Monday, March 29, 2010

Lorenzo Villoresi “Musk Oil” ****

So, I’m back from vacation—such a lovely trip. But one of the happiest parts was coming home to fragrant packages in the mail from several of you out there—I can’t wait to start sniffing! Thanks to all of you who sent me samples!

Well, as regular readers will know, I just returned from a two-week road-trip to Phoenix, Arizona. My third-favorite two words in the entire English language? Spring Training, where I just returned from with my beloved Bazr as a birthday junket.

And I can’t think about Spring Training without thinking about one of my favorite movies, baseball or otherwise, of all time, Bull Durham. A classic, a love-triangle set on the run-down fields of the triple-A circuit, Bull Durham isn’t just great because of it reveals the true heart of our American past-time, although it certainly does that. It’s not great just because it’s a fable without a fairy-tale ending—the older, wiser, deeper player, Crash Davis, played by Kevin Costner, is overlooked and eventually cut loose. It’s the hot young gun, Tim Robbins’ best role as a baby-faced six-foot-six-inch slab of idiot beef with a rocket for an arm—his nickname is “Nuke,” but Crash calls him “Meat”— who eventually makes it to The Show.

BD is a minor miracle because it is the only role I could ever stand Kevin Costner in: the older, beat up, infinitely wise, if not infinitely patient catcher and mentor to up-and-coming pitching talent. Costner’s so good at playing the battered veteran of professional sports that he reprised the role for a bunch of movies: Tin Cup, The Upside of Anger, Field of Dreams—he should really stick with what he does best and not be out there trying to be a cowboy, or growing gills, or going native, or delivering what’s left of the post-apocalypse mail, or any other damned fool thing that gets into his head.

But here he shines: Costner’s combination of exasperation, sorrow, and knowing more than just a bit about himself gives heft to a speech that arguably reveals the Meaning of Life—or, most of it, at least—most of what matters:
I’m right there with Annie—oh, my.

All that is well and swell, but I love Bull Durham above all because it is the story of Annie, the small-town substitute English teacher, who every spring descends on the fresh talent and culls from the herd the one that she identifies as having potential. She then seduces him, teaches him all he needs to learn, and then sends him on his way, having seasoned him into a man. It’s a role that Susan Sarandon was born to play: the slightly older, much, much wiser, smokin’ hot teacher lady.

(Annie gets a speech about What It All Means herself, another classic:

"I believe in the church of baseball. I've tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I've worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn't work about between us."

Really. I’m telling you—with all the classic lines in this movie, it’s the Hamlet of baseball movies.)

I love BD because it tells the story not just how men teach and train a newbie to be a sports warrior—in order to come into his own, Nuke must incorporate the feminine into himself as well. (His killer fastball is what's gotten him to the minors—what he lacks is a curve ball.) Like a young wizard trying out his new-found super powers, the budding baseball buck must learn baseball’s mysterious ways: the irrationalities, the superstitions, to learn to ride the ebbs and flows. Annie knows she has the power to anoint a young player, to turn him into a High Priest of the Diamond Altar. (And by that, I mean, she anoints him with her vajay-jay.)
Annie is a teaching witch: she dresses him in a talisman of her power (she makes him wear her garter belt under his uniform.) Sphinx-like, she pelts him with instructions he cannot comprehend (she commands him to “breathe through your eyelids, like the Lava Lizards of the Galapagos Islands” when he’s on the mound.) She knocks him off guard, gets him out of his straight-line thinking, and above all, gets him to listen to other sounds than what rattles around in his own head, to trust in other forces than his own left arm.

Crash may teach Nuke how to pitch and how to spout clichés for the media, he may teach him the rules of The Game. But Annie teaches him the ways of the world, the deeper knowledge, the big magic.

In a way, the movie is sort of Oedipus in reverse: after getting to sleep with his mommy witch and learn from his mentor/pater, Nuke moves on to his destiny, Major League baseball, leaving Annie and Crash to connect, as they have been meant to all along. It’s really a lovely story, and if you don’t know, understand, or love baseball, this movie gives you a taste of why it’s America’s secular religion.

So, you know that lovely kiss of spring when the sky is cloud-free and mild, the air is sweet, the sun is warm with just a tiny fresh breeze, and the grass is green between your toes? That’s what my second favorite two words in the English language mean to me: "Opening Day." This year it falls on April 4, when the season of sunlight and baseball begin.

How appropriate, then, to find a springalicious scent of such happy-making power: Ines of All I Am-A Redhead fame sent me a vial of the lovely EDT. I’m reviewing the oil version, which is stronger, muskier, huskier, and sexier. I found a bottle of it in Scottsdale and bought it (full story of that below.)

Not unlike Bull Durham, LVM is a love triangle—first, out of the bottle, a true rose, but she is matched and tempered, kept from getting too sweet by a handsomely restrained sandalwood. A light white musk rounds those two out, settling them into a true skin scent—small sillage, but deeply saturated—when you get your nose right up to it, it takes you all the way down. Unlike the movies, these three can settle into a soft ménage-a-trois of quiet power on my skin for hours and hours—no one has to share or pair off, no one has to choose. After a few hours, the rose wears off, and a slightly salty, sooty element comes up, like good clean sweat. If there is anything sexier in this life, I haven’t found it yet.

LVM doesn’t smell “like” the well-oiled leather of a well-loved mitt, or “like” the ash of a Louisville slugger. It doesn’t smell “like” peanuts and Cracker Jack—it’s doesn’t smell “like” freshly cut grass or warm spring air. (Wood + oiled leather + pine tar + Kettle Korn + sod= “Eau de Baseball”!) But it smells just as good—it belongs in that lineup of a few of my favorite things.

And BTW, if you’re wondering—my two favorite words in all the English language?: “Play ball!”

So I was thinking about anointment a lot while I was in Phoenix, through a series of small happy events that bring me to the Lorenzo Villoresi “Musk” oil.

The first was the sample sent by Ines, as I mentioned before. But then, by a pure random accident, The Other Nostril and I were strolling though an open air shopping center in Scottsdale, a posh suburb of Phoenix. He happened to spot an awning that read “The Perfume Shoppe.” Now, I confess to being a bit of a snob when I see perfume stores— I tend to believe first that they are filled with Body Shop/Origins merchandise-- soapy, sudsy, girly stuff. Nothing wrong with that, but that’s not what I’m going to spend the day sniffing. But as we passed by, my head snapped around—they had the full line of Amouage in the window. What-what-whaaaah!?!??!

I walked in. Serge Lutens, Keiko Mechiri, Penhaligon, Clive Christian, Montale, and on and on. They have a huge selection of true niche there. Paula, the lovely perfumista in the photo there, is quite knowledgeable—scent has been her hobby for 20 years now. She is super friendly and has a nose for the off-road, if you know what I mean.
(Full disclosure—I didn’t reveal I was a blogger until the third time I visited. The first time Bazr and I went in, sat down, and talked and spritzed and sniffed for an hour. No pressure to buy—a lovely experience. But as it turns out, they are huge Lorenzo Villoresi fans-- the owner has visited his villa in Italy and *everything*. So the second time I went back, I bought the LVM oil. It wasn’t until the third time that I revealed I was a perfume blogger, so I can report that they give lovely customer service to just about any ole’ anyone.)

So all of you that get to the Greater Phoenix area, stop on by—this is the kind of perfume shop I wish we had in every town—small, passionate, nichey, knowledgeable. They have a Vancouver, Canada branch, a website, and Paula is starting her own perfume blog. Enjoy!!


  1. Ohhhhh, sounds like you had fun. Perfume + baseball...

    BD is just jam-packed with philosophy. ("Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes it rains.") Guess how my kids learned the word "lollygaggers"?

    The CEO would so love "Eau de Baseball." Wish C Brosius would do one.

    I wouldn't have thought a musk scent would tempt me - but, you say, rose and sandalwood and not-too-dirty musk? Now I must investigate. Gotta get out of green mode first, but that day will come.

  2. It's been quite a while since I've had a good laugh before I was even through my first coffee, but "baby-faced six-foot-six-inch slab of idiot beef" did it. What a great analysis of the film!

  3. ~Howdy Mals Yes-- filled with classic lines. We use "Candlesticks make a nice gift" around the house all the time when we can't figure out what to do next. Oh, and my favorite line of all time from BD?: "We all deserve to wear white, Honey."

    Yes-- Let's email CB, shall we? If you want a taste of LVM, say the word-- I'll be happy to send you a sniff!

  4. Howdy O-- Glad I made you laugh! Ah, yes, Tim Robbins when he still had his elf appeal. He is less recognizable as anything now.

  5. Rita -- How convenient of you to mention The Perfume Shoppe has a Vancouver branch, where I'll be in a few weeks' time. Will have to stop by. (And of course it doesn't surprise me to hear that you stumbled upon the whole line of Amouage, etc., in posh Scottsdale!) Sounds very, very pleasant, esp. knowing you probably had fab weather while here in northern Europe the weather motto is STILL "shades of gray".
    Lucky you!
    * Thanks for your comment on my glasses, by the way; so sweet of you.
    * And re Villoresi: Love his "Incensi", though maybe more as a candle or room fragrance than anything on my skin. But very nice. Smells like the churches in Florence.
    Have a great weekend!!

  6. Hi there, Michael!! Yes-- wonderful to see the sun for a few weeks-- came home and it's STILL raining here!!

    Say hello to Vancouver for me-- such a beautiful city...

    I tried "Incensi" at The Perfume Shoppe-- the owner said that when he visited LV's villa, when he opened the door, the whole house smelled like it. And I can see the appeal as a scent-- but not on my skin-- just as you say.

  7. Get out of town. Baseball AND perfume? It's a darn good thing I didn't know. I was just in Phoenix...and Scottsdale...and here I was, thinking I was on a perfume sabbatical. Little did I know I could have caught both up close and personal..., it's good I didn't know. Really. I'm GLAD I didn't catch your post until I returned. Mmmm hmmm. I think. NO, I am sure. Yes. (Small think I probably walked within a block...nope. I enjoyed the break.) Moving on...

    Bull Durham. Hadn't thought about it in a while...but I sure do remember Annie's speech. Crash has a good round of speechifying himself, but that one got more attention at the time. Entendre and all. You're right, though...the baseball is for realz in many ways. Someday I'll make a doubleheader, erm, double feature of Bull Durham and Slapshot for my kids. When both are taller than me.

    Those LV scents. I am struggling with the ones I have. I think I'll write more about it later...but suffice to say, I find a strong undertone of aromatherapy in them. Mind you, I am a fan of aromatherapy. But constructing a perfume is different from concocting a potion. For me, at least. I notice that Villoresi scents are almost unanimously appreciated by European commenters...a thing that makes me go hmmm. Have not tried the musk oil, though.

    Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm.

    :) See? You've got me thinking and yammering all over the joint.

  8. ~Howdy Scentself!! Slapshot? Hmmmm...not a hockey fan-- didn't see it. But it's worth a watch? Sorry to have missed you in the desert-- it would have been fun to catch a sniff with you!

    The only other LV I tried was the "Insensi"-- I've read somewhere that the musk is the most "accessible" of the LV's. So now I have "aromatherapy" on the one hand and "inaccessible" on the other to describe everything other than "Musk." I remain A) confused and ill-informed and B) madly in love with "Musk." Send me your addy and I'll shoot you some. (leftcoastnose at gmail dot com.)

  9. Yes, i know this post is OLD, but i am praying that you check back occasionally and see if any long-lost perfumistas have left you any new notes!
    i have just recently fallen deeply in lust with Villoresi's Musk and have only smelled/experienced it in EDT form. You are the only person on the entire internet who has said anything about the oil version. I am dying to buy a bottle of the oil and hope that you will reiterate whether or not it is: stronger, longer-lasting, deeper, etc. than the EDT. I love the EDT, but have a feeling I would fall even harder for the perfume oil.
    ANYTHING that you could tell me about it would be so deeply appreciated!!

  10. Hi there, Val!! I do (every month or so) check back to see what LCN is doing-- thank you so much for leaving a comment!!
    Ok. Here's what I have to say about the oil version: Heaven itself.

    Like you, I had only tried the EDT-- it was a sample sent to me by Ines at All I Am-A Redhead. But once I wrapped my nostrils around the oil version..... I was utterly hooked. Richer, yet somehow softer, more immediate. Closer to the skin....

    It does seem to be impossibly rare-- I've never once seen a bottle come up on EBay. The Perfume Shoppe in Scottsdale AZ does still carry it, according to their website ($170 for 50 ml.) And the last time I was there, they told me that Brad Pitt wears it. (!!!!!) Now that he's the pitchman for Chanel #5, maybe that's changed, I don't know.... :-)

    Anyway-- if they will send you a sample, by all means-- get your mitts on some. If you can't, email me, and I'll send you a taste. It remains, to me, the simplest, yet most satisfying skin scent on earth.