Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Shocking by Schiaparelli c1936

Shocking by Schiaparelli: created by Jean Carles and launched in 1936 in France and 1937 in the USA. It was named after a particular shade of hot pink that she named, "Shocking Pink", which was also used by designer Paul Poiret, her mentor.

In the 1943 book This is Fashion, author Elizabeth Burris-Meyer explains "1936 — Schiaparelli introduced a member of the magenta family as Parlor Pink; later famous (1938) as Shocking Pink with only a slightly less blue cast to it."

Shocking is one of those intense classic perfumes that never seem to lose their luster. Truly a gem in the world of perfumes, it still manages to inspire sensuality and confidence in the woman who wears it well.

Fragrance Composition:

So what does it smell like? The perfume is classified as a woody oriental fragrance for women. It starts off with an aldehydic, flowery top, followed by a sweet, honey accented floral hart, layered over a sensual, warm, animalic base.
  • Top notes: aldehydes, bergamot, estragon, raspberry
  • Middle notes: honey, oriental rose, jasmine, carnation, ylang ylang, narcissus
  • Base notes: patchouli, vetiver, oakmoss, vanilla, musk, amber, cloves, civet

Shocking is a perfume that I could never wear, it always seemed too grown up for me, but now at age 36, I am fully understanding the beauty of this audacious scent. I have some vintage parfum that a reader sent to me several years ago - gratis, along with some other older perfumes, like Salut de Schiaparelli, Fougere Royale by Houbigant, Dawamesk and Mitsouko by Guerlain.

When I applied the parfum, its initial blast of aldehydes make me scrunch up my nose, as the top notes have soured over the years, then it settles down into a heady, woody, spicy, dirty civet laden, honey dripped roses dream. I can't stop sniffing my arm. The incense like drydown reminds me of vintage Toujours Moi parfum.


While working for Elsa Schiaparelli Leonor Fini designed the flacon for the parfum, "Shocking," which was based on Mae West's dressmaker dummy. This bottle came in four sizes, from 4 3/4" tall down to a 1 3/4" miniature size.

The 1/3 oz bottle that came in a leather travel pouch dates to after 1948.

The bottles were fitted with Czechoslovakian glass flowers which were wrapped around the neck of the bottle. A faux tape measure with the words Shocking and Schiaparelli were glued on as the perfume's label. The resulting bottle was housed in an elegant glass domed case. These domed cases for perfume were also seen for Yesteryear by Bab's Creations (1939) and It's You by Elizabeth Arden (1938). Clearly inspired by the book and film, Gone With The Wind.

The Stage, 1938:
"Schiaparelli is launching a Shocking cologne, in the dressmaker's- dummy bottle."

The New Yorker, 1939:
"Schiaparelli : Shocking, its bottle shaped like a dress form, tricked out with flowers, and sheltered by a glass bell, is still the ideal of glamour girls ... Set to Music consists of four bottles which revolve slowly through the doors of a little house while a music box plays; $10."

The Galveston Daily News, 1947:
"Schiaparelli's famous scent . ....Shocking. Schiaparelli's Dusting Powder 3.75, Schiaparelli's Shocking Cologne 5.00, Schiaparelli's Shocking Sachets 3.50."

The New Yorker, 1948:
"A small bottle (a third of an ounce) of  Schiaparelli's Shocking perfume now comes in a leather traveling case. $13.20."

Clear glass bottle with glass stopper in the shape of a cube. Leather travel case dates this to after 1948. Label reads SHOCKING DE SCHIAPARELLI 21 Place Vendome-Paris. Photo from worthopedia

Photo by Perfume Bottles Auction

Photo from worthopedia

For Christmas 1951 and 1952, Shocking could be purchased in a gold color metal flacon studded with simulated rubies. It came in a protective case of blue calfskin. Screw Top, 2 1/2" tall. 

c1948 Shock-in-a-Box jack in the box presentation.

c1940 Schiaparelli's Shocking Love Birds perched in a gilded cage with tiny flowers strewn about. The two bottles hold 1 dram each of intriguing Shocking perfume. 

c1940 Straight from France comes this Alpine chalet with four dram-size, dressmaker model-shaped bottles of Schiaparelli's Shocking perfume peeping from its double doors. Touch a spring at the back and the chalet becomes a music box.

c1947 A pink heart decorated box lined with tufted satin, holds 3 miniature bottles of such well known perfume favorites as "Shocking", "Sleeping", and "Salut".

c1948 A dual gift of Valentine significance is Schiaparelli's Two Shocking a heart-shaped cake of soap plus a small bottle of Shocking perfume. This fragrant pair is ribbon-trimmed and attractively packed in a gift box at $5 at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Shocking spawned many matching products from soaps, dusting powders, lotion, rouge, lipstick and various types of perfumes from parfum extrait to cologne to eau de toilette. All items were packaged in the familiar shocking pink carttonage, sometimes trimmed with printed lace for a totally romantic feel. The happy intermingling of red, gold and white attracts the eye of the roving shopper to Schiaparelli's Shocking scented lipstick, rough- and face-powder containers. The c1950 So Sweet makeup line was scented with Shocking.

Vivacious' lipstick from the Shocking perfume line. 

Other items were for the boudoir, a shocking pink satin and black lace panty shaped pouch for nylons, another pretty item is a pink and white lace printed satin lingerie case. More whimsical items like a pink and black lace printed box contained four decks of cards. Adorable heart shaped lockets containing solid perfume were decorated with lattice studded with hot pink rhinestones, these lockets were attached to key chains and necklaces.

In 1964. Shocking was presented in Eau de Parfum Mist, a 3 oz aerosol perfume.

Shocking was reformulated by perfumer Martin Gras,and repackaged in 1979 by Schiaparelli-Pikenz. Up until then, the torso parfum bottles displayed the crisscrossed dressmaker tapes with a round golden seal with a S. On the 1979 onward bottles, shocking pink velvet replaced the dressmaker's tape measures and were covered by a small pink heart with a stylized S in the center.

In 1997, it was reformulated by Martin Gras of Dragoco and relaunched again in new packaging (shown below) in 1997 by Schiaparelli-Pikenz. As you can see, these are spray bottles of eau de parfum. Notice the heart shape is angled higher on one side.

Zut was also reformulated and relaunched in 1997 as you can see from this advertisement.

In 2008, Shocking was relaunched in its original formulation by the Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie at Urban Retreat at Harrods, London. Notice the bottle design looks like the original 1936 version.

"Composed of over 500 ingredients, the original floral has been re-launched in a limited edition Baccarat numbered crystal bottle, the shape of which is based on the curvaceous torso of Mae West."

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