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March 25, 2014

Southern Belles

From Gone with the Wind to Debutante Balls, a Cross-Generational Look at Beauty in the Deep South

A little under 75 years ago, David O. Selznick’s adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind delivered Scarlett O’Hara in all her Technicolor glory, imprinting forever the notion of the Southern belle: the feisty beauty with a honey-laden accent, done-up in yards of antebellum dress, on the hunt for a husband. By exploring Scarlett’s proverbial stomping grounds in and around Atlanta, Georgia, Tim Richmond and James Nutt’s documentary short Southern Belles discovers that, while the plantation no longer remains, the front porches, hospitality, grace, and etiquette persevere.

Often beneath the genteel exterior lies a strong, refined woman to be reckoned with—but presentation is still paramount. Stepping out in loungewear sans makeup or anything deemed less than respectable is a definite no-no. Equally important is their renowned, friendly hospitality. Southern ladies are exceptionally welcoming and adore entertaining. This is where the warm climate plays its part. Pleasant spring times and forgiving falls. When people are comfortable going in-and-out of doors, serving sweet tea, hosting evening garden or pool parties and the like. But on the flipside, regardless of age, many Southern women agree that one should be weary of artificiality, particularly when the mannerisms are overdone.

Today’s belles are inevitably more independent, liberated and better-educated than their predecessors. The life goal of solely seeking out an MRS degree is, slowly but surely, fading. “Long ago we were taught that we could either teach school if we wanted a career, or be a nurse or perhaps a secretary for some big shot,” notes Louly, one of the narrators from today’s short. “Things have certainly changed but the core values of the Southern belle, such as strength and graciousness, still exist.” —Lee C. Wallick

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Chandler Burr’s Perfume Banquet

The Scent Savant Collaborates with Chef Massimo Riccioli On a Sensory Feast

Trailblazing perfume expert Chandler Burr meets Massimo Riccioli, chef patron at his namesake restaurant within London's Corinthia hotel, to mastermind a menu of gastronomic and olfactory delights inspired by the heady notes in Clinique's classic fragrance, Aromatics Elixir. The New York Times scent critic, acclaimed author and founder of the first museum space dedicated to olfactory art, Burr has become renowned for the interactive ‘Scent Dinners’ he hosts with leading chefs from around the world. Carefully selecting individual ingredients from those used in Aromatics Elixir, Burr and Riccioli's team devised a seven-course menu to complement the fragrant notes that guests would smell between courses. The connoisseurs married the musky smell of ambrette seed with the grainy flavors of a whiskey-infused seafood course, while the combination of maté, myrrh and lavender inspired a dish flavored with smoked tea, Szechuan peppers, tamarind, dates and cognac. The subsequent dinner marked the 40th anniversary of Clinique’s bestseller, a polarizing perfume that Burr says he couldn’t stand until a moment in a New York subway when a woman breezed past him wearing it: “I couldn’t place it, I had to chase after her and ask what she was wearing." Here Burr and Riccioli share their perfectly devised pairings.

Bread course
Absolute of bran, rose absolute and rose molecular distillation
Paired with
Chamomile bread and raw dough

Amouse bouche
Citral and rose oxide
Paired with
Crab salad with lemongrass and fennel sauce, oyster leaves and finger lime

First starter
Vanilla Bourbon absolute and ambrette seed absolute
Paired with
Raw scallop with persimmon and seared scallop with capers, anchovies, and whiskey

Second starter
Oak moss (natural & synthetic mix) and iris concrete
Paired with
Sautéed rabbit with cabernet reduction, carrots, apricot and ginger cream

Pasta course
Ionone alpha, ciste labdanum and aldehyde
Paired with
Small rigatoni with aldehyde sauce, carrots, celeriac, mandarin zest and juice, raw rhubarb, coriander, mint, estragon

Main course
Maté, myrrh and lavender essence
Paired with
Beef seared in smoked tea, with beef in sauce of Szechuan peppers, tamarind, dates and cognac

Ylang, tonka and geranium
Paired with
Pastiera tart with passion fruit, mint and peppermint liquor, rambutan, raw rhubarb, mint and gewürztraminer reduction and parsnip and almond sorbet

Petits fours
Paired with
Swiss cookies with clove dust

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Aesop: Aesthetic Science

The Fabled Australian Beauty Brand Opens the Doors of its Research Studios

In celebration of its 25th anniversary this year, Melbourne-based science-beauty brand Aesop invited photographer Rene Vaile to document the laboratories where its team of specialists analyse each extract, vitamin and nutrient that goes into the holistic range. Founded by Dennis Paphitis in 1987 as an alternative to the chemical-filled cosmetic goods of the time, the brand focuses solely on using ingredients that benefit the body, including green tea, geranium leaf and mandarin. "A good product needs to begin from a sincere and authentic perspective," explains Paphitis of the company’s ethos. "It must be designed with integrity and a sense of timelessness." Taking sustainable living as a basic mantra, Aesop is also known for its sensitively placed and design-strong outlets across the world, such as the Grand Central Terminal booth opened last year and built out of 1,000 copies of The New York Times. Here Senior Chemist Rebecca Watkinson talks to us about the processes involved in developing Aesop’s celebrated products and the best way to take care of your skin.

How do you come across new ingredients to experiment with?
We are continually researching and exploring new ingredients, and often look to other industries for inspiration, particularly the food industry. The most recent example of this would be blackcurrant seed oil, which we use in our Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Facial Treatment. Blackcurrants have long been known as a “super-food” for their anti-oxidant properties and essential fatty acid content. We saw that this could be an interesting topical ingredient.

How long does it take to perfect a new product?
It typically takes 18 months to two years to fully realize a product, with much collaborative effort and many iterations between concept, development, testing, manufacture and launch. Sage and Zinc Facial Hydrating Cream was ten years in the making, and not without its challenges, but was certainly worth the wait. 

Everyone’s skin is different. How do you define and test health and beauty?
We endeavour to make our products as applicable and relevant to as many skin types as possible. Our philosophy of skin care is based on scientific evidence that what most skin types require is to be cleansed, moisturized and protected. We counsel our clients to take care of their skin by using the highest quality skin care products and sun cream, drinking pure water, eating fresh food and getting as much sleep as possible.

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