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Elizabeth Arden (1884-1966) achieved incredible notoriety during her time as the entrepreneur of her cosmetics company.  Born in Ontario, Canada, she immigrated to New York and quickly learned enough about chemistry to develop her own line of cosmetics.  Early in the twentieth century, respectable women disdained most makeup, which they regarded as appropriate only for actresses and prostitutes.  That perception soon changed forever, thanks to Elizabeth Arden and her astute marketing techniques.

Arden was and is known for her skin care line and her makeup products.  Somewhere along the way, perhaps capitalizing on the success of Coco Chanel with her Chanel No. 5, Arden began creating fragrances.  Her Blue Grass fragrance went on the market in 1934 and continues as a popular fragrance to this day.

Arden Philosophy

The fragrance industry would do well to emulate some of Arden’s philosophies of perfumery.  Her perfumes are never overpowering.  The fragrances never trail off the body, leaving their scent impression in a room long after the wearer exits.  Instead, I believe that Elizabeth Arden follows the French perfume tradition of “less is more.”  Some of her fragrances last only a few hours on the body, and some linger most of the average work day.  Essentially, they are light-to-medium strength perfumes.

Bottle of 5th Avenue Perfume

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How to Choose the Right Perfume

You are no doubt a perfume lover if you have read this far.  So I have one thing to say.  Never let anyone tell you that a perfume you love is too “old lady” for you.  If you like it, wear it.  You might be a college-aged girl who can carry off a scent like Chanel No. 5 with confidence and distinction just as well as a grandmother who has loved that perfume since before you were born. It takes experimentation to find a scent that might act as your signature scent.  Some women have a particular body chemistry that will bring out the best in a scent like White Shoulders, and others do not.  Spray on the fragrance, and over time, see if you get any compliments. 

Perfumers also market particular categories of scents according to some arbitrary determination about what is hot and current.  Don’t let them categorize you.

So let’s take a look at a few of Arden’s perfumes from her house line.

My favorite one, Green Tea

The top notes are citrusy, like orange or lemon zest and rhubarb. Mid-notes are carnation, peppermint, and fennel. Base notes are oak moss, white amber, and musk.

Green Tea probably doesn’t smell like real green tea (which doesn’t have much fragrance), but it’s divine. It’s fresh, exhilarating, uplifting. After having it on for a couple of hours, I went across the street, and my neighbor said my perfume was “spicy.” Don’t expect this eau de parfum to last long, because it fades after about four hours. You can wear a couple of forms of the fragrance if you want it to last longer, and I definitely recommend smoothing on the body cream before you spritz on the cologne. Green Tea is the quintessential spring and summer fragrance.

Red Door

My mother’s favorite perfume.  It has a sophisticated aura that may appeal to older women, but don’t tell that to young women.  Some of them find it very appealing.  Red Door was named after the Red Door Salon and Spa franchise begun by Elizabeth Arden.  The fragrance mixes the heady aroma of roses, lilies, and orchids with the sensuality of fruity and musky notes.

Mediterranean

A recent addition to the Arden perfume line. Subtle and fresh, with an excellent blending of cypress, peach, plum, and mandarin orange, magnolia, and orchid. You can almost catch that whiff of brine as the fragrance washes over you like a refreshing sea breeze. The beautifully designed blue bottle looks like a perfect “scent memory holder.” I am sure that this photo does not do it justice.

This fragrance is unique, and I can't place it or compare it to anything else in its category.


5th Avenue

A subtle, classy, perfect fragrance to wear to the office. Will not overpower, but transitions nicely for evening wear. A combination of classic floral and spices in a clean, fresh presentation.

5th Avenue also has a strong lily of the valley character.  It is likely to appeal to many fragrance lovers.

Blue Grass

First launched in 1934.  Elizabeth Arden had a home in Virginia and named this scent for the native blue grass of that state, and, very likely, for the blue grass of Kentucky.  Arden had a horse breeding farm, and one of her prize race horses won the Kentucky Derby.  Blue Grass is a light floral with notes of lavender, geranium, clove, rose, vetiver and sandalwood.

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