Sunday, December 2, 2018

DAY 51: The Scent of a Woman

1880s Moser enameled glass bottle
I would like to state at the outset that I know next to nothing about this subject--Victorian perfume bottles. They're gorgeous. They're highly collectible. Astoundingly--as many are GLASS--they've survived more than a century of use and potential catastrophe. 

But here's what I can tell you: In an era when nobody used more than talcum powder to mitigate sweat and bodily odors, scent was a part of genteel life. What did Jennie Jerome Spencer-Churchill prefer to wear? I have no idea--but I assume she patronized French perfumers from an early age. 

In the Victorian and Edwardian eras, perfumers often created bespoke fragrances--meaning, each could be unique to the man or woman who purchased it. The scent would be carried home in a utilitarian bottle and funneled into the purchaser's perfume flacons, which might vary in size--from those standing on the dressing table to those carried in evening bags and pocket books. The most interesting of these were diminutive, and had a chain known as a chatelaine attached to them--with a ring at the apex for wearing on a lady's finger.
Baccarat, 1900

The bottles themselves were often fashioned by jewelers, particularly when they were made of silver. It was only in the twentieth century that glass artisans such as Rene Lalique began to collaborate with perfume houses to produce signature bottles for mass-marketed perfumes, and the personal bottles began to disappear.

Hence the real point of this post: A shameless opportunity to share pictures of these exquisite things. Enjoy.

chased silver purse flask with chatelaine

Pierced gilt over red glass, 1850

Silver purse flacon in the shape of a mandolin
For more images from THAT CHURCHILL WOMAN, visit the  Pinterest board behind the novel.  

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