The Perfume Bottles Auction 2018

Every year, some of the world’s most rare and beautiful perfume bottles are gathered together in one room, at the Perfume Bottles Auction (and going for eye-watering prices, as you’ll see, below!) ‘The longest-running specialty auction of it’s type worldwide, returning clients have come to expect unique, undocumented, and seldom seen bottles to be offered by the Perfume Bottles Auction.’

Bidding on these precious lots are flacon collectors and a good number of museum directors, all desperate to get their hands on these utterly stunning pieces. This year’s auction took place in conjunction with the International Perfume Bottle Association‘s 30th annual convention in Tyson’s, VA, matching the previous year’s already staggering result of $400,000 within a few dollars. Oh my goodness, how we would have loved to be there! Which of these would you have bid on, given a chance…?

1922 Lucien Galliard for Violet ‘Pourpre d’Automne’

Now we have the incredible results (and heart-flutteringly fabulous pictures of the bottles) of what they realised, as told to us by the Perfume Bottles Auction representative… ‘A large and enthusiastic crowd compeated with online bidders, multiple phone lines, and a number of absentee bids over 250 lots chosen to suit every pocketbook – resulting in a wide spread of wins from a 1925 Terre de Ritz figural powder box formed as a 17th century court lady ($120) to the 1940 Helena Rubenstein “Gala Performance” ($24,000, seen below) formed as an actress with outstretched arms standing in an elaborate stage-set box of ostrich plume and velvet.

Bottle designs of 1925 proved to generate special interest and some of the highest results, including the Julien Viard bottle for Myrugia “Besame” with it’s rare love-birds images on label and box ($19,200); the French comic-strip inspired black and white auk character for Coryse “Alfred” ($9,600); Rene Lalique‘s dancer and butterflies motif for Erasmic “de Lui” ($13,200); and the alluring fan-themed label, box, and scent name of Oriza L. Legrand “Eventail” (fan) topping the sale ($39,000) at triple it’s pre-sale estimate.

A fine grouping of R. Lalique items featured perfume bottles, powder boxes, hand mirrors, and a rare 1930 three-chamber perfume tester bed with miniature stoppers as nude maidens for Maison Lalique ($8,400). The auction drew particular interest from a number of museum curators over three historically significant Guerlain bottles including “The Moorish Bottle” a rare 1910 hand decorated bottle by Pochet & du Courval ($9,600, seen above). All three went to museum collections.

1830 Guerlain white opaline glass, with hand-written note and label.

Other highlights in the commercial bottle category include the surrealist female bust of 1941 Lilly Dache “Drifting” ($19,200); the 1938 Baccarat white crystal fan for Elizabeth Arden “Cyclamen” (9,600); and the 1927 Marblehead Art Pottery Egyptian pharoah bottle for Leigh “Amber Nile” ($10,200, see feature image at top of page).

The sale included several lots of perennially popular 19th century scent bottles featuring a Thomas Webb peachblow bottle with applied gold cherry blossoms ($960); an 1850s miniature gourd with hand carved Napoleonic images ($660); an 1887 silver-capped British porcelain monkey ($480); and an 1870s crystal chatelaine bottle with ruby, sapphire and pearl set silver mounts ($1,320).

Dominating the evenings offerings was a beautiful private collection of 1920s-1930s Czechoslovakian crystal bottles, which became a buyer’s paradise due to the large selection and variety, scattering winning bids to between $500 and $2,500, and sending an exceedingly rare Ingrid bottle simulating carved lapis birds soaring ($7,200, seen above)!’

Full results for this and past auctions can be found online at perfumebottlesauction.com

And for those of you hoarding stashed of fabulous flacons, consignments are now being considered for the 2019 auction in Chicago. For further information contact Auction Director: Ken Leach at [email protected]

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

The top 3 perfume tips to ensure you're a nose in the know…

‘Can you help save my marriage?’ is probably the most – um, unexpected request we’ve had (terribly nice chap who phoned to ask for advice on the things he should tell his wife in order to justify buying himself a rather costly bottle of niche perfume. Long story short: no lawyers needed, in this instance). But generally we get asked the same kind of questions time and again.
So what does this tell us? Something we already knew from experience: the world of perfume can be a rather overwhelming and bewildering place. Full of confusing language and conflicting advice that could dizzy the best of us in to an olfactory coma, it’s often a confusing and even off-putting arena in which to set foot (or nose).
Here at The Perfume Society we are proud to be celebrating our third birthday – founded by Jo Fairley and Lorna McKay, we exist exactly because of this befuddlement. Our ethos is to bring perfume alive through our informative website, award-winning magazine, exclusive events and Discovery Boxes to try at home, and we always aim to make fragrance accessible to perfume-lovers of all abilities!
However experienced your nose is, it’s good to get a refresher now and again – and our FAQs section is jam-packed with tips for how to choose a fragrance, what the ‘fragrance families’ mean, how ingredients are harvested (and the best perfumes to smell them in) and so much more. But before you get flitting around all things fragrant, let’s start with our all-time top three tips your nose should know…

1 – How can I choose a perfume that’s right for me?
Short answer:
It’s a minefield, right? Where to even begin? Well, our first tip is to give a perfume time. So many of us spray, sniff immediately (bascially it’s just the alcohol you’re smelling, with perhaps a mere whiff of top notes) and walk away. STOP this immediately. Sorry to nag, but it’s never going to get you the fragrance you really want.
Further advice:
Initially, try the fragrance on a blotter (also known as a perfume ‘spill’); these should be available on perfume counters – and when you buy a Discovery Box from this site, you’ll find a pack of blotters inside. Allow a few minutes for the alcohol and the top notes to subside, and then smell the blotters. At this stage you may be able to eliminate one or more, if they don’t appeal – but it is really the heart notes and the lingering base notes which you will live with, and which are crucial.
Remember:  blotters are a useful way of eliminating no-hopers and lining up possibilities, but they’re not really enough to base a perfume purchase on.  You really need to smell a scent on your skin.
Do make the most of FR.eD: The Perfume Society’s ‘virtual fragrance consultant’ who you’ll find on this site here (the name’s actually short for Fragrance Editor). You can tell FR.eD which perfumes you’re keen on, and ‘he’ will make a personalised selection, suggesting up to six fragrances at a time for you to try, at various price-points. Genius!

2 – How can I make fragrance last longer?
Short answer:
If you moisturise your skin, this gives the oils something to ‘cling’ to, and will boost its staying power.  So, if the ‘matching’ body products are available, it’s a beautiful way to layer on your fragrance. If these range extensions aren’t available, go for an unscented body cream, butter or lotion which won’t clash with your chosen scent. Think of it as a primer for perfume.
Further advice:
Try spraying your hair as well as your skin – though be careful if the perfume is dark in colour as you may unintentionally dye your hair… Hair is porous and will waft the scent even longer than on your skin in many cases.
Spritz a scarf with with scent and the heat of your body will make the fragrance bloom. Also a handy way to try a new fragrance you’re not sure of. Bored of it? Simply take the scarf off and try something else…
Remember that the nose becomes desensitised and quickly gets used to the notes of your perfume. Although you may not be able to smell it at all after 30-40 minutes, your friends and colleagues may still be able to, so ask a friend if they can still smell it before dousing yourself afresh (tempting as we find it!)

3 – My perfume seems different to how I remember it.  Is my nose playing tricks…?
Short answer:
Possibly – our memories of scent can sometimes differ wildly to the reality. However, it’s also entirely possible your old favourite’s formula has been changed. This is because, when an ingredient is classified as a potential allergen – by IFRA, the International Fragrance Association – two things may happen:  it can be banned altogether, or its use limited by percentage, to minimise the risk of a susceptible perfume-wearer reacting.
Further advice:
When an ingredient’s re-classified, perfumes may be ‘tweaked’ by the manufacturer.  In some cases, a process called ‘fractionation’ – which allows ingredient manufacturers to remove the allergenic molecule of an fragrance note, while leaving the rest intact – can allow the continued use of that ingredient.
Case in point:  oak moss – invaluable in the creation of the chypre family of perfumes – has become restricted.  Thierry Wasser, Guerlain’s in-house ‘nose’, explained to us that he now uses a ‘fractionated’ oak moss.  ‘However, when you fractionate an ingredient, it leaves a “hole”:  there is something missing,’ added Thierry.  His solution to filling the sensory ‘hole’ in oak moss was to add a touch of – believe it or not – celery.  It’s impossible to discern, to the rest of us – but it gave the rounded quality to that so-essential note that Thierry needed to return the classic Guerlain creation Mitsouko to its former, long-lasting glory.
Occasionally, however, a perfume may change because the company which makes it is bought by another, and the formulation changed.
Written by Suzy Nightingale
 
 

Collectively obsessed with scent: you have to see this mega mini perfume collection!

Obsession isn’t just the name of a perfume – it’s a very good description of the fragrant madness that creeps in to every perfume collector’s life sooner or later. And there are many differing types… The completists – those who absolutely must have every single version of  particular scent; the vintage fans who insist on owning (and sometimes wearing, if they’re in good enough condition) history, bottled. Talking of bottles, perhaps the largest collecting community within the perfume world are those who fill their homes (and garages, and sheds) with particular types of flacon – from ultra rare examples that reach eye-watering prices to retro scents in charmingly bizarre shapes – for these collectors, the perfume itself is actually secondary: they’re alllll about the bottle.

For the latest edition of The Scented Letter magazine, we focused on the mysteriouly enticing world of collectors and their collections – and one of the main images we used was kindly supplied by a VIP Subsciber, Phoebe Tan, who happened to mention ‘Oh yeah, my mum collects minis. She has quite a few…’ For “quite a few” please see the featured photo, above, and you’ll understand why we just had to interview Phoebe’s mum, Lindsay Yeo, to find out more.

Lindsay: ‘I first became interested in perfume when I went shopping in a department store about 30 years ago. There was a promotional event for Lancôme where I did a questionnaire that proposed one of their perfumes to match my personality. The winning one was… Magie Noire. I really loved it. Before this, I used to hate perfumes because people around me wore very heavy fragrances (this was in the 70s). But this event made me discover that I just hadn’t found a perfume I truly liked! That same day I bought my first full size perfume which came with a miniature bottle that caught my eye…’

Once the fragrant bait has been taken, it’s a short step to full-on perfumista status, we’ve long known. And Lindsay mused how it was ‘…funny I still have the full size bottle long after it was emptied.’ Of course we had to know how many she had stashed, and Lindsay confessed: ‘I just went to count and I currently have close to 500 bottles (most of them are minis!). This is the first time I’ve counted and I am quite shocked, actually.’
When asked what set her on this miniature-perfume collecting path, Lindsay explained ‘I really only wanted to collect the miniatures so initially I would buy full-size bottles for the minis. The first few I bought were: Magie noire by Lancome, Paloma Picasso , Lou Lou, Anais Anais by Cacharel, Ysatis by Givenchy, Ruffles by Oscar De La Renta, Gucci No.3, Beyond Paradise by Estee Lauder. Years later I found shops that sold the minis on their own – without the need to buy the full-sizes – and that is how I started collecting. It’s kinder on the pocket!’

So what exactly does a collector look for in a bottle – what catches their eye and makes them think “I MUST have that!”? For Lindsay… ‘I look out for interesting designs. [NB: The “lighter” shaped bottle, above, is a particular favourite of Lindsay’s.] To me, perfume bottles are pieces of art! They are so beautiful. Miniatures are not easy to come by so I really treat them all as treasures.’

Phoebe Tan with her miniature-bottle collecting mum, Lindsay Yeo.

Clearly, the passion for perfume runs in the blood, as Phoebe Tan first became interested in chemistry and then – when she made the connection between science and the art of perfume – she was totally hooked. Now setting her heart on a career in fragrance, Phoebe has been studying (and is soon to graduate from) for her MSc Cosmetic Science’ at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London. And having sniffed some of her “course work” examples, we’re pretty sure Phoebe’s own fragrances will be added to future collector’s scent stashes…
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Tired of turkey? Sick of of sprouts? Allow us to transport you to the glam world of 50s & 60s scents…

If you’re anything like us, you’ll have had just about enough of it all by now.
The C word.
It’s lovely and everything – don’t get us wrong – but as it’s been building up for what seems like half the year and we are now all completely exhausted, we think it’s time to sit down, grab a cuppa and wrap your nose around something utterly glamorous (and with nary a mention of tinsel, trees or flippin’ turkeys.)

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Photo credit – carolinehirons.com

In our extensive library of pages to explore here at The Perfume Society, we have filled some of them with the concise histories of perfume from Ancient Egypt to the modern day. But for now we’re going to have a brief flit to the ultra glamorous world of the 50s and 60s perfumes for now – do you happen to know which famous perfume began life as a bath oil…?
Well, as the one and only Estée Lauder told our co-founder, Jo Fairley, one afternoon over afternoon tea at New York’s Plaza Hotel: ‘Back then, a woman waited for her husband to give her perfume on her birthday or anniversary. No woman purchased fragrance for herself. So I decided I wouldn’t call my new launch “perfume”.  I’d call it Youth Dew,’ (a name borrowed from one of her successful skin creams).
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Launched in 1953, Youth Dew had a clever dual-purpose: ‘… a bath oil that doubled as a skin perfume to buy, because it was feminine, all-American, very girl-next-door to take baths. A woman could buy a bath oil for herself without feeling guilty or giving hints to her husband.’  And when Mrs. Lauder declares that women’s status got a boost when ‘a woman felt free to dole out some of her own dollars for scents,’ who can argue with that…?
Fashion designers really began to wake up to the world of perfumery in this vibrant era: the ‘boy wonder’ Yves Saint Laurent unveiled his ‘Y’ in 1964, and Rive Gauche in 1968.  And then came mini-skirts. The Beatles. Pop Music. The Pill. Parents everywhere lay awake at night worrying about their daughters’ virtue in ‘Swinging London’ and beyond – and things would never be the same again: it was as if the whole focus had shifted, through this ‘Youthquake’. And did they wear perfume? You bet…
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Fashion maven Mary Quant launched a range of fragrances – including the aptly-named Havoc. ‘I wanted a truly modern scent. Most of the perfumes are so old-fashioned, I wanted something frankly sexy,’ she said.
And by the sounds of the ‘men found panting’ in the tongue-in-cheek advertising copy, she got it…
Fancy a scent-skip to Ancient Greece or the Roaring 20s…? Step into our fragrant time machine right here!
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Deco London’s Sophia Fannon-Howell shares her five favourite smells…

Sophia Fannon-Howell is the Founder and Creative Director of Deco London –  a vintage-inspired fragrance house for contemporary gals (and guys) about town. Indeed, you can visit our dedicated brand page to learn all about how she came to launch the company and why she’s personally connected to two of the most interesting (and some may say infamous) characters in British history…

As you might suspect for someone who has now devoted their life to all things scented, Sophia admits to being rather fragrance obsessed, surrounding herself in beautifully perfumed things whenever possible. Some of her revelations we could have expected, but the smell of painting fences and something that reminds her of childhood trips to the supermarket? Well, it’s definitely not the weirdest we’ve come across! We find asking people to connect with five deepest-rooted scent memories can be like a time-travelling psychiatry experiment… what would your top five smells of all time remind you of, we wonder?

Sophia Fannon-Howell:

  1. Creosote – Just because it reminds me of growing up in the 70s/80s and hot summers where the pavements would melt and people would be outside painting their fences. They don’t seem to do that anymore, do they? But in those days everyone seemed to be doing that every summer! As soon as I smell it, I just see bright sunshine – the days when summer seemed to last forever, outside all day on your bike or running wild in the woods with your friends. The smell of freedom!
  1. Grinding coffee – I love this smell, I think it’s because we used to go with my dad shopping to the supermarket on Saturdays, where I grew up in Farnham. It was a big event. Across the road was a little coffee shop and we’d order some, they’d grind it in front of you and put it in a little bag and put a sticker on for you. You can get good coffee all over the place, now, but then it was really quite a special trip.
  1. Lavender – I’ve always adored the smell of lavender but can’t pin it to a specific memory. I put a few drops in my kids bath every night, because it definitely does calm them down. I’d like to think, actually, that I am making scent memories for my kids, and that lavender will be one for them in the future. If they’re upset I put a few drop on their pillow, too. I always have stacks of essential oils around the house but this is the one I use most. I love it in the garden, too. In my last house we lived in the side on Box Hill, right on the chalk – I planted huge swathes of it because it loved the chalk so much. Now we’ve moved I just had to plant loads more – my husband used to keep bees and of course they love it, too.
  1. Roses – Who doesn’t adore roses? I also have a tendency toward rosy perfumes. People can be prejudiced against rose and lavender perfumes because they see them as ‘old fashioned’ but I think you can have classic scents without them being old-lady-ish. I don’t know if there’s a particular rose I love more than any other, but I like to walk around my garden just burying my nose in the roses as often as possible. Heavenly!
  1. Cedarwood – As in the actual wood, and the essential oil. It’s something that’s present in a lot of perfumes but doesn’t necessarily hit the headlines. It’s just so good, so important. We’ve got some drawers at home that the carpenter who made them lined with cedar, and every single time I open a drawer that smell hits me, I love opening those drawers! And it even subtly scents the things inside.