Harrods Perfume Diaries : Picture Round Up

06th September, 2010

Over the next month, Harrods is holding the Perfume Diaries Exhibition, which is a showcase of the past, present and future of the perfume industry. Basenotes had the chance to attend a preview last week, hosted by the exhibition's curator, Roja Dove. Unsurprisingly, given Dove's background at Guerlain, the exhibition features many bottles from Guerlain's long history. But there many historical exhibits from other historic houses such Chanel, Lubin, Floris, Grossmith's and Penhaligon's.

As you walk round, some of the fragrances are available to smell. Sadly for those of you wishing to try long discontinued classics will be out of luck: most, if not all of the scents available to try are available either in the Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie or in the Harrods Perfume Hall.

Having said this, there is more than enough treats for your eyes here, that your nose might not even notice. Here are a few images...

* * *

At the start of the exhibition is a brief explanation about fragrance notes, and families.

Above: A visual interpretation of the olfactory pyramid.

An explanation of the olfactory pyramid.

Top to Bottom: Chanel No5, 1921 "Features Aldehyde to gently lift the floral notes out of the bouquet"; Bandit by Robert Piguet, 1944 "Features Isobutyl Quinoline to give the aggressive smoky notes"; Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior, 1966 "Features Hedione, which gives the distinctive strongly Jasmine characteristic in a way that is beyond nature"; Angel by Thierry Mugler, 1992 "Features Ethyl Maltol, and started the gustative trends"; Terre d'Hermes, 2006 "Features an ionine that naturally occurs in violets".


Above is the very first Eau de Toilette. Though it wasn't the name of the concentration, but the name of the actual scent. A Toile was a type of material which could be scented, and so Lubin took this further and made a liquid form: Hence Eau de Toilette.


Some early Coty bottles, including some bottles by Lalique

100-year-old sampler box of many Coty scents. May have been used by sales staff to introduce the range. The back row (out of sight) features L'Origan (1905) but mostly appears to have some duplicates of the scent in the front row, which are: (L-R) Styx (1912), La Rose Jacqueminot (1906), Lilas Pourpre (1911), L'Effleure (date unknown, but the scent was either relaunched or the name appears to have been reused in the nineties); Ambre Antique (1910) and Jasmine de Corse (1906).


Central, is a very old, very large bottle of Special No. 127


Early Guerlain bottles. Each was the same, as people bought them for the juice, which would then be decanted into a dedicated vessel.

L-R: Guerlain Pour Troubler, Chant d'Arômes, Fleur Qui Meurt, Apres L'Ondée

Shalimar showcase - includes top left - the original bottle, with the blue stopper painted with mercury; Middle left - 2010 limited edition designed by Jade Jagger, exclusive to Harrods; Middle right - Shalimar under the code name of 90 - as the Shalimar name was trademarked in the UK to the DuBarry cosmetics company, so Shalimar was known by the code in the UK.

L-R : Muguet, Voila Pourquoi J'Amais Rosine (That is why I loved Rosine), another Muguet

Various bottles including L'Heure Bleue and Mitsouko

Syringa, Tacoma, Jasmiralda


Very rare Chanel presentation box featuring No.2, No.5, No. 11 and No.22]

Early Chanel No. 5 advertisement

Evolution of the Chanel No.5 bottle over time, notice how the stopper gets bigger.


The first Worth fragrances when put together created poetry.

Scent and travel opportunities

New ways of travel inspired scents: L-R Vol de Nuit (Guerlain), En Avion (Caron), Normandie (Patou)


Below, various Caron fragrances



Lanvin's Arpege


The Dior Dress that inspired Miss Dior




Estee Lauder

Above and below, early Youth Dew

Above - handwritten note by Audrey Hepburn, thanking Estee Lauder


Aramis Soap on a Rope


About the author: Grant Osborne

Grant Osborne is the founder and editor of Basenotes. Grant has two children, and a dependence on tea, haribo and bacon.

Website: http://www.grantosborne.com

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    • Primrose | 6th September 2010 18:40

      Oh, my, Grant! Thank you!

      What a feast for the perfume lover's eyes! Oh, those antique bottles! And I love the history, too! :D

      I always thought that "eau de toilette" was from from the antiquated act of dressing for the day: the toilette. When one gets shaved, coifed and dressed (from the underlinen to the top hat), one "makes one's toilette."

    • Grant (article author) | 6th September 2010 18:47

      @Primrose re: Eau de Toilette - well that's Lubin's story anyway.

    • kbe | 6th September 2010 19:15


      Thanks Grant for such a treat!

    • Francop | 6th September 2010 19:50


      You are a very BIG STAR...again...!!!

      Thanks a million for the feast !:rolleyesold:

    • Nostalgie | 6th September 2010 20:46

      WOW! I need a plane ticket...now!

    • NevilleM | 7th September 2010 09:13

      Thanks Grant.

      I particularly love the Coty Sampler box.

      What a great name "Styx" - I can see the TV advert as Coty man dips his flacon into the river as the dead are ferried by (do you want him with wings or red eyes?)

      I hope to get along to see it all for myself on Wednesday afternoon after the Jade Jagger Shalimar bottle launch/scrum is over.

    • the_good_life | 7th September 2010 10:05

      Luckyily I'll be in London on business before the exhibit closes and I'll just have to carve out an hour to see it :).

    • Madame du Barry | 7th September 2010 15:53

      I want, no - I need to go there. Alas, it's all work and no play. :angry:

    • Futami | 7th September 2010 17:14

      Great photos. Wow, a fragrance bottle in the shape of a battleship.

    • Grant (article author) | 7th September 2010 20:03

      @Primrose - I was just commenting that was the story of the name of Eau de Toilette according to Lubin - normally in the perfume world there are a few myths and legends about these things and I'm never sure what to believe ;)

      @everyone - there's a great write up by Nina at NST, for those who want some more reading material on the event.

    • Mimi Gardenia | 7th September 2010 22:53


      What wonderful pictures - so beautiful to see so many perfumes of class together. :)

    • Ratfink | 7th September 2010 23:27

      Oh, wow. It looks fabulous. That's it, I'm going.

    • ysatis | 7th September 2010 23:28

      Superior idea, well realized, is a point of more discoveries in the perfume's world!!!!! with admiration!!!!

    • Primrose | 8th September 2010 15:38

      Grant, they say, "when truth and legend conflict, print the legend." This is so true in perfume marketing!

    • rickbr | 9th September 2010 17:41

      Thank you for the photos Grant! It was a nice way to have a taste of the Exhibition. Wish I was in USA to check it personally

    • Grant (article author) | 10th September 2010 12:02

      @Hirch - yes the Soap on a Rope was temping, but there were a few I'd have taken before that. Chanel No. 2 possibly!

      @rickbr, the exhibition is in London, but that's probably even more difficult for you to get to than the US!

    • Ratfink | 10th September 2010 20:41

      Daft question: is it necessary to book ahead for the Perfume Diaries Afternoon Tea, or is it okay just to roll up? Thanks!

    • NevilleM | 12th September 2010 20:56

      Ratfink: The Guide says the PD Tea is on every day. To get to the exhibition you have to pass through the Georgian Restaurant on the 4th floor. I'm not sure how fragrant the tea is - earl grey with rose and leather? The exhibition being next door it may be PG Tips and wafts of Shalimar (in the new bottle).

      I passed through the restaurant last Wednesday around 4pm and there were plenty of empty tables (there was a birthday party with 20 people going on). It's probably worth ringing ahead if you know a day/time as it probably depends if there are any tour groups taking tea.

      I'm down to take the PD tour with Roja Dove as tour guide next week. That should certainly add to the experience.

    • Ratfink | 13th September 2010 11:19

      Thanks! I'm pretty sure cake will add to the experience too....

    • Dorian Gray | 13th September 2010 14:27

      Hmm, decisions, 3 hours in London tomorrow - do I go to the Exhibition or to Libertys to buy A L'Oudh? Tough one!

    • queen cupcake | 13th September 2010 15:16

      Oh how I wish I could go to see this exhibit meselves!!!


    • Nukapai | 14th September 2010 14:43

      This is definitely worth a visit - prepare to spend at least a couple of hours going through! :thumbsup:

    • NevilleM | 15th September 2010 16:09

      BNers with an interest in Perfume Bottles please take note!

      On a tour of the exhibition yesterday our guide, Roja Dove, mentioned there is a further evening is planned which is not on the calendar.

      This will take place on Thursday 30th September 18:30 to 20:00 and will be devoted to the work of Lalique and Baccarat.

      Once the speakers are confirmed I will add a further note.

    • kewart | 17th September 2010 10:45

      I am going to this very soon! Can't wait.

      Think we are having the tea as well.

    • Ratfink | 28th September 2010 22:46

      Well, I made it! And I have to urge you all - if you can get there before Saturday, then for goodness' sake, go! I spent literally HOURS going round and round and round again. I took approximately 100 photographs, wrote notes, sniffed till I hyperventilated AND I overheard a couple referring to Basenotes in their conversation. It was superb.

      Oh, and the perfume diaries tea? Countess Spencer beat me to the last one, apparently. Boo!

    • LaNose | 2nd October 2010 18:14

      OMG! What a collection. Thank you Grant! Audrey Hepburn's note to Estee Lauder really knocked me over --- what was the scent that Estee gave her?

      Note the date of Audrey's note: the same year she passed away. God, I miss her; I felt she and I were soulmates. RIP Audrey and Estee.

    • Hanz Medina | 4th August 2011 07:16

      this is too amazing. I had a visual orgasm. Is it possible post the words of the Olfactive pyramid and Olfactive descriptions so we readers can read them? Please!!!:grin:

    • Hanz Medina | 4th August 2011 08:51

      this is too amazing. I had a visual orgasm. Is it possible post the words of the Olfactive pyramid and Olfactive descriptions so we readers can read them? Please!!!:grin: