Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Coco: Iconic Fragrance

Similar to both Chanel No. 5 and No. 19 in its warm blend of jasmine and rose, Coco could be called an oriental fragrance, and yet its sensuality is more decidedly baroque. Its creator, Jacques Polge, had been struck by the Venetian-style splendour of Coco Chanel's Paris apartment and decided to pay homage to her style by creating a new kind of "oriental", more Western than Eastern in spirit.

A voluptuous perfume dominated by the exuberance of spicy amberry and woody accords, to which notes of leather and orange blossom have been added, Coco represented a more modern interpretation of what a late 20th-century oriental fragrance could and should be. All told, it was an opulent scent that perfectly mirrored the financial boom and the material excesses of the decade.

Vanessa Paradis in a 1992 Coco Chanel TV ads:

Classic 80's commercial that was spoofed by Eddie Murphy in movie Boomerang:

Another Coco Chanel commercial:

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Celebrity Scent - #8 Prince

Prince has a new signature perfume coming out. The scent named 3121 (adds up to 7) will go on sale 7/7/07 and is already generating a lot of buzz. The name 3121 is also Prince's latest album and the fragrance comes in purple color, which is an allusion to another Prince's album Purple Rain. The world-class musician and showman who was also known to be bit eccentric and once changed his name into a symbol was very much involved in the formulation of the scent. It was described to be a long-lasting floral scent evolving into patchouli and sandalwood. Cedarwood and musk completes the scent.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


Few great names in the world of 20th century glass cause as much excitement as that of Lalique, the leading French glassmaker. Rene Lalique (1860-1945) opened his first glass shop in Paris in 1905 and started to produce finely crafted bottles for Coty. Innovative techniques allowed his beautiful designs to be mass-produced at a low cost and to a high standard, which enabled him to attract clients such as D'Orsay, Houbigant, and Roger et Gallet. Lalique's Art Nouveau pieces typically feature floral and figural etched designs and are extremely valuable.

The Art Deco period saw the company build on earlier successes. Shapes were bold and sometimes featured over-sized decorative stoppers. An original box can greatly increase the value of these bottles. Over the years, Lalique produced thousands of bottles for more than 60 perfume manufacturers, and it is still in business today.

Lalique "Le Lys" perfume bottle for D'Orsay

Lalique "Habanito" perfume bottle for Molinard, circa 1937

Lalique "Amphitrite" perfume bottle, circa 1920

See more in Lalique Museum website.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Angel: Smells Good Enough to Eat

When you read Angel's ingredients, you might think that you are reading the ingredients of a cake or pudding, not perfume. Since 1990's, there was a host of fragrances using unconventional perfume raw materials for its ingredients. But it was Angel - with its base notes of vanilla, chocolate and caramel, heart notes of berries and honey, and an intense accord of bergamot and patchouli - that first gave the world a taste for what perfume historian Michael Edwards has called "gourmand perfumery."

Created by Olivier Cresp and Yves de Chiris for the fashion designer Thierry Mugler, Angel was a perfume that indeed smell good enough to eat. The perfume was based on the specifications of Mugler who wanted to recapture his childhood with the "scent of the fairground, of little cakes, chocolates and caramels". The result was a tapestry of olfactory emotions, childhood memories and peals of carefree laughter. It was like a fun fair, with its odors of cotton candy, chocolate, and sugared almonds.

Today, Angel is France's bestselling scent - maybe the fact that vanilla notes are said to attract men might just have something to do with its huge success. Or maybe, the smell is just stimulating to one's appetite that make it irresistible. Like a mouth-watering treat, that when it hit your senses, you just want to go for it.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Celebrity Scent - #7 Paris Hilton

Paris Hilton is all over the news these past few days, and while the controversial socialite usually loves the limelight, the reason for this one may not really what she wanted. The iconic heiress, who is a part-time model, reality-tv show star, movie starlet, fledgling recording artist, fashion designer, the subject of a famous sex-video, and soon-to-be jailbird, also has her own line of fragrances.

In May 2004, Paris was involved in the creation of a fragrance line by Parlux Fragrances. The perfume was be simply named Paris Hilton and it was said that Paris herself mixed all the scents together to form the new fragrance. The perfume launch was a success, in fact it was followed by a 47% increase in sales for Parlux, which was predominantly due to sales of the Hilton-branded perfume. Banking on that success, Parlux released Paris Hilton for Men, a cologne for Hilton's male admirers, as well as another fragrance called Just Me by Paris Hilton, which is available for both women and men. Another perfume titled Heiress by Paris Hilton was released in October 2006 and a counterpart for men, Heir by Paris Hilton followed.

Print Ad for "Just Me"

Video: Paris Hilton in Dublin launching "Heiress"

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Collected Quotes #3

"Perfume is a promise in a bottle."
— Sophia Grosjman

"A perfume needs to attract the eye
as much as the nose
— Francois Coty

"A perfume is like a cat burglar in your brain;
it has the key with which to pick the lock
and unleash your memories
— Roja Dove

"To create a perfume, you have to be a servant
of the unconcious. Each idea evolves and transforms,
but they should be a surprise with each note
— Serge Lutens

"I think allure is something around you,
like a perfume or like a scent.
It's like a memory... it pervades.
— Diana Vreeland

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Shalimar: Romantic and Seductive

Shalimar is one of the flagships of French perfumery. Created by Jacques Guerlain, it is an extraordinarily rich and spicy oriental fragrance. The name comes from the Shalimar gardens in Lahore, which were created for the Emperor Shah Jahan (who also commissioned the Taj Mahal) in honour of his wife. The flacon is an ornate batwing bottle reminiscent of the fountains in the gardens of oriental palaces. The sapphire-coloured, fan-shaped stopper is inspired by the traditional customs of those mysteriously enchanting countries.

Launched in 1925, Shalimar is exotic and sensual thanks to the blend of bergamot, jasmine, iris and vanilla enveloped by balsamic notes. The scent itself came about quite by accident. Playing around one day, Jacques Guerlain added a new synthetic vanilla fragrance, ethyl vanillin, to Jicky, the perfume created by his uncle. The vanillin unexpectedly intensified Jicky's oriental character, and Guerlain realized he had created a seductive new scent. Shalimar is, indeed, indisputably sexy. Scent expert Roja Dove once described it "as close to the edge as you can go and still stay within the realms of good taste." In fact, during the roaring twenties, it was said that there were three things no respectable woman shoud do - smoke, dance the tango, and wear Shalimar.