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… the Eisenhowers were in the White House around the time 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.


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.

Emma, Esmerelda and Katniss


After musing about opera heroines and which perfumes they might have worn, a librarian friend suggested that I do the same with literary heroines.  The only problem is that I’m much more of a reader of nonfiction… almost exclusively, actually.  And my fiction comes from way back… I can hardly remember Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair or Moll Flanders… or Samuel Richardson’s Pamela.  I read these books many, many years ago.  In fact, decades ago!  But my friend agreed to help out and so she recommended 3 heroines and gave me keywords.  Thanks to Wiki and YouTube, I think I gleaned enough information to come up with a couple of suggestions, so let’s see how I do.

Jane Austen’s Emma – Red Roses Cologne by Jo Malone

OK, so this one wasn’t very difficult.  In fact, my friend suggested an English rose perfume and I thought that Jo Malone’s Red Roses Cologne was perfect for Emma.  From what I read, Jane Austen’s main character is a 21-year-old who is described in the novel’s opening sentence as “handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and a happy disposition.”  She lives with her father in the English countryside, where I would assume there would be many beautiful wild rose bushes growing.

Jo Malone’s Red Roses Cologne would have been perfect for that handsome, rich girl look but I am certainly open to your suggestions if you have any ideas.

Victor Hugo’s Esmerelda from the Hunchback of Notre Dame – Opium by Yves Saint-Laurent

The three keywords I got from my friend were “spicy, gypsy, exotic” so I’m going to go with the spice monster itself, Opium!    I would have preferred something with patchouli but an over-the-top late 70s amber would also fit the bill.  I’ve never read the book nor have I seen the Disney animation but I think Opium should work.  Again, I am open to suggestions.

Suzanne Collins’ Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games – Aura by Mugler

The three keywords I was given were “clean, simple, strong”.  And, it was lucky for me that Mugler would launch Aura just last year which would be perfect for this very odd, very surreal futuristic tale.  In fact, from what I’ve read and from viewing a few movie clips, I’m wondering if Thierry Mugler didn’t want to attract a younger clintèle by coming up with this surreal, multi-faceted green scent that would have been perfect for Katniss Everdeen! (It almost sounds like overgreen).

Muriel Spark’s Jean Brodie from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Givenchy III


Maggie Smith as Miss Jean Brodie

This is my own suggestion.  What perfume would be perfect for a teacher with fascist leanings from a 1930s Edinburgh school for girls?  I’m going to go with a green chypre… no flowers, no ambers, no vanilla… just a smart and austere sharp-green overlay of a chypre base.  Of course, Givenchy III wasn’t around at the time so perhaps she might have worn Crêpe de Chine by F. Millot, the very first green chypre of them all from 1925.

Those are my picks.  Any other ideas?


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