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Vintage Perfumes For Sale

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Isadora by Isadora c1979

Isadora by Isadora: launched in 1979.

History of the Bottle:

The bottle for Isadora perfume was reputably designed and produced by Lalique since its inception of the perfume, this is totally false. Authors of Fragrance Bottle Masterpieces, Ball & Torem claimed this was a design created by Lalique in the 1930s to honor dancer and actress Isadora Duncan. Which is an untrue statement, the authors have been proven wrong on several Lalique attributions in the book. There is no record of Lalique creating such a bottle in any of the Lalique reference books or archives.

 Let's start at the beginning when the earliest version of this bottle started showing up. Our first introduction of this bottle was in 1925 for various perfumers and produced by the BTCIC Glassworks, in the 1940s it was used for two perfumes by Eroy: Adoree and Ortie. Then in 1939 it was again used for a different perfumes, Sesquoia by Rene Pierre (also known as Pierre Dune), J' en Osé by Caray in 1932, J'Ose by de Mareze, Mademoiselle Pigalle by HF Sorel, and I also found a reference it might have been used by Houbigant too. These early bottles have the female figure as the stopper, sitting on a cushion.

c1928 ad from Modern Perfumery Magazine

So we can make a timeline for the perfume bottle:
  • 1925 BTCIC creates bottle for various perfumers in France
  • 1930 J'en Osé or J'Ose by de Mareze
  • 1930 Mademoiselle Pigalle by HF Sorel 
  • 1932 J'en Osé by Caray 
  • 1935 Jolie Marquise by de Molines 
  • 1940 Sequoia by Rene (Pierre) Dune 
  • 1940 Adoree by Eroy
  • 1940 Ortie by Eroy
  • 1940 Volupte by Eroy

Jolie Marquise by de Molines c1935

Sequoia by Rene (Pierre) Dune c1940

Adoree by Eroy c1940s, photo by Rago Arts


 The inspiration for this perfume bottle was the actress Gaby Deslys, a famous flambouyantly costumed dancer and courtesan of the early 20th century of Marseilles, France.

Later a similar more updated design of these bottles was created for Isadora perfume in 1979, it was designed by Pierre Dinand and manufactured by Pochet et du Courval. The perfume was named after the actress and dancer, Isadora Duncan. The perfume was classified as an oriental parfum and created by Isadora Parfums.  The bottle still has the seated female figure as the stopper, but now she sits on a flat disk bottle, instead of her fabulous cushion bottle. Also the name Isadora is serigraphed in gold on the front of the bottle. A rare version created in 1990 was made in the Czech Republic. This perfume is still being made today and many sizes of the perfume is available online.

Though this isn't the first time a perfume was named for the actress, in 1910 Caron launched Isadora, this original perfume was created by Ernest Daltroff and was housed in an ancient Greek amphora shaped flacon, designed by Julien Viard and made by Verreries Romesnil.

Brief Biography of Gaby Deslys:

The petite singer had many admirers among royalty, most notably Manuel II of Portugal. The dance that made her famous on both sides of the Atlantic was 'The Gaby Glide'. The Scottish novelist J.M. Barrie was so smitten by her that he wrote a one-act play for her called "Rosy Rapture". Deslys became a celebrity following newspaper stories which gossiped about King Manuel's infatuation with her. Manuel is thought to have given Deslys a pearl necklace worth $70,000 after first meeting her in Paris in July 1909.

Cecil Beaton, known English society member and photographer in the 1940s, writes of Gaby Deslys, whom he admired in his youth:

"... something about Gaby Deslys' whole esculent appearance called to mind a basket of fruit, real or imitation ... her breasts were round, with unpointed nipples... Her silky hair was dyed a greenish marzipan gold, possibly like Dorian Gray's, but more like that of a child in a perambulator. 
... her hat, resembling airplane propellers or a Brancusi bird... These huge constructions of gauze were rampant with the ubiquitous feathers of tropical birds, parrots or flamingos. She was, in short, a human aviary. 
... If Gaby wore an ecru-coloured tussore suit with a coal scuttle of full-blown roses on her head, or a dress of velvet and diamante trellis, I might well feel I had discovered a new continent. Her fantasy spread to embrace even the little Chihuahuas she kept as pets, Mexican creatures so spindly and shivery that one felt certain they could not survive a winter in subtropical Nice unless they were wrapped in dark Russian sables. And they were."

 In a song from 1913, dedicated to her:

Beautiful creature of my dreams,
On thy golden head there gleams
A glorious light, so soft, it seems
A radiance supernatural.
Beautiful angel Gabrielle!
Neath penciled brows, thy lustrous eyes
Are full of laughing pained surprise
At thy misdeeds, thou would st disguise,
From me who loves thee far too well.
Beautiful angel Gabrielle !
Ah, I would kiss thy glowing lips,
Much as the butterfly that dips
Into the crimson rose, and sips
The nectar from that source divine;
Then falls, o'ercome by joy and wine.
Though from thy charms, my great love came,
Yet" from those charms I must refrain.
Give me a lily from thy name,
And free me from thy clinging spell.
Oh, lovely angel Gabrielle! "

More gifts soon followed. Gordon Selfridge of Selfridges Department stores), had a fascination with showgirls and dancers gave Gaby a rope of pearls as long as her height, also bought the lease of a house and furnished it with rugs, linen, silver, china and crystal from the store.Vast baskets of flowers and hampers packed with delicacies were also delivered daily. Something of a fashion-plate and the original material girl, one of Gaby's great passions was her hats. She once memorably had to take a second cabin when crossing the Atlantic, simply to accommodate her feathered headgear by Maison Lewis.

But if Selfridge's family did not know about the affair, his staff certainly did.Gaby toured the store like the diva she was, helping herself to anything she wanted, the bills, as always, being charged to "the Chief's private account". During one visit she lost her pet dog, and sat sobbing uncontrollably in Selfridge's office until he masterminded what his secretary called Operation Dog - posting missing notices, offering a reward and informing the police.The pampered pooch was eventually found. So intense was the affair that Selfridge even moved his family to the country so he could be free to squire Gaby around London. He even had her bulging jewel boxes topped up with diamonds and a sensational rope of black pearls.

One was a diamond necklace with black and white pearl drops set in a platinum band. Deslys cultivated a pearl fetish. Gaby became so absorbed in collecting them that before she died she asserted she owned her weight in them. She was supposed to play a role opposite of Mae West, but had Mae sacked from it, when encountered by the press on being compared to Gaby, Mae stated that "I believe I will go to Paris and get myself a king. See my diamond pins. Gaby has nothing on me with her pearls."

 Deslys contracted a severe throat infection caused by influenza in December 1919. She was operated on multiple times in an effort to eradicate the infection, on two occasions without the use of an anaesthetic. Surgeons were inhibited by Deslys' demand that they not scar her neck.

According to a newspaper cutting from Helena Rubinstein, she died of a throat ailment which could have been cured by surgery, but she preferred death to scarring. "She showed as much of her bosom as was socially safe," Rubenstein adds. "She made a point of displaying her lovely legs, too, in the sheerest of lace stockings and she wore incredibly high heels studded with rhinestones." She died in Paris in February 1920. Thus her unique talents and persona could not be recorded for posterity by motion pictures as sound film didn't arrive until 1926 with the Vitaphone shorts.

Isadora Perfume by Parfums Isadora (Robert Benson):

Isadora perfume was launched in 1979 by Robert Benson under the trade name Parfums Isadora Paris. Benson wanted to make a tribute to the dancer Isadora Duncan who had tragically died in 1927.

Fragrance Composition:

So what does it smell like? It is classified as a floral oriental fragrance for women.

  • Top notes: bergamot, Persian mint, geranium, orange blossom,
  • Middle notes: jasmine, Bulgarian rose, iris, French lavender, spices
  • Base notes: oakmoss, musk, Indian sandalwood, amber, leather, opoponax and vanilla


In 1976, Benson decided to use the old kneeling nude stopper design that other companies used previously and the celebrated Parisian jeweler Danielle Poullian and Pierre Dinand reworked it into a modern, updated style with a new base. The bottle still has the seated female figure as the stopper, but now she sits on a flat disk bottle, instead of her fabulous cushion bottle. Also, the name Isadora is serigraphed in gold on the front of the bottle. The bottle was manufactured by Pochet et du Courval with plastic components supplied by AMS.

A rare version created in 1990 was made in the Czech Republic. This perfume is still being made today and many sizes of the perfume are available online.

Incidentally, Danielle Poullian also designed the many colorful galalith necklaces for the Isadora gift with purchase or purchase with a purchase at the perfume launch at Bloomingdale's. These runway style necklaces feature whimsical shapes of stylized flowers or bold geometrics with bead spacers and small inro type containers holding a small glass perfume vial.

The fragrance was available in:
  • 1/4 oz parfum splash
  • 1/4 oz parfum spray
  • 1/2 oz parfum splash
  • 1 oz parfum splash
  • 3.3 oz eau de toilette splash
  • 2.5 oz eau de toilette spray
  • 1.7 oz eau de toilette
  • 6 oz dusting powder

Photo by Mathesons' AA Auction

Embossed on the bottom of the bottle is "Isadora 1979 Bottle Made In France. The bottom of the box is marked "Parfum ¼ Fl.oz-7.3 mi Ref.1007.1 EMB.27220 Parfums Isadora Paris Made in France. Vente exclusive par les depositaires agrees Isadora US Dist. Isadora Group Ltd. New York-N.Y. 10022 Composition: Alcool ethylique-Eau demineralisee-Perfum Colorant: Neant: Contains: Ethyl (A)-Demineralized water (E)-Fragrance (D) Colorings: None."

Playbill, 1980:
"Remember Vanessa Redgrave portraying still another controversial lady in the film, Isadora? Luscious, wasn't it? Now there's a new perfume named for that dancer of the many veils. A flowery oriental, this Isadora, quite lovely, from the Paris designer Danielle Poullain. And its bottle is self-assertive even on my crowded collection-table. Very Art Deco, its crystal stopper is a kneeling figure, dressed modestly in a fine gold cord and a string of "pearls." Kind of smashing, $100. Macy's."

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