In 1941 the classic French perfume house of Houbigant released Chantilly, an Oriental fragrance with notes of bergamot, lemon, neroli, jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang, carnation, orris, sandalwood, vanilla, benzoin, tonka, and musk. (I’ve just consulted its entry in my trusty H & R Fragrance Guide; you can also read more about the fragrance’s history here.)
Chantilly has been promoted in many, many print advertisements over the past seventy years, and more than once its ads have incorporated famous works of art. In this magazine ad from 1965, a cherub nestles on a cloud (of Chantilly lace!) over the slogan, “Nice girls do wear Chantilly.”
That angel is certainly a familiar little figure. He’s borrowed from Raphael’s Sistine Madonna, which was painted in 1512-13 as an altarpiece for a Benedictine monastery. (The Wikipedia entry for this painting isn’t too bad… take a look here!)
The two angels at the bottom ledge, who look up at Mary and the infant Christ, Saint Sixtus, and Saint Barbara, have become much more famous than the altarpiece’s main figures. They’ve appeared on their own everywhere from T-shirts to tissue boxes to postal stamps.
Like many people, I’ve always been fond of these angels, as well as the overall painting. (A reproduction of the Sistine Madonna hung in a corridor of my Catholic high school; I remember doing my homework under it.)
The naughty-nice dichotomy is always an oversimplification, but it becomes even funnier in this context, when you consider that Raphael created this angel to accompany the original “nice girl,” the Madonna herself.
I’ve never worn Chantilly, and it probably had been altered by the time I was old enough to wear it, but now that I’ve been thinking about its advertisements, I may seek out a sample of its vintage formulation to try.
Note: to read more posts in this series, click here.