Diana Vreeland on “Perfume – Fragrance” in “MEMOS: The Vogue Years”


My copy of “Diana Vreeland MEMOS: The Vogue Years” arrived yesterday, and I spent last evening curled up in bed perusing it. It’s really a treat.

The best thing about this book is that it reproduces Vreeland’s actual memos and letters, rather than just quoting from them. You get to see the typed pages (all dictated to an assistant at Vogue, of course!), often with additions in DV’s own handwriting.

So, I tried taking a photo of a memo dated February 24, 1969, with the subject line “PERFUME – FRAGRANCE,” but it didn’t turn out very well. Instead, I’ll just transcribe it here…

“By far and away the most important fragrance is the fragrance of a house as it is the ambiance of the owner. It seems that very few Americans, unless they have spent a long time in Europe, particularly in England, have any real sense of scenting a house. It is not considered in the general sense of people, important. There are several that are very extraordinary.

Guerlain’s Plant Marine and Floris’ Tantivy. You are immediately alerted to the presence and whole aspect of the house and owner when you come in the door, you smell this.

Continue reading

Just Because: Daisy Duck and Perfume (!)

Disney Sweden 1970s

I came across this peculiar Disney item on eBay a few days ago. I don’t even remember what I was searching for, but I can tell you this much: it wasn’t a Swedish 1970s trading card of Daisy Duck dousing herself with perfume. This character has never been a favorite of mine, but for some reason this image made me laugh. Maybe I’m just reacting to the way she’s spraying the perfume directly onto her bill rather than her, uh, pulse points…? Where would an anthropomorphized duck wear perfume, come to think of it? And which perfume would she wear? And is “Kajsa” the Swedish equivalent of “Daisy?” I have no idea. So many questions.

VOGUE, February 20, 1908


I love this VOGUE cover (by illustrator Will Foster) for several reasons: the model’s impossibly long neck and Gibson Girl-like features, the rose fastening the front of her white feather wrap, and—last but not least—the bottle of perfume that she has just unstoppered. We can only imagine the scent she is inhaling, but we can guess that it is brightening her mood and warming her soul on a cloudy winter day.

Image: via Conde Nast Store.

Kim Novak Shopping for Perfume at Dior (1950)


Here we see Kim Novak circa 1950, impeccably coiffed and dressed (gloves! purse! pearl bracelet!) while she samples perfume at the Christian Dior boutique in Paris. The bottles with the houndstooth-print labels are most likely Miss Dior, in all its original glory. The dark, curvy Baccarat flaçon standing just in front of Ms. Novak may be Diorama. The bottles with the “basket-weave” labels at left might hold Eau de Cologne Fraîche.

Whichever fragrance she’s wearing, she must smell marvelous.

I’m posting this photograph because Ms. Novak’s appearance at last night’s Academy Awards has caused a bit of online commentary, to put things kindly. Please do take a few minutes to read my friend Farran’s post on this subject at The Self-Styled Siren.

Image: Kim Novak testing perfume at the Dior boutique on the Avenue Montaigne, Paris, circa 1950. Collection of Jean-Louis Quémar.