According to Definitions from Oxford Languages the word beige is French. First appearing in English usage in the mid-19th century, it denotes the colour of unbleached and undyed woolen fabric.
Surveys indicate that it is the single colour of paint favoured by a majority of Canadians, a statistic that prompts more than a little derision of our design sensibilities in some quarters as hopelessly safe and boring and twee.
Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel found beige simple, sophisticated and elegant. She said, “I take refuge in beige because it is natural.” I agree. Over my lifetime I have experimented with many colour schemes; however, none have been as soothing or as stimulating as the rich beige palette I’ve enjoyed in my home for the past 10 years.
BEIGE, is also a fragrance in the extensive Chanel line-up (though not as famous as Number 5 or 19), and is described on the Chanel Online Boutique website as “voluptuous, with an intense hawthorn-freesia-frangipani accord subtly enhanced with honeyed notes.”
I first discovered the scent in the powder room of Michelin starred Beige Alain Ducasse Tokyo at the top of the Chanel Ginza Building. My friend Vivian wished to celebrate her birthday there three years ago, and who was I to argue with the brilliant logic of a luxury writer for the New York Times wishing to show me the town? Nor did I demur when she suggested we repeat the pleasure when I returned to Tokyo to continue my studies 9 months later.
Hours later, utterly satiated we wine-floated out into the late Tokyo afternoon. Ever since, I have regretted resisting the urge to purchase a bottle downstairs when I had the opportunity. I meant to rectify that oversight when I returned to complete my student level ikebana studies in spring of 2020. Unfortunately, thanks to the coronavirus I left Tokyo with both my studies and my shopping wishes dashed.
On my return to lockdown and emergency restrictions, I could not continue my ikebana studies. Nor could I purchase BEIGE in Canadian stores. Fortunately, that circumstance was easily managed with a card and a click. Chanel Online Boutique could and did ship a chic black and white package to my door which arrived this week, perfectly timed to my birthday.
Who said happiness can’t be bought? Whoever it was, they were wrong.
After a light spray, if I close my eyes I can believe that I have stepped again into that late Tokyo afternoon drenched in honeyed memories of hawthorn-freesia-frangipani happiness. Happiness is BEIGE. Happy Birthday to me!
Photo Credits to Chanel Online Boutique and Beige Alain Ducasse Tokyo websites.