Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Orloff NIKKI Perfume, Jean Vivaudou Cosmetics

The Jean Vivaudou Company is perhaps better known among glass collectors but perfume fanatics have a reason to know them, too. Sometimes abbreviated just J V Co, Vivaudou produced vanity and bathing products that were packaged in pretty glass containers mostly circa 1930s. In fact, I've owned a few of J V Co containers, not even realizing what they were. The little jar you see above originally held a perfumed sachet powder made by JV Co and when the powder was used up you were able to use the container as a planter. The glass in this case was actually made by Akro Agate, a large US glass manufacturing company famous for making everything from swirled (slag) glass baskets with animals like a chicken or a cat on top to highly collectible rainbow assorted aggies or marbles.

Interestingly, another man named Victor Vivaudou, got into the perfume and cosmetics business in New York in the early nineteen hundreds, just a few years earlier than Jean. Possibly the two Vivaudou's were related? It would be a very odd coincidence if both men lived in New York, during the same time period, doing the same business and were not related. Whether or not he had any help, it was during the 1930s- 1940s that Jean Vivaudou produced several perfumes under or with the name of Orloff Perfumes. The Orloff perfumes include: Apple Blossoms 1941, Attar of Petals 1945, Carnation Imperial 1939, Extrait de Cologne Russe 1939, Gardenia Russe 1939, Indies Spice 1941 and Nikki 1939. Jean Vivaudou Company used a wide variety of stylized containers for their cosmetics and the bottles for the Orloff perfumes were unique. You may have noticed all of the perfumes seem to share a Russian theme The perfume called Carnation Imperial came in a wooden Russian style container, rather like one of the cathedrals with the famous onion dome tops. It had a glass vial inside and the container was painted red, white, gold and green. In the photos below you see the perfume called NIKKI. The bottle is stunning, it's very gothic and even before I knew any of the other Orloff perfumes I thought it reminded me of something from Russia, too.

I love that you can clearly see a fingerprint in the gray paint under the silk screened layer of gold paint that makes up the Orloff logo, applied directly on the bottle. I think it is rare to see this mark so well preserved, as you can see the paint is wearing off in this example, too. The image appears to be that of a rider thoroughly robed against cold Russian winters, with blankets and cloaks perhaps obscuring the horse's rear legs. For me this is a very romantic presentation. The perfume within is very interesting to me as well; I am fairly certain it is authentic, as I received it from a single owner with several other same period perfumes that I know to be correct (and that have more value). It smells a bit raspy at the top but as I smell it more and more, I like it better and think maybe it is intended to be that way. It reminds me a little of the smell of chrysanthemums and also a hazelnut-like note. This morning I thought maybe also it had a basil note that might be causing part of the harshness, but now I'm not sure. It has a warm doughy quality so I suspect it might have been an Iris perfume, but once again, I'm not sure because Iris is a note that still plays hide-and-seek with me. It finishes slightly powdery, mostly warm and roasted-nutty. That edge of bitter floral lasts all the way through, at least on me.

I really wish this had been Gardenia Russe (can you imagine!) or Carnation Imperial (I'm real into carnation) but I just love the bottle Nikki comes in. It's actually a rather large bottle and since I mostly dab, I'm sure I'll have much more than a lifetime's supply of NIKKI.

So how about a first here? Since I'm totally non-commercial and unincorporated, it has to be a modest first sample give away; so for up to the first five people who request it (email me at if you want to be included) but since I don't really think 5 people read this blog, I'm not sure I'll send out even 1 vial. But if I do, then don't be too mean if you disagree with my smell analysis; I go without any reference or list of notes 99% of the time. I'm using the only things I've got, which are namely my nose and my brain, so if you do get a sample of this perfume, try not to tease me too badly if you open the vial and think to yourself, duh, this is a ROSE perfume, dummy !! At the same time, I want to know what you think and I would love to hear back from you on the blog or by email once you've sniffed Nikki, to tell me what you think about it, too.

The Vintage Perfume Vault, where the scent of yesterday's vogue lives.


Melissa said...

HEY! I love your site & just emailed you to be entered in the drawing. Thanks for the interesting information.

Melissa said...

Just letting you know your emails are bouncing back undeliverable. Just wanted to make sure the address was correct & I wasn't doing something wrong. :)

Amelia said...

Melissa, try once more, I am getting at least some emails... if it doesn't work, post your email here and I'll email you directly. Thanks and sorry it wasn't working.

ScentScelf said...

I only found your blog a couple of weeks ago, so perhaps you need to adjust your count... ;)

I am enjoying reading very much. And hope to be able to try a sample of Nikki. I have an unopened Coty Muguet which I am going to "uncork" in a ceremony with some scent friends in a couple weeks; perhaps you would enjoy a sample yourself?

DJVK said...

Victor Francois Benjamin Vivaudou was Jean's father (and my grandfather). Born in Cannes in 1881, he went to the US (via the UK) and set up the V Vivaudou Inc perfume company in 1915. Jean Eugene (Jack) Vivaudou was born in the UK, and went to the US in the late 1920's. He claimed that when he asked his father for money to improve his education, Victor gave him $1 and said go to NYC and earn your owm money.

At the time V Vivaudou Inc was worth several million dollars, and Victor ran a racing stables in Central Park.

If you want to know more conact me

jdcastro said...

The Carnation Imperial perfume looks pretty impressive!

Jon Castro

ScentScelf said...

Hey, how cool! So interesting to hear from a Vivaudou relative...and it is a good family story, isn't it?

Dahlila said...

I just found your site while researching Nikki perfume. This is wonderful! I just found a small box of sachets w/the NIKKI, ORLOFF logo on the outside. Inside are 6 triangle sachets and the advertisement for it. Wonderful!

thank you, dahlilafound

Perfumella said...

Amelia, don't underestimate your readership.

I'm pretty sure there are loads of lurkers soaking up your vintage wisdom!

Anonymous said...

I have this beautiul 3oz. bottle; empty of course,but i found your site while doing my little research. my bottle squeeks when i uncap it. I don't know much about fragrances but it seems to have a floral scent. tell me more about the value of my bottle and if the fragrance is available.

Anonymous said...

Sorry my email is incorrect. shoul be