Today´s theme is: What I Was Not Expecting.
Some of you must be familiar with the St. John clothing line, of the expensive knit suits and other pricey wear. The Big Cheese´s mother liked St. John, and I wound up with a couple of lovely things. For years the line was modeled in ads by a woman, Kelly Gray, who I´m pretty sure is the daughter of Marie Gray, the woman behind the company. Kelly was not (IMO) model-fabulous looking but in her own slick, tanned, bleach-blond way fit the image – and does any one else remember those fabulously wacky ads? I found one, which I dropped in here to the left. They were always the same: Kelly surrounded by half-naked hot guys in some exotic locale. I never quite got the message (come here, pool boys, and service me?) but they were fun to look at.
Anyway, now they´ve got Angelina Jolie up top there on the job, Kelly presumably having aged out, and – let´s face it – Angie adds something to the line. Angelina Jolie could, of course, make a feed sack look alluring, but I think she´s gorgeous, and the other thing I love about her modeling is – hey – she´s a grown woman. A woman with an impossibly, freakishly gorgeous face and killer bod, but a fully grown woman with hips and lips and boobs and more gravitas in her look than most of the very young girls modeling these days. Maybe having her as their model was an attempt to garner some new, possibly younger interest, although it didn´t seem to me that anything much changed about the clothes themselves. (In addition to the Kelly Gray ad here is a photo of a St John suit and some pictures of Angie, so you all can see what I´m babbling about if you don’t know.)
My St. John blazer looks a lot like my Adolfo knit blazer – reminiscent of Nancy Reagan and lunch at the club, although I like to wear it with jeans. What are you expecting, perfume-wise, from a company with those clothes? I was expecting something vaguely Chanel-ish – something between Cristalle and 22, maybe. Something a little sour and a little sweet and reasonably grown up. Alternately, it might smell even more tightly wound – like 24, Faubourg, or Judith Leiber – fragrances that smell of rich women and which convey, essentially: Talk To The Hand.
Instead, what I got is a sweet confection that smells distinctly (disturbingly?) similar to a hybrid of By Kilian´s marshmallow number and that ridiculous Oscar Fresh Vanilla thing I blogged on not too long ago, only without the fun toasted bits. You could throw a little jasmine in there too. I can´t find any notes at all, but it is I think some sort of idealized white flower. Or breakfast cereal. Cashmere Froot Loops? Dubble Bubble gum and tennis? Diva insists it smells like bubble gum and says she can´t decide if she loves it or hates it, if that helps at all. I don´t know whether this is a reissue of their (discontinued?) gardenia scent I found while looking for notes online; I guess it could be. But it smells more modern – less Liz Taylor, more Liz Tyler. It smells very 2008 in that gourmet marshmallow latte way that I’m thinking is going to smell dated a few years from now.
I´m kind of fascinated by St. John the fragrance. It´s not bad; if I smelled it Sephora, and they had a mini, I might buy it. It´s a mindless, throw-it-on gourmand little thing, decent lasting power, relatively close to the skin. Spray it all over at your peril, but really – on my wrist? Kind of cheerful. But it just seems so … wrong. It doesn´t smell like money. It doesn´t smell sexy, and Angie looks to me like she’s selling both. It doesn´t smell “old lady” but it doesn´t smell particularly young either. Finally, it doesn´t smell finished. If you´re a St. John customer, then by God you want a finished product – probably adorned with some really nice buttons and maybe even some interesting braid, and I don´t mean that in a snotty way. Even their looser clothes feel tailored to me – less flirty than Escada, but very done. Polished. Blown dry, waxed and buffed. This thing feels like the start of an interesting idea, not the stuff you put in a bottle. But what do I know? Maybe it will sell like hotcakes to women who want a piece of the legend but can´t afford the clothes.