7 marzo 2012

The Masters of Perfume: Jean Carles (1892–1966) (3)

Parfums Carven ad (1963)
After telling you about his influence on modern perfumery in the first part and about two great perfumes of the '30s  like Tabu and Shocking in the second part, let me close this monography on Jean Carles telling you about two scents born right after WWII. He will put down the two formulas basing on his experience and olfactory memory. His collaborators will help him then, first of all his son Marcel but actually he won't be able to smell them because of his total anosmia by then. If he could have smelled them, I believe he wouldn't have changed anything: you can feel the hand of the master and this granted the two juices such success to influence perfumery for the next twenty years. Of course I'm speaking about Ma Griffe and Miss Dior.

Carven Ma Griffe (1946) - While Europe was getting out of WWII, Madamoiselle Carven wanted to create a perfume dedicated to young girls, a fragrance about a cordial and respectable woman in contrast with the thick femme fatale-like juices so fashionable at that time. So she got in contact with Jean Carles who was already anosmic but reached anyway in creating a cologne with incredible verve and elegance. Ma Griffe immediately conjures up youth with a whiff of aldehydes and bergamot, but also shows decided manners with the sharp galbanum and above all stiralyl acetate, a powerful synthetic I adore (you can smell it clearly in the topnotes of Piguet Bandit), something across a crisp gardenia bud and the bitterness of rhubarb: a raw material with character that here the master chose to overload as never done before. Nowadays perfumers probably would worry to do it given its huge utilization over the past thirty years to scent perticides. Anyway the opening is a spring flash that's been admired by many. The sappy notes joined by a citrus touch melt into the fresh rosy heart, just warmed by the sweetness of ylang-ylang. It doesn't surrender though to the lustful flowers and right after a naughty smile and a hint of cinnamon, it gets back to uprightness and elegance with light woods and labdanum.

Bar Suit (1947) - Christian Dior
Christian Dior Miss Dior (1947 - with Paul Vacher) - Perfume is the final touch for a dress according to Monsieur Dior, that's why he wanted to launch Miss Dior together with his first collection "Corolle et En Huit" later named "New Look" by Harper's Bazaar director Carmel Snow. Unfortunately nowadays IFRA diretives and the "prêt-à-porterization" of a product that was originally elitist and the consequent degrading made it lose most of its refinement but it used to be far more than just decent. It didn't simply give a classy great lady aura, it was the exact quintessence of the house stylistic code.
Christian Dior never liked the comfortable silhouette in fashion during WWII because it didn't emphasize the woman's body. So what Coco destroyed in years, he got back in a while: that's corsets debut du siècle giving though a wasp waist, emphasizing shoulders and above all the full skirts made with kilometers of fabric for the joy of Christian's partner, Marcel Boussac, a textiles tycoon. Likewise Miss Dior draws on the classic structure of Coty Chypre(1917). Smelling the leathery facet of the original, I couldn't help but thinking to the physics of corset which makes the weight of the whole dress rest on the pelvis. So the fragrance rested on the animal base making it trembling and giving it a unique sensual lift. Also the heart is filled with a very diffusive floral heart like a handful of petals. Rose, tuberose, gardenia, jasmin and a touch of orange blossom bloom just like the full skirts giving rithm and texture to the shady elegance of oakmoss.
Finally like Mitzah Bricard's eccentric hats topped the New Look, the insolence of galbanum added to the bergamot make the juice fresh, modern, following the trend of that time as for other juices, one for all Balmain Vent Vert created by Germaine Cellier.
Worldwide success among young ladies made it iconic and widely imitated so it's normal to feel the dull juice they sell nowadays as dated and generic unless you let yourself being carried away by images of impeccably elegant women like Evita Peron indulging themselves in Miss Dior trails.

<Part 1> <Part 2>

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