CaFleureBon Announces ZELDA
Shelley Waddington of EnVoyage Perfumes
My notebook was open in my hands. This journal of fragrance ideas that I’ve recorded throughout the years are vital aspects of my work, the art of creating perfume. I had 'perfumer's block' and kept turning from one page to the next, searching for inspiration. The idea for my new fragrance, Zelda, came in the form of an unexpected email from Michelyn Camen, the Editor in Chief ofCaFleureBon:
Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald The First And Last American Flapper
“Shelley, are you familiar with the life story of Zelda Fitzgerald? She was America’s first flapper and the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Baz Luhrmann's remake of The Great Gatsby will be coming to theaters May 10, 2013, so there is a lot of interest in her. Decades after her death, there have been biographies and novels written about Zelda Fitzgerald that portray her as a woman who was ahead of her times not the crazy, disruptive wife who ruined herself and her husband. Zelda Fitzgerald was a witty and fascinating woman a talented writer, an artist, a dancer and a mother, who battled mental illness for 18 years. She was an icon of a generation that went from boom to bust. It would be interesting to tell her story, through fragrance, using perfume notes and ingredients as your words as you did with Makeda (The True Name of the Ethiopian Queen and wife of King Solomon). What do you think?
Save Me the Waltz- First Edition published in 1932
What did I think? I was elated. Michelyn sent images of Zelda as well as recommended that I readNancy Milford's Zelda- A Biography (P.S), Zelda Fitzgerald's only novel, Save me the Waltz and thought I might also draw inspiration from her paintings of dancers. I knew right away that this controversial, enigmatic and historically misunderstood woman was my next fragrant muse. As a perfumer, I tell stories with fragrance and I was excited to tell Zelda's story.
Zelda Fitzgerald Cote d'Azure 1920 with her sketchbook
Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald was the legendary first flapper and a symbol of "The Jazz Age". More importantly, Zelda embodies an artist's lifelong struggle to find her identity. She was an accomplished woman in her own right (she was much more complex and intelligent than the flighty Daisy Buchanan as depicted by F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby). Zelda was a writer, an artist and a dancer. In my readings, I learned that she was a free thinker and many historians refer to her as America's first feminist. Scott used her letters and often quoted her verbatim as the voice of many of his female characters in his books. Her dysfunctional marriage and long struggle with mental illness finally took its toll. Perhaps her life can be summarized by one of her husband's books- "The Beautiful and the Damned".
This era was an important time for perfume; the Roaring 20’s was the decade of iconic fragrances such as Guerlain's Mitsouko, Shalimar, Djedi, as well as Caron's Bellodgia and En Avion. Since I read that she wore Guerlain Shalimar, at first I thought that I would try to re-create it. Michelyn discouraged me from this path and we agreed that Zelda must have a unique signature scent that also payed homage to the hallmark perfume ingredients and materials of the vintage classics using precious naturals,resins and accords from that era.
Zelda Sayre, Montgomery, Alabama 1911
Zelda Fitzgerald was a complicated woman, so creating a fragrance that captured her essence posed many creative challenges. How do I create a perfume that does justice to both the highest and the lowest aspects of her life? A bright beginning, a full heart, and a dark base would be the perfect start.
In choosing the notes to chronicle her life, I started with a heady magnolia to represent Zelda’s youth as a beautiful but wild and defiant belle from a “thoroughbred family” from Alabama.
“’Thoroughbred!’ she thought, ‘meaning that I never let them down on the dramatic possibilities of a scene I give a damned good show.’” - Zelda Fitzgerald
Zelda Fitzgerald amongst the flowers in Alabama
Zelda had written about smelling “white flowers perfuming midnight”, “sweet-smelling blossoms and night-blooming vines”, I was inspired to bring some white flowers into the heart accord, along with a creamy note to reflect Zelda’s youth. I then added spice and orange notes to represent the early years and her joie de vivre. The spices lent an Oriental suggestion to the orange top notes that I especially liked for its vintage effect and Italian bergamot for her stay in Italy. Zelda adored mischief and the unexpected, so I used the tiniest bit of a gorgeous Iranian galbanum to catapult the top from vintage to modern.
F.Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald: The "It couple" of the Jazz Age (and along with Gertrude Stein, Isadora Duncan, Ernest Hemingway, and T.S. Eliot, famous artists from the "Lost Generation"
The quintessentially French notes of rose de mai and bois de rose suggest Zelda’s years in Paris, and complement the florals. I then began building the base with mousse de ch ne and santal, followed by a smoky tobacco accord spiked with some boozy notes to represent her carefree party days when she and Scott were the flamboyant couple who rode on top of taxi cabs and splashed in the fountain in Union Square while living in New York City.
Puppeufee- a painting by Zelda Fitzgerald
Michelyn suggested cuir notes for her ballet slippers. Zelda studied ballet under the famous Russian ballerina Madame Lubov Egorova, so I selected the all-natural Cuir de Russie that I composed in 2009. To this I enhanced the art deco profile by adding the notes of a classic ambreine accord; vanilla, resins, and tinctures.
Zelda was admitted to a pyschiatric facility in 1930 in Paris for schizophrenia- which historians now debate
Approaching the dark notes I wondered, how to tell a story of darkness so extreme? I discovered that only the most beautiful and precious animalics of musk, castoreum, and civet could honor and exalt Zelda’s bright life and tragic descent into a final heart of darkness.
Michelyn pointed out that ZELDA called for a graceful art deco bottle, as well as a special label and package, to set it apart from all my other perfumes. I agreed and am quite pleased with the flacon as well as the scent.
Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald 1920
ZELDA, an Oriental Floral perfume for women
Top of Spiced Italian Bergamot, Cinnamon Bark, Clove, Cardamon,and Iranian Galbanum
Heart of rich Magnolia Blossom, Rose de mai, Bois de rose, Tuberose absolue, Gardenia
Base of Smoky Amber, Vintage Musks, Vanilla, Balsams, Leather (natural Cuir de Russie accord), Tobacco, Castoreum, Civet, Mysore Sandalwood, Vetiver, Cedarwood, and Mousse de Ch ne.
Date available: May 13, 2013
Sincere thanks to the immensely talented Michelyn Camen for her generous literary and artistic creative direction. And for introducing me to Zelda.
-Shelley Waddington, Founder and Perfumer, EnVoyage Perfumes
-Art Direction, Michelyn Camen Editor in Chief
F.Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda lived at 6 Gateway Drive, Great Neck N.Y. Copyright Great Neck Library
Editor's Note: Zelda Fitzgerald died at the age of 48, locked in a room awaiting electric shock treatment in a tragic fire at the Highland Mental Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. "The Great Gatsby" and the lives of F.Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald have been a passion of mine, since I moved with my husband to Great Neck, N.Y. where the Fitzgeralds rented a home in Great Neck Estates, less than a mile from where we live. Whereas Daisy might have worn 28 La Pausa by Chanel as I wrote in my article The Great Gatsby, Great Neck and Chanel 28 La Pausa, Zelda was not Daisy, not at all and Shelley brought her to life with ZELDA in a way I could not have imagined in 2011.-M.C.
ZELDA is available on the EnVoyage Perfumes website. The formal launch will be held at theFRAGments Underground Artisan & Indie Perfume Collective Event at MorYork in Los Angeles, CA on June 22, 2012.
Thanks to Shelley Waddington we have a special preview draw of five samples for five CaFleureBon readers. To be eligible, please leave a comment with your thoughts on Zelda Fitzgerald, if you plan on seeing Baz Luhmann's 3 D remake of the Great Gatsby movie or what appeals to you about ZELDA the perfume. Draw ends May 16, 2013