2005 has turned out to be a larger-than-life year for the world and as a historian, I am endlessly fascinated by it. For little ol’ me, it has been equally eventful, albeit on a far smaller scale. I moved back to a heavily populated, real city (scratch that: calling LA “real” is debateable). I got two great jobs that awakened me to the fact that I truly love helping people and derive therapeutic pleasure from such endeavors. I made important decisions that will hopefully seamlessly segue me into 2006. My family and friends are doing well, and since they are the most important thing to me, I am utterly grateful. Last of all, my grandfather showed me the humble humanity that we as mortal creatures are capable of in our most fragile hour.
My dear friends, another year is coming to a close and thus, bring out the fizzing champagne and stand below the mistletoe. And on that note, allow me to kiss my favorite finds of the year.
New Category of Fragrances to Obsess Over
From the very modern Parfums de Rosine Une Folie de Rose and Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit to classic Guerlain Mitsouko and Guerlain Chant d’Aromes, to the impossibly elusive Deneuve and vintage formulas of Miss Dior and Balmain Vent Vert, chypres have won me over for their ineffable elegance, sophistication, and unclashing sensibility. As a category, they are the Louis Vuittan Epi of perfumes.
Latest Guerlain Love
Guerlain Chant d’Aromes (vintage and parfum)
… and so my love affair with this house continues with no end in sight. What unique delicacy Chant d’Aromes conjures—an aldehydic tangle of creamy petals, velveteen stems atop the polishing flair of a chypre base. When I want a more floral Guerlain Mitsouko, this is my pick. It was one of Grace Kelly’s favorites and I can see why. It is refined, it is understated, and its structure is classically simple. And yet, there is that fantastic woodsy quality that wafts throughout, giving it character and for those of us who dig oakmoss and vetiver, smooth, glistening touches are evident. As usual with this line, the parfum version is my undisputed favorite. However, thanks to a dear friend, I have a bottle of the vintage formula, which has a similarly enticing subtle sweetness. The peach note is more prominent and plush in the parfum—simply delicious—but how I treasure my vintage bottle (thank you so much, dearest).
Best New Fragrance
Frederic Malle Carnal Flower
Rare is the case when a much anticipated fragrance not only lives up to the hype, but surpasses it in expectation. Carnal Flower, the newest perfume in the Frederic Malle line-up, did just that. It is outstanding. A hypnotic floral built around the magnificence of tuberose and jasmine with fascinating touches of eucalyptus, coconut, and orange blossom, from the first time I tested it, I was beside myself with excitement—it was not only masterful, but gorgeously wearable. The opening is brilliantly constructed—a multifaceted prism of notes that has so much going on, but oh how it sings in perfect harmony like a Mozart symphony.
Best Vintage Fragrance Find
Givenchy L’Interdit (vintage)
This is the year that I finally tried this beauty, a fragrance that the legendary duo of iconic Audrey Hepburn and trailblazing Hubert de Givenchy helped to create. Although I should be a good sport and remark that it has been worth the wait, I am going to cry, “For pete’s sake, what took me so long?” It is a mist of powdery aldehydes, peach, rose, and jasmine resting on a warm bed of amber-colored goosedown feathers. It did not surprise me that the original L’Interdit would be this elegant. What took me a bit by surprise is how delightfully warm it is, just like Ms. Hepburn.
Guerlain Vol de Nuit
Just perfect. I have admired and worn this fragrance for years, but sometimes fragrances happen to you all over again, and you see something different, you appreciate how perfect of a partner they are. Indeed, you recognize how comfortable and familiar that best friend of yours is and that you probably should have married him/her 10 years ago. This past year I finally understood how much Vol de Nuit belongs to me.
An Obvious Winner
Lip glosses with working brushes instead of sponge tips
These are a godsend for the woman who is always on the go. My favorites are Helena Rubinstein Star glosses, Guerlain Kiss Kiss glosses, and Giorgio Armani Lip Shimmers.
Best Lip Gloss for Anytime, Anywhere
Helena Rubinstein Star Lab Pink
I am halfway through my tube and the Helena Rubinstein counter just packed off and left the States. Is this a problem? Not at all, cherie! All the more reason to get a flat in Paris. Whenever I wear this, my mouth looks just the way I like it—the angelic look of a baby who has just licked his/her rosebud lips. I can wear it alone or with lipstick and without fail, I achieve the perfect, natural pout. Genius.
The swinging ponytail
I shower, towel-dry, run some gel through my hair, comb, and then pull it back. My hair life has never been this easy and low-maintenance. Because my medium-thick hair is growing quite long and I do not want to be bogged down by the weight of a ponytail that swings like a grandfather clock, I expect that in 2006, I will discover the blessings of the chignon or French twist.
Best Skincare Treatment
It is the end of the work week. Your eyes are sore from all of the reading, your muscles ache from all of the rushing, your brain yearns for some peace and quiet, and you continue to search for new ways to persuade out that extra beaming glow from your skin. What do you do? The answer for me has been regular Korean spa visits. While I have always been a devotee to Korean bath houses, this year, with my move to Los Angeles, I have found them particularly enjoyable. I have hung my clothes (literally) at a panoply of wonderful alcoves that are often sans glam but refreshingly authentic in a city that is anything but, and best of all, they have proven to be mighty effective in helping me maintain my skin’s balance and getting much needed R&R.
Makeupalley and the Blogosphere
Being a member of the Fragrance Board at Makeupalley has been wonderful, and I will add, nothing short of fascinating. I have met some incredible people there and made some friends whom I hope to know for the long haul (heck, you folks are expected at my wedding, god willing).
One of the most significant happenings of the past year is that many members of the Fragrance Board started websites. To repeat, Fragrance Board individuals are an extraordinary lot, not only for their remarkable talent, but their amazing willingness to share their knowledge, help complete strangers, and inspire stomach-aching chuckling. One of the pleasures of the past year has been getting to know people through their blogs—the photos they post, the essays they compose, the ideas they share. Moving back and forth from the Fragrance Board to members’ blogs has served as a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends, get to know new people, and learn oh so much.
It never fails to amaze me at how much more helpful MUA and these blogs are than Dear Abby, Dr. Ruth, and the In Style Best Of lists. Take these Best of 2005 lists, for example. Please click on the links below and enjoy. With a raised flute, allow me to exclaim, “Happy New Year, everyone! I hope the very best for each and every one of you in 2006.”
- An Alabaster Brow
- Beauty Addict
- Blogdorf Goodman
- Bois de Jasmin
- Brain Trapped in Girl’s Body
- c’est chic
- Crazy Jay Blue
- The Great She Elephant
- Koneko’s *Mostly* Beauty Diary
- Make a Mental Note
- Monkey Posh
- Mother Hen’s Place
- my life my words my mind
- no one knows why the wolf laughs
- Now Smell This
- Peppermint Patty
- Perfume-Smellin’ Things
- She’ll be feverish after so much thinking
- Slap of the Day
- Victoria’s Own