Over one thousands invitations for Charles de Beistegui’s Le Bal Oriental were sent out six months prior to the night of 3rd September 1951 to give guests time to design their elaborate costumes. The event, inspired by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s fresco The Banquet of Cleopatra at his Palazzo Labia, would see desperate Americans anchoring their yachts at the Venice Lido in the hope of an invitation.
Josephine Catapano created just four perfumes during her career. She followed up 1953’s Youth Dew for Estée Lauder with Zen for Shiseido in 1964. Zen is described by Luca Turin as “a perfect woody rose”. It wears deceptively elegant, like a fresh-faced, no-make-up look that you know requires a full palette and very deft touch to achieve. A supremely affable blend of plum, roses and wood. Impossible not to love.
Shiseido Zen photographed against Japanese Chiyogami paper
“And so he would now study perfumes and the secrets of their manufacture, distilling heavily scented oils and burning odorous gums from the East. He saw that there was no mood of the mind that had not its counterpart in the sensuous life, and set himself to discover their true relations, wondering what there was in frankincense that made one mystical, and in ambergris that stirred one’s passions, and in violets that woke the memory of dead romances, and in musk that troubled the brain, and in champak that stained the imagination; and seeking often to elaborate a real psychology of perfumes, and to estimate the several influences of sweet-smelling roots and scented pollen-laden flowers, of aromatic balms and of dark and fragrant woods, of spikenard that sickens, of hovenia that makes men mad and of aloes that are said to be able to expel melancholy from the soul.”
“Jacques Guerlain built Mitsouko by breaking the power of the oak moss with a natural jasmine and, more significantly, a new synthetic molecule that had recently appeared. Jukov and Schestakow might have patented aldehyde C-14 (actually not an aldehyde but a lactone; it’s real name is gamma-undecalactone) in 1908, but Michael Edwards reports that it had been available from other suppliers, and it was probably Firmenich that introduced Jacques Guerlain to the molecule in the form of a base it called Persicol, which it had put on the market in 1908. C-14 was a marvel, a fruity, aromatic, delicious scent that gave ripe peach skin. Guerlain plugged C-14 into the equation perfectly (the rumor is, actually, similar to Chanel 5, that he in fact accidentally overdosed the stuff; who knows), and Mitsouko became a thing of subtle opulence, strength and balance and silken twilight.” Chandler Burr