Posts Tagged ‘vanilla’

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onyx paradise.

April 11, 2010

Those of you who know me will know that my screen name for 85% of the forums that I use is “onyxparadise”.  Originally I only liked the ‘onyx’ aspect of the name (since the word looks and sounds pretty), but the name ‘onyx’ had been taken already on the forums I was interested in using at the time, and I was inspired by Britney Spears’ Onyx Hotel Tour.  Choosing an alternative, mysterious-sounding gemstone quickly became apparently not an option: “sapphire” and “topaz” (both in reference to my mother’s favourite stones, and both pretty-sounding words once again) were far too girly, so I thought about adding something to “onyx” to make it work.  Again “sunset” and “beach” sounded too feminine, but I hit upon the idea of “onyxparadise” and it had a magical, mysterious ring to it.  When I think of what the word represents, it symbolises some sort of fantasy faceted-glass multicoloured landscape within a gemstone.  I don’t know how to verbalise it better than that, but I know that those words create nothing close to the image / atmosphere in my head.

Returning to Britney Spears, she did teach me something interesting about the onyx: although the stone is traditionally black when we see it used in jewellery (and although black is my favourite “colour”, I’m not a fan of onyx jewellery), any light that shines into it can be refracted back out in a multitude of colours.  Now, Wikipedia tells me that this is false (or somewhat exaggerated at the very least) but I’m going to go with it because it supports the metaphor that I want to explore and essentially base the rest of this blog entry on.  Ever since I can remember, I’ve always felt like I’ve had multiple personalities.  Different sides of myself expanded as I got older and I started to give them different names: Alan; Miles (ok that was ill-advised but he didn’t last long); AC; purehonesty; onyxparadise; Chase.  They embodied different things, different representations of me, and now I reflect upon it I see that onyxparadise was really the perfect name.  Rather than multiple personalities, I am one person with all these different facets, different colours, different aspects to my being.  Just like an onyx (or Britney Spears’ version of it, anyway).

Sometimes I feel like I keep getting it wrong: I hated the movie Kick Ass, which I went to see last night, because I could only see reference after reference to Kill Bill – at want point does a parody/homage become a rip-off? It must have just been me, as the vast majority of reviews online are hugely positive, but I guess I just didn’t get the sense of humour (though I enjoyed Hit Girl). I don’t eat pizzas quickly enough for my father to have as much space in the fridge as he would like, and the first thing he said to me this morning was “who opened the back door?” as if by getting my milk from the fridge I had unwittingly committed a cardinal sin.  It’s times like these that I feel socially awkward or incorrect (like when I confused the barista at Costa by barking at Toby not to be so healthy in his choice of biscotti, as he was making me look bad with my vanilla frescato and carrot cake), and it’s only recently that I’ve taken a personal stand not to let my family make me feel so ugly, because their problems are no reflection of me.

There is a facet of me that feels tough, dark and edgy.  I now have 3 tattoos, I dye my hair black on the regular, I smoke and drink and stay out late.  I’m still a good person, I have many friends and I work damn hard juggling studies and employment. So I feel I’m entitled to play hard, and I feel that at 24 years old I’ve proved to myself (and to anyone else, not that that matters) that I am intelligent and sensible enough to make my own decisions and to stand by them and live through the consequences, right or wrong.  By embracing that side of myself, I take less nonsense, stand up for myself more (although this is still a work in progress)and I feel that it’s been key in the shift in my life over the last 9 months to being much more happier and taking control.  I feel happier indulging the edgier, mysterious side of me, acknowledging there are dark depths of my personality and essence that I have yet to plumb, because it makes the light shine that much brighter too.

And now, I have some really good friends, people who are close to me.  If my family more and more are the source of unnecessary stress and drama in my life, then my friends feel like what my family should be.  So I almost glow when my new best friend tells me how glad he is to be friends with me; when my boyfriend tells me for the first time that he loves me.  These are experiences I never had before, that make me feel almost uncomfortably good because I am valued, I matter.  Sometimes being strong, being independent, being tough – even if it’s a self-fulfilling façade at times – is really lonely.  But it’s times like that, it’s times when Mike offers me to spend the day with him and his family, when Billy gives me a big hug and kiss before bedtime, when Toby holds me tight in his arms as we watch TV and I feel so safe, that I know I don’t have to be, don’t deserve to be alone.

I never used to wear designer clothes or jewellery.  I have never been a 32″ waist since I was a child, and I find it funny to be posing as a model in Toby’s photos on beautiful days walking around Bristol, because I always dreamed of being a model and assumed it was out of reach.  After the strife of growing up between my parents and their families, the violent alcohol-fuelled arguments and mental abuse I experienced as a child and adolescent, the periods of unhappy rebellion as a 16, 17, 18-year-old, the disappointment of not really knowing where I was going with my life having graduated from Oxford University, the turmoil of a year in retail unable to fulfil my potential, I finally get to experience everything slotting into place, the lights shining from the onyx in a rainbow of the right colours.  Life finally feels good, if not how I imagined it to be! So this entry is really personal to me, because it’s how I see that I’m a whole host of different things – I am one person with many different aspects, not all of them necessarily pretty but all of them important, all of them of value.

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besot.

August 14, 2009

Apparently (according to my computer & my father, though the online dictionary says different) there is no such thing as the verb “to besot”.  You can have the adjective “besotted”, which means to be hopelessly and absolutely in love, and it originates from the old English noun “sot”, which means “drunkard” (intoxicated by alcohol, as opposed to love), and before that the French word “sot(te)” which means “foolish”.   Ultimately, it comes from the Latin “sottus”, but enough of that – you don’t come here to read a dictionary, and I didn’t create this blog to write one.  My point is, Nick & I were discussing fragrances and their names, and we came onto the subject of Katie Price’s ‘collection’.  Her perfumes are called “Stunning” and “Besotted”, and I began to ponder why perfume names seem to prefer adjectives (and of course, nouns).  “Curious”, “Spellbound”, “Pure”, “Notorious”, “Luscious Pink”, “Signature”, “Strictly Private”, “Vintage” as well as all of the colours in the rainbow are just the first ones which come to mind.  But how many perfumes go with imperatives?  I can think of “Believe” by Britney Spears, “Inspire” by Christina Aguilera, perhaps the new “Challenge” by Lacoste, and not much else. (Feel free to add others in the comments)  I like the idea of a perfume with a direct purpose manifest in its name: instead of “Stunning”, “Stun”; instead of “Besotted”, “Besot” (who cares if it exists).  It sounds more urgent, more fervent, more powerful.  I like that.

So Nick and I were making up fantasy names for fragrances (“Fascinate” was a joke idea of mine), and we also think that Britney Spears should release a male fragrance called “Womanizer” (certainly a wittier and sexier name than her forthcoming “Circus Fantasy”.  How much longer before “Fantastic Fantasy”, or even “Fantasy Fantasy” appears?).  What about “Seduce”?  “Captivate”?  I even like the sound of “Unravel”.  I think these sort of commands harness the power of the words and make them more immediate, more direct.  I suppose I am not a perfumer, nor a marketing exec, so I’m talking out of my depth.  But it sounds good to me.

As most people (I presume), I wear different perfumes depending on my mood and what essence I want to exude at a particular moment.  I don’t wear a fragrance just because it’s popular or because it’s a big seller, and I am no longer fooled (after working in fragrance for a year and a half) by which perfumes are male, female or unisex.  Gearing a perfume towards a specific demographic is a marketing tool to gain a target audience, and pretending that a perfume is gender specific is part of this marketing.  Scent is scent, it’s intangible, and if it suits you and you like it, wear it!  You’re wearing a fragrance and making it a part of who you are, whether it’s Chanel Pour Monsieur or Chanel No. 5.  You wear the fragrance, the fragrance and the name doesn’t (or shouldn’t) wear you.  I just want to briefly delve into my collection of 20-something bottles (it sounds bad to non-perfumistas; to avid fragrance addicts, it is a restrained collection) and list a couple of things I wear when I…

…am going to work.
If I’m off to work or going somewhere business-like, I don’t want something too intrusive or seductive, but something pleasant and slightly different from the norm.  After all, in a professional environment (especially when I was working in fragrance!), you don’t want to blend in and smell like everyone else, and you certainly don’t want to come off smelling cheap.  You have to make your mark and your uniqueness felt, all while not being so obvious about it that your fragrance screams for attention.  So I tend to plump for “Deseo for men” by Jennifer Lopez (because it’s a slight yet heady mix of mint, tonka bean and soft spices – and it’s also not available in the UK, so I have no fear of running into anyone else wearing it), “Guerlain Homme” because its refreshing mojito-esqueness refreshes me through the day and perks me up with daydreams of evening cocktails, and Escada’s “Sunset Heat” is perfect for after the gym, with its juicy watermelon supplying all the tart freshness I need to revitalise me after a hard workout.

…am going on a date.
I have always had luck pulling wearing “Gucci pour Homme II” for some reason, though it was a hard sell during my time working at the Perfume Shop.  It’s a sweet, sexy spicy concoction, with a prominent tea note that is hard for a lot of people to put their finger on.  It’s intriguing and unlike a lot of other fragrances out there, especially for the male market – it’s not aquatic, it’s not leathery, it’s not ultra-green pines and grasses.  Sadly, I hear that Gucci are discontinuing it, so I will have to stock up.  Otherwise, I find that I feel seductive wearing Emporio Armani’s “Diamonds For Men”, which is another sweet fragrance made up of bergamot, cocoa and cedarwood that has an artificial yet addictive spike to it (I’m aware that I use strange words to describe perfume such as “angular” and “dark”, because that is the most accurate way I can convey how a perfume makes me feel). Tom Ford’s “Black Orchid” smells expensive and intoxicating, with a dizzying mix of oriental florals, vanilla and patchouli, with a mysterious undercurrent of something both grimy and bizarrely exquisite (heady mystery = very good). And Lancome’s “Hypnôse” for men is a powdery amber than lingers closely to the skin and invites the object of my affections to come close and try to put their finger on the intangible scent I’m exuding.  They won’t be able to, but maybe they’ll end up touching me instead, and therein lies the art of seduction!

…am meeting friends for coffee / casual get-together.
If I’m just going about my day-to-day business in my free time, socialising and having fun, I want something light and carefree.  Again, I’m attracted by the sweet (though I have the kind of skin which turns everything to sweet anyway, even if it didn’t start out that way!) and although I wear what I want when I want and (despite these paragraph headings) have no hard and fast rules, I like: the strawberry citrus delight of Black XS, which attracted me with its sexy ad featuring model Will Chalker, and epitomises summer with every inhale; the giant sweet Barbie tuberose of Juicy Couture, which is supposed to be a girly perfume but I love it nonetheless because it accentuates when I am feeling carefree and fun-spirited; the orange-icing sugar delight of Ultrared Man (again by Paco Rabanne) that is just too good to be simply a summer “limited” edition (though it is widely available and therefore not really limited – another marketing ploy!); the lemon-almond light soufflé that is Dior’s “Escale à Portofino”, which sparkles on the skin and is another elegant summery delight.  I also enjoy the floral clean-ness of Prada “Infusion d’Homme” which I loved at first and found utterly intoxicating, but now has quietened down to be a resonant soapy wonder than makes me feel so fresh and so clean.

…am going to a club.
If you have ever been to a club, or in fact ever been in a confined space with other people for any length of time, you will know that a) you will sweat, and b) other people will sweat.  Therefore you need a fragrance that will really go the distance and last hours and hours, while smelling intoxicating and can pull attention towards you in the crowd.  This is the one situation where I really go all out for the “wow” factor (unless I’m in a perky/mischievous mood in the morning/daytime) and select my ultimate favourite fragrance of all, “Dior Homme”.  This fragrance is a sophisticated blend of iris, violet, patchouli and chocolate (as well as some heady alcoholic thing I can never quite put my finger on) and confidently resides in its own sophistication and element of class.  I love it, and I wear the original and the Intense, which of course amps up the scents and goes all night. 😉 It certainly does the trick!  A close runner-up is A*Men by Thierry Mugler, with its chocolate-coffee-sundae and hints of burnt rubber and blackened caramel roughing up the edges.  Spraying too much on is lethal to passers-by, but the right amount can last and last on the skin, and belies a gourmand sensuousness that has the power to satisfy hunger pangs with a single sniff.

…at home by myself in the evening.
It’s safe to say by this point that without wearing a scent, I feel naked.  All of the above fragrances are ones that I enjoy, and I’ve left plenty others out, but I’m quite a nocturnal person and on nights when I’m enjoying my own company, I want to wear something sensual and subtle.  Something that isn’t overpowering, that lingers close to my skin and that compels me to repeatedly sniff my wrists.  What comes to mind is “Deseo” by Jennifer Lopez, which is a sexy, subtle scent that has tinges of lush tropical greenery, hidden behind a layer of midnight rain.  It’s subtle, it is sexy and I feel very in touch with my emotions and my inner sensuality when I wear it.  Other sexy/sensual/ethereal fragrances that perform this same trick are Gucci “Rush” (floral musky fruit boom) and Mariah Carey’s “M” (tiare marshmallow vanilla whip).  This “trick” is exactly what I mean when I talk about making perfume a part of who you are; it is an emblem of your essence, and an olfactory summary of all that you are at that moment.

(ps. this site has been my perfumista bible and point of reference for a fair few months now: for all perfume news, reviews and articles, go to Now Smell This)