Sunday, February 22, 2009

Does Perfume Cure the Common Cold (sore virus)???

Check out the link: to read more about this home cure for cold sores... I wonder if perfume really can cure cold sores? And if so, would parfum work better or an Edt? Bergamot and linaloo are just a couple of potential healing ingredients contained in just about any perfume, as well as denatured alcohol and essential oils. In fact, perfumes are positvely packed with vitamins and phytochemicals and it turns out, they might just pack a powerful healing punch.

If it works, I'll bet the average perfume lover would rather dab on a little something from her vanity table than spend nearly 20 bucks on a little tube of cream that doesn't seem to do much. Think of the money a frequent sufferer could save- if you had 1 outbreak a month, 20 (one tube of cream) x 12 = $240 extra that you could spend on perfume instead!

Update: Well, I've checked this out a little bit online and it looks like this claim has pretty good science to back it up. Go to: to read up on the science behind it all.

There are positive aspects of perfume- such as it's potential to heal us, which is in contrast to all the negative press and droning on about how toxic the perfume raw materials are... Instead of being the next epidemic, it turns out that all those supposedly toxic ingredients in our perfumes can actually conquer at least two major types of viral illness.

Isn't it sad that stories like this don't get more press?

It just adds to my conviction that's going on in perfume today is such a shame. Of course I'm talking about the relentless outlawing and removal of all of those natural perfume materials from the "approved lists" of ingredients perfumers are allowed to use. Most (all?!) of the plant and flower extracts, essential oils, wood and spice infusions, basically the entire pallet that nature provides to us for creating perfumes, is being replaced by synthetics.

I know that the synthetics are great. They are clean and tested, safer because they represent a known quantity/quality. The result is more predictable and reliable. No question these new molecules are a major asset to modern perfumery. But eliminating the naturals is not the sensible response to an increaed availability of synthetics! Why not use both?

Photo from The real answer is depressing- big companies can charge big $$$ for any of these new 'novel' molecule they synthesize, but the naturals can't trademarked in the same way. So it all boils down to profit motive, the familar old story in too many cases.

The same exact trend has been observed in Western medicine and pharmocology for years. As soon as pharmacutical companies had the ability to analyze herbal compounds, and isolate and synthesize their active components, the traditional herbal remedies were at first declared inferior and many were subsequently outlawed.

The 'new' drugs were aggressively marketed at first to doctors but now to the public. The cycle of paying big money to develop and promote new drugs, lead to increasing medical costs and profits and now the whole thing has spiraled out of control.

Perfume seems to be heading the same way. Just as there are new generations of renegade doctors out there discovering the benefits of the old approach and using herbal cures to treat patients, I hope the new organic, naturalist perfumers of today hold fast to their practices. The scary, ridiculus part is how quickly people swallow the lies told by companies and policing agencies whose alliances stand to profit hugely from this shift.

For me, it's one more reason to love vintage fragrances; each one is like a tiny museum full of fragrant artifacts. But I am hopeful that with today's movement towards serious conservation of our natural resources, that most of the raw ingredients perfumers have relied on in the past will remain availble to us in the future and maybe someday, perfumers will be able to create freely from the full range of materials available under the sun.

The Vintage Perfume Vault, where yesterday's vogue lives!

Vintage New Orleans: Magnolia Rene Perfume

Today in California it is rainy, windy and cold, a typical February spring day but terrible Oscar's weather. Never mind, the fruitless pears are in full bloom here. All this rain puts me in the mood for a New Orleans spring day. The weather in New Orleans was always warm even when the sky filled with dark daytime clouds. There are Magnolia trees growing in California, which surprised me at first but the ones I've found are nearly scentless, nothing like the ones in New Orleans. The way magnolia perfume hangs in the warm, heavy air just before an electric storm, when everything else has become perfectly still, yellow tinted; that's a headspace I want to capture. (Edit: perhaps Kenzo Fleur de Magnolia can take me there... )

However all I have here, now is a nice old dimestore perfume called Magnolia by Rene of New Orleans. Magnolia smell is hard to describe. It's similar to jasmine, and similar to gardenia, but not really like either. It's sweeter with rubbery-waxy hints and a carbenuba, shoe-polish note. This perfume captures the magnolia of my memory perfectly. As it warms, it becomes more spicy, faintly medicine tinged, like sweet cream tinged with saffron and thinned with coconut milk. The dry down has faint civit-honey and hay notes with a fleshy, almost necrotic undertone. Something in that base reminds me of fresh leather, or the smell the flower gives off as it over-ripens, when the thick petals begin to turn slightly nutty and brown.

The quality of this fragrance is hard to judge. You can't even find a perfume that smells like this today (that's NOT a good thing), yet it was just a cheap little novelty back then, a small souvenir or token from a date back when it was new. So what if it doesn't have great performance characteristics, and leaves just enough to smell a trace after only a couple of hours! The bakelite cap does look sort of nerdy, but I really love the stepped shoulder design of the the little art deco bottle.

The Vintage Perfume Vault, where the vintage vogue lives.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Continuing Story of Cara Nome Perfume

The story of Cara Nome began to interest me when I found I had collected 4 bottles, each with a different maker, city, style and scent but all shearing this same obscure little name. So what was the story behind this perfume? United Drug Company was the first maker who produced Cara Nome perfume in 1918.

United Drug Company was a titan of early 20th century American industry (190x-1927). The company started in New York- actually New Jersey, the industrial area a few miles west of Central Park and 5th Avenue somwhere around 1900. But by 1907 United Drug had already migrated or expanded to Boston according to the writings of Frank Edward Davis, who was the general manager of United Drug Company in Boston at that time. By 1911, Davis had moved on to head another United Drug Company located in Onterio, Canada. In 1913 United Drug was booming; the pockets of this giant became so heavy that sometime that year the company split to form United Candy Company, United Stationary Company, United Laboratories Company and the United Perfume Company.

Despite their exuberant expansion by 1921 United Drug Company was running into serious financial troubles. In fact a great depression was coming and United would not survive. Even so in 1922 the company released 12 new fragrances. Perfume, made with ingredients manufactured in their chemical laboratories, was one of the most profitable of their latter going concerns. In 1927, United Drug and Perfumes dissolved. As is often the case, another company seems to have been waiting in the wings to come along after United and buy up their most successful fragrances which began to appear under the Langolis Company label inthe late 1920s or early 1930s.

The perfumes of the United Drug company include in chronological order: 1915 Bouquet Dazira; 1916 Narcisse; 1917 Coeur d'Or; 1918 Cara Nome; 1918 Violet Dulce Jonteel and Truflor; 1920 Arbutus; 1921 Juneve. Then in 1922, a burst of releases: Coeur de Trefle, Coeur de Violette, June Bouquet, Nacre, Alma Zada, Dazira, Fleur des Bois, Harmony, Harmony Trefle, Intense, White Lilac and Rose. In 1923, Duska Toilet Water only. Then in 1924 and 1925 came the last two of the original United Drug/Perfume Company perfumes, Bouquet Ramee and Shari.

As a side note, coincidentially, (or more likely not), two of the United releases, White Lilac and Arbutus, are name copies from two of the earliest Avon perfumes (but under another name back then). Those earliest fragrances were produced under Avon's original name, California Perfume Company. Like United, the CPC was established in New York sometime around 1865. White Lilac and Arbutus were also produced by Mary Chess and Barcorns, probably all the later versions had been inspired by those very first successful CPC perfumes of the late 1870-1880s. Today Avon produces perfumes for the mass market of American women and has a reputation for producing "cheap" perfumes but you have to admire about any company that is over 130 years and still going strong!

But going back to our original story line, Langolis continued producing a number of the original United Drug/Perfumes such as Cara Nome and Shari. Under Langolis and unlike what I see in photos of the older United Drugs line, the packaging was often exquisit.

Our story isn't nearly complete yet but the Langolis trail becomes a dead end, so stay tuned for more... of how the story will evolve.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's a new day; Joni Mitchell, Elvis Costello and friends.

It's good to have TVPV (The Vintage Perfume Vault) back. I'm watching a great Sundance special right now. Diana Krall (Elvis Costello's wife) is talking with Elton John. She mentioned Joni Mitchell... Do you remember Hejira? What a pivotal album that was for me. I stared so long and hard at the cover, it must have had holes worn through it.

Where yesterday's vogue lives; TVPV is the last of the Vintage Vogue!

The Vintage Perfume Vault remains the same!

Cute little Cara Nome miniature bottles. Tish Tish is a creamy spicy number with aldehydes giving it lift and a familiar soapy carnation rose heart. Cara Nome began in Boston and ended up in Los Angeles. Hopefully I'll revisit Cara Nome soon with more details.

NOTE: I am going back to TVPV- and taking Pefumesdujour down. I was hoping to fix some weird error feedback I was getting and increase accessibility; I thought it had to do with the lengthy name (what a goof) but now I've figured it's html errors. Really, I'm barely computer literate so pardon the fits and starts! I hope at least a couple of you will find your way back...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Vintage Coty Muguet des Bois Poudre

The gorgeous box of Coty's Muguet des Bois Poudre de Toilette, blended and packaged in USA.

It is still sealed with paper and would sit magnificently on the chicest dressing table. The puff is cottony on one side and felt on the other, pure white, with a plain white paper seal. On the bottom it has a pink label with green hand set type: Poudre De Toilette au parfum Muget des Bois// Se Fait Las Parfums ~ Paris Styx Emeraude Chypre L'Origan L'Aimant ~ Made expressly for Coty No.1238.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Elizabeth Arden Cabriole Perfume

Along with Helena Rubenstein and Anne Klien, Elizabeth Arden completed the triumvirate of female pioneers who blazed their way to the top and become gaints in the field of American cosmetic companies in the twentieth century.

Elizabeth Arden was born Florence Nightingale Graham (1878-1966). Her most famous saying, "hold fast to youth and beauty" reflects an attitude widely held even today. Ironically her life story validates that from such vanity comes no good fruit. Her success was based on an intense desire to suceed and gain entrance into New York's high society. Elizabeth Arden Cosmetics thrived while Arden was alive but in the end she could not relinquish control to anyone and after her passing, the company was divided and carved into bits. The name survives today only as part of another large cosmetics conglomerate, FFI.

Thanks in no small part to Elizabeth Arden's efforts, the trend of respectable women using cosmetics caught on in America as it had in Europe. However the practice was limited almost exclusively to the larger cosmopolitan areas and cities. Wearing make-up and in particular changing ones hair color would not gain wide spread acceptance throughout interior and rural USA for decades. So it was not without resistence that she and her competitors fought to create strong, lasting brand names here. Fragrances continue to be an important part of EA brand; today we have Green Tea, 5th Avenue, Red Door and Sunflowers amoung the most profitable of Arden's scents.

Cabriole is a 1977 creation, so it is not part of the grand Elizabeth Arden perfume tradition to which Blue Grass (BG) belongs. BG is the only Arden perfume made prior to 1966 that I'm familar with; On Dit and Arden Rose are two others I'd love to find. The bottle you see in the photo above holds the original Cabriole Perfume; it was not called a perfume colonge as is the latter version which had a shorter white plastic cap top. Note the chrome top was actually taller than the bottle on this presentation (not shown in full).

Cabriole opens with a sharp fruit galbanum combination. Twisted up in the fruit is a strong, short lived acetone note. The first time I experienced this perfume the galbanum-acetone-fruit came across as a strong aspirin scent which segued into a spicy dark rose. Any sweetness has aged out of my sample. From another source I have the top notes listed as green galbanum, anise, apple, peach, and pineapple; the scent was classified as a floral jasmine. Pineapple, rasberry and anise could all be there, still its hard for me to say which fruits I smell. The spicy rose accord I still definitly smell, but the top and middle of the fragrance has thinned and compressed. The sharp green edge remains well into the dry down. Some perfume lovers report cedarwood in the base, but I smell sandalwood + tonka. Me (Frances Denny), Babe (Fabrege) and Candid (Avon) were other 1977 perfume releases.

I look forward to The Powder & the Glory (, a biopic movie slated for release in 2009 detailing the lives and life-long rivalry between Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubenstein (today: L'Oreal)!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dana Voodoo: vintage perfume sighting?

I have here a photo of a little bottle of perfume I've had for several years. I've always loved the scent contained in the dark traces of juice remaining, but I never had an idea of the identity of the mystery scent. Then, while researching another Dana perfume story, I came across another photo that reminded me a lot of my little bottle. What do you think? Are they the same thing?

My bottle is really tiny, only 1 1/2" tall, a micro mini. The latter image is a larger 2 ounce size. It has the name etched on the cap, but it would never fit on the micro. But notice how the perfume traces even look the same. So I think it's likely I've finally identified this mystery bottle. And now, I want confirmation. So if any readers know the answer for sure, or can maybe describe how Voodoo smelled, I'd love to know. The perfume in my sample smells very sweet and cherry flavored, like the pie with spices and everything. A heliotrope laden scent with herbal top notes and a typical dirty french base, is what I get. Today I smell lots of cloves and cinnamon in it, too, but I could've sworn before it was just sweet cherry.

If I ever find another example of VooDoo, I'll do a more extensive review!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Venuderme Arome De Paris

I have a vintage treasure to share with you before I take off for a glorious three day weekend. The treasure for today's post is AROMA DE PARIS by Venuderme. If you've never heard of it, you aren't alone. I searched high and low and couldn't find anything about it. I'm guessing this bottle is from the 1940s or maybe early 1950s. At first, I thought it was a bottle of toilette water but upon closer examination I began to think it must be something else. It was too plain, too generic looking to be a perfume and the name was weirdly familiar yet wrong for perfume; nu + derme- was this a treatment for the skin? But it smelled so good, I thought maybe it was a commercially prepared base, something a druggist might have ordered from Paris and mixed with flower essences to create colognes and aftershaves for customers here in the US. But since I couldn't find anything more it was a true mystery. To smell it, I was reminded instantly of Dana's Platine. Arome de Paris opens with the same bouquet of 'quelques fleurs' that I smell in Platine. I suspect it is mostly narcissus in a beeswax honey base. It could even be the same exact base as in Platine, because it smells that close; there is not much complexity to it but its floral bouquet is a divine mix of orange flowers, rose, jasmine, tuberose, ylang ylang and storax wrapped up in golden sweetness. Then I found this big clue as to the true identity of Venuderme thanks to an old Portugese magazine advertisement I've got:

Now I'm not sure if you are supposed to apply the product directly to your underarm skin to prevent odors or apply it to the underarm area of a garmet to remove odors? But in any case, the text seems to say that Venuderme protects a girl's best assets. Well of course this got me thinking about deodorants in general. How long has Secret (strong enough for a man) been out? And what were the early deodorants all about, how were they marketed? Below you can see a couple of the examples of 'early' American deodorant advertisements (from Noah's Images), including this one from Mum's :

The text reads in part, "Something men never speak about that every girl should know..." It goes on to explain that popular girls aren't always the most beautiful ones nor do they necessarily have the best smile, but one thing they never have is unpleasant body odors!

And this one from Veto really sums it all up: "Because you are the very air he breathes...". The couple shown in this image amuses me; she looks like a prima ballerina dressed for a performance of Swan Lake and he looks like JFK, maybe it was perfect for 1962 but they look very anachronistic now. The message is the same though- nice girls mustn't smell like girls at all. I could not find much earlier advertising for deordorants, so I'm thinking they must have become really popular during the 1950s.

Being a true vintage road-warrior perfumista, of course I tried Venuderme. For clarification: I will try almost any vintage perfume or beauty potion, as long as it isn't petrified. In fact, the more exotic and unfamiliar it is, the better I like it. And if you wonder how did Aroma De Paris seem to work, I applied it lightly to my post-showered skin several days this week, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, given how divine it smells. The scent lingers most of the day, very light but distinct if you are close enough. As to how well it functions for its intended purpose, I can't really say since I don't have a strong need for deodorants, but even on my damp skin I could tell it has a gentle astringent effect, so I think it probably works pretty well. Now if someone tells me it is only meant for fabrics, I guess I'll feel a little silly, but all in all I'm very happy with my Venuderme experiences. That little bottle packs a whole lotta flower power.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Dante Original Cologne

This is an oil on canvas of Dante at the time of the death of Beatrice, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1871). Note the canopy strewn with flowers to sweeten the death bed; Dante holds a small posy in his hand as well to sweeten the aire of this last kiss.
I'm always delighted to make a new discovery of some vintage gem of a scent and this week it is a cult favorite, a men's cologne that although discontinued many years ago continues to have very ardent fans.

This novelty bottle of Dante Original Cologne has a loving cup trophy cap and a gold label proclaiming WORLD'S GREATEST DAD on the back. Dante Original Cologne is a fairly obscure vintage scent about which little is known. It was distributed through a company of the same name, based in New York as recently as the 1960s. It is a very lovely cologne which I recently reviewed (very briefly) on Basenotes, mostly because there weren't any reviews and that seems a shame, but I'm featuring it here because it is also a prime example of what I love, unusual and American-made vintage scents. I've been wearing a dab or two of it all day and I think of all my vintage collection, it most resembles Houbigant's Quelques Fleurs (a decidedly feminine scent), but with less rose and more iris, which makes it a surprisingly floral men's scent. But somehow, its also a perfectly appropriate smelling scent for a 'man's man'. It has just enough coumarin to let you smell an impossibly blonde tobacco. The balsams remain extremely transparent, hovering about and throwing out a gentle sillage that encourages nuzzling.

To keep the comparison going, HQF dries down soapy-rosey and pollen-y powdery while the Dante remains brighter, with bergamot, the aforementioned iris and fluffy sweet hay-tobacco forming an almost holy trilogy accord. At first, I compared Dante to Tabu because of the cola/rootbeer note that they share (which is an iris note I think, that is always very sweet and honeyed and almost watery in the living flowers I've smelled but comes across more fizz and soda like in these perfumes). Tabu doesn't share Dante's mellow smoothness, and it is sharper, stronger and almost minty compared side by side. Dante is very gentle and soft yet it is also very strong making it a very compelling masculine scent. What a shame more Daddys won't be wearing it! When will someone start making this fabulous scent again?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Platine ~ Platino ~ Platinum Vintage Dana Perfume Review

Unlike the polite and lovely platimun blondes of the exclusive Dana perfume magazine ads (shown below), this image of Blonde Venus (Marlene Dietrich by Josef Von Sternberg) fits Platine better, an icy platinum blonde but done in a sparkling, zingy, soft and super luxe almost surrealist manner. Bright citrus and juniper open this scent up like a cocktail. On top of jonquil (daffodil), lemon, cypress and a sweet base of beeswax and honey, kept bright by the excellent lingering citrus/cypress duo. I don't have a list of notes to tell you how close I am to the actual composition, but Daffodil, which is usually called narcissus when used in perfumes, is a very complex flower scent. According to my source it has facets of iris, rose, jasmine, tuberose, ylang ylang, orange blossom, storax and oak moss in it, which is enough to be a perfume all in one flower, and this multifaceted beauty is within Plainte, too.

Platine Perfume ad with sillhouette from Vogue 1946 (photo credit: John Rawlings)
“Platine parfum was the scent of a rich glamour girl who lived on Park Avenue and wore jewelry from Harry Winston ~ a strictly special occasion scent; the soapy floral... which was Platine. Platine parfum was meant to make women think of diamonds set in platinum bands or the glamour of platinum blonde hair” D. Chedwick on Tangled Up in l’Heure Bleue blog, May 2008.

Platine Perfume & Marshall Field's jewelry, Vogue 1945 (photo credit: unknown)

Grace Kelly & Prince Rainer, May 1955 at Cannes Film Festival. (unknown photo, "Paris Match" magazine layout)

Platine by Dana, circa 1940s (my photo)

Bottom of my Platino Bottle- its the lotion but I would love to try this in cologne or perfume! In lotion form, especially when dabbed on, it has not too much lasting power. But it has better weight and oomph when sprayed. (Edit: Although I do not mention it above, I think aldehydes and a lemon or flower of lemon are in Platine also adding to the soapy impression.

Another soapy blonde beauty of the 50s. Marilyn Monroe; photo by Sam Shepard- natch!.

This is another little Dana bottle; I'm not sure of the age, but isn't it cute? This is Herbissimo Cologne Refresher in Juniper. It not only smells delightful but it makes the skin feel absolutely marvelous, invigorated and tinglingly fresh. Highly recommend this one (and I'll bet there were more in the Herb series: Lavender? Melissa? Rosemary?).

Back of Herbissimo Bottle (my photo). Platine shares a little of the zesty aromatic nature of Herbissimo, so I'm including it in here.