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It’s Getting Hairy

Until around the 1960s, a woman’s hair was in a word abused. No matter what style of hair was in vogue a lady was relegated to forcing her hair into one shape or another. The water waves style popular pre-World War I and into the 1920s called Marcelling after stylist Marcel Grateau, used hot curling tongs to burn a wave into a lady’s hair. This caused beauty parlors to smell like singeing stations as hair was mercilessly manipulated to create the en rouge style of the day. Homemade dyes were the standard, and wigs and hairpieces, casinos, and pads were the rage all through the 1960s, just like hair extensions, and weaves are today. Back then just like today, they were used to achieve fullness and volume. 

The discovery of the permanent wave by a German Karl Ludwig Nessler in 1906. Back then the hair was treated with an alkaline solution then wrapped in metal curlers and subjected to high heat. From start to finish six hours later with corrosion and burning the procedure was complete. Electricity then replaced the hot curlers so one was genuinely in danger of being shocked as opposed to just burned. To his credit, Nessler also invented artificial eyebrows and the perm eventually became a worldwide sensation reaching its apex during the 1980s when everyone seemed to have one. 

Grey hair also became very fashionable in the late 1800s with women who were prematurely grey being considered very attractive and those who had not yet gone grey used powder to simulate the effect. My how times have changed.


The 1920s also gave us the end of the Pompadour hairstyle and women soon began to make the trip to the hairdresser to get their hair cut, the newest styles being the Bobbed variety. Shorter hair which was not considered respectable became the in style. That however did not last and in the 1930s long hair came back. Curls and waves were the rage as was the platinum blonde look made famous by Jean Harlow.

By the 1940s mid to long hair was the style worn by ladies like Veronica Lake and Lauren Bacall. By this time (actually 1948) the cool perm had been invented so that you were no longer cooked to death but a chemical solution was applied and the hair just warmed ad subsequently fixed.

The 1950s saw hairspray become available to the masses, ensuring that the high teased do’s of the time remained in suspension. Hair dyes flooded the market and other systems for permanents were brought to market. This is only one side of the story as a counter-movement that favors natural looks also was present. The ponytail look was popularized by Audrey Hepburn and was copied by an entire generation of ladies.

Some women chose to go with very short hairstyles that required little or no preparation also took hold. Basically, this was the catalyst for the fractionation of the fashion world making it socially acceptable to do your own thing and follow what you thought looked best on you. Vidal Sassoon pioneered the Five-Point-Cut which showed the world that hair could look gorgeous without hours of styling and that with the expertise of an accurate cut, one could look great and just needed a shampoo along with a quick comb-through in the morning. This natural look revival again led to women wearing their hair longer. 

From the 1950s look to the 1960s longer more natural hair look a hairdresser named George Michael in New York took the helm of a movement that would let women trust in their hairdressers to have patience with their hair allowing the time and patience needed to allow the hair to grow instead of cutting it or cutting it along with allowing it to get longer. In fact, hip and even knee-length hair was not an anomaly. This longer natural style worked its way into the 1970s when hair was usually worn long with a part in the center or side parting as well. Also popular was the gypsy cut which was wavy, the shag cut which was layered, and the flicked cut popular because it looked as if you has wings at the sides of the hair. Platinum-colored hair was back from the Jean Harlow days pioneered by Debbie Harry of Blonde. The large afro was worn by blacks, white people with naturally curly hair also wore it picked out and large as did people who decided to get a perm and also sport the bigger hair look. When the disco era came to an end so did the longer bigger hairstyles which led to the punk era with very short hair or even Mohawks for some. 

Before long the 1980s were upon us and the mullet, Jheri curls, and even flat tops and hi-top fades became fashionable. Women had big hair held up by spray like Aqua Net and Dep. Perms were a way to ensure you had big hair and the glam and metal music of the time took the long hair of the 1970s and styled it with the product and gave it volume and a look rather than just drooping down. Dynasty and other television shows helped to popularize high-volume bouffant and the glamour that came with it. 

In the 1990s we saw the decade start with the remnants of the 1980s with the big curly sprayed style starting the decade very strong. High-sided ponytails with scrunchies were popular as well as bangs in the poofy style. The pixie-style haircut and the Jennifer Aniston (darker hair with highlights) style became very popular. Burgundy became very popular as a hair color as well as feathers bangs and small hair buns. The bob cut came back again popularized by Victoria Beckham with center, side, or zig-zag parting.

At the turn of the millennium, we began to see long straight hair for women. Chunky highlights popularized by Kelly Clarkson were popular and both sexes highlighted their hair throughout the decade. A looser wavy hairstyle became popular later in the decade with the majority going for plain, straight simple, and natural hairstyles. Hair extensions made a comeback from the 1950s and 1960 but were more in keeping with the times. This helped women’s hair look fuller and of course longer. 

Into 2010 and beyond straight and wavy were the hairstyles that were most popular, braiding became all the rage because of television shows like The Hunger Games. By 2013 shorter styles were again back in featuring the old standby the pixie cut, the bob, or the undercut. The Ombre style became very popular, which means that the hair starts out dark and becomes slighter as it goes to the tips. Also, colored hair in nonhair colors became very popular such ch as bright red, blue, and purple. Braids with two or even three different colors especially with black women became and still are in 2023 very popular. Box braids and corn rows since the 2010s till now are popular. 

Today and forward we see the world cut as being very chic and because of the pandemic, many women grew their hair out and began taking a more active role in their own haircare. Curtain nags, hair extensions, pigtails, ponytails french braids, and the shaggy look all made a resurgence. Partially shaved hair on the sides became a very popular way to style for women as does the pixie cut and as women move forward into the rest of the decade it seems that rather than following fashion women are styling their hair in a way that they like, which flatters them as opposed to following trends for the most part. Though we have only come into the mid-2020s there is still a lot of the decade left and who knows what will be the next big thing. We will just have to wait and see. 

Mme V. Fontaine (Fashion Blogger for

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The Hairdo

A hairdresser is someone who must understand their client. They must have a keen sense of that person’s personality, their likes and dislikes as well as a complete understanding not only of hair styling but of the client’s facial structure, skin tone, and the like in order to be able to style, suggest and implement a style that is flattering and also relevant. Is their client a politician that needs a certain level of conservativeness to their hair or is she a 20s-something diva that wants to be different and fashion-forward? Whatever that may be, your stylist in order to properly serve you has to understand and intuit all of these things and more. A good hairstylist makes you look your best at any given time. If the client is famous then it’s all the more important because the stylist is connected to the celebrity and the celebrity might very well live and die by the hairstylist’s work. 

When hairstyles were complicated in the 1950s and piled high with hairpieces just going to bed was a chore requiring a melange of pins, clips, and nets. In the morning it was all ruined and the only person who could really sort it all out was the hairdresser. This of course made women dependent on their hairdressers. Having the perfect hairdo meant that you passed society’s acid test and waited hours to have your hair done by the best of the best. For example in the 1950s Alexandre de Paris was the top hairdresser for the European nobility and did the hair of the style icon of the time Wallis Simpson the Duchess of Windsor. 

During that time Paris was the epicenter of Haute Coiffure with hair stars such as Jacques Dessange, and Jean-Louis David. Rosy and Marie Carita opened their legendary salon in 1951 on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore. They set out to give clients the full-body experience, which was a novel idea at the time. Bridget Bardot and Catherine Deneuve were their celebrity clients. The company still exists and is now owned by Shiseido.

Jacques Dessange learned hairdressing in Sologne, France at his father’s barbershop. He moved to Paris and worked for luminaries of the time such as Louis Gervais among others and while employed developed the idea of having natural and lively hair, which went against the social norms of the time. Of course, this is how new trends start. Someone has to not only be good but be daring, and have a vision as well as the right clients in order to change an industry’s direction. Timing as they say is everything. In 1956 Dessange opened his salon on Avenue Franklin Roosevelt. At the time he was the hairdresser to the stars and he had a very clever slogan, “I do not go to the hairdresser, I go to Dessange”. 

Jean-Louis David was yet another well-known French Hairdresser. Though he passed in 2019 he had a string of franchised hair salons and his own branded products that are still going strong. There are also other chains like Camille Albane ad Mod’s hair which is for the younger set that enjoys fuss-free styling.

Vidal Sassoon represents the genius of the English-speaking world in hair. He started out in London on Bond Street. In the 1960s he pioneered the idea of a short carefully cut look that emphasized the natural beauty of healthy hair which at the time was a completely different and fresh approach. It was called the Five-Point-Cut and his motto was – wash and go something women of the 1950s and early 1960s loved after being chained to a mirror with big stuffy-lacquered hairdos. This independence from hairdressers was a godsend for women and represented the theme of the swinging sixties. Even today Vidal Sassoon’s name and haircare are synonymous. 

John Frieda learned his craft in London as well, while working in his father’s salon in the suburbs. He broke away in the mid-1970s opened his own salon and by then John Freida was a secret buzzword for hair in London. The Royal family used his services and he is famous for Lady Diana’s layered haircut that can be seen in her engagement photos to Prince Charles. He went on to open six salons in Europe and America and was known for his “Thickening Lotion” and “Frizz-Ease.”

Nicky Clarke is also another big name in hair who did the dos of the famous and the glitterati. Designers like Alexander McQueen, Calvin Klein, Jil Sander, and Givenchy trusted him with the hair of the models in their runway shows. He now produces a line of hair care products that are sold worldwide. 

More notable hairstylists and salons are as follows:

Sally Hershberger: She is a celebrity hairstylist known for creating Meg Ryan’s iconic shag haircut. She has worked with numerous A-list clients and has her own line of hair products.

Cuban-born Oribe Canales was a legendary hairstylist who passed away in 2018. He was known for his innovative techniques and for creating glamorous hairstyles for celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Naomi Campbell. His brand, Oribe Hair Care, is still popular among professionals.

Ted Gibson is a renowned hairstylist who has worked with top fashion designers and celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Lupita Nyong’o. He is also a regular on TV shows like “What Not to Wear” and “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

Jen Atkin is a celebrity hairstylist who has worked with clients like Jessica Alba. She is also the founder of haircare brand Ouai.

Harry Josh is a hairstylist who has worked with clients like Gisele Bundchen and Miranda Kerr. He is known for his signature hair dryer, the Harry Josh Pro Tools Dryer, which is a favorite among professionals.

Frederic Fekkai is a French hairstylist who opened his first salon in New York in 1989. His salons are known for their luxurious atmosphere and expert hair care services, and he has a loyal celebrity following.

Jose Eber is a legendary hairstylist who has worked with A-list clients like Elizabeth Taylor and Barbra Streisand. He opened his first salon in Beverly Hills in 1987, and today his salons are located in cities around the world.

Bumble and Bumble is a New York-based salon that was founded in 1977. It quickly gained a reputation for its innovative haircuts and styling products, and today it is a popular destination for fashion insiders and celebrities

In 2023, it’s more of an individualized time for hair. We know what we like, we know what looks best on us (or so we think) and it’s the job of 99.99% of hairdressers and professionals to give us what we want. Occasionally when asked it’s their job to perhaps suggest something new, something fresh and out of the ordinary. But that privilege is reserved for someone who has demonstrated they understand us and earned our trust.

Mme V. Fontaine (Fashion Blogger for

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It’s A Tradition

There are many lesser-known but still storied perfume and skincare brands that may not be known worldwide like Coty and Revlon but are famous within the confines of their own countries. Many of these companies produce hand-made and hand-packaged natural products as they have for decades if not centuries. People who are “in the know” are patrons of some of these houses because they understand the quality and appreciate the care and attention that goes into manufacturing their products. 

To give you an example of a fragrance house you’ve probably never heard of let’s take the Pharmacy of the Convent of Santa Maria Novella (PCSMN) in Florence, Italy. Florence has been the Italian capital of fragrance since the Renaissance and since 1612 the PCSMN has been manufacturing different ointments, elixirs, essences, tinctures, creams, and soaps on these premises. In fact, some of their products are still made according to the original formula of the Dominican monks. During the 1700s they began to export their products and amassed a small but loyal following which continues to this day. If you ever visit Florence and are interested you should visit the Convent and perhaps purchase either one or both of their most famous offerings a calming elixir (top of the page) and/or their pomegranate soap. 

Acqua di Parma from Parma, Italy is another lesser-known but far more famous house that made one line of fragrances and skincare products. The LVMH Group acquired the brand in 2001, since then they have not only expanded their global reach but also created line extensions. The original Acqua di Parma was just the Colonia. It became an instant success in Europe due to the lightness and freshness of the cologne which was in direct contrast to the fragrances of the time which were very heavy. In its heyday, during the 1930s and 1950s, it became to go-to fragrance for celebrities, royalty, and high society.  

Another giant in Europe and the symbol of French perfume making but lesser known here in America is Guerlain. Back in 1828, Pierre-Francois-Pascal Guerlain opened a perfume counter where he began selling British perfumes. Soon though he began manufacturing his own fragrances, creams, soaps, and ointments. In 1834, he introduced Creme Ambroisie of which a version is still available today. In 1842 he developed the first of many perfumes that became the favorites of Parisian high society. Coty was the first to bring perfumes to the masses, prior to him fragrances and perfume were very expensive and only the ultra-wealthy at the time could afford them. Then in 1853, he introduced Eau de Cologne Imperiale which was made specifically for Empress Eugenie. After Geurlian as mentioned two other houses, Coty and Heubigant became major players, and to this day they are still the top three most prominent and most important perfume houses in France. 

The first cologne as you might guess did come from Cologne (Klon), Germany, and traces its genesis in 1792 when Wilhelm Mulhens was given a wedding present of parchment with the recipe for “Aqua Mirabilis” which means miracle water by Franz Carl Gereon Maria Farina who was a Carthusian monk. It became the original Eau de Cologne which translates directly to “water of Cologne.” It was named 4711 Echt Kolnisch Wasser. Soon after the wedding, Mulhens began distilling the fragrance in his home which was located at 4711 Glockengasse in Cologne. It sold very well and was eventually copied by many and sold under the same name. This caused his grandson to register the name of the original under the 4711 trade name to distinguish it from the imposters. To this day the recipe is still a secret, but like all fragrances back then, it was created with citrus notes. In addition, it has notes of rosemary, neroli, and lavender. Not surprisingly these scents, herbs, and flowers are still used today in thousands of different combinations because we love them so much. Logically 4711 was also the first unisex fragrance in history.

Creed today is a far better-known fragrance house than it was in the late 20th Century. However for those who don’t know it has been around since 1760. James Henry Creed was a tailor in London. Shortly after opening his shop, he began to manufacture perfumes that quickly caught on in high society across Europe and became very popular. Empress Eugenie who was Napoleon IIIs wife and an avid fan of perfume convinced Creed to relocate to France in 1854. Creed had created a perfume specifically for her which he called Jasmin Imperatrice and she wanted a constant supply. Having him near ensured this would be possible. Creed created fragrances that were adopted by film stars, monarchs, high society, and athletes. In some department stores, they have a list of famous people who wore various different Creed fragrances. Creed is known for making specific fragrances for individuals; for example, Aubepine Acacia was created for Jane Fonda and Selection Verte for Mohammad Reza Pahlavi the last official King of Iran. These fragrances are still available today. In fact, Creed has so many fragrances that they cannot all be available at the same time. They release and claw back fragrances all the time. Queen Victoria had her favorite which was Indiana and Empress Sissi of Austria loved Vanisia. Creed even famously created a fragrance for The Titanic based on Algae, seaweed, and honeydew melon. Today Creed still uses an unusually high percentage of natural ingredients compared to the industry. They weigh, mix, wash, and filter all of their ingredients by hand. You’ll definitely pay for a bottle of Creed but if you find a fragrance you love, chances are you’re not going to find someone who wears the same fragrance. 

England is not to be outdone by any country. It is the birthplace of many very important perfumers and cosmetics manufacturers. Bronnley founded in 1883, a soap and perfume maker touts themselves as the “makers of the best soaps in the world” and they consistently receive all royal warrants available at any given time.

Penhaligon founded in 1870, also makes fragrances, soaps, and creams. Floris was founded in 1730 and were the perfumer to Queen Elizabeth II when she was alive. D.R. Harris founded in 1790 make what they call the Morning Reviver Pick-Me-Up Elixir as well as fragrances, shaving, soaps, skincare, and bath and body products.

Of course, there is Yardley of London founded in 1770 also a fragrance, bath, and body product manufacturer. Then there are the upstarts and young companies such as Lush who make soaps, body sprays, and bath bombs that cater to the younger more hip set with imaginative modern names while at the same time keeping very high standards with carefully selected natural raw materials. With all of that said most of these English manufacturers’ products are also available the world over and most (not all) are at price points that are easily affordable for those who wish to explore these types of preparations. 

Not to be outdone America has Kiehl’s which was founded in 1851 and produces extremely high-quality hand-made products. They do not advertise and prefer to remain traditional producing shampoos, cleansers, lotions, creams, and lipsticks to name a few that once tried, win over almost everyone. Kiehl’s supplies countless, celebrities and high-profile individuals who desire the finest apothecary skincare available. 

Mme V. Fontaine (Fashion Blogger for

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We Are (Fragrance) Family

When shopping for a new fragrance it’s important to understand the various classic fragrance families. This way you can tell the perfumer at the counter what it is that you like or that you feel smells good on you. This type of knowledge can also help you identify a type of perfume you may smell when someone passes by and their fragrance suits your fancy. With a little practice, you’ll be able to nail it down to a fragrance family and make it easier to find, or at worst identify the fragrance family and research scents that fit in that category.

1. Floral – This is by far the largest perfume family. It makes up nearly half of all the fragrances available on the market. Within this family, there are two distinctions made. Is the fragrance based on a single type of flower or multiple types. Here are some examples of floral fragrances: Diorissimo by Christian Dior is based on one flower (Lily-of-the-Valley) whereas Joy by Jean Patou though it is primarily a rose-scented perfume is comprised predominately of jasmine and rose, but also has ylang-ylang, michelia, and tuberose in its composition. 

2. Floral-Green – This is a mix of floral notes and those of green grass, stems, and leaves. Examples of Floral-Green Fragrances are Floral Street by Wonderland and Florence by Tocca

3. Floral-Fruity – Think of floral notes with hints of fruit like pineapple, apples or stone fruits like apricots, plums or peaches, or berries like raspberries or blackberries. Examples of Floral-Fruity fragrances are Signatures Of The Sun Osmanthus by Aqua di Parma and Amethyst Exquise by Lalique.

4. Floral-Fresh – Freshness is provided by citrus or bergamot and brighter floral notes by orange blossoms, lily-of-the-valley, lavender, or hyacinth. Examples Vanitas by Versace and Champs de Provence by Eight and Bob.

5. Floral Flowery – This is a large group of floral fragrances whose main compositions are rose, jasmine, bland-slang, , narcissus, tuberose, iris, and carnation. From this base, other notes can be added to create a unique fragrance. Examples are – Elixir Charnel Floral Romantique by Guerlain, My Burberry by Burberry, Eternity by Clavin Klein.

6. Floral Aldehydic – Floral notes here are compliments with synthetic aldehydes of which Chanel No 5 was the first fragrance to use such a combination. Aldehydes have a fatty, or blown-out candle-like scent to them, but even though it might sound strange, it’s all based on how much of the aldehydes are used and in what combination of florals. When aldehydes are mixed with florals some very sophisticated scents are possible, but it’s a balancing act as with all fragrances. Examples are Flora Psychedelica by 1460 Tuesdays, First Eau de Parfum by Van Cleef & Arpels

7. Floral-Amber – Known also as floriental, the oriental scent is provided by the amber resin and its smoky-tar-like aroma. This combines seductive middle eastern heavy fragrances with a floral component to give it lightness. Think in terms of exotic spices and resin with brightness, gardenia, jasmine, freesia,  tea, intense, and cassis. Ginger Cinnamon, Orange Blossom, and musk, again balance is key. Examples are Alien by Mugler and A Rose For…by Floris, Rouge Hermes by Hermès and Modern Muse Le Rouge by Estée Lauder.

8. Oriental – These are seductive scents reminiscent of the middle east, exotic flowers, resins, and spices, as well as balms. These are heavy scents more suitable for evening wear. Examples are Red by Giorgio of Beverly Hills, Omnia by Bvlgari.

9. Oriental-Amber – Smell for vanilla mixed with amber, citrus, green notes, and/or spicy aromas such as sage, rosemary, artemisia, and lavender. Examples are Creed White Amber and Bond No 9 Dubai Amber.

10. Oriental-Spicy – Many of these fragrances today are unisex. Think in terms of cloves, cinnamon, coriander, and pepper with a touch of leather and resin. Examples are Le Gemme Oriental Selima by Bvlgari and Versace Pour Femme Oud Oriental.

11. Chypre – The genesis of all Cypre fragrances is Chypre by Coty. It’s so iconic that it became the symbol of a family of fragrances. This fragrance is characterized as being a fresh citrus scent with a background of oak moss, labdanum, and patchouli. It was originally associated with plants of the eastern Mediterranean and thus called Chypry by the French which means Cyprus alluding to the island in the Mediterranean. Examples are L by Clive Christian, Bois d’Argent by Dior, and of course the original Chypre by Coty (top of the page).

12. Chypre-Fruity – A heavy rich combination with a very pronounced fruity composition often peach-like. Aventus by Creed, Jimmy Choo by Jimmy Choo, Body by Burberry, and Nejma 6 by Nejma.

13. Chypre-Floral-Animal – Warm rich ones with animalistic notes of musk, civet, ambergris, or casotium. Examples are For Her by Narciso Rodriguez and Mystery by Rochas.

14. Chypre-Floral – In this subcategory the fresh scents of Chypre become drier and more subdued and approachable with the addition of the floral notes. Example are Féminin Pluriel by Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Reine de Nuit by Byredo,  Halson by Halston, Diva by Ungaro.

15. Chypre-Fresh – This is the purest form of Chypre. Examples include Albaura by Kingdom Scotland, Diorella by Dior and Note di Colonia IV by Acqua di Parma.

16. Chypre-Green – Think tangy fresh and dry. but with spicy and coniferous (evergreen) components like pine and juniper. Examples include, Geranium Nefertum Eau de Toilette by Molton Brown and Mad Madame by Juliette Has a Gun.

And there you have it, well most of it because as we move forward some of these families are being blended to create new and interesting fragrances some of which will become modern classics and may end up being with us 100 years from now only time and your nose can tell. 

Mme V. Fontaine (Fashion Blogger for

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François Coty and the House of Coty

The House of Coty was founded in Paris, France by Joseph Marie François Spoturno, later to be known as François Coty. To launch his new business, he chose a new name. It is said that he wanted a name that would evoke elegance and beauty to consumers around the world. Inspired by his mother, Marie Adolphine Coti, François changed the “i” of her maiden name to a “y”, and with that Coty was born. Other accounts say that he changed his last name after getting married because he wanted it to sound more French as his father was of Italian (Genovese) descent, whose descendants founded Corsica.

François Coty was first and foremost a French Perfumer. Later in his career, he branched out to become a businessman, newspaper publisher, politician, and patron of the arts. He was firmly against communism after his stocks and funds were confiscated by the Bolsheviks during the 1917 Russian Revolution. Consequently, he spent vast sums of money in his later years to combat socialism and communism in France. 

After his military service, François Coty met Raymond Goery, a pharmacist who made and sold perfume at his Paris shop. Coty began to learn about perfumery from Goery and created his first fragrance, Cologne Coty, which was not a success. Prior to this, he had met a man named Emmanuel Arène who would become his mentor, Arene was a politician and a writer and it was through Arlene that Coty met Leon Chiris in Grasse, France whose family were longtime distributors of perfume. Coty then set about learning perfumery in earnest and in 1904 his first success was a fragrance called La Rose Jacqueminot. Legend has it that he went from boutiques, to barbershops and to department stores trying to sell his perfume but was unsuccessful until one day, he inadvertently dropped a bottle of La Rose Jacqueminot on the counter in Paris’s highest-end department store Grands Magasins du Louvre, and it shattered. The smell of the perfume filled the air and within a few minutes people were clamoring to purchase it and he sold out of his stock. This led to him being given a counter to sell his fragrance. La Rose Jacqueminot flew off the shelves and made Coty a millionaire, establishing him as a force and major player in the fragrance world.  

In 1908 he moved his headquarters to Suresnes in the western suburbs of Paris. Of course, back then this was “way out of town.” He created a compound that would be called  “La cité des Parfums” which consisted of laboratories, and a factory for manufacturing Coty products. His company grew to employ some 9000 workers and manufactured 100K bottles a day to meet demand in France and across the world. Before World War I Coty was the top perfumer across the globe. In 1910 he opened the American division of his company in Delaware and smartly imported the raw materials to make fragrances from France and assembled them in America which allowed him to forgo the high import duties of ready-made luxury products. By side-stepping import duties, he was able to offer the American woman a very high-quality and coveted product at an affordable price point. 

Though La Rose Jacqueminot was sold in a Baccarat bottle Coty also realized early on that packaging was a tremendous part of a fragrance’s appeal and the bottle the perfume came in was just as important as the fragrance itself. This led him to form his most famous collaboration with the famed ceramicist and jeweler Rene Lalique. He designed the bottles and the labels for Coty’s subsequent perfumes Ambre Antique and L’Origan which were also tremendously successful. 

Coty not one to rest on his laurels expanded his operations to London, New York, and even Moscow. After World War I, was over he was one of the wealthiest men in France because he made a wise choice in bringing perfume to all the classes at many price points as opposed to only the wealthy few who were the only market for fragrances at the time. He pioneered the use of synthetics to lower the cost of manufacturing in order to be able to serve these mass markets. Coty also was the catalyst for the fragrance set or gift box that are just as popular today as they were one hundred years ago. His mantra was simple and is still very viable today. “Give a woman the best product to be made, market it in the perfect flask, beautiful in its simplicity yet impeccable in its taste, ask a reasonable price for it, and you will witness the birth of a business the size of which the world has never seen.”

World War I was over in 1918 and American servicemen who were stationed in France brought back Coty perfumes for their, wives and girlfriends. Coty then expanded his product line by manufacturing cosmetics and skin care products and by 1925, over 36 million women worldwide were using Coty products. 

This tremendous wealth allowed him to purchase works of art, real estate, and from a political standpoint to gain control over the media at the time which was the daily newspaper Le Figaro. Throughout the rest of his life, he funded right-wing causes to combat the rise of socialism and communism in France as well as founding two other daily papers in 1928. He was so well known and respected that he was elected senator of Corsica (his birthplace) and was the mayor of Ajaccio (his town of birth) on Corsica from 1931-1934. 

Coty passed away on July 25, 1934, at age 60 far less wealthy because of a divorce, the depression, and his funding of causes to combat left-wing agendas which included his newspaper empire. 

Today, François Coty is considered the founding father of the modern perfume industry and Coty is an American-French multinational company that owns more than 77 different brands. They manufacture fragrances, cosmetics, skin and nail care, and hair care products for retail consumers and professionals. 

Mme V. Fontaine (Fashion Blogger for

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Sents Make Sense and Cents

The nose knows, well, if you want to be a perfumer it must. A perfumer’s nose is his or her greatest asset in fact, the strongest sense we have is our olfactory organ. A smell can transform you back fifty years or more and bring back memories of times long gone. That is what the perfumer’s job is, to create a fragrance that is unforgettable to create a scent that will not only strike your fancy but that will bring back memories in the years that follow. It is for that reason that the nose symbolizes the perfumer. In France, the person whose job it is to test the fragrances is simply called “le nez” or “the nose.”

In order to become “le nez” you first have to display a passion for the industry and contrary to popular belief you only need to possess an average ability to differentiate between scents. Training is the main key and it takes an average of five to six years to attain competency. What training does is to teach the brain to recognize the myriad of different scents as well as being able to dissect those scents from actual perfumes, analyze their impressions and identify them accurately. On average you and I can recognize about twenty-four different unique fragrances, a trained “nez” is able to catalog and retrieve over two thousand individual fragrances at will. This training must be done on a regular basis, over a long period of time, and has to be kept up in order to maintain competency. The olfactory organ in essence is like a muscle, it must be used otherwise it atrophies. 

The ability to recall the many different fragrances is just one aspect the perfumer must master, the other is the book smarts. The perfumer must understand the subtle difference between the natural and synthetic ingredients that go into making the actual perfume. Along with this understanding production techniques must be taken into account. These include understanding costs so as to be able to create a final fragrance that can be manufactured reasonably in relation to the retail price point for the marketplace and consumer that is being targeted. 

Though on we talk about perfumes as fragrances, it’s important to note that there are many different industries that use perfumers to create products. Laundry detergent, hand soaps, shampoo and body wash and literally any other consumer product that uses fragrance has to rely on “le nez” to come up with scent combinations that may very well be the difference between a product being a best seller or one that moves very few units and is soon discontinued. Many people buy soaps and detergents based on how they like the smell as opposed to the efficacy of the product itself. 

A perfumer is brought to task when a client who may be a celebrity or a fashion house or anyone for that matter who wants to have their own fragrance. The perfumer must now embark on a journey to create for the client a fragrance that meets their satisfaction. Typically but not always the client comes to the perfumer with an idea. The perfumer after talking to the client goes into his or her catalog of perfumes and begins to think of how to begin the formulation for the client. This may begin with the client giving “le nez” inspiration of some sort, or the client might have a specific idea of what they want. For example, “I like Chanel No 5, can you make me something like that?”

Category composition is a way perfumers and fragrance creators compartmentalize the various different perfumes. There are three fundamental fragrance families, “floral”, “oriental”, and “chypre”. Floral scents are dominated by fruity or mossy characteristics, whereas an oriental scent is more spicy, woody, and amber-smelling. Chypre is French for Cyprus and is characterized by fresh citrus against a background of oak moss, labdanum, and patchouli. Thus perfumes can subsequently be subcategorized as oriental-spicy, oriental-amber, floral-fruity, etc. With this broad idea begins the journey of creating a fragrance. Truth be told the perfumer probably has ideas of fragrances that are new and unique already mixed and uses these examples to determine the direction the client wants to go. Preliminary development of a fragrance will typically have between twenty and thirty components with the final product containing from thirty to fifty various components and it is not unheard of if several hundred are used. 

To start, a preliminary fragrance with the client’s concept or inspiration is formulated. This base test fragrance is mixed and kept as a control. It is tested to see whether the fragrance keeps its scent integrity or changes with time and if so how long. Once this base is settled on, “le nez” adjusts the fragrance little by little, adding notes to accentuate and bring the new fragrance to life. This could mean having ten or more similar fragrances with slightly different nuances which create slightly different products. This is how Ernest Beaux worked with Coco Chanel. He presented her with samples numbered One to Five and Twenty to Twenty-four Chanel selected the one numbered five as her favorite. It is said that the number 5 was a special number for her and she was superstitious (though this cannot be verified); so she decided to call the perfume Chanel No 5. 

Depending on the use of the final fragrance, the medium it is going to be used in is evaluated and further fine-tuning is done. Will the perfume be in an atomizer or in a bar of soap? Each of these various mediums must be accounted for. The same formula for the perfume Chanel No 5 is typically not the same formula that is used in a bar soap, or in a Chanel No 5 candle. Each of these different products though they might smell the same may require a completely different formulation in order for the scent to properly work in that medium.

At the end of the day creating a fragrance or perfume is a very complex and multi-step process that requires quite a lot of training as well as an understanding of thousands of scents and how they work with one another. In addition “le nez” must use that training in a very creative way to satisfy the client. The true test of a perfume is if it sells. It’s you and I, the consumers who decide what fragrance to purchase. Does it strike our fancy at first sniff? “Le Nez” could have spend a lifetime coming up with a particular fragrance, but if it does not smell good to us then all the training, inspiration, formulation, marketing, promotion, and advertising is worthless. But if it jumps out and grabs you, who knows that particular perfume might end up being the scent of your life.  

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The Scent of a Woman

The most iconic fragrance of all time is Chanel No 5. It was also Coco Chanel’s self-admitted biggest business mistake as the company only receives a small percentage of the purchase price of the fragrance. Many famous women have worn No 5 and with each successive generation, it seems to be reborn. It’s timeless and does not go out of style like so many other fragrances in more recent times. There is just something about Chanel No 5 that even the brands with other iconic fragrances cannot capture. 

Chanel No 5 was the first fragrance to contain aldehydes which in concentrate smell somewhat rancid, but when properly diluted give off a light floral fragrance that is delightful. This was the key ingredient that transformed a rather heavy and overbearing fragrance into one of lightness and elegance. Along with May rose, jasmine, yang-yang, neroli, civet, musk, and vanilla what would become Chanel No 5 was first offered to the iconic fragrance house of Coty which passed on it because the cost of the ingredients were so expensive. But Coco Chanel saw things differently. She saw, exclusivity, she saw sophisticated and expensive and that was exactly what she was looking for. The fragrance was introduced on May 5, 1921, and the world of perfume has never been the same since.

However, as the saying goes, we stand on the shoulders of giants, the steps leading up to Chanel No 5 started back in 1889. Up till the late 1880s perfumes were made with all-natural products and the scents were (for their time) captured through complicated processes which made fragrances very expensive to manufacture. In some instances the same is true today, for example, the manufacturing of Rose Absolute is a long and arduous process from the growing of the flowers themselves to the final product. Even as far back as the 1800s chemists were analyzing natural fragrances and trying to recreate those scents synthetically. In 1874 vanilla was synthesized for the first time. The fernlike scent of coumarin soon followed and in 1904 synthetic musk was discovered. These discoveries and developments made the creation and manufacturing of perfume much less expensive, however, it also had far greater implications. Rather than just creating ways of replicating existing aromas and scents these discoveries led to the development of completely new aromatic compounds and therefore new scents. Cutting-edge perfumers such as Guerlain and Houbigant began to explore these new compounds and came up with innovative perfumes. For example, Jicky was introduced in 1889 by Guerlain and caused quite a commotion in the fashion world. At the time floral fragrances were the norm, but Jicky bucked the trend and had notes of tonka beans, sandalwood, and ferns which replicated the smell of coumarin. Houbligant on the other hand introduced Quelques Fleurs (Some Flowers) a lily-of-the-valley scent in 1912. Instead of the flowers they used hydroxy-citronellal which is a chemical compound that mimics lily-of-the-valley. Chanel of course followed with No 5 and later Arpege (Arpeggio) by Lanvin was introduced as well as Worth by Je Raviens (I Come Back), both copy Chanel’s synthetic floral concept with aldehydes.

Today perfumes can be almost completely synthetic contrary to what the person at the perfume counter tells you. Synthetics last longer on the skin and are far less expensive to manufacture. The real money is spent on advertising which must be done in order to make the fragrance a success. In fact, in 2016 manufacturers spent a staggering 800 million dollars on television ads alone to promote their fragrances. Also today with synthetic fragrances being so easily accessible these iconic perfumes are being knocked off legally. With chemical analysis, a laboratory can tell you exactly what is in a fragrance but if someone replicates it exactly that is against the law. However, similar is not crossing that line and so large perfume houses are fighting two fights, the cost of advertising and the sales lost to the “similar but not the same” knockoffs. 

The iconic perfume houses always stood firm in believing that chemical compounds should only make up about one-fifth of the actual fragrance. They say that quality alone determines the success of the fragrance, not the ads or the packaging. With that said, six of the most successful fragrances that are still being sold today were created between 1861 and 1933. So they were right to a certain point. It’s the fragrance that really matters but slowly this might be changing.  Today we are seeing new and exciting fragrances hit the market and capture the attention of the public. Some like Baccarat Rouge for example are modern classics. Some though are downright odd, such as Sunoco which smells of burnt rubber, fuel, oil, and exhaust, or Secretions Magnifique which is supposed to smell like semen, blood, and breast milk. 

I have a feeling that Chanel No 5 will be around long after Sunoco and Secretions Magnifique are long gone, but there is room for innovation and a few of the newer fragrances that have seemed to capture the noses of the world might end up being around for the next century. The real secret to fragrance seems to be, do you like it and does it smell good on you; I think if you meet those two criteria, you’ve won half the battle. 

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Make-Up, It’s An Art

The make-up “formula” died in the 1990s. Today fashion trends still matter but they should not affect your cosmetics choices as much. Back in the 1990s on the high-end runways, supermodels looked as if they were wearing nothing at all. When in fact just the opposite was true, the era of the “natural” look was born. These models were made up by serious artists such as Kevyn Aucoin using highly sophisticated cosmetics and techniques that were revolutionary at the time. Today it’s the individual face that matters. You should consider making up your face to accentuate the characteristics you want and hide those that you don’t. 

This idea of making up each person in a natural way to accentuate their unique characteristics is generally credited to the make-up genius Kevyn Aucoin. His make-up on the Cosmopolitan cover with Cindy Crawford in 1986 catapulted him to superstardom in the fashion world. He famously said that every woman is beautiful within and make-up was his tool for helping her discover her beauty. If you look at the cover of Vogue with Cindy Crawford you’ll understand exactly what he meant. In a word it’s stunning. It also catapulted Cindy Crawford to superstardom and ushered in the age of the supermodel. 

Another important figure today and during that time is French-born make-up artist Francois Nars. Though he is French he lives and works in New York on the cutting edge of make-up art. You can see his work of the time if you look back to magazines like American Vogue, Vogue Italia, and Elle. In 1994 he launched Nars Cosmetics which was sold to Shiseido in 2000, though Nars remains artistic director, in-house photographer, and copywriter for the brand. Nars’s philosophy is a little bit different from Aucoin’s in that he believes his aim is to discover the various ways of bringing out the beauty of a face. It may seem like the same philosophy but it’s not, because he believes it makes no difference whether you have to do it in a natural way or an extravagant way.

Bobbi Brown is yet another prominent make-up artist that formerly worked in the theater. She feels that when a woman enters a room it should be her personality that captures the attention of people, not her make-up. Brown believes in flattering the skin with shades of brown and her style of application does not look heavy.

Other notables in the make-up world include Frank Toskan of M.A.C. which is extremely popular and affordable and of course Shu Uemura. Aucoin (though no longer with us), Uemura, Nars, Toskan, and Brown all have their own cosmetics lines available all over the world.

If you want to delve deeper into these techniques Kevyn Aucoin’s books, Making Faces, Face Forward and the Art of Makeup, should be on your shelf. 

Tips and Tricks:


Match Skin Tones. We have all seen the super white face and then looked at the neck and the shades do not match. That’s a sign the person does not know or understand their own skin tone. Try a sample of any makeup on your face in the privacy of your own home, not at the makeup-up counter.

Foundation should be even, do not apply it like you would cream, rather dab it with your fingertips or pat it on with a sponge.

Eyebrows and Lashes:

Pluck your eyebrows so they look natural, we have all seen the too-thin Western or too-heavy middle eastern style, both are unnatural.

Warm up your lash curlers in advance, the effect will last longer.

Separate your eyelashes immediately after using mascara, otherwise, you’ll be stuck with the spider legs effect. Use an eyelash brush. 


Blush should match your foundation. To prevent blotches use cream blush on a liquid foundation, and powder on powder.

Rosy red blush looks fake, blend blush with natural shades of brown or pink to look more natural. 


Remember dark eyeliner (black) makes the eyes look smaller. Use super dark and black with restraint. 


Emphasize the pale outer contour of the lips to make them look fuller. 

Lip liner should match the natural color of your lips and the lipstick. If you use dark lipstick that is not a good match as the lipstick fades the matching contour lines will become obvious.

Apricot, pink, and rose mixed with lip gloss make the lips look larger and fuller. 

Applying foundation to your lips helps ensure lipstick will stay on longer. Line the lips with care and apply lipstick with a brush, then blot and only then apply a second layer.

Like the eyes dark lipstick makes the lips look thinner and smaller. Purples, dark red, and chocolate brown are typically too harsh.

Mme V. Fontaine (Fashion Blogger for

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The Eyes Have It

If the eyes are the gateway to the soul then the front door, and welcome mat must be the eyebrows, eyeliner and mascara. The 1960s and 1970s were the heyday of eye makeup. Barbara Streisand, Bridget Bardot, as well as Maria Callas, were famous for their use of it. False eyelashes, eyeliner, and mascara all dominated during these eras as opposed to how the lips dominated in the previous four decades. On a side note false eyelashes, and heavy mascara have made a comeback. Since 2019 they have become quite the rage again, especially with teenagers and ladies in the southern states. Back in the 60s, Twiggy became an overnight sensation and the one to copy when it came to eye make-up. The only star whose red lips remained prominent was the one and only Marilyn Monroe. However, she passed in 1962 and would have no doubt kept up with the trends in fashion and make-up had she lived. 

The 1950s ushered in a new era of prosperity across the globe and this was the catalyst for cosmetics companies to introduce new products, and they did so at quite a rapid rate. Eyeliner pencil, eye shadow both in powder and cream form, waterproof mascara, and makeup-up remover, were all products of this decade. Eyelash curlers were also introduced creating gorgeous but exaggerated curves. Make-up sets on a larger scale were also brought to market to help make those with less make-up prowess feel more comfortable mixing and matching tones. 

Being chic during these times meant using eyeshadow in very bold colors like purple, and blue in a myriad of shades and not being shy with the amount applied almost to the point of exaggeration. Women were smitten with these bold colors and the innovations that were being brought to market at a very rapid pace. Next came the metallic colors such as silver, gold, and bronze which the disco generation eagerly embraced. Luminous eye shadow, glittery gels, and white highlighter to accentuate the eye area were used extensively. Eye make-up now came in a kaleidoscope of various different colors making it very hard to navigate through all of the available options. This of course did not include other colors for the face, lips, and nails. Now more than ever you either had to have some form of talent for mixing and matching colors and textures or you had to rely on magazines, friends, or the make-up counter person at your local mall.

From a chemistry standpoint make-up is fascinating. Talcum powder for example which is comprised of magnesium and aluminum silicate is used to create eyeshadow. That’s not the interesting part, but when you observe it through a microscope it presents some very interesting characteristics. At high magnification, both of these silicates look like small plates. They lie flat on the skin and amazingly do not clog the pores, and because they slide over one another this means they have a creamy-like texture which makes it very easy to apply. Aluminum silicate creates the shimmer effect around the eyes and this is because these small plates reflect light quite well. Other minerals and synthetics are added to create color, they include but are not limited to malachite to create green. Iron oxide and iron hydroxide are used to create red, yellow and blue, and orange. Ultramarine is used for blue, green, red, and violet; and brown shades are created with umber, a clay-like substance with iron and manganese. 

As you read this you might be thinking to yourself that such minerals and chemicals may very well be harmful to the eyes and skin and you would be right. Our eyes are very sensitive and react to foreign substances by itching, burning, and turning red. Cosmetics companies must test these products to ensure they do not cause harm to human beings. In the past and still in some parts of the world, these cosmetics are tested on animals. That is why at least to me, it’s important that you do business with a cosmetics company that not only makes excellent products but also that does not resort to cruelty toward helpless creatures in laboratories. You should also consider only using products that are tested and labeled hypo-allergenic, and if wearing contact lenses, in addition, any product should also be oil, fragrance and fiber-free, as well as being non-waterproof. If it meets these criteria then it’s safe to say that the make-up has also been tested to ophthalmological standards and is safe to wear.  

Mme V. Fontaine (Fashion Blogger for

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You Got Me Seeing RED!

Why does the color red resonate so much with women? Could it be that passion’s color is red? Love is signified by the color red and so is anger. If strength, power, courage, resilience, and danger were colors they too would be red. Red is vibrant, it’s stimulating and exciting and it’s been touted that if we want to move up the corporate ladder and do well in life generally, then we should add an element of red into our wardrobe and makeup as well. Wearing red gives one confidence and sex appeal. It’s an emotional choice that also impacts what other people think and feel about us as well as having a psychological influence on ourselves and driving us to live our best lives. In short, when wearing red you’re more appealing, it boosts your own self-perceived sexual receptiveness and self-perceived importance level. Red gives you confidence when you wear it and red impacts rivals in business or in your personal life as well. It gives you an edge. Red is reserved for the best and most glamorous. But where did the color red enter into the lexicon of makeup? It again seems to go back to the ancient Egyptians. They wore a concoction made of animal blood, fat, and arsenic on their lips. However, modernly Lipstick was born in the year 1883 at the International Colonial Exhibition in Amsterdam. Paris-based perfumers had succeeded in producing a durable solid stick of color from beeswax, deer suet, and castor oil, wrapped in silk paper which was easy to carry. The French actress Sarah Bernhardt was the first famous convert calling this new red lipstick, ‘stylo d’amour” translated as “love pencil.”

Unlike today when an influencer can cause sales to surge overnight and a trend to become mainstream within months, it was not till the Roaring 20’s that red lipstick became widely accepted. It was the influence of Hollywood and film stars of the time that was the driving force. The heart-shaped lips on people like Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo, and Marlena Dietrick created demand and people like the famous Max Factor were happy to satisfy and cash in. Just like all trends, once they become mainstream and there is a demand, the entire cosmetics industry followed suit. It was not long before they developed lower-cost, and better-performing lipsticks for sale to the masses. In 1935 Germaine Monteil introduced “Chinese Red” and companies like Elizabeth Arden offered up a set with different shades of red called “Lipstick Wardrobe.” Max Factor was still catering to the higher end of the consumer landscape when in the 1940s he had Rita Hayworth advertising his lipstick in a gold case. Advances came as well, with Factor claiming that his lipstick did not dry the lips and also did not smear, a vast array of similar benefits by many manufacturers are still touted today.  

By the time the 1950’s were upon us women did not leave the house without make-up on their faces and for touch-ups some in their purses. Unlike the 20s, 30s, and 40s, the use of lipstick and make-up, in general, became a bit more reserved than it had been. It was during this time that a new innovation gave us the twist-up lipstick case now taken for granted that allowed not only lipstick to be applied without fuss it also ensured it could just be tossed into your handbag and it would be ready when needed. The 1960s and 1970s saw eyeliner and eye shadow slowly become more and more prominent and the disco era made make-up glitzy and shiny leading to the introduction of products like lip gloss. In fact today young girls start their make-up journey with lip gloss. It’s relatively inexpensive price point and seeming innocence has lowered the bar of entry and it’s generally accepted that it’s appropriate for use when girls reach the age of ten.

The 1980s saw a more reserved and conservative look during the day and a much bolder heavily eye and lip-oriented make-up take over in the evenings to match the shoulder pads and the big hair made famous by television series like Dynasty with Linda Evans and Joan Collins. The 1990s saw lipstick used less than in decades past, with some women opting out, but even with the “au natural” look and lighter more transparent makeup of the 21st century 100 years later fully 80% of women today wear lipstick on a regular basis. The manufacturers of cosmetics also keep pushing the envelope by offering hypoallergenic, vegan, moisturizing, UV protection, smear, and smudge-proof, as well as long-lasting and plumping lipsticks and glosses. As women age their lips tend to thin prompting them to get injected with lip fillers to add volume. These injections fill the lips with synthetic Hyaluronic Acid. Will it ever go away? With the lip augmentation craze we are seeing today, it’s not likely. Though red and its various shades might wax and wane in popularity with offerings in 2023 such as Rosy Nudes and Mauve, it’s safe to say red in almost any shade is here to stay.

Mme V. Fontaine (Fashion Blogger for

Wishing You a Life of BeingChic Chic Chic

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