Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Evening in Paris perfume, Cashmere Bouquet soap, and Tangee lipstick

I hadn’t received a Vermont Country Store catalogue for a while so when one showed up this week I took a delightful walk down memory lane because---there it was: Evening in Paris perfume. Between the 1920s and 1960s, women bathed with Cashmere Bouquet soap, wore Tangee lipstick, and dabbed Evening in Paris on their pulse points.

Evening in Paris, aka Soir de Paris was developed around 1926 by Ernest Beaux, a Russian émigré and perfumer who moved to France after the revolution. There he was able to use his Romanoff contacts to recreate his business.  The Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia, a companion of Coco Chanel arranged a meeting between the two in Cannes late in the summer of 1920. There, presented his current and former works to Chanel who chose what became known as Chanel No. 5 as a Christmas present for her best clients. Chanel was owned by the Wertheimer family who also owned a cosmetics company called Bourjois. And Bourjois was looking for a perfume that would appeal to the American bourgeoisie—nothing too expensive, however, something appealing and affordable to the middle-income women. And so Ernest Beaux created a scent that smelled of violets, roses, and carnations, and which dried with a hint of cloves. It was sold in a signature, cobalt blue bottle.

In December 1938, the Dallas Morning News ran an ad for “A smart new bottle of Evening in Paris Perfume, with its own, efficient, lasting atomizer” for $1.73. The Vermont catalogue price is $79.95. Prices on ebay vary.

Of these three common toiletries, Cashmere Bouquet Soap is the old-timer. In 1806, an English immigrant named William Colgate started a starch, candle, and soap factory which he called William Colgate and company. When his father died, his son, Samuel, took over and in 1872 introduced Cashmere Bouquet soap, the company’s first “milled, perfumed toilet soap.” The company even went so far as to register the name as a Colgate trademark.

George Luft, the son of a German émigré, was responsible for Tangee products. George grew up in Warsaw, Illinois and attended the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. After graduation in 1894, he worked in small drug stores throughout the west. In 1902, he was married and living in New York. It would be 18 years before he established the George W. Luft Company, Inc. and begin to manufacture pharmaceuticals and “perfume materials.” The name came from the lipsticks tangerine shade, but the product was advertised as “a technical marvel” because “after application the color changed to conform to the complexion of the wearer.”
Tabloid pictures of movie stars without makeup and the following quote from Yves St. Laurent say it all:
“The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy.”