perfume in the library: 6 posts

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.

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Latest Comments

  • Victoria in Coffee and Flowers: I completely forgot about this perfume. It’s excellent. Thank you for reminding me about it. June 18, 2024 at 7:03am

  • Andrea SD in Coffee and Flowers: A*Men by Thierry Mugler has a really pronounced Arabica / Espresso note. A proper lift-me-up. June 18, 2024 at 6:02am

  • Victoria in Coffee and Flowers: What a great description! June 18, 2024 at 4:30am

  • Judith Attar in Coffee and Flowers: I always thought that Margiela Untitled smelled of coffee and shampoo, ie a London bus in morning rush hour. June 18, 2024 at 4:28am

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