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.


7 responses to “Les Parfums de Rosine”

  1. Great post. I have started a series of posts on my blog wwe.nenasnotes.com on Haute Couture designers perfumes and I started my series with Paul Poiret and Rosine. I would love to link my readers to your site are you okay with that?? Thanks and enjoy your day.

  2. This is wonderful April! Congratulations with the renovation completion!! I’m wondering how financially successful Poiret’s venture into scents proved, prior to the crash of course. As we’ve seen from Chanel to the present, designers have come to rely on either licensing their name or launching fragrance products as a way to cover costs in their apparel design. Would be nice to know how Poiret’s product launches helped him. Beautiful product photos! Did you take these? Thank you for sharing this.

    • Hi Arun! Nice to hear from you… come visit us soon! Yes, I was curious about this as well… did perhaps Rosine live on in some way after the bankruptcy? The answer to this may be in one of Poiret’s lesser known autobiographies, Art et Phynance, which I own, but have yet to read. What I can tell you is that after 1928 the primary sources of WWD, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and the New York Times cease mention of Rosine, so I’m taking this as a strong indicator that the business was wrapped in its entirety.

  3. An extraordinary acquisition. Although further research is needed, and a good selection of images have yet to be collated, contemporary accounts reveal that Lucile predates Poiret in the offering of special house perfumes and cosmetics. She may not yet have had a Paris branch when some of the first press references to these products appeared (1907) but she was undoubtedly a couturier on the French model, and her contributions to this important development in branding deserve to be acknowledged and more fully explored. She didm’t form a separate company for the sale of perfumes and other beauty products (she advertised them as “French novelties”) until 1917 but she was active in exploring the connection of fashion to scent for at least a decade before that.

    • Hi Randy. Yes, I knew about Lucile’s earlier exploits, which is why you will note I very deliberately state that the Perfume Museum in Grasse touted Poiret to be the first. I didn’t want to open the Lucile debate in this post, rather to shine the light on this publication by Rosine.

      • Just sharing info, not looking for a debate. But it is important that misinformation isn’t perpetuated and that further research is encouraged.