Thursday, September 6, 2018

Fragrant Remebrances of the Belle Époque

Renoir, La Loge (1874) Source: Wikipedia
"When I think of this time of my childhood in the Seventies, it  appears to me in the form of half-faded images of beautiful women and their now oh so historical costumes: romantic cumulations  of ribbons, frills, lace, poetic exaggerations of the aethereal here and the carnal there, by virtue of  mysterious billowings from which wasp waists artfully burgeoned, leaving little to view of the reality of the female body, but all the more confusing and enchanting. And also the perfumes, which gently wafted around these apparitions, are engrained in my memory; perhaps more clearly even than the dim portraits of their beauty: Brise des Îles and Origan, Rose du Soir, Chypre, Souvenir de la Réunion - their exotic names I learned later, but the distinctiveness which every woman lent them through the scent and the sultriness of her skin, I learned to distinguish, when I was still lead from out of the nursery to kiss this hand or that."

Harry Graf Kesseler (1868-1937), Gesichter und Zeiten. Erinnerungen [Faces and Times. Memories]. Berlin: S. Fischer Verlag, 1962 [1st. ed 1935], p. 10. Translated by the Duke of Pall Mall.   


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