"Love of beauty is Taste. The creation of beauty is Art" - Ralph Waldo Emerson (American poet)

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Odette Toilette's Vintage Scent Sessions - 1920's

What a fun day! Decadent. That is what the 1920's were after all (Art Deco, silent film, women  smoking in public and on film, jazz, flying, golf).  

It took place at specialist perfumery Les Senteurs located in West Marleybone. A beautiful shop with loads of perfume and cologne you can't get anywhere else in London.

Odette is a lovely lady - beautiful and clever she spoke to us about 1920's with a presentation of photos, clips of film, fashion and art over patisserie cake and fizz. 

But best of all we got to have an open discussion about  8 scents originated from that era. Some were rare, some extremely familiar and one unfortunately extinct, and, as Odette eloquently put it, they all had/have their own personalities.

Scent 1 - Tabac Blond from the House of Caron Paris. A masculine mix of cloves and carnation. Things that popped into the heads to describe were decadence, glamour, cigarettes. This was mine and Annie's favourite and the best bit was we got a free sample in our goodie bag. I don't know any women that wouldn't smell good with this on - it smells even better the next morning. Bliss! 

Scent 2 - En Arion 1929 House of Caron Paris. This scent at first was too powerful for me and maybe slightly too flowery but wears off nicely. It was a scent created to show the glamour of air travel (for those that could afford it back then). Amelia Earhart was in mind. 

Tall, slender, blonde and brave

Scent 3 - Nuit de Noel House of Caron Paris. Lapsing, green notes, gummy, liquorice. Christmas was in the name but I didn't really understand that. I suppose we're used to cinnamon, citrus, cloves and pine as Christmas smells. This morning I thought of late nights and boozy parties. Really delicious died down a bit - a tad much at the start. 

Scent 4 - Le Dandy by D'Orsay. Boozy, fruity, woody, pineapple. Not my favourite. Smelled powdery and maybe old ladyish. 

Scent 5 - Nohiba by E. Coudray Paris. Supposed to have been the scent that Josephine Baker wore. Well that sort of speaks for itself. Anne and I thought not as saucy as you would have imagined but very nice. There were exotic tones to it which the 1920's were into at the time (the orient, egypt etc). 

Scent 6 - Shalimar Guerlain 1925. Who doesn't know this. Theatre, Art Deco. Popular for 90 years, Shalimar was created in 1921 and re-released in 1925 in a bottle designed by Raymond Guerlain and made by Cristalleries de Baccarat and launched at the Decorative Arts Exhibition as an antidote against The Great Depression. Guerlain was inspired by Mumtal-Mahal, the women whom the Taj Mahal was built for - again that interest in the exotic. 

Scent 7 - Chanel No. 5 1923. Jasmine, ylang, ylang. Chanel felt the time was right for the debut of a scent that would epitomize the boyish, modern flapper that would speak to the liberated spirit of the 1920s. It was interesting to see how the bottle had changed over the years but the scent remains the same. Always. That is their focus - it's never changed over time unlike others due to changes in regulations on what they can and can't use anymore. 

Scent 8 - Arpege Lanvin. Rose, ylang ylang, peach. Similar to Chanel No. 5. I have one word to describe and that is cloying. It would make me sick if I had to wear it. I don't like it any better this morning. 

At the end I was so inspired to buy a perfume that I loved now I was an "expert". I found one - the major note was amber. I forgot how much I loved amber. Maitre Parfumeur Gantier Ambre Precieux. I am in love with this but at £98 a bottle it's going to have to wait... look at the bottle though.. sigh. 

One last thing. I didn't realise that the creation of the cocktail was 1920's. And it wasn't because they were fun or pretty to look at but they were originally created to mask the horrid taste of moonshine due to prohibition! I just thought I'd share that. 


  1. Lovely! You have a good memory. That amber was gorgeous - you save for that, & I'll save for Tabac Blond (also about £100 a bottle) x

  2. Annie - want to shop I think i budgeted for this treat...