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First show of the year

Hello friends!

The start of the year is always very quiet for me. Usually, this is time when I take stock of things, plan what shows to do for the year and other administrative tasks that are essential to the business.

This year however, I had the opportunity to participate in a show organized by the wonderful folks of Pot and Box at no less than the iconic Fisher Building.

The Fisher Building which was designed in an Art Deco style was completed in 1928 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989. How could I pass up the chance to be in such a prestigious building?

I have to admit I was a bit worried because the weekend of the show was also the weekend when we were hit with another winter storm.

But storm or not, we were all there bright and early to welcome the crowd that came through those Art Deco doors.

After I finished setting up, I went for a look around and was blown away by the talent shown by the wonderful participating vendors.

Immediately, i was wowed by Project Projections, who laser cuts these beautiful shadow lamps. I loved it so much, I took home his constellation lamp!

Then there was Owen and Abbey with their simple yet beautifully crafted home furnishings and tables made from wood salvaged from abandoned homes in Detroit, Pontiac and other urban areas. Their work is proof that beauty can be found and made everywhere.

I really liked the aesthetics of Corbé

with its smooth handmade curves and a color palette designed to go with everything.

And I loved meeting Corliss from The Lowry Estate. She had funky vintage pieces at prices that won’t break the bank. Just check out the coat she had.

All in all a fantastic show!

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Shop small business

Hello friends,

Apparently today is Cyber Monday, which means it’s deals galore all over the internet. The good thing about shopping online is we are able to support a number of businesses, including those which don’t as yet have, brick and mortar stores, myself included.

But I love brick and mortar stores. Call it old fashioned but there’s nothing like walking inside a store and finding just the right thing. Bonus, if you make friends along with way with the people in the store.

With that in mind as well as the idea of

shopping from small businesses, a friend and I set out to do our version of a pop up store.

Our “store” looked out onto this view…

It’s a pretty good view don’t you think? It certainly didn’t feel like work whenever we looked out.

Shy vs Bold, my partner in this pop up is a purveyor of wonderfully distinctive clothes and accessories. It began with a desire to offer something different from what we find in stores. And now carries a host of pretty dresses, cool jackets and funky accessories. If you want to stand out, Shy vs Bold is the way to go!

Then there’s me with my one of a kind antique charms and storied beads. I will never tire of making these pieces with a little bit of me and a whole lot of history.

What a blast we all had! But the best part was seeing our friends leave supremely happy and content with their purchases. As one friend put it “ I feel like a model after this afternoon”

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Summer stackers 

Hello friends! Temperatures hit over the 90s this weekend and everyone was out enjoying the beautiful weather. And as summer is all about enjoying the outdoors, I’ve been making new pieces that are easy to wear, easy to layer and stack but still very pretty. As always these pieces are designed to slip right among those pieces you already have in your jewelry box. 

This first piece features a wonderful mid 19th century Venetian trade bead on a silver chain. I love the summery colors of teal blue, yellow and green on this bead! 


Nothing says classic more than pearls and this vintage French glass pearl is jazzed up with gold and silver decorative caps.

This necklace is perfect for adding just a touch of color to an all white outfit.


And finally, a necklace featuring a pretty early 20th century Venetian bead of sky blue and gold. 

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Some wonderful news

Hello friends! Hope your week is off to a wonderful start. Mine certainly is as I’m very happy to announce that certain De Petites Merveilles pieces are now available at the Franklin Village Boutique!!


The boutique is ideally located in the historic village of Franklin. The village has cute stores and cafes as well as a cider mill that serves the most wonderful donuts and cider in the fall. 
Terri Cooper, owner of the Village Boutique opened her store 2 years ago. She bought out the owners of the store that used to be there because she says she walked in and felt something special about the space. Immediately, she knew she wanted to open her own store there.  After extensive renovations, her store opened, stocked with the latest fashions but also with local designers and artists. 


Terri believes firmly in having a welcoming and inviting space and she has succeeded admirably in this. I walked into her store and felt like this was a great place for my jewelry.  Talking to her and watching her interact with the people who walked in reinforced this feeling.  
She says the best part of being in the store is meeting all the people coming in and sharing in their lives. “People are so interesting, there’s layers to them just waiting to be discovered” she said to me.  


I love the fact that she believes in and supports local artists. I can’t tell you how proud I am to be carried by a store that still believes in hand crafted products. More importantly, my pieces are in a store that believes in treating everyone as a friend.  That’s increasingly rare in these days of efficient online shopping.

So which Petites Merveilles pieces have found a home at the Village boutique? Here are a few pieces….




I hope you stop by and check out this wonderful store!

Some details:

Franklin Village Boutique

32716 Franklin Road

Franklin, MI

248-8510055

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A match to make your day

Hello friends, remember these earrings?


After I finished this pair I was left with two of these pink and silver foil beads. At first I thought I would make another pair of earrings but I wasn’t convinced by this idea. I want my jewelry to be unique and one of a kind so another pair just wouldn’t do.

So I put them away. Then  I remembered that somewhere in my bead box was a lonesome silver foil bead that was the only one left after I finished a necklace. Now this little orphan bead is a really pretty bead with lots of silver foiling that has remained intact over the years. Just like the pink and silver beads, this one dates back to the early 1950s. In no time, this necklace was born…


I love how these lonesome one-of beads suddenly found themselves together to make a beautiful new piece.

And look how well the necklace goes with the earrings!


The earrings are now listed in the shop and the necklace will soon be added!

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A shop update full of earrings

I’ve been on an earring kick lately. Just check out these beauties that are now listed in the shop. These are all Venetians beads dating back to the period between the 40s and early 50s. What I love about these pairs is no two beads are exactly alike. Each bead has subtle differences that make them so interesting to wear. I like to think of it as the mark of the hands that made them. 

 


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One necklace for different looks

When I make something, I always try to imagine it slipping into my jewelry box and getting along with everthing else that’s there. I also like it when the piece goes with lots of different looks. After all, we work hard, do different things so we want our jewelry to be equally versatile. That’s why I’m so happy with this new necklace.


Today’s piece is a simple enough necklace composed of multicolored crystal rondelles.  These rondelles date back to the early 40s and have clearly lived other lives. They’ve been well loved as evidenced by the missing crystals in each rondelle. When I saw these in Paris, I knew immediately that I wanted to make something with them. Yes, they aren’t perfect but I couldn’t bear to just throw them away. As it turns out, it goes with a  number of different looks. So far, I’ve come up with three looks to give you ideas on how to wear this beauty. 

If you’re feeling casual, it’s the perfect accessory to jazz up a shirt. Throw it over a tee, or in this case, a turtleneck since it’s still cold, and you’re good to go.


It’s also great for layering. I love it with another long chain over a simple black shirt.


This last look may yet be my favorite. When you want color and layers, it’s totally possible with this piece.


How would you wear this necklace? 

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Bookish adventures

One rainy misty afternoon, I finally managed to make my way down to John King books. I’d long heard about this 4 story institution devoted to books and I have long wanted to visit.

Well, it finally happened and I can tell you that it lives up to all the accolades it has earned over the years.


The bookstore was founded by Mr John King in 1971 and its original location was in Dearborn. It moved to its downtown location in 1983 when Mr King purchased the Advanced Glove factory. It later expanded to have two other locations though sadly, one of these two has recently closed.

They have an inventory of over a million titles divided among its two remaining branches thought the downtown one has a much larger inventory. It’s not far fetched to think they have a book on possibly every topic you can think of. No wonder it was once ranked no 2 of the world’s 18 Bookstores Every Book Lover Must Visit at Least Once. I’m keeping this list by the way and making it one of my goals to visit as many as I can. But I digress.


In this day and age where everything is digital and online, John King books is firmly on the old fashioned side. There is no computerized inventory except for their rare book collection. They cannot look up titles for you,  instead, they have booksellers who can direct your search for titles and then you’re on your own– to peruse the alphabetically arranged shelves and get lost in the warren of musty corridors of shelves lined with books and yet more books. When you come, don’t expect to surface for air until hours later. Actually, it’s best to simply clear your schedule of all other things.


As for my book haul, I came away with a very modest one. But this just means another trip down very soon! 

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Soaking up the sun and finding inspiration

A few days before the close of 2016, we had the pleasure of spending a few days in the sunny island of Puerto Rico. It was a welcome break from the snow and cold and a chance to soak up the sun and recharge.

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 We were greeted by blue skies and the blue green waters of the Atlantic. We could feel ourselves immediately relaxing. The island was first settled in 1509 by the Spanish led by Juan Ponce de Leon. The present site of San Juan was founded in 1510 and was  given its formal name  of Puerto Rico de San Juan Bautista in 1521.  It is the second oldest European established capital in the new world, the first being Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

The remnants of its colonial past is evident in the walls of the city and its two forts that stills stands guard over the city. In days past, the forts constituted the first line of defense against hostile powers who would storm the city and take its riches.

Nowadays, its a popular spot for those who want to take a stroll, and take in the magnificent views of the sea.

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By day, we shared the historic downtown with the numerous daytrippers from the many cruise ships that make this port, a must stop in the Caribbean. All of us were walking around holding our cameras and phones in front of us, trying to capture the vibrant colors that adorn the traditional colonial houses and buildings.

Blue, yellow, violet and pink, every hue was present and it was fun trying to capture that.

Business establishments are on the first floor while families still lived in its upper floors.

At night, once all but the few who chose to stay the night were gone, it was possible to catch glimpses of the families that still live behind the wrought iron balconies and lace covered windows.

The best surprise of the trip was discovering a strong local and thriving artistic community. Yes, there are a number of American style malls but there are also a good number of stores carrying only local artists and featuring only local and handmade crafts and goods.

Take this store which proudly refuses to carry anything other than their own handmade Panama hats…

Or this one store which carried a number of pretty bags, among other things. On the day we were there, we got to meet the artist.  Its a big family undertaking, she told us. Her mother and daughter help her make the bags and her other daughter sells them in the store.

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 Here is a small sampling of her work.

img_7989One gallery I loved featured art work  showing the wonderful old doors of San Juan.
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But my favorite discovery was a tiny shop that also housed a jewelry school.  Nothing touristy about this shop. When I stepped in, I was among residents who were having their jewels cleaned or repaired. This picture is a small sampling of the work of either professors or students of the school.  Their work features gems and stones, silver, gold, and even enamel

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 Needless to say, this was the place to find the perfect souvenir to take back home.

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An array of pretty earrings 

Sometimes you get on a streak of making one thing and the results are like this. All are available in the eshop! 


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Something pretty and sparkly


Hello friends, today I thought I’d share my first attempt to capture one of my pieces in action! The first I hope of many more videos to come.

This is a pair of gorgeous gold foil spiral shaped Venetian beads dating back to the early years of the 1900s. It’s designed to add sparkle to whatever you decide to wear! 

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A throwback Thursday in honor of World Book Day

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Hello friends, today is World Book Day and I thought I would do a related Throwback Thursday post. By now, you’ve probably guessed that I’m a little obsessed about beads.  I’m all up for bead adventures, whether its digging for beads in some small French town, or dragging the family on a 7 hour drive to see a bead exhibit.  This obsession extends to bead books.   Now there are a good number of books on beading and how-tos but the ones I’m most interested in are the ones that deal with the stories and histories of beads and those are a little harder to come by. As I got deeper into studying  beads, it became important to build up my bead library. And I got a little obsessive about  a book called Middle Eastern and Venetian Glass Beads by Augusto Panini. It is this big and gorgeous book on antique beads and had a fairly limited run.  It was of course not obtainable in any of the bookstores I called. Looking back now, I wonder why I just didn’t look for it online but I have to confess that it didn’t occur to me at that time. Luckily for me it didn’t because what I finally did was to write to the author to ask if he had any copies left to sell. And lo and behold–he wrote back to say he had one or two left and that he would be happy to sell me one. Even better was the news that he was coming to Paris for a visit so he could actually give me the book in person. That just about made my day, as you can well imagine!

I even got him to sign my book!  Needless to say, its one of my most cherished books.

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For the bead geek in me

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Usually the arrival of mail merits but a cursory attention but today I was so happy to see the postman arrive. You see, I’ve been waiting impatiently for the arrival of my complete set of Beads, the official journal of the Society of Bead Researchers. Yes, you read that right, it’s a journal about beads.
Now, beads are fascinating to different people for a number of reasons —they represent man’s impulse to create and to adorn oneself, they serve as anthropological and cultural markers of different times and places and well, because they’re pretty, just to cite some of the many reasons. Believe it or not, we learn so much about a particular society by studying their beads. For me, having these old beads is like holding a piece of tangible history in my hands. It fascinates me no end.

Anyway, the Society’s mission is to undertake and promote research on the many aspects of beads and bead making. Their journals represent the best of the research out there and it is constantly updated and enriched as more research is carried out.
I’m lucky to be able to acquire a complete set of their journals before they become out of print! I can’t wait to dive into them!

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Weekend reading

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Hello friends! What wonderful plans have you got for the weekend? Mine include diving into this series by Marissa Meyer. I love fairy tales and I’m always interested in their retelling. This series looks really promising and as its cold out, I cant imagine a better way to pass the time.

So to close the week, here are a few fun links from around the web..

More books to look forward to in this article.

Snow boots are inevitable during winter, but there are some chic yet comfy alternatives. Check them out here.

You know how you get those cravings for cupcakes or chips? Well, turns out, there’s a scientific reason behind all that!! Whew! Here is the article in full.

Have a good weekend everyone!

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Trade bead jewelry

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Trade beads are one of my most favorite beads to work with. The variety of patterns, and different colors make them interesting and different. I really think that they make for wonderful additions to one’s jewelry box and they can easily jazz up any outfit. Because they are so colorful and inevitably full of pattern, I’ve tried to make these pieces relatively simple in style. These three pieces featured here are great examples of what I mean.

The first piece (pictured above) features bright yellow trade beads with red canes running in the middle of the bead. I’ve had these yellow beads for awhile but I didn’t really know how I would style it. Then when I went to Tucson for the gem fair, I found this red bead which I realized was the exact same pattern as the canes running through the yellow beads.  The beads on this necklace date back to the late 19th century.  I didn’t want this piece to be overwhelming so I decided to go for a sautoir style necklace. I think this style makes these beads more wearable. Just layer over a plain shirt and you’re good to go.

20140513-112507.jpgThe second piece features two black eye beads from the Venetian trade and a lovely Venetian fancy trade bead. While the Venetians were master bead makers, they were greatly inspired by ancient Islamic bead makers. One pattern they took and made their own was the eye motif which was greatly prized by Africans. The eye beads were believed to be powerful protection against the evil eye. The two black eye beads featured here are the Venetians version of an ancient Islamic bead and date back to the 19th century. The yellow fancy bead on the other hand is the Venetian version of the highly prized African Bodom bead.  The Venetian versions are increasingly difficult to find and I was lucky to have found an excellent specimen.  For these beads, I decide to make a shorter necklace that’s designed to sit on the collarbone. Perfect under button down shirts!

20140505-125210.jpgAnd last but not the least is this bracelet composed of blue and yellow trade beads.  While the colors are the same, the pattern is not exactly the same.  The small football shaped beads are harder to find than the round ones and the canes used in the beads are more apparent here. Eh voila… a couple of new pieces to start the week on the right note!

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Friday fun plus links

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Its the weekend! Or almost!!  What fun things have you got planned? Going around the stores, I noticed loads of Easter decorations. I suppose its not too early to get started on those preparing those adorable Easter baskets, bunnies included. For my part, I think I’m on the right track thanks to my find from yesterday’s shopping tour which you can read about here. I found these  adorable vintage nesting eggs from Vintage Vogue and they’re perfect for an Easter Egg hunt!

So I thought I’d do a round up of interesting reads to share with you all on this rainy Friday…

Who likes Legos? If you are, check out the BrickBash

Are you a beauty products fiend? There’s a new kid on the block, thanks to the arrival on the scene of an old Parisian brand– L’Officine Universelle Buly brand…

Interestingly enough,  some folks prefer to look to Etsy for their beauty needs. If you are, then this is an interesting read from the New York Times

Still on Etsy, there’s a great post on How To Use Instagram for Marketing.   I wasn’t entirely convinced about Instagram but a friend of mine (thanks to D!) convinced me to try it and I love it! Its a wonderful way to visually share your world and its a great place to find inspiration.  And now, a useful post for all business owners. Read it here.

Hope you have fun with these articles! Have a good weekend everyone!

 

 

 

 

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On the trail of a book

 

Silver treasures from the land of sheba

One of the nice things about bead research is the way the trail leads to other interesting reads, especially on jewelry.   I’ll be reading something on beads and very often its bibliography yields a whole other list of books to read.  One of the things that struck me when I first started reading up on beads is how often they’ve been used on ethnic jewelry. And ethnic jewelry is a whole other fascinating field! So many great books on this subject.   One highly anticipated book is Silver Treasures from the Land of Sheba, Marjorie Ransom’s book on traditional Yemeni jewelry (Isn’t this a lovely title? Photo courtesy of Oxford University Press website). I’ve been waiting anxiously for its release since last year, but it seems its publication date has once again been pushed to April 2014.

So I was delighted when I came across an article she wrote in 2012 on this topic in the Saudi Aramco World website. It even features a wonderful video of a silversmith.  Reading this makes me anticipate her book even more!  Here is the article in full. Enjoy!!

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Keeping warm

It’s sub zero temperatures once again in our part of the world. I think this weekend will be all about staying warm and comfy. And what better way to while away the time than reading some good books and maybe a movie or two.

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Oh and if you like lists, here is a list of the top new books of 2014.
Wishing everyone a safe and wonderful weekend!

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Weekend reading

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Hello friends, we’ve got a long weekend ahead of us and I’m going to dive head first into this gorgeous book.  It’s pages and pages of beautifully photographed Venetian beads with a short chapter on the history of bead making in Venice. This bead loving heart of mine is happy at the prospect of such reading!

And while we’re on the subject of gorgeous books, check out this absolutely stunning new book on jewelry.

Happy Weekend everyone!!

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The Orphan Master’s Son- a book review

 

The Orphan Master's sonHello friends, I finally got around to one of the books on my summer reading and I’m pretty happy to have finished it! I should’ve maybe started with an easier read from my list but I was inspired to read The Orphan Master’s Son because this was my book club’s choice for the summer.

The Orphan Master’s Son is a pretty hefty book and definitely not a light read.  It takes on as its subject, life in the Hermit Kingdom, otherwise known as North Korea.  The narrator is Jun Do and before the book ends, we see him live different lives and play different roles.

Johnson does a great job of painting a vivid and bleak picture of what life must be like in North Korea  thanks in large part to the huge amount of research he undertook as well as a closely supervised visit to the country. But what makes this book really sing is the scope of his imagination because research alone is not enough to convey the minutiae of life and the way he wields language to show us this life.  Terrible, ugly things are depicted here but Johnson is equally adept in writing passages of delicacy and beauty.

 My favorite passage in the book is between a father and son..

There is a talk that every father has with his son in which he brings the child to understand that there are ways we must act, things we must say, but inside we are still us, we are family….He told me that there was a path set out for us. On it we had to do everything the signs commanded and heed all the announcements along the way. Even if we walked this path side by side, he said, we must act alone on the outside, while on the inside, we would be holding hands….Inside is where the son and the father will always be holding hands.”

For me this sums up beautifully what the book aims to show us about the Hermit Kingdom.

 

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Summer reading

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Long the winter may have been, summer’s going to have its way.  Its finally here along with the Summer fair with its rides and popcorn fare, the smell of barbecue grilling and the long awaited family vacation. One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to pack up a bunch of books that I’ve been wanting to read and bring them along to wherever we may end up going. Often, the books outweigh all the clothes I need but summer to me means more time to read all those books I’ve been eyeing during the rest of the year. So I thought I would share with you some of the books in my reading list…

The Orphan Master’s Son -this book has garnered a lot of critical praise and has won the  the Pulitzer Prize.  Prize aside, what intrigues me is the writer’s depiction of North Korea, one of the most closed societies of the world.  I am so curious to see the author’s depiction of this society and I would like to ask him how he this tale came into being.

The Painted Girls–set in Belle Epoque Paris, this is the story of two sisters, one of whom becomes the model became for Edgar Degas’ Little Dancer Aged Fourteen.  I love historical fiction. I love the idea of imagining the stories behind artworks and historical figures.  And sometimes its good to be immersed in another period altogether.

Detroit: An American Autopsy– I think its only fair to learn more about this notorious city with such contrasting faces. Crime ridden yet blessed with one of the country’s best art collections. I want to know more.

The Fault in our Stars— I’ve been a fan of John Green since I read Looking for Alaska  so I’m really looking forward to his newest one. It has cancer in it though so I’m preparing a box of tissues.

Paris Haute Couture– This is a comprehensive history of Parisian high fashio.  Good enough reason for me to read it!

Market Day in Provence— Provencal markets have such romantic allure. I love markets.  But this book dissects the mechanisms behind such markets and dissects its economic workings and implications.  That’s quite a different take on markets and I’m curious to see what the author has to say. Plus, its set in the beautiful town of Carpentras of which I have many fond memories of.  I can’t wait!

How about you dear friends, what’s on your summer reading list?

 

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All about Chanel No.5

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Currently ongoing in Paris at the Palais de Tokyo is an exhibit on Chanel No.5.  Such is the stature of this iconic perfume that a whole exhibit has been dedicated to it.  If, however you don’t have time to see this exhibit, there is a way of knowing more about this perfume without having to leave the comfort of your home.  Thanks to Tilar Mazzeo’s The Secret of Chanel No 5we are treated to a thoroughly researched yet engrossingly told tale of how one of the world’s most famous perfumes came into being and how its success was almost against its creator’s will.

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What’s really great about this book is its creative non-fiction style.  Mazzeo defines this as  “the art of writing truthfully and accurately about history while using the techniques of compelling storytelling.”  I love that she is able to take what could otherwise be a dry collection of facts and  turns it into a story that’s much more about a perfume. It becomes instead a tale of a strong-willed woman and the times she lived in. With this book, we visit the perfume region of Grasse and Paris, of course.  And we learn so many intriguing things too–to cite one, Chanel’s sublime indifference to marketing what ultimately became her signature perfume.  Another thing to appreciate from this book is the wealth of information in the book which speaks to the enormous research that went into it.  the book makes it clear that an enormous amount of research went into this book.

I so thoroughly enjoyed this book that when I finished it, I wanted to go and douse myself in the heady scent of Chanel No.5