Hubert de Givenchy (1927-2018)

I was sad when I heard that Hubert de Givenchy passed away earlier this week.  People who read my blog know that my all-time favourite fragrance is Givenchy III.  From the moment that I smelled it, I loved it.  It did, awhile back, smell a little thin and I started to doubt my love affair with it… but I still go back to it for sophistication.  And if I had to pick just one fragrance as my desert-island fragrance, it would be Givenchy III, hands down.

Givenchy, the fashion house, was founded in 1952 and Parfums Givenchy followed 5 years later.  Hubert de Givenchy’s first fragrance was the perfume that he created for Audrey Hepburn, L’Interdit.  Sadly, today’s version of L’Interdit is a pale comparison of what it used to be but it certainly was fabulous when it was launched.  And when we look at what followed, Givenchy not only knew about good taste and fashion, he knew about great fragrances as well.  However look at this timeline and a subset of Givenchy perfumes.  Do you see what I see?

1952 – Hubert de Givenchy founds the house of Givenchy
1957 – Hubert de Givenchy founds Parfums Givenchy
1957 – L’Interdit, first perfume initially created for Audrey Hepburn
1957 – Le De Givenchy
1959 – Monsieur de Givenchy
1959 – Vétyver
1970 – Givenchy III
1974 – Givenchy Gentleman
1980 – Eau de Givenchy
1984 – Ysatis
1986 – Xeryus
1991 – Amarige
1993 – Insensé, one of the very rare masculine florals of its day
1995 – Hubert de Givenchy retires
1996 – Organza
1999 – Organza Indecence
1999 – Pi
2000 – Hot Couture
2003 – Very Irresistible
2006 – Absolutely Givenchy
2006 – Ange ou Démon
2008 – Absolutely Irresistible
2008 – Play
2009 – Ange ou Démon Le Secret
2010 – Play for Her
2011 – Very Irrésistible Intense
2011 – Dahlia Noir
2014 – Dahlia Divin

Well… I kind of gave you a hint with the bold text.  As soon as Givenchy retired, the vision was retired as well.  Hot Couture is a raspberry-centric perfume… no sophistication there.  And, we see a flurry of flankers… I think there are 5 Very Irresistible flankers today.

I’m not saying that after Givenchy retired the house didn’t create beautiful perfume.  Most of them are very nicely done and if you like them, then fine.  But (and we saw the same thing happen with YSL perfumes when Yves Saint-Laurent retired)… the vision, the bold statement, the sophistication is put aside for profit (I’m guessing here).  Such is life.

Mamie Eisenhower

Mamie Eisenhower in White House – 1953 to 1961

One of my favourite films of all time is Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn. This 1957 film introduced French haute couture to American audiences… and to myself probably on late-night television in the late 60s.  Its impact on North America must have been nothing less than a revolution!  Looking back, the very grandfatherly Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the post-war White House along with Mamie, who was very popular with the American housewife.  She connected with the American people and she dressed appropriately but just imagine… this is the same year that Funny Face came to the big screens in the US!  Major culture shock!

And, we can only imagine the impact that Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy had on the American public especially when she wore Givenchy couture.  My mother was a huge fan of Jacqueline and the very first time I saw my mother cry was November 25th, 1963.  I was 7 years old and I had come home for lunch.  I had NEVER seen my mother watch tv in the middle of the day.  And, to see her cry!  I thought to myself… adults cry?  There she was… watching the Kennedy funeral, Jacqueline in a Givenchy suit.

Jacqueline Kennedy

Jacqueline Kennedy in Givenchy suit at John F. Kennedy’s funeral.

If you have 10 minutes to watch this excellent documentary on Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn, then it will be worth your while.  And you’ll understand why Givenchy was disappointed when he opened the door and saw Audrey Hepburn there hoping to borrow gowns for her film, Sabrina.  Great piece of Hollywood trivia.


Jeroboam : Hauto


Poster (1896) by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Created by : Vanina Muracciole

Date : 2015

Genre : Fruity tuberose

Concentration : extrait de parfum

From the Jeroboam website :

During the Roaring Twenties, French Cancan dancers in the celebrated cabarets of Paris had their own very specific perfume rituals. It is said that they perfumed “every hill and valley” — wherever they wanted to be kissed. Hauto (“skin”) is an invitation to experience the fragrance of “skin”.

Top notes : Bergamot, pineapple

Middle notes : Tuberose, rose, spices

Base notes : Enigmatic musks

Well… although the marketing hype is a little, shall we say, overreaching, they certainly got the notes right.   When my friend, FiveoaksBouquet, handed me the scent strip with a little smile and said, “tuberose”, she was spot on!   And, WHAT a tuberose it is!  Jeroboam’s perfumer, Vanina Muracciole, infused a juicy, mouth-watering pineapple note into the fragrance giving tuberose a whole new dimension.  In fact, if the lovely, white tuberose flower was a fruit, it would smell like this!

Now, many tuberoses are as dry as the Sinai!  To my nose, Fracas is dry.  So is Madonna’s Truth or Dare.  So if you’ve tried these tuberoses and you don’t think that tuberose is for you, then try Hauto.  It’s a gamechanger, as they say.

As for throw and longevity, I would say it is timid on throw… it doesn’t seem to radiate very far making it perfect for the office.  Longevity?  As the day is long!  It lasted all day on me and into the next morning.  As for sillage, excellent.


Tuberose flower

My only criticism is the spray bottle.  Hauto is sold as an “extrait” and for that matter, it should be sold in a perfume bottle with a stopper so you can control where and how much you want on.  Hauto is very concentrated and powerful… I would think a drop on each wrist, behind the ears and for women, in the cleavage, would be just ideal.  But, if you go easy on the atomizer, it should be OK.   In fact, it’s a great value.  A 30 ml. bottle should last many, many months if not years.  A woman at the office sprays Givenchy’s Amarige, another big tuberose, on her wonderful, multi-coloured scarves.  Following her into an elevator or down the hall, is like a walk through a flower garden!

So… although I said I would never buy another tuberose again, well… this one was too juicy to pass up.  In Montréal, you can pick up Hauto and other Jeroboam perfumes at Henriette L.



Perfume Shopping in Montréal : Henriette L.

On a grey day in March, FiveoaksBouquet and I went to visit a new address for perfume shopping in Montréal on very fashionable Laurier Street West.  What attracted us to this particular women’s fashion store was that it has recently started selling a collection of curated niche perfumes.  The store is called Henriette L. and its address is 1031 Laurier Street West, Montréal.

Henriette L1

The owner, Louise Lamarre, had just left Montréal for Paris so we didn’t meet her but she, herself, is a perfume lover and when she goes to Paris to select women’s fashion she also picks out perfume to sell in her boutique.  The houses we saw were:


J.F. Schwarzlose


BDK Parfums

Rania J



CB I Hate Perfume

Liquides Imaginaires

Parle Moi de Parfum

I don’t know that any of these perfumes were ever available before in Montréal (except for Frapin which used to be carried by Ogilvy’s at one time) so this was a real treat.  Personally, I LOVE the way the perfumes are displayed.  For the perfumista, it’s heaven.  The perfumes can be accessed easily as they are displayed on a custom-made display case.  You don’t have to ask for an SA to get the bottle from behind a counter.  And the scent strips are there so you can try out what you like… no asking the SA for a scent strip.  Ggggrrrrr.

Henriette L2

I’ve said this before and I’ll repeat myself here.  When visiting museums I LOVE to see retrospectives.  The ability to see an artist’s view of beauty throughout their lifetime is a privilege which is why I love curated collections.  This is what you will experience at Henriette L.

For tourists, Laurier Street West can be accessed by subway and bus (or by car, obviously).  If it’s a beautiful day, I say take the subway to either Laurier or Outremont stations and then walk over to the shop which is about 20 minutes away.  On a lovely spring or summer day, it could be just perfect!  There are plenty of tea shops around so spraying scents on your skin, having a cup of tea and then deciding which perfume you would like to buy works out just fine.  It did for us and I’ll tell you next week what I purchased.

P.S.  I have since added Henriette L. to my post on perfume shopping in Montréal.

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