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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

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.


Blogger elle said...

What an incredible, wonderful story! This is the perfect post for the start of the new year - made me smile from ear to ear. The scent sounds absolutely fantastic and I can completely understand why they were inspired to create it for you.

10:15 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

ach- first off, lady, back at you for giving me a pinch over how young and thin I look in my photo; what a cutie you are!

I can't wait to try Parfum d'Ida, it can tide me over until I can savor the presence of the real deal...

10:27 PM EST  
Anonymous sweetlife said...

Hooray! I just called Neil today, Ida, on your recommendation re: your next collaboration, so I am especially pleased to read this. I can't believe I witnessed your bonding at the Sniffa -- I had no idea you weren't life long friends. However, I am not at all surprised the Neil and David were inspired by you. In fact, I'm shocked it hasn't happened before.

C'mon. 'Fess up. There's more than one Eau d'Ida out there in the world, isn't there? ;)

Of course, that's what all your lovelies become, when you put them on and transform them with your magical presence.

Brava Bravissima!

10:39 PM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

Chaya, as I have said before (probably many times) you, my dear, are a ray of sunshine! You deserve this wonderful honor and I can't wait to get a bottle! I wish you all the best for the coming NEW YEAR! Love You!

11:40 PM EST  
Blogger greeneyes said...

Chaya! First of all, look how wonderful you are! Second of all, even though I believe I have an earlier formulation, I can attest that PDI is wonderful. Everything you've been generous enough to send me is in there, plus the thing that makes it uniquely yours...could that be your dear heart?

Hugs and kisses to you. We are lucky you are in the world.

12:16 AM EST  
Blogger Gaia, the non-blonde said...

How wonderful!
Ida, having met you, I'm not surprised at all. There couldn't be a better muse for any perfume maker, and I can't wait to smell Parfum d'Ida.

12:20 AM EST  
Anonymous MarkDavid said...

My darling Ida -

As Ive told you already - I knew the surprise was coming. Neil had told me - and told me to keep my yap shut, make no mistake! (and I did!) To see this presentation was the one thing I was most excited for at Sniffa. Of course, God had other pland for me that week, as you know - and I couldn't be with you all.

You know - Boston is pretty damn lucky. For within its city limits reside 2 of the most amazing people I have yet to meet in this perfume world. I was hard pressed to think of a more radiant inspiration than you, my dear. And lady, if anyone deserves it - you sure as hell do.

I adore this scent. I adore Neil. And I absolutely adore you. I may have to fight a few people on this - but I am your biggest fan. Oh yes, its true.

Ive been loving PDI since the early summer when Neil first sent it to me. The transitions it has gone through fascinate me and the final cut is a stunner, absolute.

Neil told me many months ago that the first time he met you he became quite familiar with "the puppies" and Im absolutely inclined to believe him.

Loving you always,

12:50 AM EST  
Anonymous Maria B. said...

Ida, you are so glamorous! You look cutting-edge put-together...and young. I'd be envious if you weren't such a nice person. The honor is more than well deserved. Congratulations!

1:01 AM EST  
Anonymous Elysium said...

Thank you Ida, for the lovely sample you sent me.

4:01 AM EST  
Anonymous leopoldo said...

I'm only bothered that I haven't met you... yet. Glorious story.

4:27 AM EST  
Anonymous lady jane grey said...

Now, is there a bigger award for a parfumista, than getting her/his own perfume ?!?!?! I don't think so.
Congratulation, Chaya.

6:23 AM EST  
Blogger Patty said...

Not sure which version I have, but it is indeed beautiful, and it fits such a beautiful, generous person too.

Thanks for telling us the whole story behind it.

7:02 AM EST  
Blogger donanicola said...

There could hardly be a higher compliment to a perfumista and it seems well deserved here. I enjoy reading your comments, Ida, and thank you for the story. The perfume sounds AMAZING - incorporating as it does some of my very favourite notes. How do people get hold of a sample?

7:33 AM EST  
Blogger Louise said...

Beautiful woman, beautiful story, beautiful scent. The build-up and revelation made me grin, and I bet the puppies are smiling, too.

8:00 AM EST  
Blogger Beth Gehring said...

Oh my god...This is the most incredible story......I was so moved and even though I haven't met you yet, I know that it was so well deserved. Your comments are so generous of spirit that I am so not surprised at all to find that you have been honored this way....and now having seen the face that houses that expressive soul I know why there is always such warmth and sweetness in your words. I can't wait to try this and I am so touched and happy for you. What a sexy and extraordinary way to start off the New Year, I am soooooooo inspired!

8:05 AM EST  
Blogger BitterGrace said...

Chaya, I'm sending this post to that Presbyterian non-perfumista Dave--he'll love seeing you and reading this wonderful story.

The 2 versions of PdI I've been lucky enough to sniff are both terrific, and I especially like the later one. When and where can a girl out in the Tennessee sticks get her a bottle?

8:05 AM EST  
Blogger Kathy said...

Wow - that's such a beautiful story. And a gorgeous fragrance for a gorgeous person. xoxoxo

8:15 AM EST  
Blogger lilybp said...

Wonderful story!! And the perfume sounds wonderful too, as completely befits you!!

8:21 AM EST  
Anonymous Malena said...

liebste ida,
what a wonderful story!
it´s a lovely compliment to have a perfume named after yourself - this happens to very few of us, but you´re definitely a person who deserves it :)
i´m sitting here very IMpatiently waiting for a little package to arrive ;D

8:21 AM EST  
Anonymous Divalano said...

Aha, so THAT is the photo I saw the post about on PerfumePosse; I wondered what I'd missed, lol. Thank you for a wonderful story AND the accompanying photos :)

8:23 AM EST  
Blogger rockinruby said...

Love you, Ida, and love the perfume. It is entirely not me, but it is entirely YOU. Which was, after all, the point. ;-)

Happy New Year to all!

8:34 AM EST  
Anonymous Silvia said...

Still have goosebumps from reading this post, great story indeed. Wish both you and PDI could be teletransported over here right NOW!

8:40 AM EST  
Blogger carmencanada said...

Ida, I'm overjoyed... And touched, because now, in addition to there being a perfume bearing my mother's name (Thérèse), there is a perfume bearing my darling and formidable grand-mother's name: Ida, whom I'm somehow sure you would've loved.
It's a wonderful story, a wonderful gift of life and friendship, and no one deserves it better than you for bringing so much warmth, enthusiasm, generosity and love into our perfume world.
And, along with everybody else here, let me say that you look just as lovely and adorable as I imagined you to be. Now if you could just make it over to Paris one day, ma beauté!

8:56 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Your story is the perfect way to start my day. :)

I think it's really cool that you have a perfume made in your honor.

I love reading about how strongly people can connect and how it can inspire such creativity.

Congrats to you and Neil and the others involved.

Dawn (dawnkana)

9:09 AM EST  
OpenID perfumequeen said...

what a lucky (small word here) lady to be immortalized in perfume. All of us other mere mortals are jealous! I cannot wait to smell PDI (where and when can we find it?) It sounds as beautiful as you are in the pictures. Happy New Year!

9:14 AM EST  
Blogger TMH256 said...

Ida I love your prose!! I was there that day, although I believe I excused myself for a bit when Neil announced your fragrance. What a perfect scent for a wonderful and adored woman! I have found it delightful to wear and surprising as it develops!! Thank you so much!

Kisses and hugs,

9:26 AM EST  
Anonymous Therese said...

Chaya, you are a lucky and very deserving woman. What a dream, what a wonderful friend.

9:39 AM EST  
Anonymous Serena said...

If the perfume is even half as warm, gorgeous, and wonderful as you are I already know it's a knockout! Congratulations! I can't wait to get my hands on a bottle of your namesake perfume. Happy new year beautiful lady!


10:30 AM EST  
Anonymous AngelaS said...

What a dream come true! The perfume sounds wonderful, too. I can't wait to smell a bottle of fiesty wisdom, generosity, and bombshell charisma that you surely are.

11:18 AM EST  
Blogger Victoria said...

Holy cow! I'm speechless, well almost! How exciting and how wonderful! Oh my goodness, you must be floating above the clouds! I'm very happy for you my dear, you deserve it. With all the love and encouragement and laughter you spread to us all, what goes around truly does come around. Congrats, and big hugs,
Victoria O.

11:54 AM EST  
Blogger Ducks said...

What a completely delightful story, Ida. It sounds enchanting, and I love its history.


12:03 PM EST  
Blogger Dust Glitter and Vapor said...

Dearest Ida,
What a beautifully told story, all the better to match such a beautiful lady (love the pictures)!
Parfum d'Ida sounds wonderful. Elegant, warm, bright--like the muse that inspired it.
Best wishes to you and yours.


12:10 PM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

What an amazing story. And as I start off 2008 reminding myself of the various ways I plan to pursue happiness (for myself and others) this made me grin.

Lucky girl. BTW, how hot are you?!?!

1:23 PM EST  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Thank you folks !
And BIG thanks to Marinochka, who didn't think it too silly to print...MWAH !

Believe me- I'm not ready to quit my day job.
There are PLENTY of tears to dry, soiled underwear to launder,bills to pay, and chemo to give...

Elle : happy to make you smile! My favorite thing to do.

Tomski: the camera lies... but I don't. Smooch me, anytime.

Alyssa: Thanks for your sweetness !
Looking forward to talking with you soon-

Kelley: Just give me the DOG !
[Love you back...]

Miss P.- You know how I feel about you...thank you !

Gaia: I'll bet this smells awesome on you- and the Blond !
I miss you.

MD: Soon, we'll have you in our clutches- happy happy joy joy !
What a prince.

maria b.:Some glamour queen...
But I am a nice lady [ a la Jerry Lewis]...I hope we meet up soon !

elysium: My pleasure ! How could I refuse you ?

L: The only thing we HAVEN'T done, is meet, LOL.
We've had 'phone relations'...
SURELY that counts. I'm yours.

ljg:Thank you !
I surely was surprised .

Pattycakes: You've got the latest one...I hope it's extra skanky.
I love to share with you !

Donanicola :Just call the Mattressman [ my pet name for Neil, 'cos he's so loveable], and he'll send you some !


Louise: You're a very bad influence, ma soeur.
I hope I've corrupted you.
It goes BOTH ways...

beth g: I appreciate your enthusiasm and warmth- you write so much better than I can !
I agree- it's a wild way to start the year.

M: Please show me to your DH- since I've planned to share you with Mr. B !
And you can unload your pets Chez Meister, any day.Or yourself, girl.
Call Neil !

Kathy: Back at you, my dear !

Judith: I think you'd like it.
It would go with your marvellous mane, and spunk !

Claudia : Your package should be winging its way to you any day now...enjoy !

Ms. Jill : I love you, too.
You're a loving woman, and will be punished accordingly...

silvia : I hope we can meet someday. I always enjoy reading your thoughts and comments !

D: Thank you, dear lady !
What I wouldn't give to cause a ruckus in Paris with you....SIGH.

Dawnska: Glad to see you here- you're always a pleasure.
Karma's something, ain't it ?

perfume queen: I love those small words:)
Don't be envious- I'm so much older than DIRT, it isn't funny!

T:Thank you, my daughter-by choice ! I loved being with you that weekend.
You're pretty glorious , you know.

therese:I AM a lucky fool.
Friends like the Man don't bang on one's door everyday.

Serena !
So thrilled to see you here !
You inspire me every day.
And I'm adopting you, pronto.

angela s:Thank you for your good words and kindness !
V: I've missed you SO much !
I'm hoping that you're doing well- love the pictures of your little one.
BIG transfusive hugs to you...

ducks : Thank you, witty one!

Anna: We're missing your posts...I hope that you're well and happy.
As much as we love perfume, real life always interrupts...

2:00 PM EST  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Not THAT hot, Marchele....
But I love to make you smile.
Pass the skank, won't you ?

2:01 PM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

What a perfect, heart-warming story to start the New Year, thanks so much for sharing it!

2:37 PM EST  
Anonymous Flora said...

WOW! Chaya, that is so wonderful! Your own fragrance, made to order, and you did not even know about it! It sounds just delectable too!

You are such a gorgeous woman, and I happen to think ingenues are overrated. We vintage classics have got it going ON! :-)

Neil looks like a wonderful and warm person as well. You are so fortunate to know each other.

4:18 PM EST  
Blogger Lucy said...

How fortunate, that two such talented people cross paths and get to know each other and inspire each other! Resonating!
What could be better, I don't know.
I love the perfume, too. I could swim in it.
I hope the name does stick, after all..

5:35 PM EST  
Blogger Jenny said...

Lieve Ida/Chaya,

You so deserve this, I like to thank Neil for honoring you in this beautiful way. I can understand why he wanted to honor you. You are an amazing woman Ida, a wonderful inspiration to a perfumer.

I love the photos, you look so pretty but also so vulnerable in the arms of Neil. It has to feel wonderful to be hugged by a tall man with such a kindly and warm smile, knowing he care so much about you.

I smelled the latest version of PDI and it's wonderful, when will it be released? I'm curious when the other fragrance, the dark one (you know which one I'm talking about) will be released.

Hugs and love to my very special lady!

6:33 PM EST  
Anonymous Pam-dahling! said...

What an article! What a tribute!What a fragrance! You are amazing! I am so happy that you are being recognized for the wonderful, creative person you are. Brava! I love you.


6:43 PM EST  
Anonymous Maisonstinky said...

Chaya , you are a beautiful woman, and such a beautiful story. Did I mention that you are beautiful, and now to have a beautiful scent named after you, wow. Now, I did mention that you are beautiful, right ?

On a serious note, this is so great, I love stories like
this :-). I have talked to you on several occasions and I must mention that you are beautiful person overall. Your husband is one hell of a lucky guy....

Happy New Year everyone :-).

Vijay aka Maisonstinky

7:24 PM EST  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Thanks for reading ![I'm honored!]
This might be a bit stinky for you...but the florals have your name on them.

flora:I'm lucky to have more than one soulmate !
[I believe that we ALL have more than one, anyway]
DH likes Neil, too- that makes it easier ;)
Neil and David are the real thing- no phonies here.

Lu- lovely lady who took me under her wing...
I'm hoping to visit soon and cook for you.

Lieve Jenny- you teach me, share your skill and know-how, your warmth, and your marvellous unfettered laugh...
Anything you desire-
Let me or Neil know, we'll send it out!

Pam, baby-
Who loves ya ? It feels good to stretch the wings a little.
They get rusty...mwah !

Prince Vijayji:
Are you sweet, or what ?
You're making my DH belly-laugh !

Neil likes to say: "It isn't about perfume, it's about people"- and he's right.
It's about connecting people and emotion via an aromatic tendril.
[Good thing you're in Florida, nudge, nudge...]

8:23 PM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

Chaya, please, you keep teasing us with info on this new "dark" fragrance and I would like to know more! Can you give any know, more than you have given so far? Please?

And yes, you are totally hot. I bet you could get me to switch teams.

9:50 PM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

Ooops, I forgot, Corazon sends a big wet slurpy kiss!

9:52 PM EST  
Anonymous Scentman said...

Greetings to all on Perfume-Smellin' Things! I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you all what a joy it was to create Le Parfum D'Ida for this incredible woman. Ida is one of those rare people who indiscriminately spread "Light" wherever they go. When you first meet her you wonder how it's possible you've managed to get this far in life without her. You don't actually "meet" Ida, you "remember" her. David and I are so thrilled to have "sprung" this on her without her having had any idea! It was tricky - but we did it. One of the highlights of my life to see her face when it finally dawned on her that I was speaking about HER!

If anyone should want to sample PDI, please let us know. We have to charge a small fee but we'll give you a generous sample spray. I think Ida left our phone number but here it is just in case 617.267.2315. Or email:

Warm Hugs & Fragrant Dreams to you all!


10:19 PM EST  
Anonymous Nick J. said...

What an incredibly well-written article and fascinating story! I found it very moving at times. I have never met Ida, yet know she is a special being on this planet by the feedback left for her.I hope to meet this incredible woman someday. Neil is a divinely gifted and intuitively talented man. I have known Neil for about 27 years, and he is just as he is described: a gentle, warm & loving bear of a jolly giant! :) And super talented...You go, Neil!

8:16 AM EST  

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