A magical miracle just happened to me when a turquoise blue ostrich feather fell from heaven and landed on my upstate New York mountaintop cabin doorstep.
I had been up in the log cabin alone for a week designing dresses and resting for my next HSN TV appearance. I was launching my first TV fragrance and had been told by experts that selling on air something that you can't smell was nearly impossible. That warning struck a worry cord.
I love the total quiet of a week alone in the cabin and now before I go on TV and I like to sit in front of the New York mountain top view of the misty blue Catskill mountain range and do yoga mediation and feel the peace.
This particular early November morning was my last day. The skies were baby blue. The trees were all the colors of red, wine and orange and the leaves were falling in my hair as I sat and meditated on the chaise on the deck by the front door enjoying the last moments of fall colors before winter white sets in. Some fear of failure passed in my mind and I prayed intensely and asked God to help me with my new perfume launch. The perfume, 21 Bonaparte was named after my shop address in Paris that I had opened with partners, Mia Fonssagrives and Elizabeth Taylor in the sixties.
I had worked in Paris since 1964. In the late eighties Elizabeth and I decided to do our own fragrances. We had been advised to do so in a 1970 dinner with Coco Chanel just before her death. That night Coco gave us the best advise of our lives. Her greatest success, she told us, was the Chanel No 5 perfume and it had financed her all her life. Fashions come and go, she told us, a great fragrance is forever!
I set off in 1987 for Egypt where perfume originated in 1000 BC. The word perfume derived from the Latin word meaning "through smoke" as the first perfumes were made in Cyprus blending by smoke many natural aromatics, oils, water and alcohol. I copied the original bottle colors of the Queen of Egypt's amphors which I bought at the Cairo museum and took them back to the atelier of Pierre Dinand, the French master bottle designer.
Today, 11 perfumes and 22 years later, including best sellers, Sirene for women and Ulysses for men, I had a chance to sell fragrance on TV and speak to an audience about the power of femininity and it's relation to how we look and how we smell.
I asked in my last mediation of the fall to the heavens above to give me your blessings. After a few hours outside I returned to the cabin to find a miracle on the deck, a brilliant four inch long turquoise blue ostrich feather lay at the front door.
I picked it up and was amazed to find there was no bird ever in upstate New York in this electric blue green color. It seemed to be the color of a rare African bird or a dyed feather off a 1920s hat. The only problem was there were no vintage shops in the windy mountain top nor any fashionable ladies with feathered flapper dresses. WHERE DID THE FEATHER COME FROM?
It was a magical miracle. I put the feather in my purse and decided to carry it with me forever.
On the airplane to Tampa the next morning with my eyes closed while soaring between the blue clouds I realized the feather was the same color as my original Egyptian perfume, bottles that were the color I found in Egypt researching my first perfume, riding camels and visiting the great magical Pyramids. Suddenly I realized the feather from above was dropped at my door by pal Elizabeth Taylor who recently went to heaven.
Elizabeth loved hot pink, lavender and turquoise and she really loved ostrich feathers. She even ordered a ostrich feather minidress from me to wear at a UNICEF party in Paris in 1969 when she and Richard Burton performed together on stage. Richard wore his costume from Candy a film I was doing the costumes, the film I made for the actress who played Candy, Eva Aulin, the first wrap dress, the dress we sell the most of all my designs on HSN TV.
The turquoise feather was a sign from Elizabeth, "Wake up Vicky, don't worry," I'm still here nearby and you will be fine!
I was more than fine on TV. I rocked. The perfume launch of 21 Bonaparte went so well we sold out! Joy and Regis Philbin surprised me and phoned in. I had given Joy one of the first bottles and Regis loved it. The scent was super sexy, lots of dramatic Patchouli offset with tender white flowers and had been tested for months by my mother's nurses from Alabama, real gals with real desires to please their men and I had been told by the nurses,"This is one for the Ages," when they returned a tester completely empty.
Do you believe in miracles? Do you believe we are watched over by our departed friends and loved ones? Now I do.
Vicky Tiel began designing clothes 40 years ago in Paris and still owns a boutique there. See Vicky and her new collection on HSN and online. Her couture is available at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, and her perfumes are carried in Perfumania. Her memoir, It's All About the Dress: What I Learned in 40 Years About Men, Women, Sex and Fashion was published by St. Martin's Press in August 2011.