retro glamour: 3 posts

Sultry Perfumes and Hollywood Glamour Fragrances

What is the hallmark of the ultimate bombshell perfume? I wonder this as I’m enraptured by the first glimpse of Ava Gardner in The Killers, a 1946 film noir. She sits at the piano, wearing a black satin gown that elegantly drapes over her curvy figure. She gives Burt Lancaster one look, and he is ready to follow her anywhere, even it will all lead to trouble. Such is the power of a bombshell.

My average day is more about routine than glamour, but perfume is my way to pretend otherwise. When I wear Etat Libre d’Orange Jasmin et Cigarette, a smoldering potion reminiscent of a smoky jazz bar straight from a film noir set, I feel like a femme fatale.  It seems like bombshell material to me, but to find out for sure I turn to a couple of experts on the subject of the temptress—Farran Smith Nehme and Laren Stover, who also happen to be perfume connoisseurs.

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10 Fall Perfumes With a Retro Accent

Retro, vintage, old-fashioned. These terms, with various nuances, suggest fragrances that smell of another time. Elisa explores some of her favorite perfume examples.  What’s dated to one person is a retro classic to another.

What smells old-fashioned or,  more positively, “classic” or “retro” to any given nose is bound to change over time. In the near future, I suspect, the berry-and-peony fruity-florals and fruitchoulis that were ubiquitous in the late ‘90s and aughts will smell nostalgically old-fashioned to some, dated to others. Hillary Clinton reportedly wears Angel, and I recently heard a young YouTube star describe Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle as her most “mature” smelling perfume!

gingko

The perfumes I’ve been reaching for most this fall aren’t the all-time classics – the Shalimars, the Mitsoukos, the Chanel No. 5’s. But these scents, mostly born in the ‘70s and ‘80s, remind me of the grande dames of my youth, who weren’t in the least intimidated by unforgivingly sharp green chypres, loud and complicated florals, or deeply powdery orientals, all with massive sillage. To me, these are the new retro classics.

Chanel Coco 

When I first encountered Coco on a perfume counter many years ago, I found it confusing. What exactly was this mess, which couldn’t decide whether to be sweet or not? But now it smells complex and incredibly luxurious, especially in the parfum – all spicy, rosy florals and amber with a dry, animalic leather note cutting through. I’ve come to think of Coco as the quintessential, night-at-the-opera floriental.

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Past Perfect : Return to Retro Glamour

In the July column of the Financial Times Magazine, I talk about the reissued perfume classics we’ve been seeing lately–Balmain Ivoire, Molinard Habanita, and Jacomo Silences, among others.  Titled Past Perfect, the article is my recap of the latest “retro glamour” trend. There are many unromantic reasons why it’s tempting for perfume companies to reintroduce classics (for instance, having the rights to an existing brand), but perhaps we’re really craving more glamour. I certainly do!

CornellCapaTheBolshoiBallet

“There is a distinctive retro vibe in the air these days. Strolling through the aisles of a local perfume boutique, I suddenly noticed something that I hadn’t seen for years — Ivoire de Balmain. The bottle, a heavy glass square filled with peach-tinted liquid, was different from the original all-white flacon of this 1979 classic, but the perfume itself was recognisably Ivoire. It smelled of clean skin scrubbed with jasmine soap, crushed green buds and a whisper of earthy patchouli. It was softer and sweeter than I remembered it, but I liked its glamorous aura. To read the rest, please click here.”

If I had one perfume wish, it would be for Jean Patou to reissue Vacances as close to the original as possible. It was an exquisite blend of lilac, rose and green sap. I also would have liked for Guerlain Après l’Ondée, my favorite classic, to become available in the parfum form, but that’s already crossing into the realm of fantasy.

What is your favorite classical perfume? What perfume wishes do you have? 

Bolshoi Ballet School, Moscow, 1958, photography by Cornell Capa via 0rchid-thief.livejournal.com.

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