Le Parfum D'Ida: A Lovingly Aromatic Alliance
By Ida (Chayaruchama)
Marinochka has asked me to share this story with you… which is my pleasure .
After all, we Eastern Europeans love to tell a good tale , and I’m hardly an exception. [I’m practicing to be a Babushka worthy of the name, someday…]
I could hardly wait until Barney’s opened its doors in Boston, nearly two years ago.
I couldn’t care less about the upscale clothing, designer jewelry, unaffordable accessories.
The promise of access to many niche perfumery lines was an irresistible lure- sweetened considerably by the presence of a savvy SA named Anne, as gracious as she is knowledgeable.
Now, Anne is a peach, and I dropped in often to sniff , snuggle, and scrutinize- I never tire of it.
On one of those days, she was busy pow-wowing with a tall, fine-smelling gentleman who kept pulling labeled vials out of his pockets.
Being the soul of courtesy, Anne promptly made introductions.
Now, Neil insists that I initially greeted him by opening up my blouse and commanding him to SMELL whatever the hell I had on the ‘puppies’ that day
[I don’t quite recall this- but it certainly sounds accurate . And it wouldn’t be the first time, either] …
I was taken by his genuine, unassuming manner, soft voice, and friendliness- not to mention that he is a bear of a man – tall, muscular, well-built. Did I say TALL ?
He’d be intimidating, if he weren’t so gentle.
After our initial encounter, Neil and I kept bumping into each other - often in the company of David Garten, his business partner – whether at Barney’s, meeting Mr. Malle, or in Bergdorf’s last April, at my first Sniffa.
Neil and David were the only faces I recognized from home, at Bergdorf’s breakfast - and we had time to chat.
They made me feel welcome and relaxed, and I found myself more and more drawn to them.
I enjoyed their enthusiasm, and admired Neil’s creativity and prodigious energy.
His fragrances didn’t initially entice me; they were lovely and well made, but smelled too youthful for me [while not past my ‘sell-by’ date, I’m still no ingenue]…
In late May of ’07, I received an email from Neil- he was working on a scent, and wanted my input. Could he send it along ?
I’d have to guess the notes- like a ‘blind sniff’, and suggest modifications.
Like most smellaholics, this was pure catnip to me!
The scent showed a lot of potential- it had a distinctly retro feel, with a spicy, slightly fruity aldehydic top, a white flower/ indolic heart, and animalic base.
I could identify gardenia and creamy ylang in the heart, and civet, leather, vetiver and oakmoss in the basenotes [ some of my favorites!].
It needed MORE.
Definitely more base- more civet, more Haitian vetiver ,more Russian leather, oakmoss - More of everything.
I felt like a greedy child- but Neil indulged me, and sent along the next mod.
This was better, no question.
It still needed warmth in the heart- perhaps more ylang ? More spice in the top, for a ‘ping’ ?
Neil obliged- and we were both better pleased with the result.
He confided to me that he was going to release the scent at the October Sniffapalooza in NYC, and wanted to keep the name a secret. I was not to utter a word about it to anyone.
[When I asked him what the PDI on the bottle labels meant, Neil dismissed it as an identification code- and being unfamiliar with his habits, I thought no further about it.]
All I asked of Neil, was that he mention my collaboration in this project – which he was happy to do.
Now, I find it incredibly difficult to sit on good news.
But, a promise is a promise.
It was a looooong wait until October- but being a mother, and a nurse, and having all the Jewish holidays early, I had plenty to occupy me until then.
When the presentation time arrived, we were all at Seppi’s- including Chandler Burr, folk from Crazy Libellule, Sephora, and I Profumi, along with a legion of perfumistas in tow.
I fully expected to get up and hand out scent strips, while Neil waxed poetic about his fragrances- wondering what to do next, when he began to speak.
I wondered what he was going on about.
It didn’t sound like anything I expected.
So, here’s what he said :
Sometimes you meet someone who reminds you how just exciting and joyous life can be. They are wise to the ways of the world yet they exude the wonder of a child and their heart is open. They capture you with a look, a smile, or the sillage of their perfume. Ida is such a person and I'm honored to present this perfume as a tribute to this warm, kind and incredibly alluring woman. Thank you, Ida for your support, advice and love and especially the hugs! You are what perfume is all about. Le Parfum D'Ida opens with Top Notes of Blackberry, Clove, Elemi and Aldehydes for a spicy/fruity introduction. Ida's spirit soars with Heart Notes of Geranium, Gardenia and Ylang Ylang. Her sultry, bold and mysterious qualities are manifested in Base Notes that include Oakmoss, Vetiver, Jatamansi, Myrrh, Civet, Black Agar and Russian Leather.
I was stunned, understandably.
Tickled, uncomfortable, and shocked.
I didn’t know- until recently- that Neil and David had “researched” me, after our meetings. They’d literally looked up everything I’d written, and decided that they wanted to create a perfume for me- without my knowledge.
And I would help them do it.
They’d planned it way in advance, the scamps!
PDI has been tweaked a few times since then- and the scent I sent to Marina, and other friends, is the final formulation. [We may alter the name, though]
It has a more lush, warm floral heart- the addition of narcissus, hyacinth, more ylang and gardenia. The top has more clove, and the base is more animalic.
As we want it to be suitable for men and women, it will most likely stay as is.
[If it were to be strictly ‘feminine’-whatever that means- I would go spicier, sweeter, and darker- but we have another collaboration that will satisfy those urges, coming soon !]
What a marvelous gift- as fond as I am of the perfume, I treasure the friendship more.
And that must be evident-
In a small Thai restaurant, a total stranger came up to us and inquired: “Tell me- how long have you two been married?”
That sums it up…
P.S.- None of this would have been possible without David- way too knowledgeable for someone who barely shaves. Kindness incarnate, with dimples.