Tuesday, 30 April 2019

A Twilight zone Tom Ford encounter, meeting the Undinas, extreme burritos, and pancake urges: Part Two

I don't know about you, but I find shoe shopping quite a fraught business. However, undeterred by my usual trepidation, I have just ordered a pair of grey lace up plimsolls online. Or sneakers, as American friends might term them. Or gym shoes - or gutties, indeed - as comes more naturally to me. Pumps, if you will. It took me over an hour to find 'the ones', though that was a vast improvement on the seven hours I spent researching microwaves recently. There are of course so many factors to consider:

  • Price - £5.99 is worryingly cheap, while over £30 is pushing it
  • Customer reviews on quality and fit
  • Not having excessive lettering or logos
  • Not having gratuitous colour accents that hamper outfit coordination
  • Minimal white soles and toes - some of them look like a hovercraft
  • Returns policy
  • The website not making reference to 'millennials'

So this is the pair I have bought, for £25 including postage. Toes crossed!

I mention this purchase partly because as you know I have a habit of blogging about whatever happens to be uppermost on my mind at the time of sitting down to write a post(!), but also because there is a genuine link to the next part of my US tour post. In the end I decided to split it into three, so this is the perfume part. No, really it is!

A Twilight Zone Tom Ford encounter

For at the New York gig - held in Lower East Side's historic Bowery Ballroom - I hooked up with friend and fellow fan Brian, who is based in the Mid-West and had flown over specially, and his wife's cousin Peter, who lives in the city. Brian was keen for me to meet his cousin-in-law, for while his main business is an understated brand of Italian-made 'luxe sneakers' - he really does just say 'I make shoes' if you ask him what he does - Peter has been a creative and artistic director in various guises down the years. And one of his projects was coming up with the packaging design for the entire Tom Ford perfume line. (That's boxes and bottles.) This left field nugget of information knocked me properly for six, having owned examples of both the standard ribbed bottles and the tall rectangular version of the Private Blends collection. Peter readily admitted that it was just another brief for him, and that he doesn't have the same visceral connection to fragrance that we fumeheads have. Which makes it all the more of an achievement to have come up with such elegant and aesthetically pleasing designs. And in the case of the ribbed bottle, a haptically pleasing one to boot. (I promise I wasn't trying to shoehorn in a footwear pun there!)

Brian, Gerry and Peter

Anyway, Brian and Peter came out with us to dinner - stood us dinner, no less!, which was very kind - and then we all headed back to the venue. The gig went down a storm and garnered some very good reviews afterwards. I was chuffed to see my own handwritten set list feature in one of them. It even gets a mention in the title!


Source: P Squared 

After the show I got into conversation with some other fans, including Diane, whom I instantly recognised from the gig a couple of days previously in Philadelphia. I had clocked her there as a person who looked nice, and broadly my age, but never managed to have a word on that occasion. However, on seeing her again I didn't let the opportunity slip by, and soon we were chatting away at breakneck speed about all sorts of things. The speed being due to the fact that Diane had to catch the last train back to Philly shortly. And as we stood together, I noticed how good she smelt, and asked her what perfume she was wearing. "It's Tom Ford", she replied. Whoah, I thought. It is going to be one of those nights...! D wasn't too sure which, except that it had Vanille in the name. I think it may well have been Vanille Fatale, but will check. It has to be either that or Tobacco Vanille, but I think the word Vanille came first, which would point to the former.

Source: Fragrantica

Top notes: saffron, coriander, myrrh, olibanum
Heart notes: coffee, narcissus, frangipani
Basenotes: vanilla, mahogany, suede

Source: mixedgems.co.uk

Mixedgems closes her review with the observation: "This will be for you if you like to feel a ‘good enough to eat’ scrumptiousness when you catch an air of your fragrance." And having sniffed Diane I can but agree. As we were talking, we were joined by Bid, the singer, and at my suggestion he also leant in and had a sniff of my new fumhead/fan friend, whom he also pronounced to be very fragrant. While she had a reciprocal sniff of his chest, or what was visible of it, though I am not sure he even knew what he was wearing. The scene was all rather primal, indeed we were not unlike a trio of sniffer dogs - not to preempt a theme of Part Three, mind...;)

Meeting the Undinas

So that gig was on the Monday night, and by Friday we had made it to San Francisco, via Seattle, Portland and Redding. After the sound check, during which I diligently crafted my latest version of the set list (still without mistakes at this point!), the band headed off to one restaurant, Steve, our driver, peeled off to another to meet friends, while I hotfooted it to another eaterie again (all three in the vicinity of the venue) to meet Undina and her vSO. It was called Corridor, and we sat upstairs - that is our table for four - though we were of course three - in the far corner below the long mirror.

Source: Yelp

I had exactly two hours with Undina and her husband, which simply flew by. Having been in this exhausting but highly entertaining 'band on tour bubble' for the past ten days, where our whole routine is dictated by 'get ins' at gigs and radio stations, check ins at airports, and pick up times by vans and occasionally cabs, it took me a little while to adjust to being in the company of friends from a different sphere, though I have met Undina and her husband twice before, in Paris and London. And here I was on their home turf. It was all a bit discombobulating, but as lovely as ever to see the two of them. They kindly treated me to dinner too, and Undina gave me a zipped up cosmetics case full of samples, through which I am still steadily working my way, some six weeks on. Undina knows my taste very well, and the strike rate of success with this selection is pretty high, Maybe I could do a bunch of 'tiny unreviews of unprecedented vacuousness', as I keep promising Portia I will some day. Not that the perfumes don't deserve a better standard of review, it is just that I have such trouble describing what I smell. Shortly after 10pm, the Undinas hurried back to their parking garage, as their ticket was about to expire, while I plunged back into the murky gloom of the venue and snapped back into tour mode, marvelling that that brief encounter with a favourite fumehead friend and her vSO had really happened...

The rather pink green room at Rickshaw Stop, SF

UPDATE: Have checked with Diane, and it was indeed Vanille Fatale she wore to such great effect!


Tara said...

2 hours with the Undinas is not nearly enough! Great that you got to see them at all though. I'm hoping they'll be back in London at some point.

It always tickles me that American's call high heels, pumps. When I recently went on an impulsive/compulsive, mood related spending spree I ordered £110 leopard print trainers I saw on Instagram. They are arriving today. Yikes.

Meeting a guy who'd designed the whole TF perfume line (in a non-perfume related setting indeed) would have knocked me for six too. I daresay he could run to treating you all to dinner but it was very nice of him and his cousin all the same.

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

It was a short reunion, yes. The Undinas did invite me to stay over at theirs and/or meet up the following day for breakfast, but it was such a late gig that that would have been tricky logistically.

I didn't know the Americans call high heels pumps? I thought it was a term for flat shoes, and how interesting. Your new 'statement' trainers will cut a dash!

It was indeed a kind gesture to treat us to dinner, and was much appreciated. It may have been Brian actually who footed the bill, or the two of them jointly - it all happened so fast!

Anonymous said...

I think they look like very nice plimsolls.

It is lovely for me to read that someone else shares my views exactly on purchasing shoes and other items. I sometimes feel that I spend far too long investigating everything on line before I eventually make up my mind - I have to read every review there is, and end up getting more and more undecided. However, in desperation recently I bought some black pumps on eBay without any research and they've turned out to be perfect!

How jealous I am of your meeting with the Undinas!

Like the signpost with your name featured on it.


Vanessa said...

Hi Jillie,

So pleased to meet another research- and agonising-prone shopper. I do think option anxiety is a real issue these days, with so much information on the Net. And even when I find reviews, I then have to decide how much weight to give them.

I might be in the market for black plimsolls myself too. Though you may have meant something more balletic?

Tatiana said...

I wish I had known you were going to be in SF. I would have loved to meet you, if ever so briefly. Pretty sure Undina (whom I've never met in person) lives one train stop closer to SF than I do.
I must really be out of the perfume sphere as I was unaware there was another TF scent based on Vanille.
Unlike you, I love shopping for shoes. I'd rather do it in person so I know how they fit. Zappos and Nordstrom as backups as they have free returns. I always thought a pump was a slip on shoe that was not a flat. If it has straps or buckles or ties it is called something else. Unless it has no back then it's a slide or a mule. Ack, too many styles of shoes.

Anonymous said...

Hah! Balletic for me?! I think not. I suppose my new shoes are a bit like the pumps of my youth, ie very low front and indeed a little similar to ballerina's pumps, but these have a slight, wedgey heel which gives me height and is more comfortable than a flat.

Option anxiety is a really good description of my inability to make a decision because there is too much choice and I don't want to make the wrong one.


Vanessa said...

Aha, a 'ballet court shoe' - I know exactly the type. Completely flat shoes are not great for one's feet I don't think. Not enough support or something.

I am that soldier, not wanting to make a wrong choice. And goodness knows I still manage to do so, despite my hours of research!

Vanessa said...

Hi Tatiana,

Ah, I didn't realise you were in SF! I am aware that there are perfumistas up the entire Pacific Coast, but my memory as to who is where exactly is shaky. There are some in the Portland area, I do know that, as well as the perfumer Shelley Waddington, but I didn't manage to hook up with any other known fumeheads apart from Undina, and that had to be something of a military operation on account of the gig schedule. Had the gig been on earlier, the Undinas said they might have come along out of curiosity, but it was horribly late that night, and they had had a hard working week, so dinner seemed the best plan.

Thanks for the lowdown on American shoe terminology. ;) I am clearer on pumps too, and it seems that what Jillie above reports having bought fits that description. I do much prefer trying shoes on in person, and even then I can get it wrong sometimes, as with my last pair of walking shoes. I used to do well in T K Maxx, but their offering is very disappointing these days. And the option to return shoes if bought online is definitely key, I agree!