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  1. #1

    Default Help! researching perfumes of 30's, 40's & 50's

    Is there a perfume history buff out there?

    For a book being written, I would appreciate help, information, leads, links, opinions, anecdotes, advice, etc. about perfumes and perfume making in the mid-20th century.

    What were the scent trends and fashions before the war, during the war, post war?

    Does anyone know the chic scents of the 40's, not the popular scents per se but what a discerning woman of style have worn?

    What scents did elegant women wear during WW II while France was occupied?

    Can anyone desribe what Caron's Rose de Noel or Voeu de Noel were like?

    How about Jean Desprez's Grand Dame?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Help! researching perfumes of 30's, 40's & 50'

    Perhaps you should get in touch with Octavian Coifan through his blog 1000fragrances. He is the author of a perfume encyclopaedia (in Romanian) and is very knowledgeable on the matter.

    I'm not a perfume historian, but I have a modest collection of newspaper articles on perfumery, from 1870 to present, which may be of interest to you. The older ones are almost exclusively from the NY Times. You can find the titles (with descriptions) in the press archive of my site; if you'd like a copy of any of these articles, send me an IM.

    And if you read French, you may be interested in the following book:

    Marie-Christine Grasse, Elisabeth de Feydeau
    L'un des sens : Le parfum au XXe siècle
    Toulouse: Editions Milan (2001)

    Just out of curiosity... is your research focused on a specific country? Between the 30's and '50s there were considerable differences in trends, from one country to another.

    Marcello

  3. #3

    Default Re: Help! researching perfumes of 30's, 40's & 50'

    Hi Marcello.

    Thank you very much for the leads and yes, I would love to see your press archive and hear your opinions and insights.

    Thank you also for pointing out that different countries had different fashions and tastes; that is precisely the sort of information I am seeking. This must have been particularly true during the war when the allies were cut off from Paris and Paris from the world. While fashions turned to the practical and even sporty elsewhere with more masculine silhouettes, shorter, more frugal hemlines, Parisian and Berliner women indulged in longer skirts and what, I wonder, in scent?

    I am very interested in how first the depression and then World War II affected both popular and haute monde desires and affinities for fashions and tastes both in Europe (England, France, Spain and Germany primarily) and the US, particularly New York high society. What sort of fantasies fed the popular tastes? What sort of traditions and liberties fed the tastes of the elite? What was the world of the elegant woman like, for as Fitzgerald was famous for saying, "The rich are very different..." What did women desire to be when they chose a scent? What did they aspire to both experience and project to others ? What were they longing for? What was "correct"; what was "dangerous" or "outre?"

    There were, I believe, greater differences between the haute couture and pret a porter worlds prior to the war and the rise of post-world suburbia. And, it seems, perfume in particular did not become truly commercialized until the 50's & 60's, before that it looks -- from one who has just begun to delve into it -- that scent before the war was more an enjoyment of the rich and famous than an every day enjoyment of the work-a-day masses.

    Following the war, there was a brief moment before 1947's "New Look"when women's fashions (in clothes and in scent) still allowed them to have a "masculine" or edgy side before they were stuffed back into a Stepford Wife mold. Piguet's Bandit, Balenciaga's le Dix seem to fit this, but I have never smelled these fragrances and am told modern versions are very different from the vintage.

    I would be grateful for whatever you have to tell me, especially stories and gossip, which are always revealing of the zeitgeists of their times.

    liz


  4. #4

    Default Re: Help! researching perfumes of 30's, 40's & 50'

    Hello!
    In The Pursuit of Love, by Nancy Mitford, the heroine Linda wears Apres L'Ondee by Guerlain. In the story she is wearing this while working with the Resistance in Spain, in the late 1930's.
    My Great-Aunt was a private nurse to a man in an iron lung and travelled to Paris with him on the Normandie in 1939. Her big splurge was a scarf and a bottle of Shocking, purchased at the Schapiarelli boutique. This was her scent of choice while it was available. She also brought my Grandmother a bottle of Fleurs de Rocaille by Caron, which she wore her entire life...she died three years ago.

    Also, in the novella of Breakfast at Tiffany's by Capote, Holly Golightly wears 4711. The story was set, unlike the movie, in the ealry forties, and in it Holly is the essence of chic. The Brazilian diplomat Jose wears Knize cologne in it as well.

    I don't know if this helps!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Help! researching perfumes of 30's, 40's & 50'

    Quote Originally Posted by Lizzie
    Hi Marcello.

    Thank you very much for the leads and yes, I would love to see your press archive
    I suppose you noticed the links in my post..?

    If you're interested in a particular article, I can send it to you. They are protected by copyright, so I can't put them online.

    best,
    Marcello

  6. #6

    Default Re: Help! researching perfumes of 30's, 40's & 50'

    Hi Marcello,

    I did spot the links and have had a wonderful time visiting your inimitable Scented Pages site. My interest is piqued particularly by the 1949 story of a senate committee investigating a Major General. my email address is dearlizzie@aol.com. I would very much appreciate it if you could send it.

    Thank you again.

    Liz

  7. #7

    Default Re: Help! researching perfumes of 30's, 40's & 50'

    Hello again Marcello,

    And one more thing........your original post mentioned the differences in scent tastes from country to country during the war and in the years immediately preceeding it and following it. Could you please say more?

    A grateful Liz

  8. #8

    Default Re: Help! researching perfumes of 30's, 40's & 50'

    Quote Originally Posted by Lizzie
    Hello again Marcello,

    And one more thing........your original post mentioned the differences in scent tastes from country to *country during the war and in the years immediately preceeding it and following it. Could you please say more?

    well, that's the difficult part of your question. I assume you know which market you will focus on. In perfume books, American authors tend to write about trends in the US, the French focus on their own fads, and so on. Right now, I can't think of any extensive, comparative studies on this subject. Hopefully, someone will give a good suggestion here. I don't have a clear overview yet; I'm trying to gather all the pieces of the puzzle myself.

    For the time being, I've sent you the NY Times article. If I find better leads with proper references, I'll let you know.

    best,
    Marcello

  9. #9

    Default Re: Help! researching perfumes of 30's, 40's & 50'

    I thought I'd find Lizzie over here!

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