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A scent that captures the golden age of ballet

Curtain up on a rich new perfume from the V&A

A scent that captures the golden age of ballet

September 03 2010
Lucia van der Post

Almost every week brings some new excitement on the perfume front. We’ve seen how fresh creative noses are shaking up the industry; how The New York Times has a perfume critic (Chandler Burr); how, as I write, there is a great exhibition at Harrods called The Perfume Diaries; and now the great British scent guru Roja Dove has designed the first ever perfume for the V&A (pictured), to coincide with the exhibition Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes 1909–1929 (from September 26).

Since Diaghilev, the founder of Ballets Russes, always sprayed his curtains with Guerlain’s great chypre Mitsouko, it was decided to create a new, modern chypre, in homage to Diaghilev. Dove hoped it would capture the passion and energy of the Ballets Russes. He came up with a wonderfully rich concoction with top notes of bergamot, lemon and orange; base notes of oak moss, orris, patchouli, vanilla and vetiver; and, at its heart, rose de mai and jasmine. The bottle and the box feature the Léon Bakst painting that was on the cover of the programme for Diaghilev’s ballet Narcisse.

“I chose this image,” says Roja Dove, “because it sums up the changes in society at the time — the end of the Victorian and Edwardian woman, the birth of modernity and a new-found freedom for women.” It is a limited-edition perfume with just 1,000 bottles, so hurry.

See also

Perfume, V&A