Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Vivaudou Part II...

You may remember the earlier post on Vivaudou cosmetics and Nikki perfume. I've sent off a few samples of Nikki to various readers, and I'm still planning on sending it out to a few more, including someone who isn't expecting it. So far the feedback has been interesting: challenging, strange notes, or could it have begun turning?- as for the last one, no, I hope not! Seriously, it is too sweet and clean to be turning but you never really know how something smelled or was supposed to smell, in the beginning, when something is as old as this stuff is. But I argue it is just an unusual composition and one with lots of coumarin, I'm betting. The 'hazelnut' I get might smell more like 'hay' to others. And there's a very fine delicate complex powdery theme woven in, which really fits in with Vivaudou, once you realize that the name is synonymous with fine cosemetic powders. Indeed Nikki could be exactly that- an interpretation of a woman, smelt through powder, and just a trace of salt and old roses, along with something unexpected, something a little acrid or slightly bitter, marigold(?)... It grows on you... Perhaps I'll find a definitive opinion from someone more expert than I.

But until then, I have the pleasant task of updating you on the Vivaudou story. If you recall, in the intial story I speculated that the two Vivaudou's- Jean and Victor, were related. Well, it turns out they were related indeed! In fact, I heard from the grandson of Victor Vivaudou, a lovely gentleman named David Kinnement. It turns out David's grandfather Victor did much more than make perfume (and establish a thriving cosmetics business). He was arrested for smuggling (Diamonds! In his own Vivaudou (?) cold cream!) in the early 1920's. But his career began on a more hope-filled note when he graduated as a Maître de Parfum in Grasse around 1903. By 1914, he'd fled France to avoid the impending war and seek his fortune and fame in America, making cosmetics and perhaps trading in off-market women's couture (I'm assuming perhaps from his Old World connections...) . He left his wife and children behind and brought his mistress, Rose, to the US with him.
There he met the landed gentry of New York's golden society. He attended glittering parties that lasted for days at the Vanderbilt's and Gatsby's, and soon he and Rose purchased a home nearby. He started Vivaudou cosmetics, either with his father Jean, or more likely using Jean's name for the company (it isn't clear to me which was the case). Vivaudou landed in New York at a magical time in history and he was there to see New York transform itself from an almost provincial, colonial American city with quaint Belle Epoch tastes to the fully industrialized, sky scraper filled, world-class wonder we know today. Vivaudou associated with the cream of the crop of designers and artists of his time. The period of time and place in which he lived- New York, during the height of the jazz age and the birth of modern fashion photography and art, was as unique as the parfums he created.
His Orloff perfume bottles are certainly beautiful and distinctive, as Nikki attests. But what strikes me the most, as it did David, is the wonderful art work that was used in Vivaudou's print advertisements. One of the most famous artists he used, Henry Clive, achieved fame as a pin-up artist but he created many beautiful images for Vivaudou's cosmetics, powders and perfumes. I've taken the liberty of putting a few of these increasinly rare images up for you to feast your eyes on and so they can live on here among all the other wealth of vintage goodies I try to pack into this space.
Above, a gorgeous & detailed Mavis advertisement- the face powder, of course! And below,

One of Henry Clives' many period magazine covers (note his characteristic signature in the lower left corner). Red was a strong favorite color of Henry's and also of Vivaudou's, as you can see it was used extensively and lavishly in many of their advertsiing images.

Henry Clive did all of these advertising images, most of which were sourced from Flickr, American Archives dotcom or Pro dot Corbis dotcom.

I would love to see the advertising for Nikki, or any of the other Vivadou products but there just isn't anything I can come up with... And it's kind of funny because Vivaudou was associated with a host of perfume 'lines' including Delettrez, Arly (Paris France), Prince de Chany (Paris France & Beverly Hills,Ca), Vimay (Los Angeles and Culver City,CA) and finally Vadsco Sales Corp.(Long Island,NY).
Above, a rare advertising image from Vivaudou's Delettrez perfume line.

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

Note: all of the black and white images are DeMeyer: Dolores, first published in Vogue 1921 and 1916; Grace George, Vanity Fair 1920, courtesy Conde Nast. What you see here are photographs taken directly from my own DeMeyer book.


Unknown said...

Dear Amelia,
Thanks a lot for your interesting blog and this particular post.
I`m Russian perfumaniac (I`m into vintages too) and Nikki by Orloff as Russian-related perfume name is one I want to know more.
Actually I find your blog when hunting for information about Special №127 by Floris - the story goes that Grand Duke Orloff was the client. Due to time-line, only Vladimir Nikolaevitch Orlov (1886-1927), a friend of last Russian Emperor Nicholas II could possibly order it.
Do you know, how Orloff Parfums get that noble family name?
My e-mail is moonfish67 at google dot com
Best regards,

rachalp said...

It is Rachal of Quirky Finds. Thank you very much for the follow up post to of the Vivaudou company. I am doing a round table presentation on the Vivaudou Company at this year's convention for the IPBA and I am desperately seeking knowledge about the Vivaudou company. I attempted to contact David (the grandson) from the earlier post, but it bounced back. This post has definitely helped me with some of the history. If you have any additional info, please do share. Once again, thank you for writing this. :o)


Amelia said...

Sergey: Sorry but I too have lost contact with David so I have no information on the family name- at one time, there was an article up online that David had written about his family. There were connections to Monte Carlo and apparently his Grandfather was quite a roust-about...
Sorry I can't tell you more!

Amelia said...


thanks for commenting- I love QuirkyFinds, of course! But I wanted to add, if I forgot to include it either of the Vivaudou posts that David and I had emailed back and forth a few times and I asked at one point if he or his relatives had ever inherited any of the Vivadou perfumes, or the bottles. He told me that all of the perfumalia had been kept from his side of the family or had been lost, except for what he described as a very special bottle that his Grandmother had kept- of oakmoss extract.

btw: enjoy your conference this year; sadly I can't attend this one but maybe yes for 2012:)

Unknown said...

Thanks!!! The entire post has been a great help!!

I plan to do a video on the highs of the convention. I will post it to the Facebook page and on the YouTube channel. Definitely hope to see you next year!! :o)