you one of the most beautiful of all gifts – the gift of memory. You may not have seen someone for years, but with one breath of their scent, the memories come flooding back, dreams are revived, love is rekindled.’ Roja Dove.

July 26, 2011

Fragrant memories.

My darling daughter taught me a valuable lesson recently. Not on purpose, you understand. Like many things that happen to me, it started with an accident.

To begin the tale, I need to backtrack a bit to this Spring. In Paris, on Rue Cambon stands the original Chanel boutique. I’ve spoken before of my love for Chanel, but this year was only the second time I’ve stepped inside the hallowed store and this time, I was shopping.

To shop in the Chanel boutique here is a wonderful experience. For those of us not fortunate enough for it to be a regular occurance, it truly is a thing of excitement. Above the store is the famous appartment of Mademoiselle Chanel herself, not to mention where the white-coated staff of Chanel work their magic each collection. For a very special glimpse into this world, take a look at the documentary series: Signe Chanel – Haute Couture Collection [DVD]: Amazon.co.uk: Signe Chanel: Film & TV. This Spring, I particularly coveted a black dress with deep pink camellias on it, which I subsequently saw Anna Wintour wearing, so I am pretty confident that I made a great (although imaginary) choice!

Anyway, one of the many things I am passionate about is fragrance, and I was fortunate enough on this occasion to purchase two wonderful new ones, from Les Exclusifs de Chanel, which are only available in a handful of places across Europe.

I’d spent a considerable amount of time, in a state of what can only be described as giddiness (so sophisticated) making my choices, ably assisted by the staff at Chanel, who clearly understood that this was not an everyday shopping trip for me (my outfit alone gave the game away) and were patient, kind and liberal with the free samples. Once I’d made my choice, I was then taken to a separate room to make my payment. There is nothing as crass as a cash desk in the Chanel store!

The wonderful fragrances (Bois des Iles and Cuir de Russie, for those fragrance fans out there) were safely taken home and worn on special occasions, or quite frankly whenever I needed a lift. Both heady, warm and very grown up, they offer the emotional reassurances you need to take on the world. If Bois des Iles were a person, she’d be a glamourous great aunt, who still smoked, wore cashmere and called everyone ‘darling’. I love it. Cuir de Russie feels like a more dangerous character, leathery, smoky and somehow dirty, but in a great way. If you are interested in fragrance, you need to seek these out, they’re incredible.

That is, they were incredible. Until my darling daughter smashed one of the bottles all over the wooden floor boards in my bedroom. After the initial upset, which I have to admit was very tearful, my husband was able to help me come to terms with it. Ok, I’m being melodramatic, I admit, but I have precious few luxury items these days, and loads of lesser perfumes all over the bathroom but it just had to be this one that was lost. Isn’t life just like that?

He reminded me that, although the fragrance was so very special, part of what had made it so was the memory of its purchase. A memory which I remember every detail of. A memory which still makes me smile, brings back that giddiness and which I will have forever. It helps of course, that the bedroom now has the scent of that memory soaked into it, so I get a reminder each time I walk in. It helps that I still have a teeny, tiny amount of the perfume left for when I really need that grown up help. And it helps that I am going to make a new memory by saving for a replacement bottle to buy next year in Rome. But what is really important is that I was given a little reminder that memories are more important than material goods, however beautiful they may be.