Saturday, December 16, 2006

Poetical Language of Flowers

'The flowers were full of song; upon the rose
I read the crimson annals of true love.
The violet flung me back an old romance.
All were associated with some link,
Whose fine electric throb was in the mind.'

I've been reading antique Victorian books on fashion and style for the 'modern' woman. I think we should take a cue from their gentle prodding words that a woman's scent, her perfume, should be personal, and thus smelled only within her personal space.

Can you just imagine how those long ago modern women would feel about perfume today? No more could they say, "Ah, she is a rose," or "She fills her seat with violets." Nope. Today, those women would be choking on toxic fumes of some unnamable essence for which no natural counterpart exists. Every woman who wears perfume today would be considered audacious and below society.

So, times change. Yet another trip to the perfume mart and $47 later, I hold a bottle of Opium. The salesperson asks, "Who is that for?" in her best trying-to-be-helpful voice.

"Mother-in-law," I say quietly.

"Oh, I didn't think it was for you. That's what the older ladies like," the salesperson says, using her fingers in the air to quote 'older ladies'. "Times change, don't they?"

Well, yes they do.


  1. I am fascinated by these Victorian books you speak of. I've managed to track down one book on Egyptian perfumery and scent, but haven't had finding much from other eras.

  2. Sweet Suede2:45 AM

    Old Ladies likes Opium??? Sheitze my dear, now I feel my age once again since I do remember when it was THE thing to wear. But honestly, it didn't suit me - I used the "ripof" Cinnabar by EL instead.

    Old ladies???Mutter grumble mutter....

  3. Maggie,
    Check ebay. There is a fantastic bookseller there who specializes in Victorian and Edwardian era books. Some can be quite pricey, such as those which feature fashion, cosmetics and perfumes. Others are moderately priced but still contain some usefull information for us 'fume hounds.

  4. Sweet Suede,

    I had to laugh too. It was launched in 1977 ~ must make me one of those 'old ladies' too since I was up and kickin' in those olden days. Don't take it too seriously ~ the salesperson was probably 20 if she was a day.



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