Saturday, November 20, 2010

Grenoville Perfumes: Part II

Rarely does a newly discovered perfume house attract and hold my attention for long... But Grenoville keeps delivering up more and more fascination so we're back to take another look at this house today. As you might be gathering, Grenoville hasn't really been so obscure... Unlike many other perfume houses of the 19th - 20th centuries, GRENOVILLE actually did a good job of promoting its products and they spent money where it counts- in advertising and beautiful packaging. 
 Oeillet Fane Rice Powder
As to the quality of Grenoville products, we know from the great variety and diversity of perfumes, appearing over and over in new bottle forms, that the scents were enduringly popular, moving off shelves and being repackaged seasonally. As time passed they made cosmetics as well. They also won several silver medals at exhibition for their perfume compositions throughout at least the 1920s. 
Their Oeillet Fane is discovered a soundly constructed perfume that's held up over many years. And I saw no evidence evaporation on my 60-90 year old sealed bottle, so the company seems to have been on sound ground technically as well.

Note: The text from this Museu Del Perfum image dates this Esbroufe bottle from 1939, despite other references naming it as a 1950s creation...
Although you will see many old Grenoville bottles filled and still looking fresh, you find many evaporated and empty bottles as well, one assumes the latter from being stored poorly over the years in containers whose original seals were opened and or overheated, turned over, leaked etc. 
Casanova Lotion
On the whole though, it looks as if they produced many special perfumes. I would love to hear comments from those who have sampled and worn any of their perfumes.

Based on recent-ish auction type service Ventes Sur Offres, prices were reported as follows:
2105 Oeillet Fané, 1/3V, Bc métal, 38 €
2106 Oeillet Fané, D(Et), 56 €
2107 Oeillet Fané, (Carnation withered), 34 €
2108 Piège, Lotion, (Trape) 23 €
2109 Piège, V, Crystal bottle with plume, D(Et), 58 €
2110 Piège, (Trap), Bc glass (SB) + 1 Box of same brand (corresponding to the smaller size) Lot 30  

 Casanova Perfume
Oeillet Prince Noir Perfume
I was also very interested to read on Martina Rosenberg's blog her thoughts about the name Oeillet Fane (or Wilted Carnation). Yes, the exact same thought also crossed my mind about the potentially unappealing name. Do you really want to smell like something that has wilted? Well, in this case the answer is yes, you do. The wilt here implies the scent has an extra intensity, as if your nose was buried in a crush of compacted, bruised carnation blossoms. Most likely, it is a term more familiar and meaningful to those who harvest, judge and handle flowers for a living. For you science-geek types (like me), J. Habala & R.M. Rudicki explain the phenomenon:

 "An invertase inhibitor, which was found in wilting carnation petals, was able to depress the activity of invertase in crude extract made from petals of cut alstroemeria, dahlia, gladiolus, petunia and rose.... It is postulated that this invertase inhibitor is possibly formed in the petals of all flowers at the beginning of wilting, and thus controls the translocation of sucrose from wilted petals to other organs of the flower." (Scientia Horticulturea Vol 40 Issue 1, August 1989,  pg 83-90.)

In other words, wilting carnations possess an enzyme that causes sugars to be released from the wilting petals. One might postulate that this sugar is responsible for the intensely sweet, honeyed aspect of the flower's scent, which emerges in full only upon wilting. It is a romantic notion as well, is it not? Retaining flowers from an earlier encounter, only to relive the event by smelling and re-smelling the fading (but not in scent, mind you!) 
 Ambre Hindou
Chaine d'Or 1921
Bleuet 1913
Hana Ho
Une Bonne Eau Cologne 1921
Images and many thanks to;;; Ebay sellers Eurofinegifts; Iofffer; LiveAuctioneers; Scentserely; Ventesuoffres and more...
Envoi de France

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


Vintage Lady said...

Oh my, I am so happy to be following you. I love this article, and love the old perfumes and history. Thanks for this blog, beautifully written!

Amelia said...

Vintage Lady: The admiration is mutual for your perfume blog is lovely & well done as well. Thanks for chiming in here!

Amanda said...

Their packaging is very lovely, I've never tried any of the perfumes but will keep an eye out. When I first heard the name Wilted Carnation, it conjured up mainly romantic and poetic impressions for me, so hearing its scientific basis is very interesting.

Amelia said...

Amanda: Yes, they are worth seeking after. I didn't even get to mention in my review of OF the soap, tea, musk notes but it is so lovely- next I'd like to sniff out their gardenia!