History is full of stories about fragrance and specific scents made famous by equally famous people. Coco Chanel once said, "A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future." This quote has led me to entertain thoughts of famous women in history and the perfumes in existence today that might suit them. It may seem an eccentric pastime to the average person but I am convinced that I am not the only perfume addict who does this. After all, a mesmerizing line of perfumes, Histoires De Parfums, by the talented and creative Gerald Ghislain features perfumes inspired by Collette, George Sand and Mata Hari.
I think about matching people to fragrance frequently and I often bemoan the fact that there is no full time job that would involve sitting in a room full of thousands of bottles of perfumes and matching each one to a song, a person or a painting. I think this would be an enlightening, beneficial and magnificent pursuit. Unfortunately, my employers have never agreed with me.
That has not stopped me from playing "match the historical figure to the perfume" with my similarly obsessed fragrance fanatic friends. I am hoping it will elicit some interesting suggestions.
Emily Dickinson-(December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) Après l'Ondee - Guerlain
Emily Dickinson, the accomplished and reclusive poet born in Massachusetts, returned after studying at Amherst, to the home of her parents. She had a penchant for wearing all white, seldom left the house, eventually rarely leaving her room. All her friendships were carried on via correspondence and she did not gain widespread fame until after her death when her sister, Lavinia, discovered her secreted work. I would choose the pallid heliotrope perfume Après l'Ondee for this interesting and reclusive woman. Après l’Ondee goes with white just as death is unfailingly mentioned with immortality, two more of Dickinson’s obsessions. It is somber yet achingly beautiful and is the perfect scent for a decidedly anti-social woman overcome by her own sensitivity.Lucrezia Borgia (April18, 1480 –June 24, 1519) - Dune-Dior
Zelda Fitzgerald (July 24, 1900 – March 10, 1948) Vamp –Opus Oils
Historically her name is almost synonymous with the evil, malevolence, cruelty and political family intrigue that made the Renaissance Papacy the model for the Godfather saga. Born to the man who became Pope Alexander VI, and part of the infamously cruel Borgia family, Lucrezia is the poster girl for the corrupting influence of a ceaseless pursuit of power and wealth. For her I would choose the haunting and magnificent oriental scent, Dune. Luca Turin in the book Perfumes the A-Z Guide co-authored with Tania Sanchez says "Forget suburban gothic names, forget all the phony noirs from Angelique to Orris. True, menacing darkness is not to be found in upset the parents Alice Cooper poses, but in this disenchanted, ladylike gem." It is gorgeous, dark and somehow chilling. Perfect for the fascinatingly evil Lucrezia Borgia.
The wife of the author who personified the Jazz Age, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda was a southern beauty of rare intelligence and heightened sensitivities. A 1970's book written about her marriage revealed that she was more a victim of an overbearing insecure husband than the neurotic mentally unstable woman who lost her life in an asylum and who was previously considered by many, including her husband, to be hopelessly insane. She has posthumously become just as much an emblem for the feminist movement as she was an emblem for the Roaring Twenties when she was alive. For her I would choose Vamp, from the Afraid of the Dark Collection by Opus Oils. With its lush notes of smokey gardenia, sparkling orange blossom and luscious vanilla this gorgeous gardenia perfume is impressively beautiful, addictive and dangerously difficult to ignore.
Just like Zelda.
Of course, this is all surmise, but I can’t help but imagine Apres l' Ondee brightening the air in that already bright New England bedroom as Emily Dickinson filled slips of paper with her beautiful verse. Or Zelda strolling on the promenade deck of a liner, trailing the scent of flowers just as the ship trailed its streams of coal smoke and phosphorescent grandeur. I have spared myself many a boring business meeting drifting away and entertaining the idea that choosing a fragrance for a historical figure was actually my job...
About the author
Michelle Smith is a complete fragrance addict and has been collecting perfume longer than she would care to admit. She is a former English teacher,web content writer and ghost writer for several blogs as well as an author of poetry, magazine articles and many product use and study guides. Her own blog perfumeandink.com
combines her love of perfume with her love of literature