John Singer Sargent
Promenade during the uncrowded fin de Siecle
Believe it or not this happened once before. You may think that nothing like the multiplication of perfume niche companies has ever been seen in the history of scent sales but back in the early twentieth century something very like this happened.
Frankly I’ve long since lost count of the number of new niche fragrance houses that have debuted in the last three years or so. Some of them will survive of course, and many will not, but back in the teens and twenties the world of perfume was similarly flooded. Continue reading
Since there have been a dozen rose posts, this might a good time to take a breather, go back, and re-cap.
For all the complaining that perfume consumers do about the industry these days, one thing is inescapably true: there’s more variety. Once upon a distant time, Perfumer’s Workshop produced Tea Rose and Houbigant sold A Rose is a Rose.
That was about it in 1976. Now you have entire lines devoted to the flower in all its variations. Les Parfums de Rosine is one such house, and besides its twenty or so perfumes, there’s a slew of mainstream releases popular with the public such as Stella, or Valentino’s Rockin’ Rose.
“When I consider every thing that grows Holds in perfection but a little moment;”
Shakespeare on beauty, probably human beauty, since it seems to have been a frequent melancholy observation of his that it’s fleeting.
However, the observation’s just as applicable to the rose. Even long blooming hybrid teas have a day, at most two, when their bloom and fragrance are at their most intense, and that’s the moment that I always want to find in a rose perfume.
This may be an oddball ambition. Lots of people find that soliflore perfumes really don’t settle in well on their skins. There’s a fundamental mismatch going on along the lines of ”We’re members of different kingdoms, you and I. You’re from the Animal and I’m from the Plant and we have got to stop meeting like this.”
Every summer for years, my family would pack up the station wagon and drive north to Long Island. There we would chug as far as Bay Shore and then take a ferry out to Fire Island.
Now Fire Island, for those who do not live in the New York Area, is (was?) a rather humble resort built on a very long sand bar sticking out into the Atlantic Ocean. It is distinguished from that other Long Island based summer playground The Hamptons by the much more modest nature of the people who go there. If it’s Polo in the Hamptons, then it’s table tennis on Fire Island, or if it’s foie gras in Sag Harbour, it’s clam chowder and weenies in Lonelyville. We had a rackety old beach house there, and would spend four flip-flopped weeks every summer simply going back and forth to the beach and acquiring a tan and getting scratched by the miles and miles of rugosa roses that (along with poison ivy) grew all over the island.