On Saturday 6th December I attended the first of the Vintage Scent Sessions I booked with the brilliant Odette Toilette at Les Senteurs on Seymour Place in Marylebone. To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but I left the session that day with any expectations I might have held very much exceeded.
The 1950’s Vintage Scent Session was so much more than just a sampling of a selection of the defining perfumes of the decade. It was more like an examination of cultural aspects of the decade via the medium of fragrance. I found it utterly fascinating. Odette expertly guided a packed room of fragrance connoisseurs through the decade in scent; touching upon such subjects as Youth Dew’s ushering in the ideal of the American Dream, and how the 1950’s saw in the democratization of perfume, which was up until that time firmly ensconced by the French.
Aside from how well researched and informative the Scent Session was, Odette interjects the Session with lots of tongue-in-cheek humour and some fantastic cultural references. Having grown up in America, I particularly loved the I Love Lucy clip she played for us from the Job Switching episode where Lucy and Ethel are desperately trying to carry out their work at the chocolate factory by any means necessary!
We had a look at 1950’s Lipstick culture captured in the advertisements of Hazel Bishop’s “No Smear Lipstick” and Revlon’s iconic Fire & Ice alongside Frédéric Malle’s modern day homage to this era in Ralf Schwieger’s Lipstick Rose, one of my personal favorites amongst his Editions de Parfum collection.
While the 1950’s was perhaps not the best period for men’s fragrance, this was when the label “for men” and “pour homme” emerged towards the end of the decade with the rise of “Playboy culture” and ultra male, chest pounding adventures hilariously depicted through the pages of magazines such as Man’s Life and Man’s Story.
Standout fragrances for me were Diorissimo and Creed’s Fleurissimo, vintage Balmain Jolie Madame, Gres’ Cabochard, and Balenciaga’s Quadrille.
Odette closed the Session with a preview of the upcoming 1960’s Scent Session taking place on 7th February at Les Senteurs on Seymour Place showing the youth culture’s emancipation from 1950’s propriety with James Dean and the rise of the Teddy Boys. Due to demand, Odette is running an additional 1960’s Scent Session on the same date at an earlier time of 11:30. Tickets can be booked here.