Saturday, January 21, 2023

Art Walk in Suzie's Shoes

Before I tell you about the Art Walk in Suzie's Shoes, I would like to remind you that we're fast approaching the deadline to sign up for my Spencertown Academy Arts Center zoom writing workshop. Please find all the detailsbelow. We only have a few spots left and I would love to see you there!

And now, let's talk about nail laquer--yes, really.

Have you ever noticed that the names for nail lacquer make great story titles, to wit:

Snow Holding Back
Pop the Baubles

The Pearl of your Dreams 

Art Walk in Suzie's Shoes

Back in the early ‘80’s, I worked for Estรฉe Lauder and had the thrilling experience of being tasked—along with everyone else at Lauder—with the challenge of finding a name for a brand new fragrance.

There were only a limited number of prototypes for this fragrance, so we were expected to smell it once and then hold the olfactory image in our mind’s eye and then imagine how wearing this perfume would make us feel. What desires would it unearth? How would be respond to the layers—the top notes, the heart notes, the base notes, the Tuberose, the Jasmine, the Sandalwood.

I might add that during this era the most popular fragrances included Opium from YSL, Poison from Dior, and Obsession from Calvin Klein.

But, poison or obsession and opium was not in Estรฉe Lauder's wheelhouse. We were nice girls! Also we needed to differentiate ourselves from those Revlon girls. Revlon had come up with the mega-popular/pseudo-feminist Charlie in the 1970's and it was still going strong into the early 1980's. Lauder and Revlon were in fierce competition. We had offices just a few floors above Revlon in New York’s General Motors building, and there were always rumors circulating that the Revlon girls were stealing our secrets. Spies could be anywhere and so we were not allowed to talk with the Revlon girls, in case we inadvertently let a secret slip out. In fact, we rode up the elevator with new products and promotions hidden under a tent of Lauder Blue silk fabric.

And now, I’ll reveal the name of our mysterious new Lauder perfume--it was, Beautiful. And surprise--it was not packaged in the trademark Lauder blue, but rather pink!

Think Pink! Mrs. Lauder announced to the staff after she showed us the video of Kay Thompson in Funny Face singing Think Pink to her staff. Here's a link to the musical number. You really have to watch it to fully appreciate Mrs. Lauder's genius. But truly, this film was the inspiration for the naming of one perfume history’s most iconic fragrances.

Inspiration can emerge from the most surprising places--old movies, songs, memories, overheard conversations—even from the names of nail lacquer.

Creative friends, your assignment for this week is to notice the names of things--paint colors, desserts, buildings, long-ago classmates, trees and yes, perfume. Let the names float up into your consciousness like bubbles, light and airy. Then, wait and watch as they rise, disconnected from other words, bursting with the giddy joy of originality.

Whether you are creating a dance or a song or a story or a painting, chose one name and make that your new title. Let this name take you someplace strange and mysterious. Now, follow the scent until it leads you someplace beautiful.

And, as always, have fun.


And now, for my little advertisement:

The Spencertown Academy Arts Center Presents--

What's Love Got to do With It: 

A Writing from the Right Side of the Brain Workshop with Jamie Cat Callan

Four consecutive Wednesdays: January 25-February 15, 3:00-5:00pm on Zoom
Ticket Fee: $120. Maximum of 18 participants

When we write about love, we are writing about our entire world—not just romantic love (although that’s welcome!), but the love for a child, the love between long-time friends, the love of a sport, the love for a house, a country, our animal friends, and our fellow humans. Whether you’re a new writer or a seasoned professional—whether you write memoir, fiction, short stories or essays—this workshop will inspire and encourage you to infuse your writing with the complexities of love. Through a series of right brain writing exercises, Jamie will familiarize you with the essential elements of good writing, including how to discover your own unique themes, viewpoints, voice, and structure, and how to develop a love story.

By the end of this four-session workshop, you will have either four separate short pieces or one story inspired by the in-class and take-home assignments.



  1. Hi Jamie ๐Ÿ˜Š I'm reading Parisian Charm School and enjoying it very much, and I enjoyed this post too! I do this! I use words and phrases as mantras to motivate or remind me of my intentions or to help me focus or relax. I use themes for lots of things too, which means I have some words or a title that describes it. I see I may not be alone and I love the way you've invited your readers to use words to "title' their creations and the 'charming' ๐Ÿ˜‰ pefume story. Here's a funny story; just 2 days ago I decided to try a new lip colour and go for something more natural for summer and for ease sake. Last year was a hard year, this year has started out a little difficult but I have decided to try to focus on myself more. Usually the 'brave face' I put on is as bright as my Max Factor Mulberry lipstick-well you know except for the fact that you need to keep reapplying to keep looking bright (lipstick and brave face)! The new gloss I bought is more of an enhancement of my natural colouring, it's a little extra shine and colour, and isn't that a nicer face to show than a false brace one! Less exhausting too! Well I just looked, and the name of this gloss is 'coming up roses' ๐Ÿ˜ How appropriate that after reading your blog post
    this morning I will be inspired to make 'coming up roses my theme today and add it to my repertoire ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ƒ Merci ☺ Bonne annฤ›e ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

  2. Dear Sharon--Thank you so much for you kind message here! I'm so happy to hear that you enjoyed the stories in my book "Parisian Charm School." And I loved your beauty story--and yes, coming up roses is a wonderful theme! Merci beaucoup for writing! Love, Jamie