In January, just before the coronavirus struck Milan, an Italian film crew from the city came to the house from Vice.com to film an online commercial for Moleskine. We filmed in our bedroom ; on the hill near the house; at an antique perfume shop in Kamakura, and at Parfums Satori in Tokyo.





Filed under Flowers


  1. RafaelL Layzequilla

    Well done. Really nice.

  2. Emma Fushimi

    Very atmospheric and evocative – loved the contrast between the city/mountains. Beautiful – and the little vignettes with the store owner and the perfumier, loved it.

  3. This is fantastic!!! I’ve always liked the image of Moleskine (and was using their backpack every day while commuting) and this video enhances it quite well. Thoughtfulness, craft, attention to detail, storytelling… it’s all captured.
    Jean-Claude Ellena also mentions his Moleskine notebooks in his writings. The stationery of perfumers and perfume lovers…?

    • I mean I was excited to be asked, but did hesitate, as I really don’t see myself promoting anything (hence the lack of adverts on the Black Narcissus – aesthetics trump everything for me so I just wouldn’t do it), but their notebooks ARE lovely and D uses the backpack everyday for work – the very same one – and I am always open to new experiences. The crew were lovely, and it all just kind of happened spontaneously – although I was FUCKED for the rest of the week, as a lot of this happened on my day off, Monday and I just couldn’t get my head together for Tuesday

  4. Mary

    Hi Neil, this is my first comment although I’ve been lurking here for some time, thanks to a mutual friend. I love this commercial and it’s great to hear your voice. I’d like toshare this on a perfume forum, if you don’t mind. Your name is often mentioned there!

    • Thanks for commenting. I am quite self-conscious, actually – which is why you will never see me on YouTube, but I thought as the advert had gone up I should share it, after such an intense weekend making it. In some ways I was delighted that professional people could document my time here; I learned quite a lot about several things to do with the media that day as well. Please share – I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT MY BOOK!

      • OnWingsofSaffron

        Yes, and rightly so! I have mentioned it a couple of times on Victoria‘s blog Bois de Jasmin. And on Amazon. However, as a German most of my friends are not comfortable reading in English. Therefore, as I mentioned before: you need to get it translated into German. People in Germany, Austria, and the larger part of Switzerland would be able to read it. If I had time (which alas I don‘t) I‘d even volunteer to translate it into my mother tongue!

  5. Renée Stout

    Wow, Neil, this was great on so many levels. First I’m a fan of your story telling, secondly, we got a glimpse into your personal perfume collection and the places you go to find some of those scents and thirdly, as a visual artist, I swear by Moleskine sketchbooks. I could go on about why this was so satisfying to watch, but those were the 3 most important reasons this resonated with me. Thank you for sharing this, it made my day!

    • You have just made my day as well by saying this. YES. Moleskine sure ain’t shabby – the pages really are smooth and divine, and there is an amazing lineage of artists who have used them since the beginning so I wasn’t going to say no. Your comment on my Blade Runner piece that I wrote a while back meant a GREAT DEAL to me; so I value you too. I mean: THIS IS MY FUCKING BEDROOM. It does feel a tad intrusive, but then I invited the cameras in. Had I not done, it would have been kind of boring of me. I consulted with D ,he said just do it (and now I sound like Nike).

      ANOTHER IRONY; the man with the broken legs powering up the hill……

  6. Tora

    This is so great, Neil! Just to see you, walking around, talking, and being able to see inside your world was wonderful.

  7. emmawoolf

    It may be a commercial, but it’s also a little bit of beauty that just popped into my day. I’ve been sitting at my desk for most of today, and it’s been fairly mundane so far (teaching, lesson planning, eating… you know the sort!) but just thinking about this little film is bringing a smile to my face. I sent it to some friends, too. It’s delightful x

    • This is fantastic. I hadn’t thought of it like that, just popping up somewhere. For me it was a weird opportunity that I just said yes to and before I knew it they were arriving. I was like a star for a couple of days and then they just processed it as they wanted to so if you like it I am really very felice xx

  8. Tara C

    This is wonderful! I loved seeing your perfume cabinet and the places you wander around in your daily life. Very un-commercial-y, subtle and lovely. Moleskine notebooks are so nice too, didn’t know they made backpacks.

  9. Robin

    So nicely rendered, Neil. I love how uncommercial it is. It’s really about you, which is especially effective for promoting Moleskine in the most appealing, writerly way.

    Intrigued by your bedroom collection. I like how random it looks, although perhaps there is some order unseen by the uninitiated. The bits with the perfume interiors: terrific. Love the first woman with the eccentric vibe and the elegance of the second. Impressed with your knees scaling that path! Was it as effortless for you as it looked? Soft sell approach and yet by the end I wanted to buy a stack of notebooks and a backpack!

    Most of all, I was fascinated by your voice, accent, and by what you said. Sometimes those bites can sound a little tired and trite, but every phrase was fresh and evocative and had that quiet ring of verisimilitude. Captured you very sensitively.

    I posted the link on makeupalley.com. so others could be similarly impressed.

    • Thanks : I was wondering what you would think so relieved to read this.

      The interview part I deliberately didn’t want to prepare for precisely so that it would be natural and off the cuff – though normally I am less serious I think ( the ABSURDITY of being interviewed in your own bedroom !)

      It was a fun experience, even if I could hardly walk the next day !

      • Robin

        Good choice. You are so good with words that if you’d gone in all prepared with something smooth and prefab it wouldn’t have been nearly as charming, as natural, or as revealing of your personality. I loved the candid, unpolished delivery. Much more impressive than the other — the slicker –actually, because to me it was still consumately . . . articulate. And profound, in truth. And no, I’m not blowing smoke. I’m always honestly in awe.

      • No no no ! (but thanks anyway). Helen said it was a shame my real personality didn’t come through. You can tell I am nervous. And overserious. I actually do have a sense of humour!

  10. OnWingsofSaffron

    Great, as all others have commented before!
    May I also congratulate you on you choice of clothes: your shirt at home—it looks like an elaborate gold silk brocade from Surabaya—is absolutely amazing and it complements the colours of the room and, at the sane time, gildens the perfumes the viewer cannot smell! And you keep mentioning how indifferent you are to all things clothes.

    • Ah but that was one shirt I did like from a market in Saigon : I never go for anything in that colour but I liked the Indonesian pattern and it did go quite well with the room, actually! The tatami room is the only ‘tasteful ‘ one in the house : all the others are much brighter coloured: kitschy .

      Are you a clothes horse yourself ? If i see something I like I will buy it on the spot in passing but otherwise I just don’t have the brain space for shopping

  11. Z

    Oh!! How really lovely. I would watch a feature length film of this; you puttering around the house and talking to the camera and neighborhood ladies, honestly. It’s funny to realize your speaking voice is different from the one i’ve been imagining all your words spoken in. Yours is a lot softer and more interestingly accented. Love this. ナイス。Now is it truuuue that you write in a moleskine first?? That’s going to ruin my mental image of some posts that have always seemed to me the result of… impassioned keyboard smashing at the heights of pure inspiration

  12. bibimaizoon

    Great ad! Intriguing, informative, and entertaining. You don’t seem nervous at all. I had no idea Moleskine has such a variety of products nowadays. I shall have to look into them the next time I visit civilization.

  13. Oh Neil, this was absolutely brilliant!! I adored this wonderful glimpse into your world. It was all truly so poetic, so otherworldly almost. I know this was an advert for Moleskine, but it was also very much an advert for you and what you do.
    I do hope more and more fabulous opportunities keep coming your way. Now I will just have to wait for your book on life in Japan to come to press.

  14. Janet

    Hi Neil. I just read your wonderful book and it was so good to get a chance to see you. I love reading about perfume and your book is the best one, in my opinion – not only for the useful information, but for the outrageously funny/clever little side notes. One of my favorites is on page 167 concerning the panther in the cocoa powder. But there are lots of little gems like this; I basically put my life on hold to finish your book. It’s that good! Thanks for a great read!

    • I am so glad you noticed the panther in the cocoa powder – I remember lying on the futon one night before going to sleep doing the chocolate section and I was chuckling to myself as I wrote it. Thanks for noticing and thanks for reading the book!

  15. Wonderful, Neil. A great and meaningful collab!

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