In On the Road, Jack Kerouac wrote, “LA is the loneliest and most brutal of American cities.” It’s the city described by Woody Allen’s character in Annie Hall as the city where “the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light.”
But they come, the dreamers, for the sunshine and the possibilities, to this land of opportunity, where hope springs eternal. Whatever they’re searching for — happiness, love, money, fame — the temptations lure them deeper and deeper into this concrete paradise.
Does Los Angeles have a scent? It’s impossible to say. But Chandler Burr knows Los Angeles. And Chandler Burr knows perfume. So we decided to collaborate on a fragrance that an LA woman might wear. And we gave it the name of Chandler’s novel, set in Los Angeles.
And you dreamers, with your dreams — you might flourish, you might wither, but you don’t give up. You keep coming, or you think about coming, and sometimes you stay.
Because someday, someone just might be looking for you, pointing at you, wanting you. Or someone like you.
“A few years ago I wrote a novel called You Or Someone Like You set in Los Angeles. Its central character is a woman, Anne Rosenbaum, who lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband, Howard, a movie studio executive. Like so many of the homes up the fantastical curves and canyons of the Hills they look down on LA’s Downtown skyscrapers and the concrete ribbon of the 101 freeway, across Mid-Wilshire and Robertson, the glass towers of Century City, and, on clear days, over the 405 to Santa Monica and the placid, blue Pacific. And always the palm trees, imported and planted in LA in the early 20th century, ‘just as I am an import,’ Anne observes, ‘now indigenous.’ Anne is English, born in Hammersmith, London.
“As many have observed, Los Angeles is not a city. It is a state of mind. A strange amalgam of places and languages. Los Angeles is rivers of cement highways and infinite strips of asphalt, traffic, and despite or because of it all one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on earth, a natural beauty made by nature and molded by people, cobalt sky and the greens and tans of the desert parks, ocean fog, the white and delicate pale yellow jasmine and honeysuckle flowers that grow up parking signs reading ‘Permit Parking Only Violators Will Be Towed.’
“This scent is very specific. When Etienne de Swardt approached me about creative directing a fragrance whose name would be the title of my novel, I told my perfumer, Caroline Sabas, that we were creating the fragrance Anne would wear. She is also very specific. Coolly crisply English, covered in but untouched by the silver, materialistic movie industry, literary, somewhat removed.
“You Or Someone Like You is not the ‘scent of LA’ or ‘the smell of the Hollywood Hills captured.’ It is not one of those olfactory synecdoches. It is, on the other hand, stylistically and in its technical construction what a Los Angeles woman would wear in my view. Caroline and I discussed this at each step during the creation process. It is contemporary, 21st century. It is LA, whatever that means, though in part it means the norms a scent would follow in a meeting at one of the agencies near Wilshire, at a studio, at a lunch in Bel Air or dinner off Beverly Drive. (The raw materials are completely irrelevant. The work is the work. If you need to know what it’s made of, don’t wear it; You is not for you.)
“My fictional Anne wears it; so presumably do thousands of other women. It represents her only in the way all such choices represent us. What it will be to you is for you to decide, obviously.”
— Chandler Burr
You or Someone Like You is a welcoming fragrance: neither off-putting nor strange. It is a contemporary creation built around timeless materials.
It embodies the women of LA — someone like Anne Rosenbaum: cool and crisp; once foreign but now indigenous; very exposed to Hollywood’s silver screen dreams yet untouched by its materialistic machinery. Anne finds comfort in literature, and the garden of her home, which nestles in the hills overlooking downtown LA.
The scent represents her only in the way all such choices represent us. It can be concrete, like a beautiful green rose. Yet, it can be abstract, just like an Erik Satie composition for it is a puzzle so mysterious that it is difficult to unravel.
The perfume invigorates the senses with its fresh, inviting appeal. One feels good wearing it.
We all have shadows, even at night in the dark forest. You may call yours by another name: your invisible friend. Your conscience, your soul, maybe even your complementary ego. Your shadow could have a name, like Hermann. Or your shadow could be your perfume. This is your companion. You can argue with your companion, you can challenge your companion, you can test the boundaries of your own attitudes. You can debate the finer points of existence. But you cannot lose this companion, not ever. This is your alternative self. As you move through life and contemplate its meaning, you ask unanswerable questions. When you're overwhelmed with uncertainties, look to your shadow. Maybe you'll get a response. Maybe not. But at least you'll have an interesting conversation.
The night was so black and the forest very dark. By my side, Hermann seemed to me like a shadow. Our horses were galloping. Guardians of god! The clouds in the sky looked like marble. The stars flew through the branches of the trees Like a swarm of firebirds.
I am full of regrets. Broken by suffering, Hermann's deep spirit is empty of hope. I am full of regrets. Oh my loves, sleep! Yet, while traveling through the green solitude, Hermann says to me: “I am thinking about half-opened graves. ”And I say to him:“ I think of closed tombs. ”
He looks ahead: I Iook back, Our horses gallop across the clearing; The wind brings to us from far away the sound of the angelus bell; he says: “I think of those who are afflicted by existence, Of those who are, those who live”. “Me,” I say to him, “I think of those who are no longer! ”
The fountains are singing. What do the fountains say? The oaks are murmuring. What do the oaks murmur? The bushes are whispering like old friends. Hermann says to me, “The living never doze. At this moment, some eyes cry, other eyes are awake. ”And I say to him,“ Alas! Other eyes are asleep! ”
Hermann then continue. “Misfortune, that's life. The dead no longer suffer. They are happy! I envy Their graves where grass grows, where trees shed their leaves. Because the night caresses them with soft flames; Because the sky beams peace upon all their souls In all the tombs at the same time!
And I say to him, “Be quiet! Respect the black mystery! The dead are lying in the ground under our feet. The dead, these are the hearts that once loved you This is your expired angel! This is your father and your mother! Do not dismay them through bitter irony. As in a dream, they hear our voices. ”
The water slips over him as if sliding down a marble rock, sinking into the grooves of his muscles, vanishing into his pores. This is fresh, pure water, with top notes of aldehydes and lemon, a water that washes away the sins of the night and leaves the skin luminous.
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Tom of Finland feels clean, like a shaving from a cake of soap. It is an ode to the beauty of the male body and to the radiance of the natural self.
For this man, clothing becomes a jewel-case that serves to reveal the true erotic power of the flesh. Tom of Finland is a breath of fresh air, offering unrestricted access to the immense outdoors, the depths of the forest, with notes of birch leaves, cypress, galbanum and pine at its heart. Straight, gay… These words are irrelevant here. Tom of Finland is beyond sexuality — he is sex, in all its fullness and magnitude, open and erect. Fantasy clings to him like his leather jacket, with suede, musk, and ambergray in the base notes. His belt is fastened with an accord of pepper and spicy-fresh saffron, tangled with a blond suede sensuality on a vanilla bed of tonka bean and iris. This is a man who wants to play, to love, to die and be reborn, again and again. Tom of Finland is a tribute to tomorrow’s glorious possibilities.
Sheer sensuous fantasy. The powdered top note evokes a woman who dresses for seduction — a soft trail of lipstick, the rustling of lace. The intimate ritual of a femme fatale who sees right through the fragile armor of men. Her sophistication is intriguing, as is the commerce she makes of her body. Under the bitter-sweet touch of almond, like a secret that unfolds, comes a hint of supple leather, fluid and flexible, that introduces what is to come: a boudoir, fingers that tighten on a leatherette sofa and the palpable presence of raw desire. Doesn’t every woman have the fantasy of being a temptress in a hotel bar, of yielding to desire in the intimacy of a lift or of giving way to sensuality in silk sheet luxury?