Les Parfums de Rosine

After a self-imposed hiatus due to a spectacular year-long renovation (and two moves of our entire collection!), Material Mode is pleased to share one of the special items brought into the collection during our time away.

A few years back, we wrote about two perfumed publicity fans in our collection from Rosine, the perfume and cosmetics company founded by haute couturier, Paul Poiret, in 1911. Our infatuation with Poiret’s groundbreaking endeavors in luxury lifestyle branding has been slaked only slightly by the acquisition of the catalog ‘Les Parfums de Rosine,’ which details Rosine’s offerings during the early 1920s. Principally known for their perfumes, the catalog details more obscure offerings including travel-size products, perfumed sachets, cosmetics including eyeliner and nail polish as well as our favorite: cigarettes perfumed with Rosine scents!

In 2013, the Musée international de la parfumerie (located in the French perfume making epicenter of Grasse) mounted an exhibition on the history of Rosine.  The exhibition touted Poiret as the first fashion designer to ally his brand with signature scents. The inspiration for an alliance between fashion and fragrance followed Poiret’s visit to the Weiner Werkstätte’s Viennese interdisciplinary workshops where artists and craftspersons explored the design of textiles, furniture and jewelry alongside other specialties such as metalwork and bookbinding. Upon his return, Poiret gave over several rooms of his mansion on rue Colisée to his experiments in the creation of perfumes; when friends began to inquire if they could purchase his results, the designer took the leap and industrialized his concept.

Rosine’s ‘atelier cartonnage’ where packaging was silkscreened and created by hand.

For Poiret, the success of the product depended equally on three aspects:  the scent itself, the name and the packaging/related ephemera, which was created in a dedicated atelier largely staffed by women.  No expense was spared in the creation of decorative silkscreened boxes and hand painted bottles.  In 1919, Rosine’s operations in the Paris suburbs at 37 Boulevard Verdun were producing 200,000 bottles a month in twenty-three scents. These were destined for department stores and purveyors throughout France and abroad.

Two sizes of Rosine powder in exquisitely decorated boxes.

In 1928, Rosine had a retail store in New York City at 29 W. 37th Street.  The following year, Poiret’s business interests were severely impacted by the Stock Market crash and the resulting recession forced the company into bankruptcy by the close of 1929. For eighteen years, however, Rosine scents were the very definition of luxury, predating many of the famed scents such Jicky, Joy and Chanel No. 5. Collectors today clamor after Rosine paraphernalia; noted perfume authority George Stam enthusiastically claims that the Rosine scent Maharadjah changed his life.


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