Gloria Vanderbilt: a fragrant legacy

We are so sorry to hear the inimitable Gloria Vanderbilt died – at the fine age of 95 – yesterday.

An heiress from of America’s grandest families, Gloria could have whiled away her life on fripperies, but she seemingly filled every second to the fullest extent. Artist, designer, author, model, actress… her creative talents were limitless.

Starting as a fine artist, then working for Hallmark Cards along the way, her true passion was for the world of fashion. Gloria designed silk scarves, then moved on to figure-hugging jeans that became the must-have item of the 1970s – her swan logo becoming iconic the world over.

And she had another passion – for perfume – partnering with L’Oreal from 1982 – 2002 and collaborating on a range that meant the name of Vanderbilt now became most famous for their fragrances.

Vanderbilt, the original fragrance, has become an all-time classic. And you can still snap it up for far less than it’s worth. Composed by another legend, the incredible Sofia Grojsman, in 1982, it shimmers with sparkling green and lusciously fruity notes at first, sashaying confidently through a swathe of decadent florals in the heart, and draping itself like a sensuous silk stole around your shoulders as it warms and settles the soft, woody, just faintly snarling musk on your skin.

Top notes: Aldehydes, pineapple, orange blossom, lavender and bergamot
Heart notes: carnation, tuberose, orris root, jasmine, ylang-ylang and rose
Base notes: sandalwood, cinnamon, opoponax, musk, civet, vanilla and vetiver.

Producing sixteen fragrances in all, the latest in 2016, many other famous noses were called on to create the Vanderbilt perfumes: Dora Baghriche, Francis Kurkdjian, Christine Nagel, Sonia Constant, and Olivier Pescheux to name but a few.

Right up until a few days ago (June 9) Gloria Vanderbilt had been posting to her Instagram account – sharing snapshots of her everyday life, precious family photos and shots of herself from various eras: effervescent, joyful, and always impeccably glamorous.

On February 20, Gloria posted the following, which is even more poignant, now:

‘Today I turn 95. It feels like yesterday I was 16 and posing for my first picture for Harper’s Bazaar. There is so much I wish I had known then. I do believe that it is only once you accept that life is a tragedy that you can truly start to live… And, oh, how I have lived! So many lives, so much work, so much love. It is incalculable.’

What a fitting memorial, then, and what words for us, too, to live by…

Gloria Vanderbilt February 20, 1924 – June 17, 2019
R.I.P

 

By Suzy Nightingale

Angelina Jolie: Guerlain Parfumeur – a new fragrant personification of iconic, female fortitude…

Since 1828, the French house of Guerlain has been synonymous with perfumes inspired by and created for strikingly strong women. As Jacques Guerlain himself once said: ‘We create perfumes for the women we admire.’ So who better to personify that independent, wilful yet utterly elegant spirit than Angelina Jolie, whom Guerlain have just announced as their personification of their new fragrance… Guerlain Parfumeur Mon Parfum.
Master Perfumer at Guerlain, Thierry Wasser, created Guerlain Parfumeur by drawing direct inspiration from Angelina Jolie, expressing the idea of ‘…the notes of a woman,’ and the embodiment of modern femininity within her choices, emotions and dreams.

Angelina Jolie [photo by Wall Street Journal]
First known as an actress, Jolie is now a filmaker in her own right while also serving as Special Envoy to the UN Refugee Agency, co-founder of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative and human rights activist, with many emotional and familial ties to France and the house of Guerlain itself. The deal was struck in 2015, with Jolie having long been a fan of Guerlain since childhood, with evocative scent memories of her mother’s love for a Guerlain powder. But Jolie also represents the continuation of a house that has ever pushed the boundaries while striving for modernity and perfectly executing a timeless, fearless femininity… Indeed, Jolie’s compassion is also at the fore, with her decision to donate her entire salary from the collaboration to charity.
guerlain-are-you-her-type-perfume-1920sThink of Guerlain’s most famous fragrances – scents that have stood the test of time and will likely outlive us all – and a powerful woman will be behind the inspiration for the perfume, somewhere. Such as the exuberantly mysterious Mitsouko from 1919. Composed by Jacques Guerlain the perfume was based on the novel ‘La bataille’ and the eponymous heroine and wife of a Japanese Admiral, caught in the web of a tangled love affair with a British officer. A masterful balance of the juicy peach and rounded oakmoss of the base, Mitsouko retains its ambiguous juxtaposition of alluring warmth and cool reserve – an echo of the story’s heroine who must control her raging emotions with dignity as she awaits news of which, if either, of her lovers will return from the war.
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If Mitsouko represents an attempted control of the vagaries of the human heart, then Shalimar gives free reign to overwhelming passion and devotion – a romance poem written in perfume and representing the legendary love of Emperor Shahjahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal, meaning “Jewel of the Palace,” and also composed by Jacques Guerlain, in 1925. During their marriage the couple were inseparable, but having given birth to thirteen children, she died during the birth of their gourteenth. Devastated by her death, Shah Jahan had the Taj Mahal built in memory of his wife and their undying love; and Shalimar is named after ‘The Gardens of Shalimar,’ her favourite place. One of the best-selling perfumes in the world to this day, Shalimar seamlessly weaves citrus freshness in to a beguiling floral heart garlanded by gauzy jasmine and may rose, with a charismatic dry down that wavers between the warmth of opoponax, tonka bean and vanilla, and a misty coolness of iris and ambergris.
These scented stories are merely two of the redolent, towering and immediately evocative fragrances in their rich tapestry – and with Jolie at the helm of their forthcoming fragrance – due for release in March 2017 – for Guerlain, the future is definitely a continued celebration of female strength…
Written by Suzy Nightingale