Perfume and War- manufacturing

    Perfume and War- manufacturing

    post #1 of 26
    Thread Starter
    I found this interesting and poetic article on perfume and war and its connotations; which may need its own thread. But it got me thinking, what was the state or process or condition of perfume manufacturing during the wars? Specifically; World Wars 1&2.
    post #2 of 26
    Thanks for sharing.
    post #3 of 26
    Thread Starter 
    Does anyone know if there was any manufacturing of perfume during the wars? If so, how was it carried out? There must have been disruption, if not total shutdown at some points, in France and Italy.
    post #4 of 26

    I don't know the specifics, but some production certainly went on, even during the war. Unless a town was evacuated, factories worked, more or less. Clearly, it must have been more modest than in other periods, and not all materials could have been available.

    In any case, random bits of things I remember reading, PIguet 's Bandit was launched in 1944, that is, during the war, and Piguet had actually created clothes collections during those years (the famous one with gas mask). Then there's the whole controversy of Chanel, who stayed in Paris (and kept selling things) during the war, while the coowners of the company, the Jewish Wertheimers, fled to the US. The wertheimer produced no 5 in the US during the war, Chanel tried to grab the company from the Wertheimer (and was certainly producing no 5) - I remember reading something, but dont' remember the details.


    post #5 of 26
    Thread Starter 

    Thanks for reminding me about Chanel. I read some interesting articles about her in Vanity Fair a while back. I also read her biography not too long ago, but Ive forgotten a lot of those specifics.

    I found this article, too. I especially liked the part about Truman's aid who had SEVEN freezers for †everyone's perfume- $8,000.00 worth. That never made it to the papers.

    And another post on the history of Grasse-

    This post about Chanel tells how it was manufactured in New Jersey!

    Edited by kumquat - 5/26/13 at 8:42am
    post #6 of 26

    That was a hell of a thoughtful article, and it made me think of perfume in a new way. †I relish the image of soldiers returning foreign lands, bringing home perfume for the women they would marry. This is a poignant part of human history. †

    The behavior of that grand, WWII generation (of which my parents were a part) operated under the radar for me because I was born after the end of the war as part of the Baby Boom generation. †

    What I recall of war and perfume is the inseparable connection between the anti-establishment youth culture, the Vietnam War, and the scent of patchouli, musk, and incense. †Those connotations still persist for me. †To this day, anything with those notes says "freedom," "peace," "love," and "do your own thing."

    In regard to the effect of war on perfume manufacturing, the only anecdote I can share with you is how Fracas was perportedly formulated with so much tuberose because that material happened to be easily obtainable at the time. (I cannot find the source of that story now, although I read it on the Internet years ago.)

    Edited by purplebird7 - 5/30/13 at 9:31am
    post #7 of 26
    Thread Starter 
    That's interesting about Fracas! I think about my vintage bottle of Caron-Tabac Blond, from 1919. I got it from Spain. (eBay) It survived the war, probably, and made its way to Nebraska in 2010 or so. Some soldier could have put that bottle in a trunk and brought it back for his girlfriend, maybe. I think about all the fields in France where the precious flowers grew, invaded and torn asunder by the war. It's amazing these delicate things survived.
    post #8 of 26
    vrolijk_26.gif More stories!! Love this!
    post #9 of 26
    Thread Starter 
    I read on a (Wikipedia) website that the Germans gave 4711 eau de cologne to the submarine crews to try to improve the odor in the subs but most of them hoarded the stuff for their mothers & girlfriends. (Cologne was bombed 262 times during the war!)

    And another website called simply-'Answers' discusses British rationing. It says that during and right after the war, luxury industries such as perfumery were shut down entirely.

    In addition, with rationing, you were only allowed to have three pounds and ten shillings on your person at one time, as I understand it. That's rough.
    post #10 of 26
    Very interesting!

    To fill in the details on Chanel, cacio is quite right, No.5 at least did certainly stay in production during those years. The Wertheimers were forced to quickly evacuate to New York after the occupation of France but the Mademoiselle herself remained open at 31 Rue Cambon and I believe No.5 was the only item stocked. After the Wertheimers arrived in the States, they had an associate sneak back into France to grab all the Grasse jasmine possible for No.5's production. It was brought back in concrete form as it is more stable and can be stored for longer than absolue. They set up shop in New Jersey and kept production going. And Chanel, still back in France, had all the currency she needed to get by with those bottles in her shop and her strategic affairs. It was said that No.5's value on the black market was nearly that of gold. And the soldiers just kept lining up to buy it, day after day.

    War in my lifetime has been so different than it was then. At the time Chanel was selling No.5 to soldiers, my Gramps was living in a foxhole in the French soil, waiting for food drops and engaging in hand to hand battle. They were truly tough in those days.
    Edited by PerfumedLady - 5/29/13 at 5:57pm
    post #11 of 26
    Thread Starter 
    I wonder if there's any way to find out if there was any perfume manufactured in Europe during the wars at all. It kind of sounds like it came to a stop, just stock on hand?
    post #12 of 26

    Femme was launched in 1943, Bandit in 1944; both in France, I think. † There was perfume production during the war.

    post #13 of 26

    I recently read that Guerlain's factory was destroyed during WWII, with production ceasing. A new factory was built in '47.


    post #14 of 26
    Thread Starter 
    I was looking to see when Paris was liberated-Aug 25,1944. Bandit had its famous debut with all the models wearing masks on the haute couture runway, sometime in 1944, probably after that, but I can't find out exactly when. Of course, there was still more fighting that continued until June of 1945. I see conflicting information about Femme 1944 is shown as the release date several places. That makes sense, I wonder how things could have continued as normal with all the turmoil, shortages and destruction not to mention, no factory workers. And, probably, a limited market, many people couldn't get food, let alone, perfume.

    This article mentions the fact that Daltroff of Caron fled to America as he was Jewish. He never returned.
    Wanpouille was left in charge of the business, so presumably there was some business going on there.
    Edited by kumquat - 5/31/13 at 8:15am
    post #15 of 26

    There were certainly shortages and disruptions, and factory workers were rerouted towards weapon factories, but unless one was on the direct frontline, industrial activity was still going on. Not to mention the fact that, my guess, I suppose the perfume industry employed more women than men. For instance, I know some beauty salons remained opened during the war in Milan.


    post #16 of 26

    This is an interesting subject.†

    From Edwin T. Morris’ book: Fragrance: The Story of Perfume from Cleopatra to Chanel:

    "The War years were dark for all those French industries‚Ķvery few fragrances were created; France was cut off from needed supplies from India and the East Indies and from traditional markets in America and Britain.† Nevertheless, Chantilly, (1941), Replique (1944), and the innovative Bandit (1944) by Mademoiselle Cellier made their appearance.† Edmond Roudnitska who was soon to become the perfumer to Dior, created Femme in 1944, and Jacqueline Fraysse created Antilope, released in 1945, for the house of Weil...

    Just before the Depression, couture had been France‚Äôs second highest export. After the War, the government decided to intervene and recover the losses in this once fertile area.† In 1945 it helped finance the ‚ÄėTheatre de la Mode‚Äô‚Ķdisplaying the works of many designers‚Ķ‚ÄĚ

    So it seems that the government of France helped to stimulate and rejuvenate the couture industry after The Great Depression and WWII.

    post #17 of 26

Loving perfume on the Internet since 2000