For many, many years I have had a fascination with perfume. It all started when I watched a television programme about the making of one particular brand. Until I watched that documentary, I had only ever thought about the smell of perfume, but in actual fact that is only the tip of the iceberg. Aside from the scent itself, there are many other factors to consider: the bottle design, the lid, the packaging, the colours, the font, the package materials and of course, the name! Ever since I watched that programme, I’ve had a whole new respect for perfume and the people who make it. Needless to say, I now fantasise about working on my own perfume brand, but since it’s doubtful I’ll ever have the opportunity, I’ll just continue to enjoy other people’s creations!
I always find it interesting to combine my interest in perfume, with my subjects. For instance, I became obsessed in the 1990s with Chanel No. 5 because Marilyn Monroe wore it. Then about ten years ago I discovered that while in England, Marilyn became a huge fan of Rose Geranium by Floris. She visited the store whenever she was shopping in London, and then continued to order the fragrance when she returned to the States. In fact, in 1959 she ordered 6 bottles, as we can see in this photo! I am now totally fascinated with Rose Geranium, firstly because I love the smell, but also because I love reading and writing about Marilyn’s trip to England and I think Rose Geranium sums up that era perfectly.
As you know, I am also obsessed with the 1920s and 1930s, and several years ago I wrote books about Carole Lombard and Thelma Todd, who of course lived and worked during that era. During my research into Thelma’s life, I discovered that she was a huge perfume fan and collected many hundreds of bottles during her lifetime. In fact, as you can see from this photo, in 1934 she was so proud of her collection that Photoplay did a feature all about it. The journalist labelled it, “Thelma’s nasal test laboratory,” and guessed how much such a collection would be worth. Sadly for Thelma, the feature attracted attention of a negative kind, and just months later, burglars broke into her house and stole the lot!
Carole Lombard was equally enraptured by scents and in 1931 she gave the following quote to Screenland magazine:
“I really love perfumes. I don’t buy the stuff for the bottles to be used as decorations on my dressing table. I open every bottle the moment I get it home and use it until I tire of it. I change perfumes on an average of once a week, returning to old favourites or new possibilities, and the stimulating effect of this variety in aromas is quite pleasant.”
While the chances of me ever acquiring any of Carole or Thelma’s personally owned fragrances are low (especially since Thelma’s were stolen!), I was absolutely thrilled to discover that Floris has released a new perfume, inspired by those wild and glamorous days, and the people who lived them. Called 1927, the perfume is a citrus floral fragrance with Top Notes of bergamot, aldehydes, and mandarin; Heart Notes of mimosa, violet, and narcissus; and Base Notes of musk, patchouli and vanilla. Just like the Flapper Girls, the Charleston and The Great Gatsby, 1927 makes a bold statement and is utterly, utterly delicious. So much so in fact that my 14-year-old daughter begged me for a spritz when she was on her way to the cinema on Saturday! I let her wear my prized perfume on that occasion, but the chances of it happening again are pretty remote! 🙂
I will continue to be fascinated by perfume, the 1920s and of course the beautiful, strong women I write about every day, so if these three things occasionally combine, then I consider myself truly blessed and totally inspired!
Until next time,
If you would like to find out more about 1927 or Rose Geranium bath essence or soap, please visit the Floris website. I’m also happy to say that Marilyn’s favourite British fragrance is available once again as an Eau de Toilette, exclusively in the Jermyn Street Floris store!
The Ice Cream Blonde: The Whirlwind Life and Mysterious Death of Screwball Comedienne Thelma Todd and Carole Lombard: Twentieth Century Star are both available to order from all good book shops.