Unleash Your Inner Tigress! Nerd Girl Goes Vintage
I keep telling anyone who will listen with unglazed eyes that we’re all living an iteration of the 1930s. Not a good era to reiterate! But here we are. So I began to wonder, as all Fragrant Nerd Girls must, what sort of perfumes were people talking about in the West in the 30s? I found a few, and ordered some on the Big Bay. Oh yeah, I can snipe an auction in the last 3 seconds with the best of them, baby!
One of my most beautiful finds is a gold flacon full of parfum extrait of Faberge’s Tigress. It’s from the 40s, but the perfume itself launched in 1938. It’s a saucy, spicy oriental in that lovely, dense style that some of us love and some of us loathe (I’m thinking of YOU, vintage Emeraude). The major notes are aldehydes, citrus, classic florals, spices, oak moss, vanilla and amber.
I’ve had lots of questions over the years about the aging of perfume. Can a perfume made in 1940 smell anything like it did then? Should we even open the bottle? Should we refrigerate? The question has a lot in common with keeping wines. An old Sauvingnon Blanc from New Zealand (aged for 7 years, let’s say), is a freak. It can be a wild and wonderful freak, but it tastes nothing like the fresh version. Chardonnays and Cabs obviously retain their original flavors for longer periods. With perfumes, top notes do fizz and fade out, or morph as time goes on. So the citrus tones of my Tigress are probably long gone. But base notes and spices tend to hold on, as do some aldehydes and florals. So if a vintage perfume has been stored with minimum light, air, and heat, you’ll be getting a true version of the heart and base notes, at least. My Tigress was treated well and she smells fabulous! It’s hard to rock such heavy scent in the tropics, but the spicy goodness (mostly clove and cinnamon), genuine oakmoss, and amber with the density of a neutron star are quite irresistible here.
I heartily recommend seeking out even a small amount of vintage Tigress, preferably dating from the 40s or 50s. The outrageously kitschy bottles with fake tiger fur caps that you see on the Big Bay generally date from the 1970s. I hear that version is good, too, but considerably lighter, with less amber and moss, than the earlier versions. Let me know if you’ve tried the Tigress, or seen one of those kooky bottles!