Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel

During her brief career as a singer, Gabrielle Chanel performed in clubs in Vichy and Moulins where she was called “Coco.” Some say that the name comes from one of the songs she used to sing, and Chanel herself said that it was a “shortened version of cocotte, the French word for ‘kept woman,” according to an article in The Atlantic.

She opened her first clothes shop in 1910. In the 1920’s, she launched her first perfume and introduced the Chanel suit and the little black dress and revolutionized fashion. In the 1920s, Chanel took her thriving business to new heights. She launched her first perfume, Chanel No. 5, which was the first to feature a designer’s name. Perfume “is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion. . . . that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure,” Chanel once explained.

In 1925, she introduced the now legendary Chanel suit with collarless jacket and well-fitted skirt. Her designs were revolutionary for the time—borrowing elements of men’s wear and emphasizing comfort over the constraints of then-popular fashions. She helped women say good-bye to the days of corsets and other confining garments.

The origin of her legendary symbol “intertwining C’s” HERE

A charming short film (13 minutes) in celebration of Coco Chanel, the iconic & legendary, French fashionista:

Source: biography.com

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“LBD – La Petite Robe Noire”

I was recently shopping and passed a pharmacy window featuring a Guerlain perfume, for which “J’adore” (a Dior perfume) the TV

Guerlain1commercial!  Everything about this product appeals to me – the branding, marketing, visual packaging, etc.  Having visited a parfumerie, as well, I am only too aware of what goes into creating what goes inside of the bottle.

Guerlain2But, like a book’s cover or film trailer, it’s the visual aspect of a perfume that draws someone, enticing them to open the cover and smell.  So, is it the marketing or the visuality of a product that initially piques our interest?  What do you think?

The Real Reason (?) French Women Don’t Get Fat

I have read the book, “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” about “classic principles of French gastronomy” without feeling guilty or depriving oneself of culinary pleasures for experiencing the joie de vivre. So, I was curious when I came across the following article, although I generally don’t wear perfume; the composition of perfume is fascinating.

“The Real Reason French Women Don’t Get Fat “

“There’s no doubt that certain smells can make you lose your appetite. (Ever catch a whiff of a New York City subway on a hot summer day? Vile.) Turns out there may be a way to produce a similar (but less offensive) effect: makers of a new French fragrance claim that smelling a pretty perfume can lead you to eat less and look slimmer.”

[Has anyone tried one of these fragrances?]

Prends-Moi photo credit: Women’s Health Magazine[/caption]“The perfume, Veld’s Prends-Moi (or “take me” in English), bills itself as the “world’s first slimming perfume.” According to company data, 75 percent of testers experienced fewer food urges by spritzing the scent on in the morning and in response to cravings, and massaging it on problem areas twice a day. Moreover, 82 percent of testers reported feelings of comfort–a side effect welcomed by emotional eaters who tend to turn to food for comfort (raising my hand). Skeptical? Here’s what makes this potion potent, according to its makers:

1. Appetite-curbing scent: Prends-Moi also contains betaphroline, an ingredient said to stimulate skin cells to release b-endorphins, chemicals in your body that send feel-good signals to the brain. The brand claims that these pleasurable feelings will curb the need to eat compulsively. (Read up on other tricks to effectively suppress your appetite.)

2. Slimming ingredients: Prends-Moi contains caffeine, carnitine, and spirulina extract (algae), often found in anti-cellulite products. Because these elements are said to help break down fat when massaged on problem areas, Veld’s claims that topical application of Prends-Moi helps slim.

Experts Answer: Does It Work?

Can sniffing this make you skinny?

Could Prends-Moi be the real reason French women don’t get fat? Slim chance, says scent psychologist Avery Gilbert, Ph.D. The product may stimulate skin cells to release endorphins—to some degree, he says. But enough to send a message to the brain, creating a sense of well-being that leads to weight loss? “It’s quite a stretch,” says Gilbert.

However, there may be some science behind Prends-Moi notes. “Odors can be used to help people lose weight.” says Alan Hirsch, M.D., director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, whose studies have shown that food flavors—green apple, banana, and peppermint—are more effective than non-food scents, including florals, for weight loss. Prends-Moi has notes of bergamot, mandarin, grapefruit, ylang-ylang, jasmine, lilac, vanilla, patchouli, and sandalwood—a lovely, citrusy-floral-woodsy blend “The grapefruit, mandarin, and vanilla in this fragrance may have some effect,” he says. A separate study from Osaka University in Japan found that rats exposed to grapefruit oil three, times a week for 15 minutes intervals, not only had less of an appetite, but also lost weight. So maybe there was something to that grapefruit diet: its zesty scent. (Use grapefruit and any other scents your nose desires to make your own scent.)

Because the brand offers none of their own research to substantiate the fat-blasting power of Prends-Moi, we asked dermatologist David E. Bank, M.D., to weigh in. “Caffeine, carnitine, and spirulina supposedly work by reducing the storage of lipids and promoting collagen production, which will decrease fat and cellulite,” he says. They have a temporary firming and plumping effect on the skin, smoothing out the appearance of cellulite, but that vanishes once you stop using them, he says.

Bottom line: Prends-Moi is no magic bullet for weight loss—even if was developed in a country where women eat buttered croissants and drink copious amounts of wine—and stay slim. Le sigh. But if the mere act of spritzing on a fragrance keeps your hands out of the cookie jar, then by all means, spritz away. (It’s harmless in comparison to the crazy cleanses being pedaled out there.)

How to Sniff Yourself Slim

Prends-Moi (42 euros or roughly $53, velds.fr) is currently not available in the U.S. If you can’t get your hands on a bottle (according to Britain’s Daily Mail, there was a 6,000-person waiting list when Prends-Moi hit the UK market), channel its appetite-curbing power by taking a whiff of one of these whenever the kitchen calls your name:

Harvey Prince Eau De Lite Eau de Parfum ($55, harveyprince.com) is a minty, fruity scent make with craving-calming peppermint, green apple, and vanilla.

DKNY Be Delicious Heart NYC Eau de Parfum Spray ($65, sephora.com) offers fresh notes of green apple and grapefruit.

Kiehls Aromatic Blends Fragrant Body Spray in Nashi Blossom & Pink Grapefruit ($40, kiehls.com) or Nest Grapefruit Votive Candle ($14, nestfragrances.com) both offer a light grapefruit scent.”

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Source: Women’s Health Magazine online, by Krista Bennett DeMaio

Prends-Moi photo credit: Women’s Health Magazine online

Sniff, sniff – “Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Ti/Si-Do”: A French perfume song!

One day, a friend and I went to visit a nearby parfumerie; reluctantly, on my part, since I don’t wear perfume because I suffer from allergies around strong odors – although perfume is preferable to some others!

Nice is about 27 km (17 miles)from the “perfume capital of the world”, Grasse, with its large parfumeries, “Fragonard” and “Molinard,” being major industries and tourist attractions. There are several options, though, as Nice has “Molinard,” Eze village has “Fragonard,” and Cagnes-sur-Mer has its “Atelier des Parfums,” all where you can do a guided visit and purchase products.

During the tour, I learned that in the 16th century, roses were added into the leather making process, as a way to hide the animal odor in gloves: at that time, animal fat was used to absorb the flowers’ fragrance, then washed with alcohol and filtered. Today, petals are distilled in a variety of methods, depending on the concentration of oil desired:

~ 1,000 kg of flowers distilled with water vapor = 1 kg of essential oil
~ 600 kg of flowers distilled with solvents = 1 kg of “absolu” (a higher concentrate)
~ 5 tons of flowers = 1 liter essential oil

Surprisingly, most flowers are imported; however, the three grown around Grasse are rose, jasmin, and violet. The most common regional flowers used in making perfume are mimosa, lavender, rose (petals), jasmine, orange blossom, violets, and broom. No wonder pure perfume is so expensive, as 10 ml of natural rose liquid costs 200 Euros!

Le “nez” (nose) is, logically, the title given to the creator of original perfume scents, and who, to begin with, must be able to recognize the smell of 400 primary scents, with an increase in repertoire possible to around 1,500-2,000 different odors. Reportedly, about 50% of “les nez” are women, with the main training center being situated in the town of Versailles.

What I found fascinating was the laboratory (more like an office library), where there were rows and rows of shelves (called an “organ”), full of bottles of scents (each one called a “note”); the combination of scents is called a “chord”, with many chords being a “composition.”
So, the “Nez” is, in fact, a ‘musical’ composer with around 80-150 different scents in one perfume!

To create your own personal composition, you may want to try to make your own perfume! (If you try this recipe, I would love to hear how it turns out.)

I learned that perfume fragrance changes with time: the first impression – that first burst of smell – of a perfume is called, “la note de tete”; after a couple of hours, you smell “la note de coeur”; and the final phase, or lingering scent, is called “la note de fond.” (although I’ve been around ladies who put on too much perfume that lingered much too long with a very strong “note de fond”!)

Following are the concentrations of the various grades of perfume, so the next time you are shopping, you’ll know the differences:

Perfume = > 20%
Eaux de parfum = 12-15%
Eaux de toilette = 8-12%
Eaux de cologne = 7%

According to an English physician of the 19th century, “a perfume should correspond to the personality, physical, emotional, and mental characteristics of its wearer, and should be as specific to each woman as the sound of her voice.” (Source: Complete Illustrated Guide to Aromatherapy).

Hmmm, I wonder what this means for me!