Diana Vreeland : You can even see the approaching revolution in clothes, you can see and feel everything in clothes

Only Diana Vreeland can make such an outlandish statement like this one… and get away with it!  And if it applies to clothes, does it apply to perfume?  Look at this trailer for her upcoming documentary, “Diana Vreeland : The Eye Has To Travel”.  Of course, if her theory also applies to perfume, I suppose the documentary would have to be titled, “The NOSE Has To Travel”… but I think there is a case for that as well.

Two thoughts come to mind about the forecasting properties of perfume… Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue of 1912 created by Jacques Guerlain and Caron’s Rose de Noël of 1939 created by Ernest Daltroff.

Let’s start with the first one.  In Michael Edwards’ Perfume Legends : French Feminine Fragrances,  Philippe Guerlain, Jacques Guerlain’s great-nephew, says…

Paris before the First World War must have been a far different place.  People had time to roam.  When the Guerlain headquarters were in the rue de la Paix, my grandfather would take my father to the Tuileries gardens after school, to sail model boats on the pond.  Jacques Guerlain would do the same with his son, Jean-Jacques.  L’Heure Bleue captures the lazy feeling of those summer days when twilight turns the air blue.  But it is more.  L’Heure Bleue is an attitude!  It is a symbol of the Belle Époque, that peaceful twilight before the terrible storm of the First World War.

Nothing unusual there but then perfumer Jean-Paul Guerlain who was trained by Jacques says this…

Jacques Guerlain once said that he had a premonition of the calamity that was about to happen. ‘I couldn’t put it in words’, he told me.  ‘I felt something so intense, I could only express it in a perfume’.

So… did Jacques predict World War I and was L’Heure Bleue an expression of that prediction?  I don’t know… but it’s a great question!

As for Daltroff’s Rose de Noël of 1939, it’s different.  His business and romantic partner at the time, Félicie Vanpouille, had named it Rose de Noël initially but changed it to Voeu de Noël a few months later when she realized that war was imminent.  It was her way of expressing her wish for peace in Europe.  I find it fascinating.

Any thoughts?

Next week I get back to reviewing perfume.  Have a nice week everyone!

Leave a comment


  1. I am reading Diana Vreeland’s autobiography right now…and then this lovely post pops up.

  2. Tara C

     /  September 18, 2012

    Great stories! L’heure bleue is my personal favorite time of day…

  3. Natalie

     /  September 27, 2012

    Very thought-provoking post. I loved how you applied it to L’Heure Bleue and Rose de Noel. I absolutely think the statement is as defensible in the context of perfume as in clothes. It’s a way that people express the timbre of their lives as much as clothes are, and since revolutions begin with people, why not?


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