Last week I went to Sniffapalooza, and among all the other things and people you could see there, I met the in house perfumer of Jean Patou, Thomas Fontaine. Under ordinary circumstances this wouldn’t happen because in my zig- zagging about New Jersey, head perfumers don’t turn up all that often, but at the time, on the cosmetics floor of Bergdorf’s, I got a moment to speak to him and he was very interesting, perhaps particularly to me, as I love the history of perfumes, and not just the novelties.
He’s a busy man these days since he works for the parent company of Jean Patou Designer Perfumes, and they own more than one older brand. Jean Louis Scherrer is also on the roster. Thomas Fontaine has the task of keeping up the older formulas, and in the age of restrictions, this is no easy thing. You never know when IFRA will put out an APB on desperate scent villains such as jasmine. If you are responsible for keeping up Joy’s appearances, this sort of interdiction could constitute the coup de grâce for the old classic. Continue reading
This is my way of expressing a piece of advice I came across in an old perfume book. The Book of Perfume (Barille and Laroze, 1995) suggests ways in which to keep some aesthetic order in your perfume collection.
The one that intrigued me was to find trios of perfumes and colognes that worked together in a pleasing way, complimenting one another, not hissing and dissing each other the way the various casts of housewives do on reality TV shows. A little harmony, the authors seemed to feel, would go a long way to improving life in the perfume cabinet.
Alrighty, I was up for an experiment and what exactly did they suggest? Continue reading
Of all the old Patou perfumes, the one that many people seem to love the best is Vacances. Some smellers even claim it as their ideal scent, the one they’d pick if the perfume world suddenly turned small and ungenerous, and they had only one measly choice.
Vacances is a sunny perfume, and meant for daytime. There’s nothing remotely vampish or glamorous or hard in the bottle. Released in 1936, the year paid vacations were inaugurated in France, it coincided with the bicycle craze of the thirties. Everyone who was anyone, on that first nationally mandated vacation, climbed on a bike: “At Patou, culottes worn with a little blouse are designed to meet its requirements. Plus fours are only seen in the little season and shorts with short stockings and a little bag attached to the waist come in.”*
It’s a far cry from spandex cycle shorts. Continue reading
Green has to do with zeitgeists, I’m convinced. If the spirit of the Age is strictly stay-at-home then green, the entire spectrum of it, will not appeal. Nevertheless, green is the smell that comes swirling in when you open the casements ( if you have casements) – wild, unpredictable, an invitation to the great unknown; in short, an incitement to move the itchy feet all of us have. Only some periods of time, and some people take to this anarchic note which tends to whirl about you and beckon you out the window, dispensing with the perfunctory formality of the front door.
Well, I did say it was anarchic.