Monday, January 19, 2009
Bergel of Hollywood's Seventh Heaven Vintage Perfume Review and Musings
I must apologize for in my photo you see the bottle fresh from my cutting it's gold cord off, prior to cleaning the neck; now all's been removed, revealing a simple classic neck to this bottle.
The perfume is called Seventh Heaven and it's by Bergel of Hollywood. It was released with one other perfume, Seduction, both in 1945 and these were the only two ever made by this brand. As I mentioned, the bottle of Seventh Heaven was found sealed with a gold cord wrapped around the double feather plume topped, frosted glass stopper. The bottle has squared shoulders reflecting the style of women's blouses and dresses of the time, and it swells at the center to form a round body with thinner handle like sides. The round silver badge label reads Seventh Heaven in the center with Bergel of Hollywood lettering around the outside. The bottle isn't marked otherwise.
My first thought on seeing this bottle was to think how similar the name of this perfume is to Helena Rubenstein's Heaven Sent, which came out four years earlier in 1941. Was the name play a clever attempt to tap inot the earlier perfume's success? One can only speculate.
And how does Seventh Heaven smell? My first impression was of smelling the rasberry liquior Framboise, but some of the resins from the perfume had crystallized at the top, creating a sweeter effect of the first few drops. I actually knocked most of the crystals back into the perfume juice and they seemed to dissolve pretty quickly back into solution. The actual jus is just lovely, a rich lighter red color, very mellow with soft aldehydes and bergamot on top. It never gets too powdery thanks to a discreet and relatively clean animal musk but I feel this could be a chypre as there is a ribbon of dark forresty green running through it. Honestly, the thing has become so well fused over time, and possibly the top notes have completely evaporated, that I cannot pick out many specific notes although I'd bet on Iris rose and vanilla (or possibly heliotrope). It is fluffy lux and womanly without being dirty in the least. I wish I still had some vintage HR Heaven Sent around to compare with Seventh Heaven, but as I recall the former was spicier and more powdery as well. Although I said it might be a chypre earlier, after wearing it for a couple of hours, I've decided it is more of a fur based perfume, really... A floral aldehyde with furry base notes, to be exact.
(Real) Fur Flowers; photo from furtasiaonline.com
And then the rasberry note calls up an association in my mind- sometimes Chanel No 5 strikes me as having a similar rasberry liquior note. So I haul out an older, fairly decrepit Chanel No 5 extrait, by which I mean it is syrupy and concentrated by evaporation, like the Seventh Heaven too, so I can compare them side by side... And they are closey related, not twins but perhaps sisters or cousins.
Seventh Heaven is softer, perhaps a tad mossy, with the richness of aldehydes is not nearly as pronounced as in the Chanel. But they share the almost burnt vanilla and butterscotch (to me) quality an sandalwood-orris milkyness in common; Seventh Heaven has more buttery sandal and musk emphasized while in No 5 has slightly spicy ylang sweet jasmine facet. But the animal base seems nearly identical, maybe a tad more pronounced in Seventh Heaven.
So while it is almost certainly inspired by Chanel No5, its not quite as daringly powdery or divine as No 5 and with a hint of wild chypre soul running through it.
Heaven Sent seems as if it might have suited the earthy yet somehow ethereal beauty of Rita Hayworth, another product of 1940s Hollywood.