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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Muse and Les Muses by Coty

Muse by Coty: created in 1946, in honor of the Muses of Greek mythology. The perfume was said to be eight years in the making, even through German occupation, a Coty perfumer and director of the French laboratories, Vincent Roubert, was working to achieve this important perfume through years of careful blending and for press agents that long to dream up its elaborate debut.

“This is the perfume they’ll remember you by!”

After a refresher course in Greek mythology, Coty decided to create a 10th Muse, which they christened as Osme, the muse of sweet perfumes, which would be a 20th century sister to the original Nine Muses. After this, they set out to develop a fragrance to name after their new goddess.

The climax to this was a luncheon for 1,500 representatives of radio, press, fashion and cinema at the Waldorf -Astoria in New York. The party featured a Ziegfeld style pageant and fashion show . The perfume was introduced with a short wave broadcast from Paris, a flowery speech by Coty chairman Grover Whalen in the role of a herald. Developed in Paris but announced in the United States, the vocal strains of a soprano’s Star Spangled banner and La Marseillaise backed its introduction before the fruit supreme, chicken breasts, sweets and wine. Whalen pronounced the new perfume “ a symbol of the American way of life, a return to the gracious art of living.” Vincent Roubert, address the audience, giving a full description of his “emotion” when he had finally succeeded in uniting the thirty ingredients in their right proportions an clasped a test tube of the completed sample. For those guests who could not understand French, a translator was graciously provided.

It was the first new perfume that Coty created since the war. It was described as a “lilting, nostalgically soft fragrance, poetically symbolizing those Greek divinities, the Nine Muses, who were designated as the guardians of the arts.”

To help set the mood, Coty invited leading America designers to take the muses as inspiration for a collection of modern fashions. This was the first lavish event to introduce item such an item as perfume since the war. The pageant depicted a cavalcade of the fifteen nations which furnished ingredients for the perfume, each represented by models in indescribably ornate costumes and jewelry. The gowns were designed by Valentina, and the pageant was narrated by star Leonora Corbett who graced the English and American stages. Leonora appeared in black velvet to speak a few words of comment after tenderly kissing Grover Whalen. She emphasized the universality of love for perfumes: the emphasis was punctuated by the 15 gorgeous models of different nationalities.

Rich folk costumes in bright silks were inspired by fashions supposedly current in Egypt, Abyssinia, Italy, Zanzibar and naturally, France. In fact, France was symbolized three times - by a midinette in her simplest black dress, representing Paris; by a hardworking peasant in regional costume; and by a beautiful girl as the heroic figure of France, splendid in the red-white and blue uniform of a cuirassier of the Napoleonic period (also anachronistically spattered with crosses of Lorraine,.)

The piece de resistance was the parade of the nine Muses created by Apollo, each of the Goddesses represented one of the Fine Arts including Astronomy, Eloquence, Love, Music, Tragedy, Sacred Song, Dance, Comedy and History lined up in their bridal white.

Against the backdrop of a marble white Greek temple, there came the flower strewn fashion show, which amid much hand clapping, revealed what the well dressed muse - ancient Greek or modern - should wear. For the muse of dance, Clare Potter designed a V-neck crepe dinner dress with a gold belt, and a skirt made of rows upon rows of ruffles.

The muse of tragedy, clad by Fira Benenson , wore a flowing gown of white chiffon with a long scarf attached to one sleeve that could be draped over the head like a cape. Adrian, who came from California, for the occasion, dressed the muse of eloquence in a clinging white jersey gown, square neck, stole sleeves and shirred torso. The goddess of love, gowned by Towi, wore a negligee of white chiffon over satin, with the midriff of flesh pink chiffon, appliquéd by satin.

Osme, the muse of perfume, - the one Apollo forgot, personified as a Powers model, in a diaphanous, floating, draped gown by Valentina, of pale sea green and sun yellow combining jersey and marquisette, emerged from a temporary  cardboard Greek temple at the back.

Simultaneous with that moment the history making odour was sprayed over the crowded ballroom and as Osme walked the runway, a waft of the new Coty scent wafted behind her. while Leonora Corbett pronounced the final benediction. Leonora Corbett , Grover Whalen, Vincent Roubert, the Muse of Publicity and Apollo had done their work amid plenty of fanfare and voracious hand clapping from the guests.

Period Advertisements:

Glass Packer - Volume 26, 1946:
“ Muse by Coty…for a great new perfume is a rare event. A challenging new perfume…born in Paris and destined to become a classic with the passage of time. Muse is the climax of 8 years of subtle, masterful blending. The perfume for women who have the instinct to recognize a masterpiece at its inceptions. 1 oz- $15.00, 2 oz - $25.00, 4 oz - 50.00. Compounded and Copyrighted by Coty in US”

Another advertisement reads 
“ The Greeks had a word for it...Muse. To the Muses…Goddesses of the arts man has always turned for inspiration. With their aid he has transformed dreams into works of art. To make your own dreams a reality, Coty has created Muse…Here is all the wit, the charm, the loveliness of the Goddesses-captured in one great perfume for you. Born in the heart of Paris, use is the climax of eight years of sensitive composing, marked by many moments of discouragement but crowned by ultimate triumph… and subtle, masterful blending of more than thirty ingredients to create a new masterpiece in perfume.”

Cue, 1948:
"Coty presents a very gay, transparent package containing "Orchids" holding bottles of famous Muse and A'Suma perfumes. The whole thing is tied with orchid ribbon and is priced at $7.50."

The New Yorker, 1951:
"Muse, which has sold fairly well, is Coty's most expensive product; an eight- ounce bottle retails at a hundred dollars."

Coty's Muse was made from 1946 to 1962. Photo by Humler & Nolan.

Fragrance Composition:

So what does it smell like? It is classified as a sweet and pungent fruity floral fragrance for women with a warm, woodied leather base.

  • Top notes: bergamot, aldehydes, peach, honey
  • Middle notes: rose, jasmine, lily of the valley, gardenia, tuberose, ylang ylang
  • Base notes: leather, vanilla, benzoin, sandalwood, amber, musk

Muse was available over the years in perfume, parfum de toilette, toilet water (eau de toilette), spray mist and dusting powder.

The Fate of the Fragrance:

Muse was discontinued around 1962.

Les Muses:

In 1986, Coty released three forgotten scents in a set called The Chateau Collection. This collection of old favorites was comprised up of La Rose Jacqueminot, Chypre and Muse which was rechristened as Les Muses. Les Muses was available in 1 oz eau de parfum splash for $12.50 and 1.75 oz eau de toilette spray for $10.00. A gift set included a bottle of eau de parfum, and purse atomizer and a funnel to decant the edp splash into the atomizer, this set retailed for $17.50.

 1986 version

So what does it smell like? Les Muses is an sweet amber floral bouquet, combining white flowers of muguet, creamy gardenia and tuberose, layered upon nuances of jasmine, ylang ylang, and peaches, anchored on a powdered base of amber, sweet vanilla, benzoin, soft white musk and sandalwood. It is very similar to Sand & Sable, also by Coty but lacks the "sun tan lotion" effect of S & S. The perfume is soft, sweet, romantic and implores your significant other to get closer.

  • Top notes: aldehydes, peach, bergamot
  • Middle notes: rose, jasmine, lily of the valley, gardenia, tuberose, ylang ylang
  • Base notes:  leather, amber, vanilla, benzoin, soft white musk and sandalwood

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