Chanel, Caron and Guerlain in Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita

“The first time I encountered a perfume that beguiled me was in the pages of a book. The sultry red-haired witch in Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita enticed women with the promise of “Guerlain, Chanel No 5, Mitsouko, Narcisse Noir, evening gowns, cocktail dresses…” It would be some years before I smelled these perfumes, yet their names left a “baffling but seductive” imprint, just as the novel suggested.”

In my recent FT column, Revisiting Three Perfume Classics, I write about the three legendary perfumes that left their “baffling but seductive” trace in literature and history. They are Chanel No 5, Guerlain Mitsouko and Caron Narcisse Noir. Bulgakov started writing his novel in 1928 and worked on it until his death in 1940. The reason he selected these three perfumes as the lure for the black magic show was because they embodied glamour.

Yet, there is a reason why in French the word “classique” has the connotation of well-mannered dullness. Classics may be respected, but they are no longer appreciated for their daring and idiosyncrasy.  Revisiting Chanel No 5, Guerlain Mitsouko and Caron Narcisse Noir, I wanted to cast a fresh look at them to see if they can still hold their spell. The result is my article, which you can read by following this link.

While we are on the subject of Master and Margarita, may I present to you my favorite literary character, the cat Behemoth?

“I shall sit down,’ replied the cat, sitting down, ‘but I shall enter an objection with regard to your last. My speeches in no way resemble verbal muck, as you have been pleased to put it in the presence of a lady, but rather a sequence of tightly packed syllogisms, the merit of which would be appreciated by such connoisseurs as Sextus Empiricus, Martianus Capella, and, for all I know, Aristotle himself.’

Your king is in check,’ said Woland.

Very well, very well,’ responded the cat, and he began studying the chessboard through his opera glasses.

And so, donna,’ Woland addressed Margarita, ‘I present to you my retinue. This one who is playing the fool is the cat Behemoth…”

If you like the Greek philosopher quoting cats, do take a look at Natsume Soseki’s I Am a Cat. If you enjoy finding scent references in novels, please take a look at Perfume in the Library. For detailed reviews of Master and Margarita’s perfumes, continue onto Chanel No 5, Guerlain Mitsouko and Caron Narcisse NoirToday’s versions have been touched by reformulation, but the extrait de parfum concentrations are the closest to what Bulgakov would have encountered.

Marc Chagall, Paris Through My Window (fragment), 1913, Guggenheim Museum, NY. Via wiki-images, some rights reserved.

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76 Comments

  • Richard Goller: Such poetic writing, Victoria. Must re-visit these myself. R May 17, 2017 at 10:57am Reply

    • Victoria: Wearing them as you read Master and Margarita is even better. May 17, 2017 at 2:59pm Reply

  • Michael: I keep my mum’s bottle of 1970s vintage Chanel No 5 extrait de parfum in my dressing table drawer and I can already smell it before I open the box. A friend visited me a few weeks ago to check out my collection of perfumes. When I mentioned this particular item, she confessed that she had never tried Chanel No 5 because of its association as a fragrance for more mature women. That preconceived notion immediately disappeared the moment I dabbed a drop of this precious, amber hued liquid on her wrist. Her response: “OMG! If I had known how beautiful this perfume is, I would have started wearing it a long time ago.” One Chanel No 5 convert added to my tally, many more to go. 🙂

    On a related note, is it just me, or do the new batches of extrait de parfum smell more woody and less complex and/or intense than my bottle? I tested it last year at the Chanel boutique and although you could definitely detect the No 5 DNA, it seemed more pretty than stunning to me. I suspect it may be due to the substitution of nitro musks and other ingredients with their chemically manufactured (ie, IFRA approved) counterparts in the new batches. May 17, 2017 at 11:25am Reply

    • Carol: My mom’s must be late 1960-early 1970s. I love it, but I’m afraid to use it up too quickly. May 17, 2017 at 12:01pm Reply

      • Victoria: Perfume doesn’t stay fresh forever, so please don’t feel guilty to enjoy it. May 17, 2017 at 3:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s not just you. They have been changed, but unlike many people I still find No 5 beautiful. The extrait de parfum is still rich and complex. Of course, comparing it next to the vintage is unfair. Nitro musks are hard to replace. Natural animalics are hard to replace. Etc. May 17, 2017 at 3:01pm Reply

      • Michael: Actually I find that my mum’s vintage bottle comes closer to the current EDP in terms of intensity, especially in the drydown, most likely due to the nitro musks, civet etc. No wonder the current extrait de parfum is described as as an “aldehydic amber” in the second edition of Perfumes: The Guide. May 18, 2017 at 3:08am Reply

        • Victoria: Interesting! I will have to compare my bottle. I have one from almost every decade since the 40s. May 18, 2017 at 6:21am Reply

      • Michael: Oh and speaking of cats, I think another pic of the ever intriguing Viola is due for us cat lovers. 😉 May 18, 2017 at 3:10am Reply

        • Victoria: Will have to involve my mom in taking a photo! May 18, 2017 at 6:22am Reply

  • Jillie: Well, cats always strike me as having quite a gift for philosophy!

    My favourite philosophical quote by a cat comes from Paul Gallico’s Jenny who says: “When in doubt, wash”. It is a great mantra and should be used by everyone puzzling over life’s problems and feeling overwhelmed. It gives you the time to decide wisely ….. May 17, 2017 at 11:25am Reply

    • Victoria: Ha ha! Seems like every cat’s mantra, with variations along the lines of “When in doubt, sleep.” May 17, 2017 at 3:02pm Reply

    • Lydia: Oh, Jennie – the sweetest, kindest, most motherly cat in literature. Her lesson on the difference between cat and human love and loyalty still makes me cry.

      Her advice on washing is great. If only all moments of uncertainty or embarrassment could be handled with a nice bath. May 17, 2017 at 4:20pm Reply

  • Carol: I have a bottle of No 5 from my mom and it smells different from today’s version. It’s less sweet. May 17, 2017 at 11:59am Reply

    • Victoria: I suppose, you’re right, because in today’s version vanilla stands out more. May 17, 2017 at 3:03pm Reply

  • Kate: Ah, I love these examinations of scent in literature! Have you read John Donne’s poem ‘The Perfume’, Victoria? It’s quite something.

    To say that Mitsouko, Chanel No. 5 and Narcisse Noir have been ‘touched by reformulation’ is a tactful understatement, I feel 🙂 It makes you wonder whether what we have nowadays is simply a simulacrum of a lot of masterpieces; whether we have lost a fundamental guy rope to authenticity. As with perfume, so with much about contemporary life, perhaps.

    Having said that, I did acquire a vintage bottle of Guerlain Parure lately, and, schooled on reformulations and the softer-edged, less-challenging contemporary perfumes, its unabashed chypre structure is quite an eye-opener for me. I don’t feel quite grown up enough to wear it, and I’m in my early forties! May 17, 2017 at 12:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: I know that I’ve heard of it, but I haven’t read much of John Donne. I will have to. Meanwhile, for others who haven’t read it, here is a link:
      http://www.bartleby.com/357/65.html

      Mitsouko, Chanel No. 5 and Narcisse Noir in the extrait de parfum versions still smell close enough to the originals to me, in contrast to some other great classics. Mitsouko in the recent years has been reformulated again, so I like this version more than I have the ones in the past. They’re at least still maintained fairly well. I only wish Caron would figure out what it wants to do with the brand–retain its classical DNA (in Michael’s words) or release Oud Carons and other such things. May 17, 2017 at 3:11pm Reply

  • Kandice: Oh I love that cat! Must check that out! May 17, 2017 at 12:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: He also drinks vodka, although he wouldn’t offer it to the ladies. For ladies, he has pure spirits. 🙂 May 17, 2017 at 3:11pm Reply

      • Kandice: Ha ha ha. On my reading list it goes. That’s great! May 18, 2017 at 9:59am Reply

        • Victoria: By the way, if you can find Mirra Ginsberg’s translation is beautiful. May 18, 2017 at 10:23am Reply

          • Lydia: Thanks for the translation suggestion! I just ordered that version from my library. May 25, 2017 at 10:14am Reply

  • Jack: My favorite novel! Can there be another feline character in literature with more personality? May 17, 2017 at 2:07pm Reply

  • spe: Victoria – two questions, if you have a moment, please. All 3 fragrances you refer to are available in extrait. How important is it for perfumery to return predominately to that formulation, in your opinion (vs EDP or the EDT meant originally to be used on fabric)? Also, what do you think L’Heure Bleue is too familiar to include with this group? Lovely article and concept! Thank you! May 17, 2017 at 3:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: I highlighted those three classics only because Bulgakov mentioned them in The Master and Margarita. That was my starting point. You can take this perspective on pretty much anything iconic, of course. L’Heure Bleue can be easily revisited, and it should be.

      The extrait de parfum is still made. The EDT and EDP weren’t specifically meant to be used to fabric, but rather they were a marketing spin to sell more perfume. I don’t think that there is more value to one concentration vs another. It all depends on what you enjoy. They are three different formulas. May 18, 2017 at 6:04am Reply

  • Alicia: I grew up among perfume lovers. My grand mother was an enthusiast gardener, had many old fashioned roses (which smell heavenly), and wore in the summer lavender cologne (perhaps Yardley), and a Creed’s rose fragrance (Fleurs de Bulgarie or something like that). My mother was a faithful Caron woman, wearing Narcisse Blanc for the day, and Narcisse Noir in the evening, together with Tabac Blond. I became an eclectic : Chanel #5 is my scent as a professional ( #18 for autumn), but I adore several other Chanels (Bois des Isles, 31 Rue Cambon, Sycomore, Coromandel). In that sense I am a Chanel lady, but my most intimate love is a Guerlain, L’Heure Bleue. It took me a time to enjoy Mitsouko, which now I do, but my favorite chypre was Rochas Femme. True, most chypres had to be reformulated, and some will never be the same. When I become too nostalgic for the past I smell Jubilation 25, and smile again. May 17, 2017 at 3:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love your family stories and the mentions of all the perfumes the ladies around you wore. I can just imagine how many wonderful memories you have.

      Jubilation 25 is very good, and I agree that it has a whiff of another era, but it’s not old-fashioned. May 18, 2017 at 6:05am Reply

      • Alicia: Victoria, I meant, Chanel 19 for autumn. One of my favorites indeed. Another Chanel beloved is Coco. My mother was allergic to it; thankfully I am not. Another great classic is Patou joy. It has never beguiled me. Narcisse Noir has, and I always keep some. It is no longer what it was on my mother, but it still smells good. Narcisse Noir and Mitsouko were Anais Nin favorite fragrances. My husband was a close friend of her brother, a great musician, both teaching at Berkeley. Very different from his sister, he was a devote Catholic. My husband and Joaquim Nin were fast friends of Pablo Casals. Such glorious times! Ah, nostalgia… May 18, 2017 at 9:47pm Reply

        • katherine x: I too enjoy your interesting stories Alicia. Your love for those glorious times, friends and family shines thru. So uplifting – reminds me of my own fun and tender memories. Sometimes it’s the little things, like the perfume they wore or loved that keeps it real. May 18, 2017 at 10:15pm Reply

          • Alicia: Thank you, Katherine. Indeed, the little things bring me back to my childhood, a poem, a perfume,a song, a rose… I have tried to recreate in my Berkeley home my grandmother’s rose garden, and every morning, when i cut some flowers for the house, I remember her. Someone said that our loved ones don’t die until we do. In a sense it is true, since they are very much alive in my soul. Thank you again, Katherine. May 19, 2017 at 4:57am Reply

        • Victoria: Joy is not my favorite either. I like the green jasmine of the EDT, but I still don’t wear it much.

          Bach Cello Suites in Pablo Casals’s rendition is one of my favorite pieces of music. My recording isn’t perfect, but his playing has so much character and feeling that a bit of static doesn’t matter.

          Indeed, it sounds like you’ve met many incredible people. How fortunate! May 19, 2017 at 1:52pm Reply

          • Alicia: Victoria, my family -on the Spanish side- was deeply involved in the literal world of the first half of the 20th century. My husband was an Ambassador representing the Spanish Republic, and had close friends among all the writers and artists of the so called Generation of the 27. Among other things he was the boyfriend of Dali’s sister, a lovely girl. When in exile in the USA, he had occasion to invite to the country many great poets, Gabriela Mistral, Neruda, Vargas Llosa. Sabato and Rafael Alberti lived in my house for six months. Salinas and Guillén graced many of our dinners. Borges was my professor of English literature. The superb Segovia played the guitar for us in a magical night. Joaquin Nim and Casals were his close friends. It was a small world of expatriates, united by the tragedy of the Civil War, which met as often as they could to dream of what could have been and never was. They attracted into their circle the Latin American writers of similar democratic and aesthetic ideas. It was a world now gone. Immensely creative, very beautiful, and very tragic. May 19, 2017 at 4:16pm Reply

            • Alicia: literary world, not literal! The automatic correctors sometimes are silly. May 19, 2017 at 4:25pm Reply

            • Victoria: Quite an impressive circle of people, Alicia. We appreciate your stories. May 20, 2017 at 7:25am Reply

        • Notturno7: Dear Alicia, I wish you could write a biography! Your life story is amazing!
          And looking at your perfume favorites, sounds like you and Karen A are my perfume twins ❤️!
          I even have a vintage Rochas Femme that I’m (foolishly) scared to use up. I’m so glad to hear about Jubilation 25 and its similarity to Femme.
          That’s wonderful.
          I love Amouage Gold but haven’t tried Jubilation 25 yet. May 24, 2017 at 4:01am Reply

          • Alicia: Notturno dear, how wonderful to hear from you. Just a few hours ago I returned from a long stay in Santa Cruz (lectures and research), previously I went to my beloved Carmel, which I always enjoy. So I am now in Berkeley. for a while at least. Dear, in reference to Amouage Jubilation 25, it is not quite Mitsouko, not quite Femme, but I think that it has the DNA of the chypres before the oakmoss restriction. Let me know what you think. I suspect that nothing will ever again be just what it was when bergamot and moss were the pillars of the chypre construction. Still, I find Jubilation 25 a true chypre, perfectly satisfactory , with that traditional chypre sophistication which reminds me of le temps de jadis. As for Amouage, I love Gold, and Lyric, and others whose names I forgot. A few disappointed me, which happens with all Houses. Even Guerlain, a rare time Chanel, and now so often Caron. I imagine that research is going on continuously, and therefore lies the perpetual hope of new masterpieces being created perhaps very soon. May 27, 2017 at 4:36pm Reply

            • Notturno7: Dear Alicia,
              Thank you for your lovely post.
              I’m so glad you are enjoying being California and yes, I love Carmel, too, it’s lovely. We are going there next week.
              I’ll let you know when I get a sample of Jubilation 25.
              Today I tried the sample of Honour but didn’t like it as much as Gold. It was pretty nice and it smelled like they had high quality ingredients, my sample bottle leaked a little oily trail (that sometimes happens with my Carnal Flower that has tuberose oil)but it had a note that it’s hard to explain for me, that I find in modern perfumes that are so much alike. Something clean that reminds me of the swimming pool!
              Maybe it’s that iso molecule.
              Gosh, I’d be terrible if I had to explain fragrances 😅
              I’m off to bed with a dab of Nuit de Noel vintage extrait.
              For sweet dreams 😴💓mmmmm lovely! May 28, 2017 at 5:25am Reply

              • Alicia: To my nose, my dear friend, Gold is Amouage’s masterpiece. I know that as a chypre I like Jubilation 25, and as a rose I like Lyric. I thought Epic interesting, but not enough to buy a bottle. Honour, Dia and Memoir were not memorable, and I have no memory of them. Lately I tried Fate and Beloved, I liked both, but when I buy another bottle of Amouage, I will order Gold. Have you tried Andy Tauer’s creations? I have been smitten by one of them, L’Air du Desert Marocain. May 28, 2017 at 10:06pm Reply

                • Notturno7: Thank you, Alicia!
                  I haven’t tried any of these perfumes.
                  Oh, how much I love the sweet discovery of new treasures 💖
                  Can’t wait to get my paws and nose on to the store tester of Jubilation 25, Lyric and also on Andy Tauer’s L’Air du Desert Marocain. I never tried any of Tauer’s perfumes. This is so exciting!! May 30, 2017 at 3:57am Reply

  • Alicia: Borges was not fond of novels (except for Don Quijote), but loved cats. Here is his poem, “To a cat”:
    Mirrors are not more silent
    nor the creeping dawn more secretive;
    in the moonlight, you are that panther
    we catch sight of from afar.
    By the inexplicable workings of a divine law,
    we look for you in vain;
    More remote, even, than the Ganges or the setting sun,
    yours is the solitude, yours the secret.
    Your haunch allows the lingering
    caress of my hand. You have accepted,
    since that long forgotten past,
    the love of the distrustful hand.
    You belong to another time. You are lord
    of a place bounded like a dream. May 17, 2017 at 3:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote is my favorite Borges story!

      Thank you for this poem. “You are lord
      of a place bounded like a dream,” sounds as if it were spoken of our Viola. May 18, 2017 at 6:08am Reply

  • Lydia: I’ve been curious about Master and Margarita for years now, and perhaps your post will be my door in. The appeal of great literature containing a sarcastic, talking black cat and vintage perfume references can’t be denied.

    Your article and posts also reinforce my determination to finally smell vintage Narcisse Noir, even if I can only find the tiniest sample of it. I’ve always loved this quote in Anais Nin’s Henry and June:
    “I should not be using ink but perfume. I should be writing with narcisse Noir, with Mitsouko, with jasmine, with honeysuckle.”

    I’ve started collecting perfume references in fiction for the fun of it. I sometimes find them in early 20th C novels and memoirs, and I always get a little thrill when I come across one.

    Here’s one from the Powell-Pressburger 1970s novelization of their 1948 film, The Red Shoes:
    “What was that scent she used? Arpege? Or was it Coty? Her Mayfair accent made him tired. And what about turning up for an audition in a Paris gown and a crown on her head? I ask you! A bloody crown!”

    A reference in The Red Shoes led me to The Madonna of the Sleeping Cars by Maurice Dekobra, a 1927 novel that is full of fragrance references and fun 1920s style details.

    “I waited a few minutes in a boudoir which was saturated with chypre and Turkish tobacco.”

    “She smelled of one of Coty’s oldest perfumes. Not badly shod, but with coarse silk stockings and a string of immitation pearls.” (That gives a pretty good idea of how wearing outdated Coty scents was regarded in the 1920s!)

    “I don’t intend to worship virtue nor to dress myself in sackcloth so long as Patou continues to make stunning models, and Guerlain such heavenly perfumes.”

    You could probably find these references in any well-researched period romantic novel, but somehow they’re more fun when you read them in books from the actual era. May 17, 2017 at 3:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: Lydia, wow, so many great quotes! Thank you so much. I agree with you, the contemporary references are even more interesting. There is a novel called The City by Valerian Pidmohylny, a Ukrainian writer from the 1920s, and he also mentions Coty and has a long passage about a writer buying this perfume for his lover and perfuming her with it. May 18, 2017 at 6:10am Reply

      • Lydia: Victoria, I just noticed your response here.
        I’m not familiar with that author, but I wish I could read the novel you mentioned. Alas, the only Pidmohyiny book I see at my library is “A little touch of drama,” which appears to be a play.

        Side note: the passage you described instantly reminded me of a very funny entry in the Turin/Sanchez A-Z perfume guide about someone who liked to splash his girlfriend with fragrance “‘on the body,’ as if there existed tempting alternatives.” (The guide is such a delight. I can’t wait for the new edition!) May 23, 2017 at 6:39pm Reply

        • Victoria: A Little Touch of Drama is a novel, rather than a play, and if you have a chance, do read it. There is a mention of perfume, too, and it plays an important role in creating the ambiance of the heroine. Her rival is also scented, but very differently. It’s a marvelous work, and it’s such a pity that Pidmohylny wasn’t allowed to live longer and develop his talent further.

          I also look forward to the new edition of the Guide. May 24, 2017 at 2:05am Reply

          • Lydia: Thank you, I definitely want to read it now!

            I just looked at the Wikipedia entry for Valerian Pidmohylny and discovered he belonged to a group of Ukrainian writers and artists referred to as Executed Renaissance, which I’d never heard of. What a terrible, tragic story. It reminds me of the haunting description in Clive James’ Cultural Amnesia of Vienna’s pre-war cafe culture and its destruction by the Nazis. May 24, 2017 at 11:21am Reply

            • Victoria: I really wish his novel “The City” were translated, because it gives such a vivid picture of Kyiv before the tragedies of Stalin’s year. There are other writers in that group I admire, but his works are particularly impressive.

              Adding Clive James’ Cultural Amnesia to my list of books to read. May 25, 2017 at 3:06am Reply

              • Lydia: That sounds so moving.
                I’m going to send emails to Archipelago Books, Pushkin Press, and NYRB requesting an English edition. I’m just one person, but maybe other people are interested as well. I know some of these smaller publishing houses solicit suggestions for future publications, so it can’t hurt.

                I hope you like Cultural Amnesia. It’s highly opinionated and meandering in the best way, like sitting with your brilliant, cultured, funny, polyglot uncle and letting him take you on a journey through history and the arts. May 25, 2017 at 10:27am Reply

  • Austenfan: Is the Caron ridiculously expensive or is this extrait de parfum?

    You’ve reminded me yet again about a novel I have to read.
    Love the Chagall. I went to see the exhibit in Brussels a few years ago. It was magical. May 17, 2017 at 4:49pm Reply

    • Victoria: I recall that they had the 1/2 oz bottles, which were priced at the usual extrait de parfum price. Not cheap, that’s true. But the EDT is rather vile.

      I saw that exhibit in Brussels, and it really made me appreciate how rich his imagination were. The art from that period is probably one of my favorites. May 18, 2017 at 6:13am Reply

      • Austenfan: Chagall really created his own universe. It was one of the best exhibits I ever went to. May 18, 2017 at 9:47am Reply

        • Victoria: It was especially interesting to see how he evolved as an artist over time. The fantasy universe he created still continues to draw us. May 18, 2017 at 10:18am Reply

  • Gabriela: Just bought the book! Lovely article. And the Chagall is so beautiful, one of my favorite painters. May 18, 2017 at 4:03am Reply

    • Gabriela: Meant artist not painter! Oh my English… May 18, 2017 at 4:30am Reply

      • Victoria: You’re correct using both words! And your English is very good. May 18, 2017 at 6:22am Reply

    • Victoria: Please do let me know how you like it!

      This painting is one of my favorites. May 18, 2017 at 6:22am Reply

  • behemot: Wonderful, wonderful post! Thank you so much. I feel I have to revisit Narcise Noir….:):):) May 18, 2017 at 3:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: I suspected that you will appreciate the cat Behemot and perfume mention. May 19, 2017 at 1:49pm Reply

      • behemot: Of course, meow 🙂 May 19, 2017 at 2:00pm Reply

  • orsetta: thank you for this wonderful post!
    Master and Margarita happens to be one of my top 3 novels; I have read it in different language versions and translations and most probable will re-read it many times :).

    the whole scene in the theatre is magnificent and this passage is a particular joy

    thank you again, Victoria, for enticing more people to the beauty and magic of Bulhakov’s writing May 19, 2017 at 5:01am Reply

    • Victoria: That scene and the flight of the Master and Margarita are two of the most memorable scenes in the book for me. When I read the latter, I still get shivers up my spine. May 19, 2017 at 1:54pm Reply

  • aurora: Perfumes in books, when you smelled them the 3 perfumes did they live up to expectations? Also, I always wondered what perfume was Brigitte Bardot wearing in Serge Gainzbourg’s song BB initials: ‘Elle ne porte rien d’autre qu’un peu d’essence de Guerlain dans les cheveux.’ May 19, 2017 at 5:43am Reply

    • Victoria: I will be honest. They were disappointing and not at all like what I imagined. But then again, I was a teen and not particularly familiar with classical perfumes. Overtime, however, I grew to love them. They were memorable.

      I read that Bardot wore Jicky and loved some other Guerlain perfumes. But Brigitte Bardot: A Biography, Barnett Singer shares a story of Bardot going to a dinner with one of the Guerlain scions who spent the entire time mentioning bloody and graphic details of their hunts. Bardot asked them to stop, but they wouldn’t, so she left sobbing. Who knows, perhaps she didn’t wear Guerlain perfumes after this. May 19, 2017 at 2:01pm Reply

      • Aurora: Thank you so much for your answer, Victoria. These 3 perfumes are so complex (and it’s thanks to you that I have now smelled Narcisse Noir) that it takes more than once to start appreciating them. The story about BB is so striking, she always loved animals and it doesn’t reflect well on the Guerlain family. I will look up the biography. Now that you mention it, I can imagine her in Jicky, a very elegant choice. May 23, 2017 at 4:07pm Reply

        • Aurora: And not an obvious bombshell choice. May 23, 2017 at 4:32pm Reply

          • Lydia: Aurora, thanks for mentioning the Bardot reference. I’d never heard that song before and just looked it up on youtube.

            You’re right about Jicky not being an obvious bombshell perfume. The young Bardot was portrayed as a rather cartoonish airheaded sex symbol in the photos and film clips I’ve seen, but when you really look closely at her, you see the strength and discipline of her ballet training. I’m curious to read the biography Victoria mentioned. May 23, 2017 at 6:54pm Reply

            • Victoria: I agree with Lydia. Jicky seems like a perfect choice for her, although maybe not for her screen persona. On the other hand, it would be perfect for her character in Contempt. May 24, 2017 at 3:20am Reply

        • Victoria: Terrible, isn’t it? Fox hunting was such an aristocratic pursuit, and the Guerlain in question wanted to boast about it and relished mentioning the bloodiest of facts. I don’t blame Bardot for storming out. May 24, 2017 at 3:19am Reply

    • Notturno7: I love that, Aurora. Thanks for sharing.
      Interesting about the dinner story from the biography, too! May 21, 2017 at 6:37pm Reply

      • Aurora: So glad you enjoyed it :), I love the song so much and of course SG and BB had a love affair. May 23, 2017 at 4:02pm Reply

        • Notturno7: Andrea, I had no idea! 😉
          When I was purchasing some Guerlain, I think it was either Nahema or Chamade, the Guerlain SA told me that it was inspired by a blonde! Maybe it was Deneuve or BB!
          But who knows if that’s a myth.
          I just got some blonde highlights then and the SA told me I was blonde enough😅LOL.
          Maybe she was just trying to make a purchase.
          I didn’t care about hair color story as I just love these perfumes. May 24, 2017 at 4:10am Reply

  • Notturno7: What a treat, Victoria! Thank you.
    I recommended Master and Margarita to my girlfriends’ book club after reading your post which I shared with them.
    We read it and loved it. And I wore my extrait NN while reading the book. I found a vintage 1oz on eBay and it’s gorgeous. Incense, deep dark orange blossom and leather notes. I also wore Mitsuko extrait (as I was too clumsy and I broke my EDP bottle). I brought these perfumes to our book club so people can check out pretty bottles and these amazing classics mentioned in the book.
    Interesting how the topics mentioned in this book written long ago about greed and corruption in politics and modern society, that hasn’t changed much since, in many countries.
    I love how the power of love and art prevails and that last scene of the flight of two lovers is precious. Love made them immortal not only as in that work of art but there’s a parallel with Bulgakov in real life. Didn’t his wife published the book many years after his death? Because of censure and politics.
    She was almost like his Margarita and her love and dedication to his art made him immortal just like the Master in the book. May 21, 2017 at 6:35pm Reply

  • Mia: My all time favorite novel! I cannot even thoroughly analyse why, and perhaps do not even want to. What I know I love so much is the humour, very complex, multilayered and wit, yet easy to get.

    As much as I wish I could relate with the great Behemot or Margarita, or even Woland, I think I would be one of the women rushing to the stage to get my Carons. I find it hilarious, every single time. Thank you for the post!

    The humour May 21, 2017 at 10:47pm Reply

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