The author of the Maggie Hope Mystery series
writes about KBO, cocktails, code-breaking, and red lipstick.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Vintage Perfume

When writing Mr. Churchill's Secretary, it helped to think of what kind of perfume each female character would have chosen to wear (and cologne for some of the male characters, too). Whether or not the perfume's name made it into the text, it was a helpful exercise. (And also fun.)

Since the book is set in England during the summer of 1940, I deliberately didn't consider any perfumes released that specific year. My characters would have had bottles on their bureaus from past years.

If you're interested in vintage perfumes from the twenties and thirties, decants (testers) are a great way to try them. I've tried sampler packs of vintage scents from the Perfumed Court (I'm in no way associated with them or their site) and had a great time — Nuit de Noel was a favorite.

Despite the Great Depression (or maybe because of it?) many magnificent perfumes debuted during the Thirties. Many of these outstanding scents are classics and still available today:

Patou's Joy (1930)
Acqua di Parma's Profumo (1930)
Dana's Tabu (1931)
Worth's Je Reviens (1932)
Guerlain's Vol de Nuit Parfum (1933)

Of course, gorgeous classic perfumes from earlier decades were also available, such as:

Guerlain's Jicky (1889)
Coty's l'Origan (1905)
Guerlain's L'Heure Bleue (1912)
Caron's Violette Precieuse (1913)
Guerlain's Mitsouko (1919)
Chanel's No. 5 (19121)
Caron's Nuit de Noel (1922)
Guerlain's Shalimar (1925)
Lanvin's Arpege (1927)
Bourjois Soir de Paris (1928)

Winston Churchill's favorite scent is reputed to have been Penhaligon's Blenheim Bouquet, created in 1902 and named after the family home of Churchill's father, the Duke of Marlboro.

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