It's a vacation from modernity to try the DSH collection of ten perfumes in the style of 17th and 18th century Versailles. In keeping with the King's order that his courtiers wear a different perfume every day, with the full selection of these ten samples based on the famous perfumes of that time and place, it is possible to follow the custom of "le Cour Parfumee" - - the Perfumed Court, of Louis XV.
I imagine the perfumed fountains' mist on the breeze must have been a full body experience. (Louis XIV overdid it and ended up unable to have anything perfumed near him at the end of his life. Even the scent of blooming flowers caused him migraines. Let it be a lesson to those who over-apply!)
This collection uses natural botanical materials, in keeping with the period, except for the animal notes, which are synthetic.
|Courtiers from the film Marie Antoinette by Sophia Coppola, filmed in Versailles|
Except for the brisk Aqua Admirabilis, which is the classic Eau de Cologne developed by Gian Paolo Feminis, the rest are very floral fragrances.
They are divided into roughly three types, those that are combined with high keyed citrus notes (d'Oranger du Roi Louis XV), those that are strongly floral with just enough of an earthy base to hold them onto the body (Mille Fleurs), and those that have middle notes of carnation/wood types combined with a stronger tone of animal/musk or vanilla absolute (Reinette).
Jean-Louis Fargeon, the great court perfumer, left a number of detailed and descriptive formulas DSH used for reference.
The paintings of Boucher were also an inspiration for the perfume personality of Marquise de Pompadour, the great luxury stylist of the period. I was amazed to find out that her active love affair with Louis XV lasted only five years.
|M de P by Boucher, & more on toilette scenes|
This extremely cultured woman's use of her ephemeral position to become an important patron of the arts, especially the personal ones, left a lasting impression. She created a standard of elegance and grace in support of an intimate relationship that became the ideal in French romance ever since. Reinette is a Rococo-style composition of a hyacinth accord mixed with bergamot and jonquil, cassis, carnation, rose and tuberose, violet leaf and ambergris, civet and vanilla, so it has both the high pitched and the graceful mid-notes cascading into a sensual animalic tone over time.
Pot-Pourri de Pompadour is an interpretation of an 18th century ambient fragrance, meant to be refreshing and calming for the courtiers. Madame de P loved Chinese porcelain jars filled with herbal and spicey formulas. This composition has coriander, crushed mint, lavender, rosemary, rose geranium, lemon balm, marjoram palma rosa, rose absolute, jonquil and orris root.
|Mme. du Barry, not so innocent|
The du Barry Eau de Coquette for night, is based on Fargeon's Eau de Cypre Composee. Rich and seductive, with floral absolutes of jasmine, rose, orris concrete, angelica, nutmeg and a deep animal finish of ambergris. This one is the most similar to modern perfumes, reminding me a bit of Andy Tauer's themes.
|Dance Scenes from Le Roi Danse, Louis XIV practically invented ballet himself|
Le Roi Soliel for Louis XIV, has a bright citrus accord leading to a leather finish that maintains an elegant transparency.
His son Louis XV, was strongly identified with orange flower water and Eau de Fleurs d'Oranger du Roi contains both orange flower water and the absolute, bitter orange and lemon, with a grounding in pettigrain and ambergris.
Orange-flower water became a popular French flavoring and scenting agent in confections such as Madelaines, and laid in wait to trigger a whole other world of sensual stream-of-peculiarly-French-consciousness and memory.
|Sophia Coppola's film Marie Antoinette|
|The Draughtsman's Contract|
This collection of fragrances are especially wonderful for those who appreciate botanical fragrances and also love fine antiques, or are the avid readers of historical fiction, biographies and memoirs, or those who travel to France and visit Versailles and would like to have a more intimate, personal experience of a particular time and place's refined yet powerful beauty.
I love recreations of period perfume styles, especially those using the ingredients of the day to which that we still have access, and have done a number of posts on this topic -- here is a selection:
DSH Historical Fragrance Part 1;
DSH Secrets of Egypt Collection;
Nenufar and Pyxis, Scents of Time;
Cire Trudon - Scented Atmospheres
These perfumes are especially wonderful to set the mood as you wander the period rooms of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Frick, or other places in the U.S. that evoke the past.