Perfect Seal : The Art of Baudruchage

One rarely gets to use ‘Chanel’ and ‘beef intestine’ in the same sentence, but perfumery is often a mixture of seemingly incongruous concepts. The heavenly aroma of jasmine wouldn’t be possible without the raunchy notes of horse sweat and moth balls.  To make a mouthwatering berry, a perfumer not only needs materials that smell of roses and violets, but also of rot and decay. The art of baudruchage is another such example. Well before technology made possible vacuum tight seals, craftsman used a fine membrane of animal origin, a baudruche, to protect the liquid inside the glass bottles.

chanel-parfums

But if you’re feeling slightly put off by all of this dirty talk, please heave a sigh of relief. Today, the baudruche is usually made of synthetic fibers, onion paper or other natural (although not animal) materials. You can recognize the baudruchage seal by the fine, transparent skin around the neck of the bottle.  Modern innovations aside, baudruchage is one of the most traditional and unique perfumery techniques. Since it is done by hand, one bottle at a time, few perfume houses resort to this labor intensive sealing method. Chanel, Guerlain, and Jean Patou* still employ it for the most precious item in their collections–the extrait de parfum.

chanel no 19-3

The baudruchage is created by placing a dampened, extensible membrane over the neck and stopper of the bottle. The baudrucheuses, as the craftswomen who seal bottles are called, can do around 100 bottles per hour. Then a silk or metal thread is used to keep the membrane in place, and a drop of wax is the final touch. At Chanel, there are 8 such artisans for the entire house, while Guerlain employs 7. It means that when you hold a baudruche sealed bottle of Shalimar or L’Heure Bleue, one of these Dames de Table has touched it.

shalimar1

In case you haven’t yet heard enough bottle sealing French jargon, here are two more words for your vocabulary: barbichage (bearding the silk threads) and brossage (brushing the yarn into place), two related techniques for creating the delicate tassels for Shalimar or the pink extravaganza for La Petite Robe Noire display bottles.

lprn

If a bottle sealed with a baudruche and intricate threading lands in my lap, I try to preserve the thread after breaking the seal. It’s much simpler than it seems, although it requires some care.

Start opening the bottle by rocking the glass stopper back and forth. With the stopper released half-way, gently pull the edges of the membrane over the neck of the bottle. The baudruche is flexible enough to manipulate easily, but you can also dampen it lightly to make it more pliable. The membrane itself looks a bit messy around the stopper, so I remove it completely and keep it in the box.

chanel1chamade

A cord seal on most bottles can be simply loosened enough to pull out the glass stopper. Guerlain bottles can usually be opened without destroying the elaborate tassel. Just rock the stopper back and forth delicately and pull it up and out, stretching the cord.

Needless to say, if none of this works or you simply don’t want to bother, just cut the thread and forget about it. The most precious part of your perfume is inside the bottle itself.

chanel no 19-2

One last comment on the best way to apply perfume from stoppered bottles. If you plan to finish the fragrance within a year, go ahead and just use the stopper or your fingers. Perfume is a delicate substance, but it’s not so fragile that brief contact with your skin will quickly destroy it. But if you have a large perfume wardrobe or simply would like to preserve your collection for as long as possible, apply fragrance by using a small disposable pipette. It may not be the most romantic way to perfume yourself, but this application technique makes it possible to create a perfect sillage.

Start with two drops at the back of your neck, close to the hairline. Then add one or two–depending on the strength of perfume–on your chest and stomach. The remaining amount can be wiped on the wrists. There is nothing more comforting than stealing a surreptitious whiff of your favorite scent throughout the day.

*If you’re aware of other perfume houses using baudruchage today to seal their bottles, please comment. Guerlain has not always used baudruchage on its bottles, and my bottle of Nahéma from 2012 doesn’t have it.

Extra: if you want to talk baudruchage, barbichage and brossage, Frag Name of the Day will help with pronunciation.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin. Also, please take a look at photos of baudruchage, barbichage and brossage at Guerlain via Osmoz. To see Chanel’s practice in action, please watch this great video (thank you, Anne!)

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128 Comments

  • Martyn: What a great little article. I love to discover all the tiny details about the things I’m interested in. Thank you! March 5, 2014 at 7:39am Reply

    • Victoria: We’re geeks (and that’s a compliment for me). 🙂 But I also love the fact that so much of the work in perfumery is done by hand. March 5, 2014 at 8:51am Reply

  • Martha: I bought a bottle of vintage Shalimar EDP off ebay. It was sealed and, for a moment, I hesitated to cut the twisted cord because the entire package looked perfect and beautiful intact. However, I ruthlessly cut the cord and opened the bottle. I did save the cord and the little medal. The seal was blue and I assumed that it was some type of synthetic material March 5, 2014 at 7:58am Reply

    • Victoria: I think that because the cord is tied by hand, some bottles are easier to open without having to cut it than others. In the end, it doesn’t matter much. But occasionally, people want to know how you can open the bottle to preserve the intricate lacing. No 19 in the photos was my husband’s holiday gift, so I opened after having had some champagne. So, even with slightly shaky hands, it was still possible to keep the cord in place. 🙂 March 5, 2014 at 8:41am Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: Thanks for this interesting and informative post. It never crossed my mind that there are craftswomen wholly dedicated to sealing the bottles. It made me smile imagining these women putting ‘baudrucheuse’ under occupation in some forms and how almost all people would have no idea of what it means. It’s incredible that only 7 or 8 people do the job for the whole house. I found this nice video on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jN29Ixsyrk

    Victoria, do you seal your parfum bottles with Parafilm when they’re not in use? Or is there a better way to store them for a long time? March 5, 2014 at 8:37am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much! I’ve added the link to the main article, because it makes it so much easier to imagine how things are done. And wow, I’m amazed by her dexterity. Isn’t it cool how neatly the craftsperson arranges the wax seal?

      I use parafilm, yes. It’s my personal baudruchage. 🙂 March 5, 2014 at 10:21am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: You’re welcome. I only found it by chance but it was really fascinating to watch, especially the way she tied the thread around.

        I told you about my re-discovery of Chanel No 5 parfum (the bottle itself and the scent) over last Christmas. One of the reasons why it was left unused for many years was because I wasn’t sure how to open it. I have to admit that I opened it quite brutally in the end. I wish I could have read this article earlier! March 5, 2014 at 5:00pm Reply

        • Victoria: Hmm, older bottles are trickier to open, because some of the perfume oil might glue the stopper inside the bottle. The best trick is to apply something ice cold to the stopper. Or depending on what’s holding the stopper tight, warm the top with a blow dryer. One of these should make it budge. March 6, 2014 at 11:35am Reply

      • Bert K.: Some more baudruchage pictures here: http://www.notcot.com/archives/2007/09/sealing-chanel.php March 6, 2014 at 5:07am Reply

        • Victoria: Oh, terrific! Thanks so much for this link. The tool they use for stamping the wax seals is so interesting, almost medieval. March 6, 2014 at 12:10pm Reply

    • Snowyowl: This link was so interesting! Thanks! March 5, 2014 at 1:41pm Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: I found it by chance and was glad to share it! 🙂 March 5, 2014 at 5:02pm Reply

    • SallyM: Fascinating video – I love the wax seal at the end – just like how letters used to be sealed in the “old days.” March 5, 2014 at 5:57pm Reply

  • Marsha Smith: Thank you for this post Victoria. I love new words! March 5, 2014 at 8:40am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re welcome! 🙂 March 5, 2014 at 10:22am Reply

  • Zazie: I managed to mess up my first bottle of extriat ever (Shalimar), by breaking the beautiful chord in the wrong way… I made silly efforts trying to get it back into place, but no luck…
    I like the old fashion quality of baudruchage (thanks for allowing us to put a name on it!), but I dislike the fact that it becomes (and looks) quite dirty, even if I trim it… March 5, 2014 at 8:43am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, that’s the reason why I remove it completely. I only kept it on that bottle of No 19 to show what it looks like. March 5, 2014 at 10:23am Reply

  • Solanace: This kind of detail and delicate craftsmanship is so beautiful, it is comforting to see a bit of such traditions managing to survive. Thank’s for sharing, I’d never heard of any of these techniques. Amazing pictures, by the way. 🙂 March 5, 2014 at 9:10am Reply

    • Victoria: I know! I love that aspect too. Am I an incurable romantic? 🙂

      And thank you, I still have to learn more about photography, but it’s a fun process. March 5, 2014 at 10:25am Reply

  • Sandra: Great article Victoria. I had a seal on my perfume bottle of coco mademoiselle. This is the first time I have ever read what its exactly made up of and the whole process.

    I had a question. So on the bottle of Nahema that does not have a seal, what to you do with the string? March 5, 2014 at 9:18am Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you liked it!
      The bottle of Nahema has a quadrilobe stopper, with the cord going around it. You simply push the cord off and take the stopper out. You don’t have to cut anything. March 5, 2014 at 10:29am Reply

      • Sandra: What do you normally do with the string, throw it away it keep it around the bottle ? Just wanted to know what people do with it March 5, 2014 at 11:55am Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, I just let hang around the bottle, it keeps the tassel in place. March 5, 2014 at 1:23pm Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Great pictures, great article! I never heard of the baudruchage. Never had a thought opening a sealed bottle, so this is enlightening. Old fashioned craftmanship, still existing, how wonderful.
    My bottle of extrait Nahéma (bought in 2012) was sealed. March 5, 2014 at 9:53am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s a really interesting technique, and I love how there are all of these specialized words. Baudruchage and barbichage aren’t really used in any other contexts, as far as I know.

      How interesting! Was there a fine membrane around the glass stopper of your Nahema? March 5, 2014 at 10:32am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Yes, it was there. March 5, 2014 at 10:35am Reply

        • Victoria: Perhaps, they sealed some batches and not others? Mine came from Guerlain boutique. March 5, 2014 at 11:49am Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: I bought it in de Bijenkorf, a departmentstore, in Amsterdam. They have a little Guerlain corner. March 5, 2014 at 12:59pm Reply

            • Victoria: I smelled some perfumes there the last time I was in Amsterdam. de Bijenkorf is such a good store. March 5, 2014 at 1:24pm Reply

              • Cornelia Blimber: Yes, it is. They have now Tom Ford (the expensive line) and Armani Privé, and there were plans for a Guerlain boutique, but alas, maybe that will be too expensive.
                The SA are friendly there and let you sniff as much as you want.
                Did you also visit the Hermès boutique with the perfumes?
                It’s a pity that Iris Silver Mist will not come to De Bijenkorf. March 5, 2014 at 2:47pm Reply

                • Victoria: I don’t remember visiting Hermes, but I stopped by the Dior corner. It was all so neatly arranged, and they had most of the classics on display. March 6, 2014 at 11:13am Reply

  • Rose: Dear Victoria,

    I’ve been waiting for this article so long!!! Please tell me what to do in case of travel, is it possible to safely travel with a perfume (I have Coco Mademoiselle Extrait) or it is a mission impossible? March 5, 2014 at 10:20am Reply

    • Victoria: My pleasure, Rose! 🙂

      Yes, you can definitely travel with your Coco Mademoiselle, but I would recommend sealing the bottle with parafilm. I have some more info about the parafilm here:

      http://boisdejasmin.com/2013/06/making-fragrance-decants-and-samples-in-pictures.html

      And then I would put it inside its own ziplock bag with a piece of absorbent paper towel inside. Sounds pedantic, but if something happens and your bottle leaks, at least you won’t have the whole bag smelling of perfume for months. March 5, 2014 at 10:41am Reply

  • Andy: When I started my day, I knew nothing about baudruchage, but it’s fascinating! I feel that anything that involves a handmade, labor intensive process is special in our increasingly mechanized world. The artistry involved in baudruchage reminds me of the Series 7 Kolinsky sable watercolor brushes made by Winsor Newton. Each one is made by a small group of skilled laborors, and the brushes are utterly beautiful. I have a few Kolinsky brushes (not the ones mentioned) and they are such a pleasure to use. I can only imagine how a series 7 must feel! March 5, 2014 at 10:42am Reply

    • Victoria: All of these crafts are so interesting. If you’re curious about another very traditional and totally handmade craft, check out the videos on how pointe shoes for ballet are made. Or tutus. Fascinating!

      I’ll have to look up the Kolinsky brushes. March 5, 2014 at 1:26pm Reply

      • Andy: I had no clue that the accoutrements to ballet also had such an artistry behind them! But I guess when it comes to all forms of art, whether it be perfume, dance, or painting, there is always bound to be art going on behind the art we see, so to speak.

        By the way, the mention of onion paper possibly being used for baudruchage makes me smile. 🙂 March 5, 2014 at 6:29pm Reply

        • Victoria: One thing that I find interesting about pointe shoes is that paper, wood and glue are still considered to be the best materials for making them. Not sure if it’s because we, dancers, are a conservative lot when it comes to our footwear. March 6, 2014 at 11:43am Reply

  • Leah: I have some short clips of the women at Guerlain dressing the bottles – I will have to look for them and send them to you. Some of their vintage books have photographs of the tables where the women work and it is quite a sight to see all those bottles laid out. It’s comforting that some houses still employ these techniques – it certainly conveys a sense of quality and luxuriousness to the bottles. March 5, 2014 at 11:03am Reply

    • Victoria: I would love it, Leah! Thank you. I have never been inside Guerlain factories, but people who visited say that it’s very interesting to see the ladies work. March 5, 2014 at 1:28pm Reply

  • Gentiana: Very interesting, informative and useful.
    I felt totally helpless in front of my bottle of Guerlain L’Instant extrait bought 2 years ago, I didn’t open it being afraid not to ruin it. But now, that the EDP is finished, I crave for the smell and I die from curiosity. My stopper simply doesn’t want to come out and I don’t want to cut the thread…
    I will follow the steps above. I hope it will work. March 5, 2014 at 11:04am Reply

    • Victoria: Hmm, I don’t remember how the thread on a L’Instant bottle looks like, but since Guerlain has different designs and ties for different bottles, you might have to cut the cord. For instance, you have to cut the cord on the Mitsouko bottles, since it loops around the heart-shaped stopper. March 5, 2014 at 1:30pm Reply

  • Gentiana: I wanted to say cord (instead of thread). March 5, 2014 at 11:05am Reply

    • Victoria: Gotcha! I sort of used them interchangeably anyway. March 5, 2014 at 1:30pm Reply

  • Caroline: Thanks for adding to our knowledge of perfume lore. How did you manage to leave the no 19 sticker on the inner box intact? Admit I used an exacto knife (so both halves of the label line up), but would like to know a better method! March 5, 2014 at 11:08am Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you found it interesting!

      On newer boxes, the sticker is not glued on. Its top part is detached from the top half of the box.

      On older boxes, yes, one just has to use a sharp knife. March 5, 2014 at 1:32pm Reply

  • Ashley Anstaett: I just love the idea of this. I’d love to meet some of the women involved in the process! It seems like such a select group, and such an old-fashioned thing to do. But it’s really beautiful, and in a world where it feels like everyone’s always in a big rush, it’s nice to know that people still take great care to create something, however small, that is so beautiful and delicate. March 5, 2014 at 11:20am Reply

    • Victoria: You’ve put it so nicely, Ashley. It’s a lovely image, and it’s the reason why I like these kind of touches. In the world of mass production and mass consumption, some human touch on things we enjoy really feels like luxury. March 5, 2014 at 1:34pm Reply

  • Annette Reynolds: Victoria, I found this fascinating. There’s a whole world of things happening out there that we have no idea about. March 5, 2014 at 12:17pm Reply

    • Victoria: I do too, and I enjoy this kind of attention to detail. Of course, many other brands use interesting packaging techniques, but as far as baudruchage goes, there aren’t so many. March 5, 2014 at 1:35pm Reply

  • Jaime: This has been the most interesting thing I’ve read in a while — I’ll have to ask my mum about this special step in opening a bottle as she only ever buys No. 5 parfum. March 5, 2014 at 12:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: So glad that you liked it, Jaime.

      And your mom smells amazing. I really think that No 5 parfum is very different from the other concentrations. March 5, 2014 at 1:36pm Reply

  • Sulin: I believe Dior’s J’adore extrait also uses baudruchage! March 5, 2014 at 12:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Sulin! I wondered about Dior, but I wasn’t sure. March 5, 2014 at 1:37pm Reply

  • Lauren: How lovely! These small touches of artisanship add so much to our experiences with perfumes. How does one become a baudrucheuse, I wonder? March 5, 2014 at 12:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: I have no idea, but it’s a great question. 🙂 March 5, 2014 at 1:38pm Reply

  • Snowyowl: Is it bad (and perhaps a bit sad :))that I almost salivated just watching the beautiful bottles being sealed in the youtube link, all lined up in a row, gorgeous, beautiful and intricately honored in this process? I love this and find it so fascinating as others have commented that only 7 or 8 people for all of Chanel or Guerlain handle these in this way.

    I save and buy mostly extraits now, mostly for the love of how it is applied, and the beauty which I feel as I adorn myself with these precious scents. It is so much more cost effective to buy samples as I will likely in my lifetime never work through my numerous bottles of perfume, but oh how I love the process of considering what to put on, dabbing/anointing myself for the day. Guerlain has the most beautiful bottles and it feels so special to apply. Thanks for an informative post, Victoria! March 5, 2014 at 1:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, I know what you mean! I replayed the video a couple of times, and it’s just so beautiful. Well, what’s there not to like about that display of golden bottles? 🙂

      Parfums are my favorites too when it comes to classics, because usually that’s the most interesting version out of others available. March 6, 2014 at 10:47am Reply

  • Penelope: I recently indulged in a bottle of “Cuir de Russie” extrait. I wish I had known all this when I opened it, but I can still enjoy the idea that one of those eight ladies sealed my bottle. Thank you, Victoria. March 5, 2014 at 2:00pm Reply

    • Austenfan: You took the words right out of my mouth. My impatience worked against me. I’ll be more careful next time. March 5, 2014 at 2:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’re welcome, Penelope. Cuir de Russie extrait is especially beautiful, especially the lush iris that unfolds in the middle of smoky, leathery and woody notes. It feels so different from other perfumes. March 6, 2014 at 11:11am Reply

  • Ferris: What a great article. I never thought of applying extraits using a disposable pipette.It makes a lot of sense though. I haven’t worn my Chanel N°19 extrait in a while. Usually I dab with the stopper but I always worry about degradation from my own body oils and or accidentally knocking the small bottle of extrait de parfum over. Next time I will employ that technique! I always learn something when ever I read your articles! I think I may even wear my N°19 extrait tomorrow using your pipette application technique! March 5, 2014 at 2:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: Please let me know how it goes. 🙂 Disposable pipettes are so inexpensive on Ebay and it’s easier to dose the quantity of perfume. With the stopper or fingers, I always end up spilling too much. March 6, 2014 at 11:12am Reply

  • Austenfan: As I mentioned above I was a little hasty in opening my bottle of Cuir de Russie extrait. Luckily enough the only thing I threw away was the baudruchage. I kept the little seal.
    Love the article and love the idea of these dedicated ladies. March 5, 2014 at 4:07pm Reply

    • Penelope: Isn’t the extrait beautiful ? So refined. We obviously have the same tastes in perfume and literature. March 6, 2014 at 3:33am Reply

      • Austenfan: I love it, I mostly just sniff the bottle every other day or so. I really liked the EDT because it is so very smokey. But the extrait took my breath away.

        Do you also love Austen? I adore her work, she was just such a genius. March 6, 2014 at 3:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: Well, it’s not a big deal in the end. For instance, when opening my No 19 bottle, I couldn’t save the wax seal. Watching the video, I realized why–the seal is never exactly the same, since it’s done by hand. And yes, those ladies are amazing! March 6, 2014 at 11:23am Reply

      • Austenfan: Well, I am improving. When I tried to open my bottle of the AE 40th anniversary extrait I nearly spilled the entire contents.
        The other new bottle of extrait I own is Divine’s Divine. I am fairly sure that one did not have baudruchage. March 6, 2014 at 3:10pm Reply

        • Victoria: “Nearly” doesn’t count, as my mom says. As long as it’s intact, that’s all that matters. 🙂

          How does the anniversary extrait compares to the regular AE for you? March 6, 2014 at 4:55pm Reply

          • Austenfan: I still prefer the original, and I can never find words to explain why. Let’s say it feels more complete. The anniversary edition is good though, and I really like it.

            Did you try it yourself? March 6, 2014 at 5:09pm Reply

            • Victoria: I tried it only once, and while I liked it, I didn’t think that it had enough drama. It stayed close to the skin and didn’t bloom that much. But it’s certainly very good. I remember that you’re a big fan of the original, which is why I asked your thoughts. March 6, 2014 at 5:14pm Reply

              • Austenfan: I think you are hitting the nail on the head there. I find it a bit sharp somehow.
                I just love the sillage of the EDP. March 6, 2014 at 5:25pm Reply

                • Victoria: The extrait had so little sillage, I had to reapply it. Not something one would expect out of Aromatics Elixir! March 6, 2014 at 7:13pm Reply

  • Ferris: Before your article I never would have noticed how the art of baudruchage played such an essential part in perfume. I can vaguely remember receiving my first extrait from Chanel (N°19) and I was so excited to smell it. In the process I broke the black cord and wax seal and I wondered what the world is this plastic like film was that surrounded the neck of the bottle. Now I know exactly what it is. Thank you so much for informing us and increasing our perfume vernacular. I cherish my bottle of N°19 even more! March 5, 2014 at 4:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: Glad to share! I was concerned that this topic would be little interest, but I’m very happy that it’s not the case. It’s such a cool technique! March 6, 2014 at 11:24am Reply

  • Gil: I had no idea so much care goes into a ‘fresh seal’ – thank you for sharing! March 5, 2014 at 5:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: Learning about it was a discovery for me too. I would never have imagined that there are even specialized artisans for sealing bottles. March 6, 2014 at 11:36am Reply

  • Aisha: I love the image of using a disposable pipette to apply a few drops. It sounds so scientific, and yet so glamorous and mysterious. As if you’re testing a magic potion of some sort on yourself. 😉

    I loved reading this post. I wondered how bottles with stoppers and decorative elements were opened. Now I know. 🙂 March 5, 2014 at 6:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: Now, Aisha, you’ve put so nicely that I’m suddenly feeling much more glamorous with my plastic pipettes. See, one simply has to have the right perspective on things. 🙂 March 6, 2014 at 11:39am Reply

  • Bela: The process of sealing bottles at Penhaligon’s, years ago, was a messy affair involving a potent and dangerous chemical product. This is so much more refined and delicate. Really fascinating. March 5, 2014 at 6:20pm Reply

    • Andy: Bela, I just had to comment because I’ve read your article about when you worked at Penhaligon’s. It has stuck with me because the job sounds like it was truly horrific at times, and for whatever reason it fascinates me to read how unglamorous the labor was that went into packaging the luxurious looking products. Thank you for sharing those stories on your website! March 5, 2014 at 6:36pm Reply

      • Bela: Thanks very much for your kind words, Andy.

        These days, Health and Safety wouldn’t allow the dispensary to be run the way it was. It was a very different time – and a much less litigious one too. LOL! March 5, 2014 at 8:44pm Reply

    • annemariec: Adding my note of thanks to Andy’s. That story of yours has stuck in my mind ever since I read it.

      And to be honest I do wonder if even at Chanel and Guerlain the job isn’t intensely repetitious and dull if that is ALL that those artisans do all day, every day, with no variation? Surely they must work at various other aspects of production? March 5, 2014 at 10:02pm Reply

      • Bela: Thank you, annemarie. I’m delighted you found my story interesting.

        I’m pretty sure it is repetitious and dull, and that is all those women* do all day. This is highly specialised work (just like sewing tiny beads on silk, for instance, in the haute couture realm) and those who master the required skills are not asked – or allowed – to do anything else. I expect there is a nice, friendly atmosphere in the workshop that makes up for the lack of mentally stimulating activity. The reward is in a job well done. All luxury goods are created by a multitude of ‘little people’.

        *it’s always women who do this kind of work March 6, 2014 at 8:48am Reply

      • Victoria: I wondered about that too. March 6, 2014 at 11:56am Reply

    • Victoria: I loved that story, Bela! I have never looked at Bluebell the same way since.

      Thank you for the audio files! 🙂 March 6, 2014 at 11:41am Reply

      • Bela: Oh, no! I’m glad to say I haven’t had to look at Bluebell since. It’s still one of their bestsellers, isn’t it?, so they can’t sue me for making their sales figures go down by my loathing of it, can they? Phew! LOL!

        You’re welcome, V. Any time. 🙂 March 6, 2014 at 3:31pm Reply

        • Victoria: They wouldn’t be able to, because yes, it’s one of their top sellers. I don’t remember what else did really well, but Bluebell always comes up.
          But your story was terrific. The perfume bottles look pretty, but filling them day after day is certainly not romantic. 🙂 March 6, 2014 at 4:52pm Reply

  • Lilly: I Just read your wonderful article and decided to try out the bottle opening technique on the Chamade extrait I bought a few weeks ago. I had put off trying to open it because I hated the thought of cutting the cord. I just rocked the stopper back and forth, like you said, and it came out quite easily. I was overjoyed! Next I looked for the baudruche, and there it was! Thank you, Victoria! It seems like fate that I waited till I came upon your article before opening my lovely bottle! March 5, 2014 at 7:10pm Reply

    • Jillie: Lilly – is this the very latest Chamade extrait that is supposed to smell like the original? I would be really interested in knowing if this is true! March 6, 2014 at 3:27am Reply

      • Lilly: Hello Jillie, I’ve never smelled the original Chamade so I can’t compare the two. All I can say is that my Chamade extrait is the latest and it smells absolutely heavenly! March 6, 2014 at 12:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yay! Very happy that my article came in time. I think that the delicate golden thread on Chamade is such a shame to cut. Isn’t that heart-shaped bottle charming? March 6, 2014 at 11:53am Reply

  • Kneale: What a lovely article, Victoria! How I love these sorts of essays about the details and minutiae of perfumery- now I have to check out my Chanel and Guerlain bottles 🙂 Thank you too for your advice on opening stoppered bottles. March 5, 2014 at 9:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: My pleasure! I’ve destroyed a couple of bottles previously, so I learned from my mistakes. 🙂
      I just remembered that Caron also used to have baudruchage, but I don’t know whether they still use it. March 6, 2014 at 11:56am Reply

  • Undina: It’s one of the most fascinating articles I read in a long while – thank you!

    I also liked your pictures (and I have No 19 and Chamade extraits in my collection – thank you for the pipette idea). March 5, 2014 at 11:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much, Undina! I like the austere, plain design of Chanel bottle as much as I enjoy the whimsy of Guerlain. March 6, 2014 at 12:09pm Reply

  • meganinstmaxime: I loved this article and as usual learnt a lot from it. Fascinating. March 6, 2014 at 5:03am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for letting me know! 🙂 March 6, 2014 at 12:10pm Reply

  • rainboweyes: What a fascinating topic! I’m planning on buying a bottle of either 1932 extrait or No. 19 parfum, so I’m thankful for the hints for opening it. I’m wondering if the Serge Lutens bell jar bottles are sealed in the same manner? My ISM bottle is four years old now and I can’t remember how I opened it. March 6, 2014 at 3:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: Serge Lutens bell jars are sealed with clear plastic, and without the elaborate threads, they’re very easy to open.

      Did you try 1932 already? March 6, 2014 at 4:50pm Reply

      • rainboweyes: No, not yet… And, to be honest, I’m a bit sceptical about it. I tried so hard to love the EdT (just in case La Pausa gets discontinued one day
        and I need alternatives) but it doesn’t really sing to me. I hope that the extrait version has more character and distinctiveness. Do you know if it is available already? I’ll be in Frankfurt next week and hope to find some time to visit the Chanel boutique. But I might end up buying another backup bottle of La Pausa 🙂 March 7, 2014 at 4:43am Reply

        • Victoria: I think so, because our Chanel boutique started carrying the collection. I wore 1932 EDT a lot, but I didn’t end up changing my mind. 28 La Pausa is still the best Chanel iris after No 19. March 7, 2014 at 8:16am Reply

          • rainboweyes: Yes, it definitely is. I hope Chanel will keep it in their product range. I’m wearing it a lot now (alternately with Hiris), it seems so perfect for the mild, sunny days… March 7, 2014 at 8:46am Reply

            • Victoria: I hope so too! It sounds like we have similar iris tastes, although you’ve tried many more iris perfumes than I have. Can’t wait to hear what you think of 1932 parfum when you try it. March 7, 2014 at 12:01pm Reply

  • Roberta: Victoria, your article was so inspiring that on Friday I went to the Chanel shop and indulged in a bottle of Bois des Iles extrait. The lady at Chanel was so nice and gave me a complete “tour” of the perfumes, showing me even the pure ingredients. She showed me the beautiful sandalwood they use for the perfumes and told me that there are only 16 people in the world trained to do the baudruchage at Chanel. Very special indeed!
    By the way, do you know if Chanel uses sandalwood from India in their extraits? The nice lady at Chanel didn’t know for sure. Thanks again for the inspiring reading! March 9, 2014 at 11:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: Isn’t it fascinating how few people are trained for this job? I bet there are very few other such specialized careers. 🙂

      I’m not sure if Chanel uses Indian sandalwood or not. I know that some brands bought up their own supply before India sources became strained; others use the Indian sandalwood grown in Australia. At Serge Lutens boutique, I was told that his Santal de Mysore uses real Indian sandalwood, but I have no way to corroborate this. March 10, 2014 at 12:15pm Reply

  • Weiling: Thank you for this article Victoria. I have always enjoyed reading them, and I have to say this is the perfect piece and the perfect time for me to have encounter it as I have just bought Guerlain Sous Le Vent and L’Heure Bleue parfum. March 12, 2014 at 1:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: So glad that you liked it. Enjoy your beautiful acquisitions, and I hope that you can open them easily! March 12, 2014 at 5:23pm Reply

  • Weiling: Actually, I bought a bottle of Bois de Iles parfum over a year ago but never had the courage to open it. Perhaps I should open all the 3 bottles this week. Hope it turns out well. March 12, 2014 at 1:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: Good luck! And yes, better open and enjoy the perfume. It doesn’t stay fresh forever, while we all need something beautiful every day. 🙂 March 12, 2014 at 5:23pm Reply

  • Etomidac: Firstly, thank you for this very lovely article. The importance and beauty of traditional craftsmenship is definitely something to be appreciated and maintained.

    Today is actually my re-visiting of this great article.
    Reason being, I just got my hands on 2 bottles of La Petit Robe Noire Parfum and before opening the first bottle, I wanted to “do it right” and I remembered finding the perfect instructions here (not to mention reading the article again while studying the bottle with minute detail :P)!

    Thank you again for this article!

    p.s. Definitely getting a bottle of Chanel Jersey Parfum soon. Guess I will be coming back to this piece again! 🙂 June 3, 2014 at 6:41am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so glad that you found it helpful and that you’ve managed to open the bottle and preserve the seal. The beauty of the handmade items is that they are never identical, and even the perfect seals vary a bit from one bottle to another. So, if you do break the wax seal (it did happen to me before!), it might be because the dame de table added the wax seal in a slightly different spot. 🙂 June 3, 2014 at 3:13pm Reply

  • Mendokuse: I just opened a new bottle of Cuir de Russie today, and noticed that the wax seal melts a little when it comes into contact with the perfume (the seal now has my fingerprint impressed on one side), so I recommend that anyone who opens a bottle and intends to keep the cord and seal on it refrain from touching the seal until the perfume that leaks out along the sides of the rim and stopper has dried. 🙂 September 28, 2014 at 11:03am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s a great tip! Thank you for sharing. September 28, 2014 at 4:59pm Reply

  • bluemlein: I still have ounce-bottles of Bal a Versailles that are sealed by baudruchage, which keeps the juice’s colour fresh. Appreciate the suggestions for opening the bottle. December 5, 2014 at 1:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: What a gem! I bet the perfume inside is still good. December 6, 2014 at 8:11am Reply

  • Karen Distelrath: I just received my FIRST ever in my life, bottle of No5 Chanel Parfum and was thrilled to find your write up. It made opening my first bottle all that much more special. Thank you very much! December 22, 2014 at 7:47pm Reply

  • Dina: Lalique, now in the perfume business,
    is using baudruchage on their handmade crystal perfume bottles. These are available for the low, low price of $1800, of course :).
    I couldn’t grab the link but just search Lalique on Neiman Marcus’s website. April 26, 2015 at 10:38am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh my goodness! Let me grab 10 bottles. 🙂
      But seriously, that’s just a crazy price. April 26, 2015 at 10:43am Reply

  • Amy: Victoria, I’m wondering if you can help me out. I have a vintage bottle of Chanel 22 I bought off e-bay probably 10 years ago or so (it is much older than that but I don’t remember how old). It is very tightly sealed and I couldn’t get it open, so I stopped trying. There is definitely wax melted all over the top of the stopper and the seal. I am concerned that anything I do would damage the parfum inside that I hope is as luscious as it looks. Can you please give me some tips on how to open this bottle? May 12, 2015 at 11:54am Reply

    • Victoria: You can try heating the top with air dryer. Let me know how it goes! May 12, 2015 at 4:40pm Reply

  • Bonnie: Thank you so much for this article. I received a sealed vintage bottle of My Sin extrait and thought I would just have to look at it longingly for the rest of my days because I didn’t know how to open it properly – then I googled the matter and was led here. After wrapping a thick rubber band around the top for traction, I rocked the stopper a few times, and it came out easily, cord intact. The scent is incredible. Thank you for your suggestion about applying the perfume with disposable pipettes, too. And I loved learning about baudruchage! June 22, 2015 at 3:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so delighted to hear this, Bonnie. Lucky you to find such a treasure. Enjoy it! June 24, 2015 at 2:09pm Reply

  • Wendy: I recently purchased my first ever bottle of extrait, Chanel Bois Des Iles. It’s opened now but I was wondering if I should cut the black cord to free the stopper or not. With the cord attached, a few drops of the parfum spilled out in the process of the first opening. This was a huge treat for me and I don’t want to waste any precious little drop! September 3, 2015 at 3:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: If you have trouble opening the stopper while it’s still attached, of course, go ahead and cut the cord. I also wouldn’t want to lose any perfume. I don’t use the stopper to apply perfume, though. I keep a small disposable pipette on hand–targeted application and no waste or contamination. September 4, 2015 at 3:44am Reply

      • Wendy: Thanks Victoria! I ended up cutting the little part which connects the stopper to the bottle so that I can use the stopper freely. I don’t mind dabbing straight from the stopper, though I would like to get some Parafilm. The fragrance is gorgeous, but so far I’m not getting great longevity. For two nights in a row I applied before bed and by morning there’s absolutely nothing left. September 8, 2015 at 9:36pm Reply

        • Victoria: The parfum has the least sillage of all versions, and it stays very close to skin. Not sure, but perhaps it also gets rubbed off during sleep? September 9, 2015 at 9:23am Reply

  • Alexandra Star: Thank you so much Victoria. I am delighted to know these wonderful new terms! Your article is perfect, succinct, and clearly informative. Warm thanks! September 20, 2015 at 7:13am Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you found it helpful, Alexandra. September 21, 2015 at 5:02am Reply

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