iconic perfumes: 22 posts

“10 Fragrances Every Woman Should Own” : Red Magazine

Red Magazine’s November issue includes my love letter to Guerlain Chamade in its feature, “10 Fragrances Every Woman Should Own.” I was thinking more along the lines of a great perfume everyone should try, and Chamade made the cut for a number of reasons: it has a distinctive personality, an original form, and it is beyond the trends and whims of fashion. There are many excellent and unexpected selections in the article. For instance, Tania Sanchez makes an impassioned call for Lush’s Gorilla Perfume Breath of God. Michael Donovan writes about Caldey Island Lavender Water, and Sali Hughes makes a great case for considering Chanel No 5.

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I also describe why I love Serge Lutens’s Féminité du Bois in Red’s online feature, Best Perfumes for Women.

If you were to suggest fragrances for others to try, what would you include?

Guerlain Habit Rouge and Its Family : Perfume Review

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Jean-Paul Guerlain, the last perfumer for the house carrying the family name, once memorably said that one could be a Shalimar woman or a L’Heure Bleue woman, but not both. Of course, he made the statement in his usual provocative manner, but the idea was that the two perfumes had such different characters that you loved either one or the other. I had all the makings of a L’Heure Bleue woman, having fallen for its older sister Après l’Ondée, but then I met Habit Rouge. One encounter was all it took for me not only to be captivated by its velvety orange blossom doused in incense and bergamot, but also to understand the allure of Shalimar.

Habit-Rouge-Guerlain

That Habit Rouge is marketed to men should make no difference to women. In 1965, when Habit Rouge was created by Guerlain, the collection had many splendid feminine perfumes like Jicky, Shalimar, L’Heure Bleue, and Mitsouko, but the offerings for men were considerably less outstanding. The exception was Vétiver, which Jean-Paul Guerlain created a few years earlier. His solution to draw gentlemen to the perfume counter was to take the basic outline of Shalimar and its famous accord of citrus and sweet oriental notes and give it a dandy appeal with leather and green orange blossom. The result was a less sweet, less curvy and less ripe version of Shalimar, but with all the elegance and panache of its great ancestor.

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Perfume Classics For Beginners

Classical perfumes smell of another era and are the best way to time travel, but if you’re new to this style of fragrance, it can be challenging. In my fragrance  column, Picking an iconic scent for a perfume wardrobe, I explore classics that would be best suited for beginners. In addition, I mention some interesting modern fragrances that have a classical character.

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“I have no luck with classic perfumes,” confessed a friend. “My grandmother wore Jean Patou’s Joy, my mother loved Chanel No 5, but when I wear these fragrances, I feel as if I’m playing dress up.” She wondered why she completely missed the allure of fragrances that are widely considered to be iconic. It is easy to attribute it to personal tastes and associations, but I decided to embark on a classics challenge. Please read the rest by clicking here.

What beginner friendly classical perfumes would you recommend?

Image via FT/HTSPI

Fragrances That Influenced Perfume History : 100 Great Perfumes Series 5 / 10

I’m happy to bring back the much requested series on fragrances that influenced perfume history. If you’re new to this feature, please start with Series 1, in which I describe how this project came about and how I made the selections.  Perfumery evolves slowly, and classical ideas continue to influence new creations. As I mentioned before, you need not enjoy classics (and you certainly shouldn’t feel bad about disliking Chanel No 5 or not “getting” Guerlain Mitsouko). Every perfume, as is the case for art, music or literature, has its own era and its special flavor, and some of us gravitate to contemporary examples. But smelling classics at least once is important if you want to understand where modern perfumery gathers its inspiration. treemoss

Series 1 :: Series 2 :: Series 3 :: Series 4 :: Series 5 :: Series 6 :: Series 7 :: Series 8 :: Series 9 :: Series 10

41. Coriandre          (Jean Couturier, perfumers Gérard Pelpel and Jacqueline Couturier, 1973) The 1970s were the era of the chypre, a mossy woody fragrance family. It developed much earlier in the 20th century with Coty Chypre giving it a modern form, and then Guerlain Mitsouko making it more accessible, but the love affair with moss really exploded in the 1970s. If you enjoy this genre, the 1970s perfumes are going to be a great discovery.

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Perfumers on Perfume : Ernest Beaux on Fragrance Masterpieces

Today we know Ernest Beaux first and foremost as the creator of Chanel No. 5, but he was also responsible for Bois des Îles, Cuir de Russie, No. 22, and many other early Chanel perfumes. His style is elegant and graceful, but with a strong character. Soir de Paris, a fragrance he created for Bourjois, doesn’t just skip from one note to another; it shimmers, revealing in one moment a peppery citrus and green leaves, and in another a velvety rose and wood shavings. As it turns out, Beaux was not only a great perfumer; he was also a good writer, and his candid observations remain relevant today. In partnership with the Osmothèque, I offer you an excerpt from Memories of a perfumer (Souvenirs d’un parfumeur), a 1946 magazine article by Ernest Beaux published in Industrie de la Parfumerie.   

Ernest-Beaux

The article gives a glimpse into what Beaux considered to be the greatest perfumes of his time and his thoughts on the art of perfumery in general. “If our thoughts are but fantasies, such fantasy finds, thanks to the talent of the perfumer, a possibility of fulfillment,” he writes, and I cannot agree more.

The article comes from the archives of the Osmothèque, a French non-profit institution whose mission is to preserve fragrances in their original formulations. The current regulations make it impossible for Chanel to offer No.5 as Beaux intended it to be, but the Osmothèque features it in its collection, which is open to the public. You can also discover there the fragrance masterpieces Beaux mentions in the article:  Houbigant Cœur de Jeannette, Houbigant Fougère Royale, Houbigant Le Parfum Idéal, Houbigant Quelques Fleurs, Piver Le Trèfle Incarnat, Roger & Gallet Vera Violetta, Guerlain Jicky, Guerlain Après l’Ondée, Guerlain L’Heure Bleue, Coty La Rose Jacqueminot, Coty L’Origan, Caron Le Narcisse Noir, Lanvin Scandal, and Lanvin Arpège.

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