Maria Callas : Afterall, what is the legend. The public made me.


I’ve been researching Maria Callas recently through performance videos and interviews and when I heard Callas say that the public made her, it resonated with me.  She was in the middle of a controversial farewell tour with Giuseppe di Stefano in 1974 and it was clear to her that her legendary voice had not survived the years.  It was a shell of its former glory.  She precedes the above quote like this, “Of course, nobody really expects what I used to be 20 years ago.  No one of US are like we used to be 20 years ago.”  Sad, but true.

You know, it’s the same with legendary perfumes.  Their status is not permanent.  They can suddenly be made less than legendary, by the public, if the perfume companies aren’t dedicated and rigorous in keeping the fragrance as faithful to its inspiration as possible.  Perfumers sometimes create great perfumes but legendary perfumes are always made by the public.

When I think of legendary perfumes, I think of Chanel No. 5, Shalimar and Eau Sauvage.  Although they all seem to have suffered slightly recently, they are holding up well enough.  But what about Joy by Jean Patou?  L’Air du Temps by Nina Ricci?  Vent Vert?  Miss Dior and hundreds of other really beautiful perfumes?  Not so legendary.

How does a perfume become a legend?  I would say that longevity and quality are absolutely key ingredients.  A legendary perfume must endure the passing of time… and the quality has to remain excellent and consistent as long as the perfume is on the market.  I think this is where the vast majority of perfumes run into trouble.  Angel by Mugler just celebrated its 25th anniversary and I would say certainly well on its way to becoming a legend.  But, there are so few legendary perfumes now.  The new formulations have pushed them into mythical territory, something that Maria Callas knew and experienced all too well.  When I think of Joy or L’Air du Temps or Vent Vert or Miss Dior, I think more mythical than legendary.

Meryl Streep says that Maria Callas was the greatest artist of the 20th century.  In this video, she makes a good case for her argument.  I’m not so sure, but Maria Callas would certainly be in my top 10.


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  1. Moi qui suis grande fan finie de Meryl Streep je suis comblée.


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