Tuesday 29 July 2008

What perfume do they wear? Eliza Doolittle

Having seen Pygmalion last week (as discussed below) I started to think, as only a perfume obsessive really can, about what fragrance Eliza Doolittle might have worn.

In the film My Fair Lady (which as I'm sure you may know was based on Pygmalion) Eliza is played by Audrey Hepburn. Audrey will forever be associated with Givenchy's L'interdit and for some with Creed's Spring Flower. Both are very nice scents but I don't feel they are right for Eliza. Firstly Pygmalion was written and is set in 1913 when aldehyde's had not been used in scent- so that counts out the Givenchy. Secondly I don't think most people had even seen a melon in London in 1913 let alone the French managed to replicate the scent of a melon which is part of Spring Flower.

Eliza is a poor flower girl when we meet her. I imagine she smells better than many because she is surrounded by flowers all day but given her excitement at bathing in hot water without her clothes on in the play I think we can assume she perhaps doesn't smell superb before she goes to live with Professor Higgins.

However once there I would assume (again as only a perfume obsessive might) that Higgins would have put some thought to her scent because it would in itself tell people a little about her and help him mould her into a lady.

For that reason I would think he would choose something extremely tasteful and fairly subtle that would quietly give off class. Given that we are limited to scents that would have been available in 1913 I thought of a classic cologne type smell, like 4711 initially.

However thinking on it for more time I have decided I would like to think of Eliza wearing Apres L'Ondee by Guerlain. It was released in 1906 so fits with the period very well and Eliza is a very modern girl in 1913 who I think would choose a modern scent. Higgins is well travelled and I think also must have good taste to be able to choose Eliza's clothes and so on so well but also probably doesn't like anything too dull- which Apres L'Ondee certainly isn't.

Eliza being a flower girl should have a quite educated sense of smell when it comes to flowers and I think if she had any choice in the matter she would enjoy the fresh, cool smell of violet and hawthorn the scent gives off. It would be a wonderful antidote in the crowded smoky city and probably like the country paths after the rain that she will never have seen being a London girl born and bred.

Finally the ending of Pygmalion is a little sad and I think the wistful, contemplative nature of Apres L'Ondee matches it very well.

Apres L'Ondee smells as modern to my nose now as I imagine it would have to Eliza and Henry in 1913. It is not widely available but if you find it you must try it.

Old fashioned Apres L'Ondee bottle courtesy of: http://www.mimifroufrou.com/scentedsalamander/images/Apres-lOndee.jpg

Eliza picture courtesy of http://www.timeout.com/img/42854/w310/image.jpg

My fair lady picture courtesy of: http://www.gonemovies.com/WWW/MyWebFilms/Drama/MyFairAscot4.jpg

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