Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Perfumes Isabell

Robert Isabell, society party planner and floral designer extraordinaire was looking for something a bit more durable that would keep his business on the stable side and launched a series of fragrances in 1996.

 His idea was to make a product that didn't smell artificial and after several years of experimentation, he found Swiss research chemist Roman Kaiser at Givaudan-Roure who had devised a way to replicate natural scents using headspace technology instead of mixing fragrances from essential oils. After several months of flying back and forth to Switzerland, he settled on five fragrances in which he insisted on releasing at once, a rather unconventional marketing decision.





These were Calla Isabell, (slightly spicy), Attar Isabell, (sensuous and smoldering), Savanna Isabell, (a springlike blend of white flowers), Ceylon Isabell, (exotic Southeast Asian blooms), and Mandarin Isabell, (clean and citrusy).

Each blend was a closely guarded secret, containing a high concentration of rare, delicate, exotic floral scents from around the world, with no other notes to dilute the dazzling effect and was done with the same good taste Isabell used in his actual flower arrangements.

He decided to package his perfumes in lab-style bottles of extruded optical glass that he himself has designed. The perfumes were available in two sizes: 1.7 oz and 2.6 oz and ancillary products, a shower gel and body lotion were also added. Soon, candles, which used the essence of flowers in simple, clear glass pillars were added to the fragrance line.

With $15 million dollar advertising with the Albrecht Group, direct mail and inventory, Perfumes Isabell Corp.was born and was placed in the upscale shops: Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue. He then set up a toll free number for direct sales and two years later in the early days of the internet, he launched isabell.com.

Isabell recruited 36 year old Matthew Bronfman (Seagrams heir) to be his CEO, but the partnership had soured. Dallas Haden, an industry veteran was enlisted by Isabell as a fragrance-marketing consultant, was called in to tone down the over the top business plan, and she mentioned that "part of my job was to bring some reality to Robert's goals." "It's a little art, it's a little science, it's a little inspiration," said Merle Gordon, a partner in the company, in reference to names that include Calla, Savanna and Attar.

A huge launch party for the fragrance line was held December 9, 1996 at the Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood, California, and included such guests as actress Molly Ringwald, Loni Anderson, Bond girl Famke Janssen, and supermodel Bridget Hall. On the East Coast however, his fragrances premiered at the art-filled bayfront home of Lee Schrager. In keeping with the flowers featured in the fragrances, each room was decorated in a single floral theme with flickering candles and fizzy champagne was flowing to the delight of the partygoers.

Within a couple years,  Isabell drew back from the company and Haden acquired the brand for herself. A close friend of Isabell, the artist Jennifer Bartlett stated that Robert "really thought it would be a fantastic success, and it was disappointing...but he would never show his disappointment. Robert was not a complainer,"  and he moved onto real estate instead of pursuing his fragrance venture.

Robert Isabell passed away on July 5, 2009.

The Fragrances:



Attar: a spicy oriental floral fragrance for men and women. "Sensuous. The exotic richness of legendary flowers. A mysterious, sophisticated fragrance."
  • Top notes: lemon and ylang ylang
  • Middle notes: cloves, rose, carnation, jasmine
  • Base notes: patchouli, sandalwood, vetiver, frankincense, incense, amber, musk


Calla: a spicy floral fragrance for women. "Spicy flowers in a sheer, creamy veil. A fragrance that is simply beautiful and regal."
  • Top notes; arum lily
  • Middle notes: flowers
  • Base notes:  amber, spices, vanilla


Ceylon: a lush floral fragrance for women. "Exotically beautiful flowers growing around the sacred temples of lush Southeast Asia. A sensuous and utterly modern fragrance."
  • Top notes: exotic fruits
  • Middle notes: white flowers, orange blossom, cannonball tree flowers
  • Base notes: tea, spices, incense, resins


Mandarin: a light green citrus aromatic fragrance for women. "The fresh, clean, magical and natural aura surrounding the mandarin
  • Top notes: amalfi lemon, lime, mandarin orange, tangerine and juniper
  • Middle notes: broom, jasmine, orange blossom, cinnamon leaf, birch leaf, and pomelo
  • Base notes: gurjun balsam, musk and sandalwood


Savanna: a sheer floral fragrance for women. "White flowers of Spring caught in glorious full bloom. A sheer, feminine, honest fragrance."
  • Top notes:
  • Middle notes: white flowers
  • Base notes:

Fate of the Fragrances:


I believe these were discontinued after 2002.

In 1997, a limited edition votive candle, Lemon Honeysuckle, was created for Bloomingdales. Other candles were added to the Perfumes Isabell line: Nightbloom, Flowering Lemon, White Gingerlily Frangipani, and Green Elysium.



In 1999, a new fragrance, Paperwhites was released with its candle and Shimmering Bath Lights. Described as "lush white flowers blooming along sun-swept hills of the Mediterranean." It is classified as a fresh floral fragrance created by Robert Isabell. Presented in a bottle designed by Takaai Matusmoto.

  • Top notes: lemon, pomelo, mandarin, lime
  • Middle notes: orange blossom, cinnamon leaf, birch leaf, juniper berry, jasmine
  • Base notes: gurjum balsam, sandalwood and musk 

By 2000, other candles in a new line called Fresh Cuttings were offered, these include:

  • Hedgeblooms, the clean energizing flavor of tender flowerlets, leaves and stems
  • Sunblooms, the scent of a perfectly cloudless, golden ripe midsummer afternoon
  • Sky Blooms, which creates a powder-soft sheer atmosphere
  • Passion Blossoms, exuding a sensuous, spice-laden darker-than-wine aroma
  • Party Blooms, the aroma of a midsummer garden
  • Blush Blooms, a uniquely sweet, feminine and delicate floral aroma
  • Night Blooms, a seductive, steady lingering fragrance that conjuring up mysterious Night-blooming flowers, will gradually ignite the senses created for a couples bedroom retreat






2 comments:

  1. The White Gingerlily Frangipani candle was the best candle I have ever found. I wish it would be made again or I could find something similar.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Couldn't agree with you more. I still search online from time to time hoping something will pop up! But none so far ...

    ReplyDelete

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