In 2017, the fashion magazine Vogue celebrated its 125th anniversary of continuous publication. It began as a weekly paper chronicling the doings and fashions of New York City’s upper-crust society; after Mr. Conde Montrose Nast bought it in 1905, he turned it into a women’s magazine with even more of a focus on fashion. Conde Nast pioneered the industry of women’s magazines and introduced many innovations, such as using color photography for magazine covers instead of illustrations. When I was much younger, I read Vogue pretty regularly; I came for the gorgeous photography and cutting edge styles, and often stayed for its long, interesting articles on all kinds of subjects. I always loved the gigantic September issue, twice the size of the usual magazine, with all the new fashions.
To mark this anniversary, Vogue editors decided to create, for the first time, a Vogue fragrance. They teamed up with an avant-garde fashion house the magazine had championed, Comme des Garcons, as the press release proclaimed:
Vogue’s first perfume, created with Comme des Garçons in celebration of the magazine’s 125th anniversary, was inspired by the storied publication’s rich history, featuring top notes of an accord of instant film, a mainstay on fashion shoots, and acetyl furan—a synthetic essence that mimics the smell of tobacco, an aroma that used to permeate the Vogue office and the couture salons where editors reviewed collections; middle notes of Lily of the Valley, a favorite of the magazine’s founding publisher Conde Nast, and fresh ink, which scented his first printing press in Greenwich, Connecticut; and base notes of Cashmeran wood, Haitian vetiver, and leather, reminiscent of the gloves legendary fashion director Babs Simpson insisted her team wear at the Vogue office in the 1960s.
Vogue itself published an article, of course, describing the fragrance’s creation in more detail. Apparently creative director Christian Astuguevieille decided to focus on three main florals, and ordered up variations on themes of peony, tuberose, and lily of the valley, that latter in tribute to Mr. Nast’s favorite flowers, which he kept in bouquets in his dressing room. One version combined lily of the valley with inky vetiver, in homage to the magazine’s printing presses, and a synthetic accord meant to evoke the smell of instant camera film, which was used in the magazine offices for test shoots. This was dubbed “Ink Lily 4W”, and it was the one that kept drawing editors and staff back.
Vogue 125 is a very appealing lily of the valley fragrance. While it doesn’t smell much like the actual flowers, it clearly evokes them. If I had to be very specific, I’d say that it smells like a glossy photograph, printed in color ink, of lilies of the valley, beautifully arranged for an artful photo shoot.
Bouquet of lilies of the valley; wedding shoot for Vogue.
It is not a loud or disruptive fragrance; in fact, one could easily wear it to the kind of offices Vogue has always had in New York and other fashion capitals. It doesn’t have huge sillage, though it does have good longevity for a floral scent. I agree with what Lauryn Beer wrote, in CaFleureBon:
Comme des Garcons Vogue 125 is ultimately a more low-key affair than I expected an intimate party for friends rather than an extravagant gala. With its seamless integration of state-of-the-art synthetics and realistic florals, Astuguevieille’s olfactory tribute is both brightly current and wistful; remembrances of past elegance and this morning’s bustle side-by-side in the same bottle. Which is just what it should be.
As it dries down, Vogue 125 becomes drier and less green, no doubt thanks to the vetiver. It also becomes more like a textile, if that makes sense — less airborne and more tactile. That is the contribution of the Cashmeran in its base, which has been described thus: “The name Cashmeran derives from its tactile feel which recalls the smoothness and softness of cashmere wool.” The same Fragrantica article also notes: “The diffusive, musky-woody scent is reminiscent of concrete (especially the abstract woody scent that concrete gives when hit upon by rain, a cityscape in the rain), also lightly spicy, lightly powdery.” Perfect for a fragrance designed for a luxury fashion publication based in New York City!
After two hours, Vogue 125 doesn’t seem to project much, but it is still going strong and you can still smell lily of the valley, although I don’t really pick up the leather note that’s supposed to be a base note, to add to the textile feel. I’m really enjoying this fragrance; it’s not a strong love, but I can absolutely see myself wearing it regularly during spring and summer. Have you tried it? Were you ever a regular reader of Vogue?
Featured image: Model Sasha Pivovarova with lilies of the valley; photo by Arthur Elgort for Vogue magazine.