Reviews by LANIER

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    LANIER
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    Versace l'Homme by Versace

    This city is old, very old, la città vecchia. It was first settled by the Greeks, Neapolis, the new city has stood in splendid defiance of the fires of Hades for thousands of years. Fires which could sweep it away in a roaring flash. Vesuvius glowers green and gorgeous as it rises nearly out of the heart of this city. The walls of the houses of Naples are ancient and burnished with the patina of history and war. It looks old and at times dirty but it is proud and enduring. And at night this city is the very heart of Italian amore! Una notte a Napoli says it all.

    One night in Naples
    With the moon and the sea
    I met an angel
    He could no longer fly
    One night in Naples
    Of the stars he forgot
    And even without wings
    Took me to heaven

    And the men of Naples are indeed angelic, they have what all Italians possess, style with a capital “S”. Only in Naples it is more so. With death the ever present mistress of these men, the men of Naples tread beneath the killer of Pompeii and carry themselves like kings. They dress with an elegant élan and walk like indolent big cats as the leave the ancient houses to take a passagata in the evening. Even the poorest men of the city dress well. It must be in the blood to always look so great. There is no fashion runway like it in the world as they stroll with their ladies though the streets of the city. Not even Versace can do these Neapolitans one better. The only thing I can think of when I wear Versace L’Homme is of these incredible men of Naples.

    Versace L’Homme might have been created with men such as these in mind when it was launched in 1986. This was the height of the power fragrance for men, bombs of scent that demanded attention. If too many opposing power bombs met up in a club there could be blood. What stands out about this predominantly leather fragrance is how restrained it is in its opening of lemon, petite grain, basil and Italian pimento. In this 80’s age of gold chained hairy chested panache Versace L’Homme comes in easy and with great style. This gives the fragrance timelessness to me. This is Versace before Donatella took us all to the gladiatorial arena. This is not for the moment, for boys who like the flash and drama of a passing fad. This is a well made Italian suit for a man of substance and taste.

    The center of this fragrance develops with roses in a patchouli patch sprinkled with cinnamon and cedar shavings and infused with sandlewood. The effect is Pepper! The leather comes up from behind and wraps you in a well made and comfortable jacket. The leather was rubbed with labdanum, and Tonka oil. In the breast pocket you will find a bit of smoky Oakmoss and a few vanilla beans.

    The passagata of Versace L’Homme lasts around five to seven hours and like its louder friends at the club it has very good silage. But this one will not grab you by the silk tie and shake you for attention. This sly sexy guy enters the room with true and impressive grace that beckons the senses with true Italian style, much like l'uomo da Napoli/

    FIVE GOLD STARS *****

    08 December, 2012

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    Mitzah by Christian Dior

    Deep in the most ancient part of Istanbul, a honey yellow Turkish crescent moon of midnight creeps over the walls of the Topkapi palace. Summer dreams on the Bosporus are heady with the heavy exotic fragrances of the Grand Bazaar that linger in the serpentine streets as they waft toward the incense filled gardens on the edge of the city. In such gardens on just such a night as this lovers have met ever since scandalous Theadora danced before the infatuated Emperor Justinian at the dawn of Byzantium.

    Rare and sensuous this night is filled with promise and sweet delights of desire tinged with danger. Women of ripe beauty peek in the moon glow from behind screens of carved ebony. They whisper to one another that the night is never long enough when He is near and always unending and eternal when he is not. That is the song of longing, of loves promise never fulfilled. Desire and dust wrapped in silk put away to save for the thing that can never really be. It is the dream of love.

    This is all and everything I have found in the glorious perfume from Dior called Mitzah. Named for Christian Dior’s muse and friend Mitzah Bricard it is heady and hypnotic but never overwhelming. It is what I would call deep and multi layered in its design, a real stunner for me that never shouts but rather insinuates and seduces the one who wears it. And in so doing casts a spell of enchantment beyond the wrist, or from behind the ear out into a waiting world of yes.


    Mitzah opens in a temple garden loaded with incense where a smooth coriander feeds and supports an ethereal velvet red rose. Then suddenly oriental fresh spices scatter across the skin as if spilled from huge terracotta jars in the bazaar at Alexandria.

    It is so well made that the middle notes slowly unfurl like Cleopatra wrapped in an oriental rug that lay for years on the floor of a cinnamon warehouse. The highly erotic labdanum snakes over this rug and licks like a cat the creamy warm vanilla within this bowl of golden scent. You dare not close your eyes or you will be lost in a sumptuous whirlpool.

    There is a long lazy luxurious slow stretching dry down where the thick honey still sticks to the honey comb and drips down over a layer of pungent patchouli. All of this majesty and resplendency is carried on the remaining whisper of that first incense from ancient temples dedicated to pagan gods of love.

    Mitzah has a stable and long lasting silage that speaks of quality and lasts on my skin a good seven to nine hours. It comes on strong but don’t let that scare you. It is an oriental with a genteel soul and the longer it lays languorously on the skin the softer it becomes. It never powders down but rather wafts on with that incredible smoky slightly sweet incense. Mitzah is listed as a woman’s fragrance but in my experience it is remarkably masculine in a smart Near Eastern manner. When I wear it men invariably ask me what it is and where they can get a bottle. Mitzah is a sly seducer that works well on a man and is his equal on a woman and will blend with both chemistries. The chemistry it inspires is of skin upon skin that sparks the heart to a sweet madness. This meeting is in fact the Algerian love knot fragrance that two lovers could wear. Smelling of each other when they are apart and bending into a kiss of fragrance when they meet.
    FIVE GOLD STARS *****

    05 December, 2012

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    Cristalle Eau de Parfum by Chanel

    How do you escape the noise, pressure and the maddening crowds of a city? It is something we all can do; all you need is a park and the sky. Lying on the soft grass on your back looking up at the sky is an instant escape. Everything sinks into the earth beneath the soft damp grass you are lying on. Work, time, pressure, anger, frustration, worry, they all slide away as you seem to levitate toward the sky. The one thing that doesn’t slide way is your sense of smell.

    In Thursday’s mail I received a bottle of perfume I had been looking for and waiting to try for many months. Filled with that anticipation we who love perfume all share, I opened the box and tested the perfume on my arm. Instantly I was transported to the Villa Borghese, the wonderful and enchanted park in the center of Rome. The smell of the earth moist after a May rain shower meets the nostrils with a primal pungent primavera punch. Flowers washed clean in the rain add to the aroma as you look up look up into the same sky in which Michelangelo must have envisioned God creating Adam amongst the clouds. There is a deep rich smell of bark in the background, the unmistakable smell of a city park. This is what I saw when when I first smelled Cristalle. I was lying on my back looking up at the most beautiful sky in the world.

    Chanel's Cristalle Eau de Parfum opens brightly through the sun dappled leaves of the trees with a superb blending of exotic Mandarin, with hardy warm Sicilian Lemons. These are perfect Mediterranean citrus notes. There is a little juicy Peach in the back of the park warm and fuzzy in the sun adding a bright lush taste, up front at the entrance to the park Lilly of the Valley and Bergamot join in right. It is going to be lovely here in the Villa Borghese.

    In the middle notes just far enough into the park that the city sounds fade with the there is the “Chanel” Jasmine, like no other jasmine in the world it enfolds you in pure delight like the laughter of a beautiful woman in the dark. Rich earthy Iris adds a note of dangerous glamour and reminds you to dig your fingers into the moist richness of this experience. Hyacinth and Rosewood are found in this part of the urban forest and only enhance and deepen the sensuality of this fragrance.

    At sundown near the edge of the park the base notes of green woody vetiver and Oakmoss enhance the beauty of your visit to this place where the sky meets the city and there is escape for anyone seeking it.

    Cristalle is marketed as a female perfume yet it is not at all overwhelmingly feminine. I would categorize it as a very bold uni-sex scent. Longevity is good and the silage respectable.



    Chanel Cristalle Five Gold Stars *****

    05 December, 2012

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    Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker

    It isn’t my fault! Chandler Burr and Katie Puckrik made me do it. HONIST! You see since I have fallen into the pit of perfume I must have hit my head on a protruding rock on the way down and when I came too I found I was a bit of a perfume snob. Not mind you in the school of thought that goes: “It has to be expensive to be any good.” No the other kind of snob. If I noticed a gaggle of paparazzo following a bottle of perfume I could be seen rubbing the tip of my nose on the ceiling. You can loose a lot of skin doing that and trip over your Italian loafers if you are not careful and end up looking rather foolish. So I turned a blind eye to Celebuscents by everyone from Alain Delon to Zazu Pitts.

    I came to discover “Lovely” by Sarah Jessica Parker when I read Chandler Burr’s mesmerizing book, “The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris & New York.” I am sure you have all read it but if you are new to this like me then grab a copy or download it to your electronic reading device. It is an education in the creation of two perfumes, “Un Jardin Sur Le Nil” by Jean Claude Ellena for Hermes and “Lovely” by Miss Parker for the house of Coty. No recapping synopses here …go read the book and find out why I had to try “Lovely”. I wouldn’t want to ruin any part of that reading experience for you. (Un Jardin Sur Le Nil is on my must buy list).

    Now how does Katie fit into this? Well, anyone who reads her blog, or watches her very entertaining and extremely informed video reviews over at YouTube will tell you that the lady in question smells. She smells real good. “Lovely” is in her top ten best female perfumes that men can wear. So that spoke to me. After all this His smells Her smells approach to perfume only began in the early part of the 20th century when the middle class was on the rise. The perfume houses wanted to grab the attention of men who might not want to smell “pretty” or like a Dandy. Before this segregation of scent was imposed on the world everyone who could afford perfume wore the same scent. Eau de Cologne Impériale and Jicky were unisex! As far as I am concerned if you love it, wear it! There is a certain thrill to being a daring pioneer of perfume. If Joel Cairo in “The Maltese Falcon” had the balls to wear Gardenia ….so can you.

    “Lovely” opens like rain on predawn cobblestoned side streets in Soho. Not a clean rain but a bit dirty and risqué. The kind of rain you would love to walk in after an sweaty sexy all nighter in a dance club. The top notes of mandarin, bergamot shimmer lightly on the skin and are fleeting as they soak into the lavender and Brazilian rosewood which add a cosmopolitan sophistication. A dirty patchouli downs an Apple Martini grabs the hand of the bashful orchid and runs through the burst of rain down the street to hail a cab to midtown dry down. This is the woodsy central park of the fragrance with musk scampering in the early wet morning of Lovely though woodsy notes and cedar. As the sun dries the earth there is an echo of white amber balmy and richly warms the skin to a new day.

    Yes “Lovely” is confident. Self-assured and shows in its progression from opening to closing that it was indeed a labor of love in its creation. Thoughtful and not rushed it is more than lovely, it is superb.

    It is all about what is in the bottle. Sure there are going to be lots of Celebuscents that are not good. Cheap thoughtless creations with a name tacked on who had nothing to do at all with the creation of the perfume. But somewhere in there in the midst of the rushing crush on the red carpet there may be a fragrance worth trying even in the glare of paparazzi flash bulbs exploding in a night filled with promise and possibilities.

    14 October, 2012

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    Bal à Versailles by Jean Desprez

    Rome January 1962, in the dark corners of the huge soundstage of Cinecittà Studios all eyes are on an extraordinary personage. The man is Welsh, and touted to be the new Olivier. With a good ten years of films behind him he has never really hit it big in the movies. Not like he has on the stage where he is considered a god. That is about to change.

    There is a small commotion in the shadows. He and everyone else on the set turn, and his eyes fall upon the luscious curves of the woman who has just unceremoniously sauntered into the pool of lights in the center of the stage. Sheathed in flowing canary yellow chiffon, her eyes of violet blue spangled with glitter and lined with black Egyptian kohl she is every inch a morsel for a monarch. Her eyes with veiled curiosity explore his handsome acne scarred face. She is not impressed and yet slightly apprehensive of his stage training. He takes in her dark glamour in and recalls being tuned to ice by her dismissive glance ten years earlier across a hot star encrusted swimming pool in smoggy Los Angeles. That was the first time Richard Burton laid eyes upon his destiny in the form of Elizabeth Taylor. This time in Rome was the second.

    The director, Joe Mankiewicz spoke briefly to both of them then went of to commiserate with the cinematographer and the assistant director leaving them awkwardly alone to make their own introductions. Burton turned and crookedly smiled to Elizabeth. He picked up a cup of coffee and spilled a little as his hand was seized by a hangover tremor. Instinctively she reached out and steadied the cup. Gently her hand cupped his and guided the coffee to his lips. His eyes fell into hers and locked there for eternity.

    “Has anyone ever told you that you are a very pretty girl?” He said.

    Her heart, imagination and life were changed forever by that simple cliché that fell in perfect calculated grace from the lips of perhaps the greatest Shakespearian actor of his generation.

    And so it began the scandal of the 1962 which shattered two marriages, nearly toppled a studio and ushered in the cannibalistic tabloid world of today. It was the romance of the century and inspired a generation of sexual revolutionaries. Not to be left out of the action the Pope got in on the act and branded Elizabeth Taylor a “Sexual Vagrant”. Now THAT is a Movie Star!

    What did this shattering moment smell like? Bal à Versailles is the answer. Many famous women from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to Queen Elizabeth have worn it, but none more famously than Elizabeth Taylor on the set of “Cleopatra” when she launched a thousand paparazzo’s in the arms of her Mark Antony.

    Created in 1962 by Jean Desprez Bal à Versailles is traditionally presented as a female fragrance. Well that was back in the old days of the 1900’s, welcome to the 21st century were such gender identities for fragrance are down right passé. This magnificent perfume fully rounded out by 350 essences is a monster of audacious panache and a masterpiece of design fit for anyone with the balls to wear it. It is bold, and huge in its opening of rosemary, orange blossom, mandarin orange, cassia, jasmine, rose, Neroli, bergamot, Bulgarian rose and lemon. Heavy hitters are the roses and the orange notes. We move in for our close-up with notes of sandalwood, patchouli, lilac, orris root, vetiver, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley and leather. The Leather dominates the heart of the fragrance. If you are a leather lover this is Oscar time at the Kodak Theater and Nicole Kidman has just called your name. When the dry down approaches it is a dramatic movie star fade out. Beautiful notes of tolu balsam, amber, musk, benzoin, civet, vanilla, cedar and resins hold court for the final long shot as Bal à Versailles rides off into the sunset captivating all it has touched with its smoky fingers of desire and fire.

    Bal à Versailles is a projection bomb. Once you have it on there is no going back. You commit to this one all the way or not at all. The silage is like incense burners pumping purple heaven full blast on Cleopatra’s barge. It lasts for days without the need for “retakes”. It is animalic, dirty, sexy and just a wonder of a scent that has me in its spell as surely as Elizabeth Taylor had Richard Burton just where she wanted him all those years ago in Rome, right in the palm of her hand.

    FIVE GOLD STARS *****

    09 October, 2012

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    Cassini for Men by Oleg Cassini

    “Fashion anticipates ... elegance is a state of mind.”

    He was born in Pairs the son of a Russian Count and an Italian Countess. As a child he moved to Florence Italy where his mother opened her own design house. “I had to change my taste from caviar to linguini” He quipped later. As a young man he fled Italy after winning a duel arriving in New York in 1936 “with only a tuxedo, two tennis rackets and talent.”

    By the time he appeared in Hollywood in the early 40’s his talent at tennis lead him to a meeting with the head of Paramount studios who was looking for a new designer for his studio. The first film he designed for was the famous “I Wanted Wings” staring Veronica Lake and her peek-a-boo hairdo, which he claimed to invent. Some of his other films were, “The Razor’s Edge”, “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” and “The Shanghai Gesture” all staring his soon to be wife Gene Tierney. Over his lengthy career he designed for films such stars as Rita Hayworth, and Marilyn Monroe all the way to contemporary luminaries such as Kim Basinger and Taylor Swift. All of this would be enough to put him in the ranks of the greats yet the greatest achievements were yet to come.

    After World War II he opened a ready to wear design house in New York while still working in Hollywood. In 1961 he was appointed by Jacqueline Kennedy as her personal couturier for her new position as First Lady of the United States of America. He created a look for her that was international and timeless which resonates today as the look of Camelot. “All I remember about those days are nerves, and Jackie on the phone ‘Hurry, hurry, Oleg, I’ve got nothing to wear’,” (She loved French haute couture but was told that as first lady she would be wise to wear only American designs.) "I dressed Jackie to be a star in a major film, which she was, the most famous first lady of all time. I became her secretary of style".

    In his time he married a movie star and had a famous affair with another star who would one day break her engagement to him to become her serine highness Princess Grace of Monaco. He created a look so classic that it is emulated by many today and he was the innovator of designer licensing. He brought color to men’s dress shirts. Vibrant hues where before only white was allowed. He was in all essence the very first modern superstar American designer. He was the great Oleg Cassini.

    One of the other things Oleg Cassini did in his pursuit to leave no stone un-turned was to create a few fragrances. One of which is Cassini for Men introduced in 1994. This is an Oriental Woody that opens brilliantly with notes of chamomile, mandarin orange, exotic apricot like osmanthus, basil and Brazilian rosewood. This rush of delight lasts about ten to fifteen minutes and it is really a glorious promise of things to come. The middle notes are sadly short-lived and the promise dies on the vine, Lavender, jasmine, lemon verbena and geranium become a muddle and die within an hour. The base notes for me barely make an appearance. The sandalwood is nil, with only traces of amber, musk and vanilla. The vetiver and incense for me never got a chance to dance by the time the ball was over. At best it could be used as an after bath or shower spritz. Within two hours the entire fragrance disappeared like a carnival in the night with the town sheriff in hot pursuit.

    It is really a shame to see such a gorgeous presentation wither like the sunburned petals of a morning glory. For truly the bottle is a glamorous deco creation worthy of any star dressing room. But like too many Hollywood dreams it is made of smoke and mirrors and is forgotten by the time the lights come up.


    "St. Francis of Assisi has always been an inspiration to me. He was a playboy, too." Oleg Cassini

    09 October, 2012

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    Midnight in Paris by Van Cleef & Arpels

    Midnight in Paris…. The name is like a never-ending romantic cliché that has captured the imagination of artists from Hemmingway to Woody Allen. It is the cliché of love found and lost in the city where love learned to spell its name in French. It is beyond even that for, this midnight is something special. It is more than an evening in Paris; this is a religious conversion into all that is Parisian, a fall from grace into erotic abandon. And it all begins in church.

    There is the forbidden love where the lips of star crossed lovers can only meet on the rim of a communion cup. There is the lost love of the soul that can only find a quantum of fleeting comfort in a midnight prayer. There is the fever love that lives in the heart alone and untouched by reality. The unforgiven unrequited love that is so sweet and deadly that it is irresistible to some poor souls who know not how to love in any other way. This opiate of love is whispered in Gods ear in hopes of just one returned smile. It is a drug and there is no cure but to die. These loves hang heavy in the incensed air and swirl slowly just above the heads of the faithful in one church in Paris, L'église de la Madeleine, the church of the Madeleine.

    From the street it looks like a pagan temple to Venus. But when you enter in the late afternoon it is bathed in golden candle light of hope. The heavy perfume of the lingering incense from morning mass is oriental and comes up over the eons from ancient Rome. That very incense held over from the worship of the old gods and in it you can feel that it has embodied the intertwining war of lust and redemption for millennia. Lovers meet in this church, some to go off into the midnight in ethereal newness of love. Some meet here to marry love and some to burry a lover that is lost. And a few come to pray for an ending to love. No one leaves the Earth without dying a little from one touch of Venus.

    For me, this is Midnight in Paris by Van Cleef and Arpels. Opening with leather, ringed in holly, citrus, rosemary like a pagan wreath on a temple wall. This wreath of scent is set on fire as it touches the skin only to smolder with the incense that comes at once from the base to hold court throughout the life of the perfume. The mid notes of lily of the valley, tea and the balsamic smoky leather of the styrax only add to the soft powdered evolution of the incense. When the dry down comes the transformation is subtle on the wings of amber, benzoin, bitter almonds and a lingering of that pagan eastern incense that is supported by the vanillin charms of the Tonka bean.

    If you wear Midnight in Paris to church the nuns will notice for the silage is sinfully bold. The whole event from first spray to the death of this lovely thing is around seven hours. Some may say it leans toward the feminine but I say it is daringly oriental and deeply erotic. Be warned, wearing Midnight in Paris on a Friday night may land you in a confessional on Saturday morning.

    09 October, 2012

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    Frank No. 2 by Frank Los Angeles

    There is an angry wind from the north that comes down the canyons of Los Angeles. The wind from the Mohave is as hot as the devils breath and licks relentlessly at windows and doors pushing its sandy heat through any available crack. It has been known to drive men mad and women to wanton acts of murder. It rides on the backs of rabid dogs as they scrounge the dry river beds of the Valley for something to bite. It is relentless and even as it leaves the land scraping over Long Beach, Laguna and Doheny out over the waters of the Pacific, not even the great ocean can cool its searing anger. It is called the Santa Ana and it is something to behold.

    From the moment I felt the touch of Frank No.2 by Frank Los Angeles on my skin I understood this fragrance as an old friend. In this unique perfume there are the familiar smells I recall from my youth in Los Angeles. When that old wind begins to howl in the opening it is rich with plum, bergamot and white Lavender, the smell of the fragrant gardens of Southern California. In the heart notes of cognac, coffee, coriander are a boozy mix of the night before as it meets the rich breakfast aromas of the morning. They do their job to enrich this fragrance and give it a creamy liqueur feeling. How about a shot of cognac in your cappuccino sir? Further into the scent the wind begins to build and heat up. The resins in Frank No.2 smell to me of sun burned rocks in the desert. The wind from the Mohave picks up that smell and carries it over the mountains where it marries with the aroma of fur trees and other woods. As it blows out of the canyon you are engulfed by the power and force of this aromatic wind. The dry down is so smoky and comfortable that you just want to linger there for hours.

    Frank No.2 is very bold and in your face but in a welcoming open gregarious way that belies its dark noir undercurrent. It is inviting and cozy on the surface but beware the aggressive danger it hides. And indeed though it is listed as a masculine fragrance the plum notes give it a sweet touch that would work well on a woman of urbane sophistication and style that carries danger in her purse like a derringer pistol. It projects well and lasts about six hours on my skin.

    This warm wind from the desert has been known to dive men mad and women to wanton acts of murder, so if you can’t be good, then go mad with Frank Los Angeles.

    FOUR GOLD STARS ****

    25 September, 2012

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    Platinum Égoïste by Chanel

    Being enveloped in a seductive and sophisticated fragrance and carried by that scent to another time, to another place, is a voluptuous and powerful feeling. Being a fan of at first Chanel Pour Homme, then Pour Monsieur and today Pour Monsieur Concentree one would think that I would have all of the men’s perfumes from 31 Rue Cambon. As it was, often I thought I should, but alas I never ventured beyond Monsieur because what is in that bottle is just that wonderful.

    Last weekend on a sunny outing in San Francisco I ventured into my favorite fragrance shop just off of Union Square and sniffed about the glittering counters. Nothing seemed to catch my nose or eye. Just as I was about to leave a little bottle winked at me. “Try Me monsieur, you have always wanted to.” It seemed to say. So I thought, “Well why not.” It is Chanel after all….why put it off any longer?

    So I bought it without even testing it. Oh I have tested it over the years of course but on paper…. Well, it was always on paper, and it was nice enough.

    At home when it hit my skin I was enveloped in a seductive and sophisticated fragrance, which carried me to another time and another magical place. PARIS! I will leave it to the others here to talk of notes and dry downs and whatnot. As for me it was pure sensation and sensuality in this little bottle. Lighter than Pour Monsieur Concentree yet not lacking in a full ripe tone that speaks so eloquently of what Chanel stands for, elegance, style and wit.

    Maybe in a month or two I will try another fragrance from Mademoiselle Chanel.

    12 September, 2012

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