Now we travel back in time to take a look at some of the aristocratic “old guard” of classical perfumery. Legends of their time and legends today in that they’re still considered a benchmark of true mastery.
Chanel- Cuir de Russie
Notes: orange blossom, bergamot, mandarin, clary sage,iris, jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang, cedarwood, vetiver, styrax, leather, amber, vanilla
Cuir de Russie (Russian Leather) captures the essence of the wild and lavish Russia from the 1920s. Impressing and setting forth intrigue with its luxuriously plush sensuality. CdR belongs to the founding elite of the genre defining aristocracy of perfumery of this era.
Its leather notes were unusual for female fragrance of this time and was once described by Coco Chanel as “a very improper perfume for nicely brought-up young ladies.” But that hasn’t stopped the likes of Mick Jagger wearing it!
Notes: lavender, rosemary, bergamot, rosemary, fougere harmony, civet, opoponax, woody notes, vanilla, tonka bean
Jicky was created in 1889, a classical fragrance despite its age has remained timeless and still very modern. According to the legend, the perfume was named after a girl Aime Guerlain was in love with when he was a student in England. It is more likely though, that this perfume is named after his uncle Jacques Guerlain’s nickname – Jicky.
This was one of the first perfumes created with the addition of synthetic materials (the first was Fougere Royale Houbigant, 1882). The top notes contain lavender and citrus (bergamot, lemon and mandarin), which perfectly match the cold, metallic orris and rose shaded by vetiver. The cold top and middle notes are an elegant counterbalance to the warm base created by patchouli, vanilla, amber and musk. A firm favourite of Sean Connery and Roger Moore, which speaks volumes.
Notes: bergamot, peach, jasmine,rose, oakmoss, vetiver, pepper, cinnamon
Mitsouko was created by Jacques Guerlain in 1919, inspired by the heroine of Claude Farrčre’s novel ‘La Bataille’, a story of an impossible love between Mitsouko, the wife of Japanese Admiral Togo, and a British officer. The story takes place in 1905, during the war between Russia and Japan. Both men went to war, and Mitsouko, hiding her feelings with dignity, waits for the outcome of the battle to discover which of the two men will come back to her and be her companion.
Mitsouko is a mysterious fragrance, not allowing everyone to see its beauty. The opening is long, like a play of all beautiful notes, and, of course, this fragrance is not for ordinary day use. On the skin it sounds as if it starts from far away, without any allusion to its intensity and sensual side. Unique, original and must be sampled by everyone who enjoys fragrance.
Notes: lemon, bergamot, jasmine, May rose, iris, incense, opoponax, tonka bean, vanilla
Shalimar was created by Jacques Guerlain in 1925, as a tribute to the legendary love story between Emperor Shajahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Before he became emperor his name was Prince Khurram. According to the legend, twenty- year-old Prince Khurram met a young girl, named Arjumand Banu at the bazaar where her family worked.
Mesmerized by her beauty, after becoming emperor, he made her his wife as Mumtaz Mahal, meaning the “Jewel of the Palace”. After the wedding ,the prince and Mumtaz were inseparable, in war and in peace. She had given 13 children to Shahjahan and died during the birth of their 14th child at the age of 39. Her death devastated Shah Jahan, who then built the Taj Mahal in memory of his late wife and their undying love. Shalimar is named after ‘The Gardens of Shalimar’ which was Mumtaz’s favorite garden.
Notes: bergamot, lemon, orange, petitgrain, rosemary, geranium, cedarwood, rose, orris, carnation, cinnamon, sandalwood, leather, musk, moss, amber, castoreum, vanilla
Knize Ten, a classic wickedly unique scent and is considered to be the reference leather if not the best leather compositions in the history of perfume. It was launched in the 1920s through founder of the House is Joseph Knize, the Viennese tailor of the Royal Court.
The nose behind this fragrant creation is a perfumer Vincent Roubert, and the design of the bottle is attributed to the Viennese architect Adolf Loos. Number ten in the name symbolizes the polo game. Having been originally released in 1925 and still going strong today is testament to the quality of this marvel. Regal and complex with enough butch leather and dandified florals, to be the king of cool James Deans signature scent (enough said).
Notes: aldehydes, Grasse jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang, iris, amber, patchouli
Chanel N°5 currently the best selling and recognized women’s perfume in the world. Conceptualized and created when Coco Chanel asked perfume designer Ernest Beaux to create a perfume “which smells like a woman“. N°5 a very complex fragrance which does not allow any of the fragrant components to be isolated out of the composition, what was exactly the request of the great Coco Chanel –“the perfume should not smell like a rose, or a lily of the valley, but as a composition.”
The perfume became famous thanks to many celebrities who wore it, among which was Marilyn Monroe. Chanel N°5 is often connected to her name because during a legendary interview in 1954, she claimed that in bed she wore only ‘Chanel N°5‘. That statement became a superb advertising slogan and a reason for millions of women around the world to choose this perfume (The current Chanel N°5 face is Brad Pitt believe it or not).
Ernest Beaux created two series of perfume samples numbered 1-5 and 20-24 and asked Coco Chanel to choose one of them. Madame Chanel chose sample no. 5 and thus history was created and the perfume got its name. Superstitious, Chanel presented her new perfume on the fifth day of the fifth month of 1921.
Whilst creating the composition Beaux utilized for the first time the synthetic component – aldehydes. In his formula the aldehydes are accompanied by fragrances of rose and jasmine. The fragrance of aldehydes is pure and fresh, reminds of the odor of clean linen just brought in the house form the fresh frosty air. It is said that the famous creator drew his inspiration for creation of this fragrance from one of his visits to the Arctic Circle and the smell of water at midnight. The unique smell of frozen lakes and rivers fascinated him so much that he decided to replicate it in his creation.
Chanel- Bois des Iles
Notes: aldehydes, bergamot, neroli, peach, jasmine, rose, lily of the valley, iris, ylang-ylang, vetiver, sandalwood, benzoin, musk
Bois des Iles (Island Woods), was created in 1926 and it is said that Beaux created Bois des Iles while he was rapt by Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades, the opera inspired by the Puskin’s novel about love and hazard, his favorite creation.
Original and genre defining in that it did for Sandalwood what Cuir de Russie did for leather. Traditional masculine notes refined for the ladies (but could be easily worn by men). A dry and spicy freshness leads to a rich and sumptuous floral heart, the light sweetness of which undulates with dry and dark woody notes. At the end, the composition becomes warmer, more comfortable and tame, as if entering into a dark room illuminated by the flames of a fireplace.
Robert Piguet- Bandit
Notes: orange, tuberose, jasmine, rose, leather, woods
Bandit, the most daring in the entire genre of perfumes, including Caron Tabac Blond and Chanel Cuir de Russie, perfumes for an emancipated woman on the turn of the last century; for a woman who dares to smoke in public. Bandit was made for the avantgarde Robert Piguet’s collection, inspired by romantic sea voyages and pirates. Bandit is a classic “chypre” with dark animal notes and aggressive leather accord. In 1999, after 25 years, production of Bandit reinitialized again.
Caron- Pour un homme
Notes: lavender, rosemary, bergamot, lemon, clary sage, rose, rosewood, cedarwood, vanilla, tonka, musk, moss
Pour Un Homme de Caron by Caron is an Aromatic fragrance for men. Launched in 1934 and the nose behind this fragrance is Ernest Daltroff. It’s a rich, yet elegantly understated “gentlemen” fragrance, which is rather sophisticated in its simplicity. Made up of a soothing and refined lavender and vanilla, with a delicate hint of musk. Recommended.
Guerlain-Sous le Vent
Notes: lavender, tarragon, bergamot, green notes, jasmine, carnation, iris, woodsy notes
See a wonderful review here.