The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1925:
Suiting the Perfume to the Personality Now Has a Definite Technique
by Martha Shaw
Ann Haviland Explains How She Finds the Proper Blend of Floral Oils to Accentuate What Individuality a Woman Has
HUSBANDS may come and husbands may go, but once a woman finds a perfume which expresses her personality she never changes it. This is on the authority of Ann Haviland, perfume artist, who for more than twelve years has been blending the floral oils of southern France and the roots and herbs of the Far East into sweet-smelling scents for New York's fashionable society.
"Most people are just types," Miss Haviland said, "but society women, however much maligned, are keen enough to know this and honest enough to admit it, and they are clever enough to strive, in every way to accentuate what individuality they have. A perfume that expresses a personality helps or.e to stand out from the type she falls in, and that's one of the reasons people come to me to have perfumes blended.
"Some people speak of suiting the perfume to the personality as if it were fortune telling." Miss Haviland commented. "Really it has a definite technique like any other art.
"When a stranger comes for me to blend a perfume to bring out her personality, naturally the tells me something of herself. Then her appearance tells more than her conversation. After that I ask her to smell the oils of different flowers."
"The muscles of her face respond differently to each odor. At least one odor brings a response in the muscles of her face that experience has taught me is the proper reaction for her. Usuall, this odor is a blend of a number of floral oils, for all the time we have been talking together I have been blending different oils and offering them to her. Sometimes she tells me she prefers another odor than the one I have selected.
Occasionally I allow myself to give her what she thinks she wants, even though it is against my judgment. Soon she is dissatisfied and asks for the odor I suggested at first."
"Usually, when I can't agree with a customer I ask her to try the odor I have selected for her a little while, and if she tires of it to change it then. In all the years of my experience blending individual perfumes, none has ever changed a scent under those circumstances."
A perfume used year after year, will influence the expression of a face, according to Miss Haviland. Odors are so elusive that their effect is almost entirely on the subconscious mind. If the odor is entirely harmonious, the face will reflect this feeling of well being; if the odor is at all irritating to the individual, the face, for no apparent reason, will assume gradually an irritated expression.
"When is a girl old enough to use perfume? One may form the habit in babyhood. Not genuine, heavy perfumes." Miss Haviland explained hastily, "but many young mothers have mild sachets for their babies, such as orris root sachets. For children and young girls, I recommend only mild sachets and perhaps floral water.
"Only the woman mature enough for society may use an individual perfume, in my judgment. She may use it because it pleases the esthetic senses, and for the selfish reason that she must dominate, if she can, that heavy odor of smoking that prevails everywhere these days at the tea, the formal dinner and the dance."
After listening to the counsels of Miss Haviland, one realizes that perfumes should be handled as judiciously as poisons.
"Just a touch of perfume on the hair, , the palms of the hands, perhaps on the furs," Miss Haviland decrees. "Then the odor will never become stale. The prejudice against scents has grown up because there is nothing that condemns a person more eternally than stale perfume, and any perfume will become stale after it has been on a handkerchief a little while."
The woman in business need not forego perfumes, in the opinion of Miss Haviland, but she must restrain herself and -use only sachets and floral water, as she has not the need during the day for heavy perfumes that her social engagements after business hours may justify.
As a nation, the Americans do not use perfumes as lavishly as the peoples of Continental Europe, but now that the American woman has begun to give thought to individual blends, the American business man has become personally interested in perfumes.
"A number of my women patrons have increased the quantity of perfume I blend for them because their husbands have started in using their individual stock in the last few years," Miss Haviland said. "Most of the women are quite chagrined about it, for an individual blend is expensive and they feel that their husbands should be contented with something simpler than the perfume they buy out of their allowance, but apparently the gentlemen will not be misled by substitutes.
"Men have a stronger sense of smell than women, as have males all through the animal kingdom. Men, too, are more discriminating in their tastes than women. That's why the American business man is gradually abandoning the florid barber shop tonics for a few drops of perfume surreptitiously taken from his wife's flacon."
The American man, generally, is interested in scents for his room rather than in individual perfume for himself. He likes to throw East Indian herbs on the fireplace in his library to counteract the mustiness of his rare old books. Then, too, he likes the romantic effect that the odor of burning roots gives his home. The scents of spice and musk take him away for a little while from the world of stocks and bonds.
Some women are opposed to perfumes. They are the type of women who are given to sniffing and saying "Hussy!" when they meet another woman who uses perfume. Miss Haviland said that if this type of woman would give a little more thought to extending her personality, even by means of perfumes, there wouldn't be so much unhappiness in store for her in the future.
Patterning after the society woman, who selects her perfumes judiciously, the unimaginative little housewife can go far toward creating an atmosphere of illusion about herself that will cause the otherwise shrewd husband to believe she is not one of a type, but a mysterious creature he must devote his spare time to cultivating socially.
Of all the single odors, violet is the most enduringly popular. Probably this is because the violet suggests femininity rather than because its color attracts. Most persons prefer blends of perfumes.
"No matter how diversified the tastes of a family, their individual perfumes will never clash," said Miss Haviland. "A good scent is too elusive to obtrude on any one's sensibilities. I have one family where the husband and wife use a gardenia blend, one daughter has a special Persian rose scent, and the other daughter has a violet blend. This family has been coming to me for ten years. The girls have grown up and married during that time; they have met new people and experiences, but neither of them wants to change her perfume. It has become a definite part of her personality."
Ann Haviland comes from Maryland, where tradition says everyone has a garden of old-fashioned flowers.
"Here in New York we would call those Maryland gardens uncultivated," Miss Haviland admitted, "but to me they are still the loveliest gardens in the world. America has no beds of flowers and herbs to use for perfumes. Our American perfumes are all synthetic products.
"My perfumes are of floral oils, brought from southern France. My scents are of herbs and roots brought from Java, Persia, India, Hawaii, the South Seas from all over the world. We have here nothing that can compare with the spice odors of the East. Then, too, in perfume there is romance, and for our touches of romance most of us solid, substantial Americans look to France and the Far East."
Miss Haviland's method of choosing perfumes to suit the personality seems like a practical one. So many times we have sniffed one bottle after another in a perfume shop to find the one we considered most suited to ourselves and our station in life. But so often we have been disappointed in our choice after we got it home. If there were only someone who knew, who could tell us what we wanted! And so e have gone blundering along, trying one kind after another.