Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Parfums Babani: Orientalism and "le Japonisme" in retro fragrances

The history of modern perfumery isn't written only in terms of Guerlain, Caron, Houbigant, Piver, Floris, Penhaligon's, Chanel, Poiret's Parfums de Rosine fragrances and all the better known representatives of the 19th and early 20th century which are common lore on the lips of fragonerds online. More obscure entities exist, companies steeped into the lethe of history, but not without merit; companies, in fact, ready for a resurrection!

Among them parfums Babani is among the most exotic, the poster child of the sweeping vogue of Orientalism in the turn of the 19th century on to the 20th and a re-interpreter of the chypre fragrance recipe in an... Egyptian fashion! (aka Chypre Egyptien 1919) The sumptuous robes japonaises (particularly the nagajubans peignoirs they made to great success) and the eastern artifacts the Babani boutique on 98 Boulevard Haussmann carried were the foreshadowing of a great line of fragrances with such names as Sousouki, Afghani, Yasmak or Ming.

"Parfum inconnus d'orient et d'extreme orient" was the slogan attached to them in glorious dream-like illustrations by Michelle Puchon dotting the periodicals of the era, as well as the American imports that Elizabeth Arden stroked a deal to promote on their behalf.

The entire history of Babani perfumes appears on the article I have published on this link on Fragrantica. (You're welcome to comment here or there).

1 comment:

  1. Miss Heliotrope01:01

    Thanks for the name & link - I find the aesthetics of orientalism, linked so closely with colonial history, interesting - the mix, without worrying about accuracy, of western & an interpretation of "eastern" - is rather lovely quite often.

    As long as we can keep politics out of it...


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