HURRAH, I’M BACK UP AND RUNNING…..SORRY FOR THE ABSENCE…ENJOY THE POST
The Paris Exhibition of 1900 brought us Art Nouveau and a new woman was born. A woman who wanted to be liberated (it did take a bit longer for that to happen, but the dye, so to speak was cast!) Perfume, up to this point (fragrance has been with us almost since the beginning of time) was mostly floral, the established perfumer, Guerlain introduced a perfume which broke ground with an unusual name and innovative presentation, It was called Voilà Pourquoi J’Aimais Rosine (That’s Why I Love Rosine). It was the first artistic perfume bottle and resembled a vase with silk flowers concealing a stopper.
“…fashion does reflect the whim of the moment. Perfume, meanwhile, seems to withstand the test of time. Nowadays all the great fashion houses possess one or several perfumes. Not only because they project the image of the make abroad (perfumes represent 50% of all luxury goods exports) but also because the foreign currency they bring into France covers the colossal financial demands of the couture industry. If in the 1920’s Haute Couture made possible the advent of the fashion designer’s perfume, today it is perfume which ensures the survival of Haute Couture” From The Book of Perfume by Elizabeth Barille
The first Haute Couture Designer to feature fragrance was Paul Poiret who introduced his fragrance Rosine, named for his daughter, in 1912. I wonder was she named for the Guerlain fragrance? Les Parfumes de Rosine was the first perfume and cosmetics company founded by a French couturier. While traveling to Vienna Poiret met Gustav Klimt and the company of artists of the Vienna Secession Movement. This artistic community produced textile designs, fabrics, fashion, accessories and jewelry as well as painting, furniture, etc. Poiret was inspired by them to create his own way of bringing art into everyday life. In my opinion, he was the Ralph Lauren of his time, a lifestyle creator. He felt by creating fragrances not only his established clientele but women who could not afford his clothes could have something “Poiret”. Another part of his company was named for his son Atelier Coin and produced the boxes and packaging materials. The over all company was named after his other daughter, Martine.
I counted 58 fragrances from Parfums de Rosine!
Denise Poiret with Rosine Poiret
Paul Poiret in his perfumery
In 1913 along with a new assistant, Ertè, he created costumes for Le Minaret and created a fragrance with its name and the bottle was entirely covered in tulle and gold thread. Later in 1913 Nuit de Chine resembled a snuff bottle with Chinese characters on one side and French on the other. It featured a molded glass ring with dark blue bakelite rings, the first time Bakelite had been used with glass. When I saw the Poiret exhibition at The Met in New York several years ago, they featured some of the items from the Martine workrooms, furniture, rugs, etc. and several examples of the Rosine fragrances, I noticed on the information plaques that most were on loan from Karl Lagerfeld!
The Perfume Salon
All the Rosine fragrances were innovative. All were avant-garde and completely different from each other. From The Book of Perfume: “Not only was he the first to produce his own perfumes but he also changed dramatically the creative potential for the presentation of perfume. His innovations would be a source of inspiration for other designers for years to come. The Rosine perfume presentations may prove to be the most enduring examples of Paul Poiret’s genius.”
Four of my favorite Rosine fragrances. All the above photos from Pinterest photo credit unknown.
Paul Poiret fitting a client.
I was given further information about who was first with a designer fragrance, Lucile, by the consummate authority on Lady Duff Gordon, Randy Bryan Bigham, who introduced her fragrances in London in 1907. I explained that I was featuring Haute Couture designers (French) he totally understood and agreed with me.
Randy Bryan Bigham’s magnificent book on Lucile.
Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon Photo from Pinterest credit unknown.
Lucile’s London branch label (FYI she had a salon in Chicago…more about that in another post!!!!)
A Lucile ad from 1919 the French Novelties was “code” for the fragrance and cosmetics.
Here is Randy’s information on Lucile’s fragrance:
“Poiret may well have been the first Paris couturier to have his own perfume, but he’s not the first famous designer to launch a line of fragrances. The British designer Lucile – in private life Lady Duff Gordon – featured a signature scent as early as 1907 in her exclusive London salon in Hanover Square. At that time, Lucile was known for what she called the “emotional gown,” a dress of varying tones of layered chiffon that was supposed to express the personality of each client. She gave each frock a romantic name, sometimes whimsical, sometimes sultry, and they appeared in the program for her fashion shows. One that received perhaps the most publicity was a pastel tea-gown called “The Sighing Sound of Lips Unsatisfied.” To go along with these dresses, she offered perfumes that were specially blended to complement each woman’s personality. Clients selected from a range of scents while ordering lingerie in a private showroom called “The Rose Room,” a delicately feminine oasis decorated like a boudoir. Not only were fragrances available there in bottles but they were sold as sachets to put among one’s lingerie; some were sewed into the gowns themselves. Orrisroot and heather were popular fragrances she used. Another scent Lucile sold at her New York branch in 1916 was called “Lilac Blossoms.” The New York house of Lucile also provided a French perfume called “Shamrock.” In addition to Lucile’s own line of perfume, by the 1920s she sold several scents made for her by Coty, Djer-Kiss, and Ciel which created its “La Rose Lucile” scent in homage to her. She advertised these fragrances as “French novelties” which included cosmetics, bath oils, and powders. She was especially known for a lavender shade of powder, available to all Lucile clients in the house’s fitting rooms. Vogue magazine recommended this for use not only on the face but on the neck, shoulders, and arms.”
The Rose Room in Lucile’s London Salon where her fragrances and lingerie were sold
The Rose Room in Lucile’s Chicago Salon where lingerie was modeled and fragrances were sold.
All above photos courtesy of Randy Byran Bigham
My deepest appreciation to Randy for sharing his expertise with me to include in this post. Randy and I “met” on Facebook and have become lovely FB friends. You will, most definitely, hear more from Randy in upcoming posts, count on it! I am most excited to tell you Randy has agreed to answer my nenasnotes questionnaire, look for his profile in upcoming weeks!