Originally Posted by carmencanada
Clearly, by "mistress" you mean "courtesan" -- those women who made or broke male reputations, since to keep a famous courtesan or to be ruined by one established a man's standing.
I was re-reading Emile Zola's "Nana", the ultimate courtesan-as-primeval-power novel, and Zola, who was extremely sensitive to smells, states several times that Nana smells of violets. Of course, that was by the end of the 19th century, when ionones had been synthesized and violet fragrances became all the rage. In the earlier 1800s, a great courtesan, usually a woman who launched fashion trends, would probably wear what was most fashionable at the time -- most likely not musk, which would be left to the cheaper ladies, but rather a floral scent.
Yes, a courtesan is a professional mistress.
It is interesting that you mention "Nana," because in Maupassant's "Bel Ami" (also the name of the fabulous Hermes scent), the character of Duroy uses "his" beauty and charms to get what *he* wants from a variety of women.
If memory serves, at the begining of the 19th century, musk was very popular for both men and women, and I understand Empress Josephine was fond of it.
Originally Posted by kbe
A truly clever one wishing to avoid the wrath of a wife would wear whatever the Dandy was wearing at liaison time
Wives of these wealthy men of fashion had their own brand of revenge against philandering husbands: finding a lover who vastly outranks the husband. With the Countess d'Orsay, an heiress and Irish beauty herself, she found a lover in none other than the heir to the throne of France! Only the lover's death in a tragic carriage accident brought their liaison to an end.
BTW, "Bel Ami" is being made into a movie starring (young girls' heartthrob) Robert Pattinson of vampire fame. I really have a hard time seeing this young actor as Duroy, to be truthful. Handsome, yes, but far too young. And where is that iconic, testosterone-filled moustache so essential for the desirable man of the 1880s?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUDij08iIZQhttp://justjared.buzznet.com/2010/03...e-bel-ami-set/