Well, I suppose there is no “of course” about this, as I had planned all along to stop at the Plaza specifically so that I could go and sniff the perfumes at the Krigler kiosk there, but these are my vagaries and it is enough that my family puts up with them. They had already “put up” with stopping at Federic Malle’s on Madison. (“What’s this?” “Le Parfum de Therese.” “Okey-dokey, why is it here?” “Because a famous perfumer composed it for his wife.” “Um, OK, so why’s it here?” “Because he’s dead now and so is she, and the family decided it could be marketed.” “OK, so if it’s for Therese, why do the rest of you want it?” ”Mom, why are there, like, booths in there?” “For the perfume.” “Oh…That’s creepy.”)
By the time we had gotten to Krigler’s, I didn’t expect the rest of the family to be on the ball anymore after two museums and a heavy lunch, so it was a surprise when my husband picked up a fact from the SA that I hadn’t heard.
I was walking away with two perfumes on my wrists, Dolce Tuberose and Pleasure Gardenia, when a propos de rien, he remarked that the SA said Coco Chanel used to wear the gardenia perfume before she had No 5 composed for her own company.
Now since old Coco was one of those female avatars of style that the rest of us find so hard to ignore, I was impressed by this information, the more so, as I know Krigler set up operations on the French Riviera in 1909, having sniffed trouble in the winds after the 1905 riots in St Petersburg and closed up his shops in Russia. It’s conceivable that Coco walked into their establishment and wore one of their perfumes; in fact it, may be likely, as Pleasure Gardenia smells rather like Chanel’s Gardenia, afterwards composed by Ernest Beaux, a perfume that is only incidentally gardenia-ish, but which is pretty and likeable despite that, no matter that it has been badly reviewed. I cannot help wondering if Pleasure Gardenia is not the model for Chanel’s Gardenia, and I cannot help liking it.
Kriglers are sweet and feature a Jazz Age buzz that might come from champagne re-fermented near Long Island sound. They are uniformly cheerful and well made, with more than the average number of good quality materials in the mix, and a judicious use of synthetics. I should know as these days cheapo ingredients give me a monster headache and there was nary a one from Krigler.
They trade, as Creed does, on their celebrity clients. Hemingway wore America One, and Audrey Hepburn wore English Promenade, and Fitzgerald himself wore…Lieber Gustav. And, to hear this SA tell it, Coco wore Pleasure Gardenia. I don’t know the truth of this, but Coco seems to have liked a white flower perfume (what is No5, after all, but white flowers and aldehydesl?) I am not surprised that she should have had a gardenia perfume in the line-up at Chanel, either she liked them or else she soon found that American women like them (me too).
As for the scent it has gardenia top notes then settles into a sweet slightly green mimosa floral, and at the end indulges in a sophisticated animalic note and that gardenia note all over again, but this is five hours later on my skin. Krigler gets kudos for being more sophisticated and more lasting than I would have suspected and having a persistently cheerful quality to it, like the sound of distant laughter.
Well, I’m not sure I would want to go to one of Gatsby’s parties, but I would like to smell of something that recalls the 1920’s. That’s when bathtub gin, and individuality, and modern Romanticism began.
Is that a nightingale singing on the lawn?