Beauty royalty
WRY BREAD - Philip Cu-Unjieng () - November 7, 2010 - 12:00am

Held in high esteem in the perfume industry, Guerlain is one of the oldest perfume houses in the world. While no longer managed by the family — as it was from its inception in 1828, until the fourth generation’s reign ended in 2002, and acquired by the LVMH Group in 1994 — the House of Guerlain remains a bastion of all that is regal and aspirational in the industry, influencing trends in fragrances with such creations as Jicky, Shalimar and Vetiver. While the House now produces a range of makeup and skincare products, it remains one of the few older houses that exist solely to produce perfumes and fragrances. Many brands in the industry are in fact divisions of fashion houses (e.g., Chanel), or multi-national conglomerates that license the names of the fragrances they produce.

And you may well ask why I’m writing about makeup and ladies’ fragrances; but just the other day when at a fashion shoot for one of our glossies at ABS, I had the makeup artists raving about the Ecrin Champs Elysees’ six shades of eyeshadow that range from iridescent, to matte and satin. They were gushing how one could achieve looks of nude, to couture and smoky with just this one palette. The two-sided brush, grille-like cover and mirror are bonuses for any lady. So hey, if there’s a woman in your life, and you want to spoil her, it would be a Guerlain product that may be the answer. The iconic Shalimar fragrance is bergamot, jasmine, rose and vanilla in a heady mixture that has become a classic. Personally, I prefer the lighter, airy scents — such as the Insolence, L’Instant and Aqua Allergoria series. And who knows, one good turn deserves another, and she may gift you with Guerlain’s Men’s fragrances; Vetiver and Guerlain Homme being my top choices.

When you’re talking about a House that in 1853 earned the prestigious title of being His Majesty’s Official Perfumer, and had founder Pierre-Francois Pascal Guerlain producing scents for Queen Victoria of England and Queen Isabella II of Spain, you can be assured here is a House that knows quality, tradition and pride in equal doses, and defines the term “classic.”

Death warmed up

Books that go bump in the night.

With these three novels, notions such as murder most foul, hands that reach for us beyond the grave and dysfunctional vampire families take center stage. Whether played with a straight face or with tongue-in-cheek hilarity, these novels make for great reads!

Villain by Shuichi Yoshida (available at Fully Booked): This celebrated novel from Japan takes a real-life incident from a few years back — that of a young woman found strangled on a deserted highway — and weaves a compelling story that pulsates with the alienation, loneliness and despair that’s to be found in modern Japan. One part police procedural as we follow the detectives assigned to the case and watch as they “hunt” for the killer, the novel is also a sharp-edged commentary on on-line dating, love motels and the social pressures the 20-somethings of today’s Japan live by. It’s in the reconstruction of events, and how he fleshes out the players of the real-life drama that Yushida excels.

The Whisperers by John Connolly (available at National Bookstore): Set in Maine, which traditionally would be referred to as Stephen King country, John Connolly makes a strong case as a talented Maine “squatter” with this fast-paced novel that mixes the real world with the paranormal and supernatural. A group of veterans from Desert Storm and the occupation of Iraq have begun dropping like flies under dubious circumstances. The psychologically fractured PI Charlie Parker enters the scene; and with skillful plotting we’re whisked into a tale of antiquities with potent power, vets who have turned rogue and criminal, and characters that seem to rise from nowhere and possess strange powers. Disturbing, eminently readable and relatively fast paced!

The Radleys by Matt Haig (available at Fully Booked): The Radleys live in suburban England, in a small village where nothing seems to happen. Parents Peter and Helen, with children Clara and Rowan, their family is in denial about one inescapable fact, they’re vampires! Perpetually putting sunblock, always walking on the shady side of the street, scaring away the pet dogs of their neighbors; normalcy is what the Radleys are after. Hopeful thinking, because when Clara is accosted by a campus jock in a deserted cowfield, all hell breaks loose when Clara protects herself by turning the jock into messy road kill. The skill exhibited by Haig is centered on how humor is the driving force, even when the situations hold horror or require a strong stomach. Hugely entertaining!

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