What Do Catherine Zeta-Jones, Perfume From A 150-Year-Old Shipwreck, And Men In Pink Shorts Have In Common?

They were all at a fragrance-launch party I went to this week where everyone had great teeth and I was left Catherine Zeta-Jonesing for a trip to Bermuda. (I'd probably get kicked off the islands for that pun, though.)
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Colleen Williams
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They were all at a fragrance-launch party I went to this week where everyone had great teeth and I was left Catherine Zeta-Jonesing for a trip to Bermuda. (I'd probably get kicked off the islands for that pun, though.)

When Marci invited me to go with her to a launch party for Lili Bermuda's new scent, Mary Celestia, a fragrance recreated from a perfume discovered in a shipwreck from 150 years ago, I was immediately like, Yes. Yes, I will talk about a shipwreck perfume all day. Also, I thought pirates were going to be involved, including but not limited to a conspiracy, maybe a battle, some corsets, perhaps exotic animals -- and I’m not completely wrong, but that was not entirely the case.  

What is the case, however, is that this big ship -- a Civil War Blockade Runner sailing to Charleston called the Mary Celestia -- had some perfume bottles in it when it sank in September 1864 off the coast of Bermuda. 

So, in 2011, a team of marine archaeologists found these bottles labeled “Piesse and Lubin London” in the wreckage and realized they were unopened fragrances from a major perfumer from London (now gone). The publicists of this perfume scenario say, “Later it was determined the precious cargo of perfume, smuggled during the Civil War, was likely en route to the neck of a wealthy woman in the American South.” Poor baby never received her bottles, but never you mind -- we now get to reap the rewards of this awesome tale of intrigue, as the bottles were found intact and some noses got down to work to recreate it.

The 1864 fragrance versus the new 2014 one.

The 1864 fragrance versus the new 2014 one.

Jump ahead three years and here we are, in 2014, at a launch event at the perfumery drom in Tribeca.

Quick note: The invitation to said event had been updated at the last minute with the line, “We also have an A-list celebrity guest who is confirmed for tomorrow. Hint: She and her husband love Bermuda.”

I, of course, in true uncouth fashion, emailed Marci with an excited, “OMHG [sic] A CELEBRITY GUEST AND SNAAAAAXXXXX [sic]” because I love celebrities and hors d’oeuvres.

She replied, “CZJ?!” To which -- and I am not lying -- I lost my marbles.

Apparently, Marci decided to Google which celebrities love Bermuda, because she is a smart cookie, while I was just sending exclamation capslock fragment emails to her, slightly drooling. Her findings? Catherine Zeta-Jones loves Bermuda. I CANNOT EVEN TELL YOU HOW MUCH I LOVE CATHERINE ZETA-JONES. I CANNOT.

Yes, I can AND I WILL.

I am not usually very vocal about musicals, but oh boy, if there is one thing I freaking love, it is "Chicago." This isn’t a review of the movie -- don’t worry -- but I will tell you right now, it is amazing and feminist and amazing and strong, and like, totally amazing, and the dancing! And Queen Latifah (if I meet Queen, this world is ENDING)! And I was blown away by all the women in it, and OMG, I love a performer who practices a thousand hours a day just to nail it -- and nail it she did, people! CZJ is an Oscar winner and an icon, a survivor, and is all, “If my revelation of having bipolar II has encouraged one person to seek help, then it is worth it. There is no need to suffer silently and there is no shame in seeking help.”

I admire her so much and loved her as Velma Kelly. I can barely breathe just writing this, and I was starstruck and totally too shy to get a picture with her at the step-and-repeat.

Here I am, and there's CZJ. This is as close as I would get, as I am a giant chicken. Also, look at my hair -- I look ridiculous. I shouldn't be allowed outside.

Here I am, and there's CZJ. This is as close as I would get, as I am a giant chicken. Also, look at my hair -- I look ridiculous. I shouldn't be allowed outside.

So, long story short, Catherine Zeta-Jones loves Bermuda and showed up to this fancy event launching the shipwreck pirate perfume (OK, not pirate) and her hair looked perfectly blown out.

Also in attendance at this party, which adds to the surrealism, were the premiers (sort of like presidents) of Bermuda and a few other regal gentlemen wearing –- you guessed it -- Bermuda shorts (which I thought were supposed to be madras plaid, but apparently they can be pink).

These are Bermuda shorts. I was not aware.

These are Bermuda shorts. I was not aware.

This inspired Marci to say, “There are some rich motherf--kers up in here.”

“It’s like every man who walks through the door is an earl,” I replied. So all these Duke of Earls presented the perfumer, a woman named Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone, who recreated this undersea phenom, and they announced that there will only be 1,864 bottles available (because of the year the ship sank, 1864) for sale exclusively in Bermuda (and available online).

The fragrance is eerily familiar; the notes are fresh citrus, rich orange flower, rosewood and amber, but reading notes is one of those things that eternally frustrates me -- you probably have no idea what that would really smell like. So, basically, it smells like dry Fruity Pebbles and generic fabric softener -- clean with just a touch of masculinity, and also kind of like sugared rice.

Smelling the new concoction. Pretty good. *head nod*

Smelling the new concoction. Pretty good. *head nod*

It doesn’t smell bad, but it isn’t really a covetable, do-lines-of-it kind of smell. It’s very light with a tinge of grapefruit and floral softness, which is a relief because we got to smell the original from 1864, which was an acrid, mushroomy-citrus earwax scent with a dash of the blue parts of gorgonzola. Like a pirate’s feet or something. In fact, they should rename the original “The Lone Pirate’s Stinky Socks of 1864.” I have no idea how the two truly correlate, because this new revision smells nothing like the original to me. AND THANK GOD, BECAUSE CATHERINE ZETA-JONES WAS THERE AND SHE WOULD HAVE NONE OF THAT.

This dreamboat ain't a shipwreck! I will stop now.

This dreamboat ain't a shipwreck! I will stop now.

The fragrance is a pretty gentle day scent that could be worn by either a man or a woman, clocks in at $225, and has one hell of a background story. Be sure to mention Catherine Zeta-Jones when people ask what you’re wearing. When they ask if she made it, say no, but then say, “But she really loves Bermuda.”