Celebrate Award Winning American Perfumes (Part 2): Helena Rubenstein, Elizabeth Arden, Halston, Oleg Cassini, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren

We continue to pay tribute to great American perfumes, and their creators. All were pioneers in their day and brought to perfumery their distinctive style. Their fragances have become legendary, worn by discerning men and women throughout the world.

Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden (L)

Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden had a rivalry that was so cut throat; they have turned it into a Broadway musical “War Paint”. They never met but absolutely hated each other. They were both immigrants, arriving to this country in the early 1900s.  When they began their careers, they set up shops in NYC, within blocks of each other, and their feud continued their entire lives.

Elizabeth Arden famously opened the Red Door Salon on Fifth Avenue  and has a perfume created of the same name. Red Door, composed in 1989 is a lush floral with notes of orchid, jasmine,  wild violet, orange blossom, and lily of the valley.

Helena Rubenstein introduced Heaven Scent  (now the company is owned by Dana) in 1941 in a spectacular way. She launched the perfume by dropping balloons containing perfume samples from her Fifth Avenue penthouse. Heaven Scent is an  innocent fresh floral bouquet with notes of  bergamot, lemon, orange, neroli.  rose, carnation, lily of the valley, patchouli, vetiver, sandalwood, oak moss, musk.

Jackie Kennedy and Oleg Cassini

Oleg Cassini reigned over American fashion in the 1960s. He dressed Grace Kelly and Hollywood movie stars, but his fame rose when First lady Jackie Kennedy chose him to be her personal couturier. He was born in Paris but The US became his home in the 40s after World War II and lived in Manhattan. His elegant style is present in Cassini Cologne, an oriental  woody fragrance with  notes of citrus, musk, patchouli and and vetiver.

Halston and his first perfume

It was the years of Disco and Studio 54 and if there wasn’t a Halston they would have to invent him. He began as a milliner and then began a career as a designer dressing all the stars Babe Paley, Anjelica Huston, Gene Tierney, Lauren Bacall, Margaux Hemingway, Elizabeth Taylor, Bianca Jagger and Liza Minnelli. Born Roy Halston Frowick, the iconic clothing designer of the 1970s created an iconic perfume Halston in 1975 with award winning perfumer Carlos Benaim and the bottle famously designed by his friend and jewelry designer Elsa Perreti (Tiffany’s).

 Halston is a chypre/floral.  Citrus green leaves, and peach combine with bold florals including carnation, iris and jasmine. The dry down of incense, sandalwood, amber is feminine  and unforgettable.

Calvin Klein was another controversial designer. Born in the Bronx, and known for minimalism in his fashion, he dressed many celebrities including Caroline Bessette Kennedy. But it was his sexy ads that got the headlines. In 1980, he featured 15 yr old Brooke Shields in a Jeanswear ad that proclaimed suggestively, “Nothing Comes Between Me and My Calvins”.

In 1994, he marketed the first unisex fragrance CK1 . a clean and fresh fragrance with subtle floral and musk notes that include  Pineapple, green notes, mandarin orange, papaya, bergamot, cardamom, musk, moss and lemon.

Ralph Lauren in the 70s

Ralph Lauren was also born in the Bronx, to immigrant parents. He served in the military in the 60s and upon his return turned his attention to designing ties. More than any other designer, Ralph Lauren created an idealized American world in fashion and fragrance that emulated the American upper-class in their sports clubs, on safaris and in their country homes.

Later, he developed his Polo line with the signature polo player logo that was both affordable and in demand by men and women. Polo, created in 1978 is a classic cologne for men, very complex; without any florals. It is a power scent with notes of tobacco, leather, juniper, and oakmoss.


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