I have to admit, lately I´ve been feeling a little like Goldilocks, since I´ve been looking for “just right” and it seems to be eluding me at every turn. Rhubarb with too much patchouli, woods where there are none, and now I´ve fallen down the rabbit hole of celebrity. Wait – rabbit hole? That´s Alice in Wonderland. I am not well…
How many of you remember Helena Rubinstein? The brand hasn´t had a presence here in North America for a number of years, but it did attempt a splashy comeback about a decade ago. First, it was reintroduced in Canada at Eaton´s, before what´s left of the Eaton family let the venerable department store die on the vine and be bought out by Sears. Then, a day spa opened in New York City´s Soho neighbourhood, and was featured in a third season episode of “Sex and the City”. It was the one where Samantha caused a scandal because she wasn´t sufficiently “serviced” by one of the male massage therapists. Now, Helena Rubinstein is back in North America with a fragrance, Wanted. It is being fronted by Demi Moore and billed as, “A vibrant woody floral filled with sensual and carnal tension”. Lately, the only thing filled with sensual and carnal tension for me is an extra large Tim Horton´s double-double. Um, that´s a coffee, light and sweet.
My mother used Helena Rubinstein cosmetics back in the days when they were available at Alexander´s department store, sold in blister packaging like Maybelline and Cover Girl. She adored Helena Rubinstein mascara, buying at least two at a time. My mother didn´t have many eyelashes to speak of, but for what few she had, that magic mascara made the most of them. In those days I was too young to wear Helena Rubinstein anything, but when the brand hit the shelves again in the late 90s, I went hog wild. The colour cosmetics were a little too bold for my liking, but the skin care products and their Vertiginous mascara were must-haves for me. Back then, my favourite items to smuggle from Toronto to New York were from Helena Rubinstein and Lush. Now, Lush is ubiquitous, and the only place in North America you can find Helena Rubinstein is in Mexico. The times, they do change.
When I saw the picture of Wanted by Helena Rubinstein in the Shoppers Drug Mart flyer, I thought the whole line was being reintroduced here in Canada. Alas, only the fragrance, exclusively at Shoppers Drug Mart for now (it’s at Macy’s in the US). The tie-in with Demi Moore is a bit misleading since it is not her scent exactly, but “interpreted” by her. I´m guessing that since there aren´t many people here in Canada and the US for whom the name “Helena Rubinstein” rings a bell, they needed a boost from a more familiar entity. Especially if that entity is what´s known as a “cougar”, possessed of a body that is pretty well unattainable for us mere mortals in her age range, and a hot husband 15 years her junior. I guess that takes care of the “sensual and carnal tension”. The fragrance itself is as I said: not quite right. Not much is known about the actual juice with the exception of who concocted it – Dominique Ropion and Carlos Benaà¯m, and the notes: ylang ylang, wood magnolia and iris cream. There has to be more to it, but I´m not sure what. To my nose, it smells like one of those country club scents you smell on women of a certain age, dripping diamonds, carrying their Birkin bags and lunching on the stray lettuce leaf and celery stalk. I don´t know how else to describe it. It doesn´t have a vintage feel, nor is it carnal or sensual. I get more of a “which doesn´t belong and why?” vibe from it, because the iris cream clearly has no business in this scent. The earthiness of the iris is so wrong here, all the way through to the drydown. Iris cream succeeds in one scent: Guerlain´s Iris Ganache. Other than that, it does not translate. It is either iris, or it is not. Again, if we´re going to use the words “sensual” and “carnal” and Dominique Ropion in the same sentence, there can only be one scent we´re talking about: Carnal Flower. It begins and ends with that one.
At the bottom of my rabbit hole is Jennifer Lopez´s recent release, My Glow. And here´s the shocking part: I like it. And I almost bought a bottle of it. Why? Because when the mistress of your domain is policing every morsel of food you eat and threatening you with the implementation of a raw food diet, you need comfort wherever you can find it. When you open up the fridge and spy a mason jar filled with what looks like puréed front lawn, you want to crawl under the bed and hide until you wake up in a home you can call your own. Hey, I knew what I was getting into; I´m just blowing off some steam. But, the right scent does help lower my stress level. My Glow consists of lavender, water lily, freesia, white rose, wet leaves, peony, Casablanca lily, skin musk, sandalwood, precious woods and heliotrope. All together, this makes lavender soap. But not soap as in “soap and water”. Soap, as in, “Please stop murdering onions in the kitchen. I can´t take it anymore!” If you live in southern Ontario and you´re having trouble locating an onion, drop me a line; they´re all here. One snort of My Glow helps me keep the onions at bay; that´s because I don´t currently have a hazmat suit and a gas mask. I´m thinking that´s as good a reason to buy a bottle as any I can think of.
For more insight into my wonderful aunt and her food proclivities, please surf here. She´s a nutbar, but I love her very much.
Take another stroll down memory lane with me: If you do remember the Helena Rubinstein brand as I do, tell your story. Or, if you live in one of the countries where the line is still sold, what do you think of it now?