This website is an extension of a guide I had originally created on my perfume history site Cleopatra's Boudoir. Think of this site as an online museum for perfumery. On this site, I will fully discuss the history of the perfumes presented by Rosine, the perfumery company launched by the Parisian couturier, the magnificent Paul Poiret. He has the express distinction of being the first fashion designer to establish a perfume company.

Note: All black and white photos have been enhanced and colorized by me, they may not be accurate, but I think it makes them a little more interesting.

Poiret's father was a tailor who apprenticed him to an umbrella-maker. During his leisure, Poiret, for fun, began designing dresses. His talent was soon noticed and his sketches were soon snapped up by great establishments on the Rue de la Paix. Poiret worked as a designer at Doucet from 1897 to 1900 before joining Worth.

Paul Poiret opened his own fashion house, on the rue Pasquier, in 1904. Paul Poiret's shop was moved to the Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré and Jacques Doucet's was on the Rue de la Paix. 7, near Charles Worth's salon.

When Poiret's own time came, he left the famous thoroughfare and took a quiet old, abandoned mansion formerly used by the pages of Louis XVI, in the Chaussee d'Antin (now the Avenue Franklin-Roosevelt). He and architect Louis Sue renovated the home within three months and filled it with period furniture and in this atmosphere, were born the styles which had given such vogue to Poiret. He sunk the gardens at the foot of the famous seventeen-metre flight of steps, at the top of these steps, he placed two delicate, leaping bronze does, copied from the couple at the Naples museum of antiquities. The mansion had been the scene of many entertainments at which prominent Americans and European notables were guests. 

Poiret first came to the attention of the haute monde by reconceiving the female silhouette: he refused to imprison his mannequins in the old fashioned constrictive S-bend corsets that left them breathless and misshapen, with the bust and posterior pushed out. It was his opinion that this S-shaped silhouette "made the lady look as if she were hauling a trailer." Instead he made them have a more streamlined silhouette and bound them with gathered fabric around their ankles, creating what would be known as "hobble skirts", forcing them to take mincing steps. In contrast to his fellow couturiers, loosely draped fabrics, sumptuous embellishments, jeweled hues, daring harem pants and exotic textiles were his forte. 

Paul Poiret shop c1904.

Poiret married Denise Boulet on October 4, 1905 at the Church of the Madeleine. Denise was the daughter of the clothier Emmanuel Boulet, who happened to be the owner of a textile factory in Elbeuf. Denise served not only as a partner in Poiret's fashion empire, but also as his muse.

Paul Poiret eventually branched out from fashion and created three divisions of his company: Atelier Martine, named after his youngest daughter, which specialized in the decorative arts and furnishings, Les Parfums de Rosine, named after his eldest daughter, and Atelier Colin, named after his son, which was an art studio. 

Poiret initiated the idea of couturier fragrance in 1910, while in conference with the perfumer Henri Almeras. Almeras worked for a short time at the Chiris factory with Ernest Beaux (former perfumer at Rallet and Chanel, best known as the developer of Chanel N°5), Vincent Roubert  (chief perfumer at Coty) and Henri Robert (chief perfumer at Chanel). Almeras later went on to be the chief perfumer for Jean Patou and the composer for the legendary, but now discontinued fragrance, Joy.

During their meeting, Poiret and Almeras discussed the synthesis of natural plant extracts, of which, to date, had only been employed in the form of base essences. These included orange blossom, rose, jasmine, iris and violet, etc. Spurred on by the conversation, this led him to study the possibilities offered by new synthetic extracts such as methyl ionone, a synthetic violet essence. Later, Poiret and Almeras worked mainly with prefabricated bases from the Fabrique de Laire. Additional notes would be built around these complex base accords in order to compose a complete perfume. De Laire provided the aromachemicals of Amber 83, Prunol, Bouvardia, and the famous Mousse de Saxe (oakmoss) found in most chypre formulas. Other de Laire specialties were their contributions to synthetic essences: hydroxycitronnellal, vanillin, and heliotropine. Perfumer Guy Robert mentioned that Henri Alméras relied on Givaudan's Marius Reboul and Chuit Naef's Maurice Chevron, who at the time, besides de Laire, were some of the biggest suppliers of raw materials and bases.

In 1911, Poiret approached his college friend, Dr. Midy, a chemist, who happened to own a pharmaceutical laboratory located at 113 Faubourg-St Honore Street in Paris. Laboratoires Midy was founded in 1718 by a family of pharmacists. Dr. Midy was the creator of the Cocaine Midy pastilles, and the famous essential oil Santal Midy, distilled from the Citrine Santal of Bombay (Mysore sandalwood). Due to their relationship, I have no doubt that Poiret employed the Santal Midy oil as a foundation for his compositions.

Dr. Midy collaborated with him on the orchestration of various perfume formulas. In addition to synthetic formulas, Poiret was interested in the conventional extraction of odors derived from rare flowers, grasses, leaves, succulent fruits, pungent woods like cedar and pine and even unusual exotic scents such as coffee. 

His first experiment was so encouraging that he soon set up his own laboratory in the mews (a row of apartments that have been converted from old stables) of his house. This helped keep the strong perfume aromas from permeating the main house as well as affording him some privacy in which to conduct his experiments. It was in these rooms that Poiret set aside in his late 18th century mansion at 39 rue Colisée for his experimentation in the creation of Rosine perfumes. Poiret's sumptuous mansion was torn down and a new building was constructed in its place by the architect Charles Bonnal in 1920.

At first, Paul Poiret used to blend scents for his own use as a relaxing diversion, some were used for his own person, but not long after, he aroused interest and his friends began to inquire if they could purchase his fascinating results.

Some fragrances were sprayed in the fashion salons to refresh the stuffy air from poor ventilation, this led to his salon customers asking him to create scents for them as well. It seemed that all of his friends and customers wanted bespoke perfumes, rather than partake all of the costs involved with making the fragrances himself, the designer took the leap and industrialized his concept and a small perfumery case was installed in the salon holding a few fragrances. This proved to be very successful, which resulted in him expanding his perfumery line by opening a small shop in 1911. 

Les Parfums de Rosine, was located to the left of the entrance of the 107 Faubourg Saint-Honore building which housed the Atelier Martine studio. As I had mentioned earlier, the company was named after Poiret's eldest daughter, Rosine. In addition to fragrances, Les Parfums de Rosine sold toiletries and cosmetics as fitting accessories for his avant-garde fashions. Poiret felt that his fragrances should be worn to complement his fashions, just as jewelry or accessories would. If one could not afford to indulge himself in Poiret's costly couture fashions, he could certainly afford a fragrance creation instead. 

Rosine perfume lab

Poiret believed that the success of the fragrances should be as great as his fashions, so he spared no expense in the creation of its packaging and subsequent promotion. Many artists and illustrators worked for Rosine creating magazine advertisements, hand fans, posters, leaflets, perfume cards, packaging and label ideas. Poiret opened a glassworks and a cardboard factory at 37 Boulevard Verdun in Courbevoie, for the production of bottles and packaging, where he installed thirty to forty staff in these new premises. 

Before 1914, he employed some 300 people working in various spaces in the buildings in the compound. The working hours were from 8am until 7pm, and the factory workers are served a luncheon and wine each day. Both men and women worked in the laboratories. However, women were employed to fill bottles by hand, and their nimble fingers tied baudruchage cords around the neck and stoppers to seal them. In the factory, you would find groups of women gathered around tables focused on specific tasks, much like an assembly line. One table filled bottles, another performed baudruchage, another applied paper labels, and another boxed up the bottles and wrapped the packages in decorative papers.  

By 1919, the production at the Courbevoie factory had filled an average of 200,000 bottles each month. The exotic fragrances were not only destined domestically for the Rosine shop and other high end shops in France, but also to the foreign shores of America and England to fill the shelves of luxe department stores. Before Rosine had a opened a retail store in 1928 at 29 W. 37th Street, New York City, the perfumes were distributed by Rosine's sole agent in the USA, Maurice Levy. WH Calman & Co were the sole agents for Rosine in Britain. 

In 1922, Poiret visited the United States and met with Levy at his office at 120 West 41st Street, New York City. Poiret told the Cosmetics & Toiletries Journal that he was trying to work along new lines and employed novel aromatic products that gave a new note to his perfumes.

Revue des marques de la parfumerie et de la savonnerie,1927:
"The perfume factory erected under the pretty name of Rosine already has fifteen springs [years since opening]. The robust youth places it in the number of the best reputed Parisian Perfumeries. Created by Mr. Paul Poiret, it became in 1925 - (and this to respond to the industrial and commercial development required by the reception given to its products) - an independent company to which Mr. Paul Poiret continues to bring the learned taste and refinement of an artist. Each of his productions has been a new success. Yes, no one knows Nuit de Chine Toute la Foret, Qui Est Tu?, Avenue du Bois, Hahna (the Secret Flower), Arlequinade, Maharadjah, etc. These perfumes, presented in an original and luxurious way, constitute the whole range of a new and unexpected taste, perfectly developed. No woman today is insensitive to Parfums de Rosine."

In addition to perfumes, cosmetics such as daring eyeliner, lip rouge, face powders and nail polish were offered. The face creams appear to have been housed inside colorful galalith pots. Face powders were put up in cardboard boxes covered with Poiret's fancy textiles. Antique Rosine catalogs have shown lesser known products that prove to be very rare to find today such as soaps, powders, hair lotions, and the skincare creams, and talcum powders. Also travel-sized items including perfumed sachets in the scents of Nuit de Chine, Borgia and Toute la Foret

Like French perfumery Molinard had done with their famous Habanita scent - Rosine offered perfumed cigarettes and the ampoules of the exotic scents of Borgia, Le Balcon, Hahna, Maharadjah, Nuit de Chine so that one could perfume their own cigarettes.

Paul Poiret in his perfume factory c1920s. Image:

Paul Poiret in his perfume factory c1920s.

Originally a representative for perfumery glassware, Maurice Schaller was invited to run Paul Poiret's perfume department. Schaller then took a keen interest in perfume technology and helped create some of Poiret's perfumes such as Nuit de Chine. Schaller and Poiret's father-in-law, Emmanuel Boulet, both continued working with him until the start of World War I. AfterwardsSchaller went on to create other successful perfumes for companies such as Revillon for whom he composed the classic fragrance, Carnet de Bal. After the war, Poiret collaborated with talented perfumers such as Henri Almeras, the creator of Jean Patou's famous perfume, Joy.

The Rosine perfumes evoked the exotic with names such as Le Fruit Defendu (The Forbidden Fruit), Borgia, Nuit de Chine (Night in China), Hahna, Le Balcon, and Sakyamouni. Nuit de Chine, as we learned earlier, was created by Maurice Schaller and originally called Nuit d'Orient.

Poiret was a lover of 18th century fabrics and collected whatever scraps he could find. He then used many of these in the covering of his perfume and powder boxes. Once these were used up, he would have block printed cotton fabric or printed paper made in imitation of the original antique fabrics. It was the designers at the Atelier Colin workshop who silk screened the paper and cloth which covered the luxurious presentation boxes for Les Parfums Rosine. The packaging of the perfumes and cosmetics resembled the look and materials of his fashions, with great emphasis on vivid colors, opulent textures and harlequin and Oriental lampshade patterns as seen in the fabric covered powder boxes below.  Chinese Peking glass beads were used to accent the lavish tassels on the powder boxes.

The perfume bottles for Rosine were produced by celebrated French glass manufacturers Depinoix and Lefebure. And it was the students at Atelier Martine who carefully hand painted fragile glass bottles, especially those for the Rosine Eau de Colognes and the atomizers in vibrant colors. Looking at the three examples below, we can see the variety of patterns and colors used.

The bottles, some of the most beautiful, were very costly such as the luxurious black glass flacon for Borgia. Presented in a unique black crystal bottle with real gold dust in the glass, called "floating gold". Deluxe flacons were manufactured in France by Depinoix. These type of flacons were also used for other companies such as Lentheric.

Looking at the photo below, you can see all the different styles, shapes, colors and decorative motifs used for the Rosine perfumes. Some have black glass stoppers, some have red, some have gilded and some have metal. Three are dressed up with jaunty tassels, while others have gold enamel applied or ornate patterns molded into them.

Poiret tells a story in his autobiography that indicates that Francois Coty offered to buy his perfumes. 
"I was with Rousseau [the chief bookkeeper] in my office, when one morning I saw arrive M. Coty, small and mild mannered, laced into a pale grey suit, with a little straw hat on his head. I didn't know him. A song of my youth came to my lips...he was a little man/All dressed in grey/Hey, hey... 
He seated himself with assurance in an armchair and made me the following declaration: 
"I have come to buy your perfumery business." 
"But", I told him, "it is not for sale." 
"If you continue as you are doing", he answered, "you will take fifteen years before you reach any great importance. If you come with me, you will profit from my management, and in two years you will be worth as much as I am." 
"Quite so, but in two years, my business will be yours, while in the contrary case, in fifteen years it would still be my own property."  
"You understand nothing about business, Monsieur", he replied, rising brusquely, and squashing his boater on his little head, he departed raging. Silently we watched him go; M. Coty had the dimensions of Bonaparte."

American Cloak and Suit Review, Volume 7, 1914:
PAUL POIRET MAKES SOME CORRECTIONS. Paul Poiret of Paris, writing in Harper's Bazaar, has the following comment to make: "The articles written about my trip to America have been shown to me now, upon my return to Paris, and I am quite aghast at what I am supposed to have said. Happily for me, I hope that the public will judge by my work and not by my words, for the latter have, in most cases, been singularly distorted. The only statement in all these articles which I wish to repeat again and again, is that all styles are admissible, provided they suit the women who wear them.  
Eclectisme is my watchword. But I never said that trousers or trouserettes should be generally adopted. I never said that slit skirts were the correct skirts to wear. I never said that women should dress in loud colors. I never advocated the use of heavy perfumes. I never said that small hats were more attractive than large ones. Those who understood me to make such statements mistook my meaning entirely. I said that a woman should wear whatever is becoming to her, and nothing that is not becoming. That is my first last and only principle."



Notions and Fancy Goods, Volume 50, 1916:
"Paul Poiret, perhaps best known to American as the premiere couturier, is also a maker of high grade perfumes, and during the past two years has worked his way up amongst the world’s leading perfumers. Some of his productions, which owing to the high cost of their ingredients are somewhat expensive, have nevertheless proven  [to be] a success wherever shown, particularly the perfume known as Nuit de Chine. This is put up in a replica of an antique Chinese bottle with a blue stopper set in a gold neck and two side handles of blue, enclosed in a gold lined box of gold and deep blue Chinese brocade. This, however, gives but a faint idea of the attractiveness of this package.
The cut herewith illustrates as well as can be done in black and white one of his newest productions. The beauty of the coloring of both the bottle containing the perfume and the box must be seen to be appreciated.
 One of his specialties which is not shown here, consists of two long cut crystal bottles with square necks and caps, joined together and put in a box of gold and silver canvas paper. It is called Madame et Monsieur. The label on the box is a very clever sketch in silhouette of a gentleman and lady, both having evidently reached the age of contentment and happiness. The two bottles are filled with perfume, one being light to match the silver covering, the other being of an amber tint, matching the gold. The label on the perfume called Madame is a little square of silver with a gloved hand holding a single rose, and that of the perfume called Monsieur consists of the same square, but in gold, and with a gentleman’s gloved hand holding a cigarette. As before stated, both bottles are connected; if you remove one from the package, you must remove the other. This is a very clever idea for an engagement or a wedding present, and gives a slight conception of the very original ideas evolved by this very clever man.
This very interesting line is put out under the name of Les Parfums de Rosine, Poiret not putting his own name on as the manufacturer, but simply a small label on the bottom which states “Les Parfums de Rosine, Sont Approuves Par Paul Poiret.”

Theatre Magazine, 1922:
You all know Paul Poiret as the great designer, the great artist in costume. But we wonder how many of you know him as a master creator of perfumes as well. Yet he is as incomparable in this métier as he is in that of frocks and their by-products. M. Poiret has created marvelous scents, odors to enhance the charm of women. 
He has captured them from plants, from trees, from fruits, from sources which until his originations, were supposed incapable of being transmuted in this fashion. And the results have been a series of perfumes with a subtle quality, a fascinating novelty and modernness hitherto unknown.  
We interviewed M. Poiret at the Ritz the day before he sailed nine thirty of a wild and stormy September morn. And already at that brisk hour, we were third on a list. M. Poiret had been seeing people since eight o'clock. Let no one tell you the artist is an unbusinesslike person, impractical diffuse in talk, unpunctual to engagements. In many instances, we have found him more businesslike and efficient than even the so-called professional business man. That is at least, the big artists.  
Our interview with M. Poiret for example, was as smooth, as suave, as utterly time-saving, as the best efficiency expert could wish. It flowed in a beautiful curve from the moment when M. Poiret opened the door of his suite for us himself, swankily clad in brown and scarlet cravat, to the end of the half hour when the door closed on us again, the exact measure of gracious courtesy from M. Poiret that the occasion demanded not a superfluous phrase in the telling of his story. Here it is as he gave it in his fluent and excellent English, delightfully tinged with French idiom and accent.  
"To begin with," said M. Poiret, "I have had a very definite purpose as parfumeur... I have tried to create a new aesthetique with my perfumes, as with my clothes, to teach a new way of perceiving odors and scents in general, a new technique in smelling. It occurred to me when I was in the country, and I sleep on the grass, and I smell the verdure, the foliage around me, why is it that people always make perfumes from flowers?... Why not from these things as well? Surely, they are as stirring, as thrilling... these scents of the damp earth, and the leaves, the pine trees, the salt marshes, as those of flowers...much more so to some of us. So I make a perfume from the grass...You know how fragrant it is when you crush it in your hands...And from the boxwood.... And from the ivy... And from the moss... I have made a perfume even from the plants that grow deep in the sea... They have a sharp a bitter smell... how you say amer? Yes, pungent. And when I do use a flower, I take an unusual one like geranium, for instance. "I have made a very wonderful perfume from ivy leaves and geranium leaves combined. I will show you I have some on my dresser."  
M. Poiret makes a swift dart into another room and returns with a small, round bottle with dark, ivy colored stopper. "Mea Culpa is its name." We are urged to put some on the fur collar of our coat, where we are assured it will linger a long time. A French trick evidently, this mingling perfume and fur. We remember it was the manner in which Vorska perfumed us with the divine Sarah's favorite odor... Which reminds us to ask M. Poiret whether he believes in one perfume for a woman, that is always to be identified with her, that lies in the scent of her glove, her handkerchief, that lingers in a room after she has left it... But no, he agrees with us that we are more complex nowadays... A woman needs many scents... But she must choose only those that reveal herself... 
"Some days she is good tempered", twinkled M. Poiret, "and some days she is bad tempered," modifying this momentary lack in French gallantry, with one of the two smiles he permitted himself during the half hour... "So that she must have scents for each mood... and she should have the same diversity for each costume...Just as you say, Madame... But these scents, whether they are six or twelve, all will be in the same tone the same key...They must harmonize with her personality." 
And did M. Poiret believe in any scent for men? We know the Latin thinks differently from our men about that.. The usual American feels that he is not a 100 percent, red-blooded male if he uses any scent, except possibly a touch of eau de cologne, or lavender water after shaving... But why should he not, if he likes perfumes, why should he not wish to use them. 
"There is no reason at all," answers M. Poiret quickly. "But my perfumes are best of all for him, because they are not from flowers, they have a tang...what you call over here 'pep'.. they mingle well with tobacco.. With some of my bottles I have a glass stopper, and with that, one may perfume one's cigarettes. We cannot buy them already perfumed in Paris, since the government owns the tobacco, and we must buy the kind of cigarettes he makes himself.

"I start in making perfumes first as an amateur, for my own amusement and pleasure.. I make them in my own house... And then my friends like them so much they ask me to make some for them... And then I make so many I must ask people to pay... And finally I take up the making of perfumes seriously and now I have my own factory I am happy to see so many of my perfumes in the stores here, too... I have a perfume that is made from old leaves, that rich, damp smell of the woods in autumn...There is one made only of fruits...' Forbidden Fruit' I call it...
"Just before I leave Paris, I have made a perfume which I shall call 'Bosquet d'Apollon'. It represents Versailles... all the foliage, the verdure there, after a rain, the scent that comes from the grass and the leaves as you crush them underfoot in walking... It will be ready in a few weeks... I like always that my scents become well known before they are actually ready to be sold. A perfume to be right must stand, be matured in the wood some time, like wine, like a true liqueur..."  
There we found our time was up. And so fascinated had we been by M. Poiret's descriptions, we rushed forth to a round of the various 'beauty counters' to discover who kept the Poiret perfumes, and what were their various names and odors. Succumbing to their lure, we bought two wicked ones for ourself, and three others for Christmas presents. 

La parfumerie française et l'art dans la présentation, 1927:
"Is there a prettier name than Rosine? And didn't the fairy who watched over her birth predestined this child to be the queen of perfumes, since her name was derived from the Rose, queen of flowers. So judged his parents. After realizing, and with what success! The symphony of colors in the charming drapes which today model the half-naked of women, the unparalleled artist that is Paul Poiret, did he not take it into his head to create from scratch, a perfumery factory which was good to him. What name to give it? By blue, that of his daughter. So much so that one would almost suspect that he designed this one for that one at the same time. Perfumes, colors and tones respond to each other, he says in the preface to his catalog, which is itself a marvel. He seems to have intuitively understood the language of flowers, and it is apparently for you, ladies, that he has enclosed questions and answers in these menus, bottles which each constitute an object of art in deep, intimate and complete harmony. with the scent they contain. 
Reading the catalog is a poem. Each perfume name is an evocation of dreams. "Le Minaret" transports us to the land of harems. To smell this perfume so well veiled in its Turkish case, one feels seized by the torpor of the beautiful sultanas, stretched out languorously in the middle of the cushions on the large sofa which calls for caresses. With "Toute la Foret," we are surrounded by greenery. A smell of wet earth, mushrooms, ferns, envelops us. The Fauns pursue the Nymphs. Take care. "La Nuit de Chine" poses a troubling and topical problem. Wait for the response. "Borgia", evokes the scenes of the Grand Guignol, murders and bloodthirsty passions, which are still imbued with the scents of Venice, by the starry nights. "Le Fruit Defendu," this title alone is enough for all women to want it. It is eminently psychological and of all times. But what smell can it have? Try. Why name them all? Whether it's "Hahna, l'Etrange Fleur" or "Bosquet d'Apollon," of "Antinea" or "Arlequinade", you can be certain, ladies, that the exquisite aromas, the most fragrant flowers, the most delicate balms have been brought together to provide you with the most pleasant of sensations, the annihilation of your senses, in a delicious dream. Here are some views of the Rosine factories, fitted with all the modern refinements."

Paul Poiret's Fashion Salon:

He had his salons and boutiques renovated with a more modern aesthetic. For instance, Poiret commissioned Edgar Brandt, the premier Art Deco ironworker, to design the distinctive bronze grillwork doors and interior staircase shown in the photo above, for his atelier at 1 Champs-Elysées Round Point, 1925.

Paul Poiret's studio.1925

Paul Poiret's studio.1925

Paul Poiret, Paris, October 1925 surrounded by luxurious textiles in his salon. © Lipnitzki / Roger-Viollet. Paris En Images.

Poiret’s coat-kimono. Paris, 1922. © Lipnitzki / Roger-Viollet. Paris En Images.

Poiret dress, 1925. © Lipnitzki / Roger-Viollet. Paris En Images.

Atelier Martine:

Display window at Atelier Martine c1925.

Paul Poiret, Maison Martine. Les salons du 83 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris. / Collections Roger-Viollet / BHVP

Les Parfums de Rosine Boutique:

Display windows for Parfums de Rosine. 1925 © Lipnitzki/Roger-Viollet

Entrance to the Rosine perfumery 1925 © Lipnitzki/Roger-Viollet

Entrance to the Rosine perfumery 1925 © Lipnitzki/Roger-Viollet

In 1925, Poiret installed a black and white marble "perfume bar" in the Rosine shop for his customers to try out the fragrances. The top of the bar was lined with numerous Atelier Martine painted glass atomizers filled with all the Rosine scents. Two simulated folding chairs were placed in front of the bar for madame to perch upon whilst testing the tantalizing aromas. A long mirror was positioned on the back wall and an attendant placed behind the bar would help customers. I imagine that behind the bar boxes of sealed Rosine perfumes were stacked up and presented to the customers when they made their choices. On a nearby shelf, a Rosine perfume burner can be seen plugged in and no doubt emitting whiffs of perfumed air into the salon. I have colorized the black and white photo below, the colors may not be accurate for the period.


Inside the Rosine perfumery 1925 © Lipnitzki/Roger-Viollet. To the right is the black and white marble "perfume bar" and its seats placed behind the bar.

Inside the Rosine perfumery 1925 © Lipnitzki/Roger-Viollet

Great Falls Tribune, 1925:
"Lilac, Poiret grants the most refined odor; chypre the odor one associates with the cafe girl. Flowers from the forest one allotted to the wholesome, vital femme who fills her lungs on foot, not in motors. The heavy oriental perfumes are to be used only by the girl with a dash of the orient in her dress and in her eyes. 
For the light blonde, flat, delicate odors are suggested, such as jasmine, lily of the valley; for the gray haired woman, he prescribes lilac or violet; for the brunette, a combination of rose, carnation, with a touch of chypre; for the sophisticated red head, a lighter odor for the more delicate Titian haired, perhaps a combination of jasmine, tuberose and mignonette. Rose, he tells me, is not for the blonde."

Poiret required ever increasing funds in order to sustain the lavish lifestyle which formed the necessary context for presenting and promoting his businesses which were becoming out of step with the modern times of the Art Deco movement. His orientalist fashions and fragrances were soon seen as old fashioned and dowdy, while designers such as Coco Chanel & Jean Patou kept up with the changing times with their streamlined and minimalist fashions influencing new trends such as beige suits, short skirts, little black cocktail dresses and sports clothes for women. 

In turn, Chanel and Patou's fragrances were up to date and used sporty and lighter formulas made with newly orchestrated ingredients such as sparkling aldehydes while Poiret's fragrances still were heavy and too far eastern in style. To keep manufacturing costs down, Chanel and Patou used simple, standard bottles to hold all their odors in contrast to Poiret's fanciful but ultimately expensive flasks. Sales were slumping in all directions and he found it hard to keep his businesses afloat. Poiret himself recounted the disdain of his investors: "What is the good of all this useless caprice?...Your flask and your new ideas, we don't want them, they cost too much!"

The perfume Coeur en Folie was introduced at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris. It had an unusual bottle shape, a red glass heart, with little frosted glass wings for the stopper. Poiret tried to keep Les Parfums Rosine in the public's eye and launched advertising campaigns and new perfumes to keep the interest such as Coeur en Folie and 1925


The death knell for the business was an extravagant stunt he put on for the Arts Decoratifs Exposition held in Paris in 1925. He organized three magnificently decorated barges.....

Poiret lost all financial control in 1925, soon after the Art Deco Expo. In December of 1925, he was desperate to make some money and decided to sell some of his modern art collection including a landscape by Dunoyer de Segonzac which he originally purchased for 900 francs in 1912. It proved to be a wise investment because Poiret was able to get 95,000 for the same picture at his sale. The sale lasted for a few days and attracted many wealthy Parisians, actresses, politicians and even some agents for American collectors. His sale of modern paintings brought a record total of 580,000 francs.

In 1927, Poiret transferred his entire establishment: dressmaking,  interior the decoration (Martine) and the perfumes (Rosine), from the beautiful hotel in the Faubourg Saint-Honore for which he had occupied for many years to 1, Rond-Point des Champs-Elysees.

He set up the Rosine perfumes at his palatial house at Rond-Point as if in a bar, overlooking the famous circular vestibule, where on the ceiling, surrounded by the painted signs of the zodiac that indicated the stars at the moment of his birth, there reigned a classic nude figure of a woman.

In 1928, he and Denise went through an incredibly bitter divorce. Poiret reportedly told their children's governess, "Make sure to tell madame to take anything she wishes." Roger Bloch, a financier and friend of Paul Poiret, helped him raise a loan and eventually helped him sell Atelier Martine, his decoration arts studio and his perfumery concern, Parfums de Rosine.
In 1929, his fashion empire folded as his Parisian clientele diminished. He had put up his extensive collection of modern art to help alleviate his crushing debts which seemed endless, but it was not enough to satisfy his creditors and investors. 

Les Parfums de Rosine was acquired by Societe Centrale de la Parfumerie Francaise (SCPF) in 1930 ,established by Armand Schul in 1910; he had bought Oriza L LeGrand. Les Parfums de Rosine was now managed by Madame Nevarte Cordero.

Rosine perfumes still sold were Arlequin, Maharadjah, Aladin, Borgia, Nuit de Chine, Chez Poiret, Coraline de Rosine, La Rose de Rosine, Le Balcon, Hahna, Mea Culpa, Le Bosquet d'Apollon, Le Fruit Defendu, Antinea, Toute la Foret, Pierrot, Mouchoir de Rosine, and La Coupe d'Or.

In 1930 he sold his luxurious villa in Mézy, designed by modernist French architect Robert Mallet-Stevens to the Countess of Foy, Elvire Popesco. The uncompleted project of renovation and design was so expensive that Poiret had never even lived in the main house, instead, he was staying in the caretaker's cottage. Unable to afford his palatial town house, he sold most of the furniture and paintings and moved into an apartment above the Salle Pleyel. 

In 1932, he received notice that his fashion salon on Rond Point was entered into bankruptcy. All of his sketches, fabrics, business files, personal correspondence notes, illustrated volumes he collected from around the world, even a manuscript of a play, a portrait of the Poirets painted by Benito, and above all, his sumptuous clothes were sold in bulk by the pound to the ragpickers.

To support himself after a short hiatus, in 1933, he produced ready to wear collections for the Liberty's of London shop and Paris's own Printemps department store. But this too seemed to implode as his fashions were still not up to date enough for the shop clientele. He was finally evicted from the salon on 21st August 1935 due to significant losses due to the Great Depression. Faced with extreme poverty and living on an unemployed "artists" dole of 10 francs twice a week, he frequented soup kitchens and received dry bread, soup and watery wine at the cost of 3 francs.

In 1936, he was living in a cheap apartment, seven stories up at No. 252, Faubourg-Saint-Honore. Living in a cluttered room somewhat akin to Miss Havisham's boudoir, he was surrounded by the luxuries of his once extravagant past. His exquisite tapestries, now moth eaten, his divans sagging and losing their shape, piled high with faded cushions, his objets d'art now covered in dust, the once sparkling mirrors now darkened with age, paintings draped with diaphanous cobwebs, stacks of papers now littered with the traces of mice and their nibbles. 

He ultimately resorted to bartending at his friend Regine's elegant bar to support his family. Regine, who was once one of his former models, took pity on her old employer and hired him to look after the Bar Corse she just opened at No. 4, Place du Theatre-Francais, not only to pour drinks, but to decorate the barroom, rinse bottles and polish glassware. Instead of being richly attired, he sported suits he made from chopped up tea towels, a shocking departure from the days of him being named the "King of Fashion" living an extravagant lifestyle. Regine gave him some money to purchase a new suit.

Les Parfums de Rosine, Inc. was opened at 20 West 37th Street New York.

Old stock was still being sold off by various retailers, but at drastically slashed prices in 1936. In 1937, Société Centrale de la Parfumerie Française, comprised of Parfumerie Oriza L. Legrand, Les Parfums de Rosine, and Parfumerie Beaulieu together, this company having its headquarters in Levallois-Perret (Seine) 16 rue Gide was dissolved. However, in 1938, the company name was registered for a trademark in the USA as Societe Centrale de la Parfumerie Francaise, Inc. 

Most of the existing Rosine perfumes were produced until the 1950s in standard presentations, nothing like the sumptuous presentations of the past.

Poiret took up writing and painting in the last few years of his life, he died from Parkinson's disease virtually forgotten by his once adoring public, in German-occupied Paris in 1944.

Les Parfums de Rosine was resurrected by Bernard and Marie-Helen Rogeon in 1991. Marie-Helen Rogeon is the great granddaughter of Louis Panafieu who created Eau de Colognes for the Emperor Napoleon III and a famous "Pommade des Mousquetaires", a preparation renowned for creating a lacquer-like-finish on moustaches.

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