NABOKV-L post 0019749, Sat, 3 Apr 2010 21:29:24 -0700

quelques mots apropos de 'Quelques Fleurs'
On Apr 3, 2010, at 4:54 AM, Stan Kelly-Bootle quoted Alexey:

> Quelques Fleurs - in Ada, commercial name of Aqua's and Marina's
> talc powder

Dear Alexey,

I just realized a slight mistake in your description of Quelques
Fleurs. It is not the "commercial name" of the powder, but the name of
the perfume produced by Houbigant in 1912. It is still produced but
with an altered formula. However thanks to the internet, older bottles
are still to be found. I found a small bottle (no reflection on you,
Bootle) of the perfume (see photo below on the left) a few years ago,
but the smell had "turned" to an unpleasant alchohol. I also found a
bottle of the powder with this older label, but I suspect the original
was replaced with some ordinary powder, because there is nothing
distinctive about the fragrance. I don't recall now if the powder in
Ada came in a bottle or the more usual container.

I found this article with some background on Quelques Fleurs, for any
interested enough to read it (the acetaldehyde is rather intriguing, I
think, as is the synthetic nature of the perfume):

Click on image to enlarge

Older BaccaratQuelques Fleurs perfume bottle. "Stock" bottle and
stopper were common to many fragrances of the era.

In creating Quelques Fleurs, Houbigant perfumer Robert Bienaimé
"joined the early users of methyl nonyl acetaldehyde" (aldehyde C-12
MNA) — a synthetic aroma chemical isolated by professor Georges
Darzens in 1903.
In 1912, Quelques Fleurs was a great fragrance — a "prestige"
fragrance, was we would say today — a fragrance Houbigant could be
proud of. In fact, the name itself mirrors the original sign over Jean-
François Houbigant's Paris shop — the "Basket of Flowers".
In 1935, Bienaimé left Houbigant to found his own fragrance house.
Quelques Fleurs continued to be a top seller for Houbigant worldwide
but, over the years, the formula and "positioning" of the brand
mutated. By 1993 Houbigant had split its licenses, trademarks and
manufacturing rights among various licencees in various countries;
quality control became less important than cash flow. Quelques Fleurs
became more of a name (trademark) than a fragrance. By the 1990s, it
is likely that most buyers of Quelques Fleurs had no knowledge of the
fragrance's proud origins and it would more likely be found in a chain
drugstore than an upscale department store.
Today Quelques Fleurs can be credited as providing a good part of the
inspiration that led perfumer Ernest Beaux to create Rallet's Bouquet
de Catherine (1913), which, after its failure in Russia, was renamed
Rallet Le No.1, and led directly to Beaux's creation ofNo.5 for Chanel.
Click on image to enlarge

Older bottle of Houbigant's Quelques Fleurs perfume.
Also studying Robert Bienaimé's use of aldehyde C-12 MNA were
perfumersHenri Alméras (who created Joy for Jean Patou), Vincent
Roubert (who createdL'Aimant for Coty), and Henri Robert (who went on
to become Chanel's perfumer in the 1950s and creator of Chanel's No.19).
When it was launched in 1912, Quelques Fleurs was hailed (by perfumers
in particular) as a modern fragrance — and indeed it set a course
which 20th century perfumery followed for many years.
Click on image to enlarge

An older bottle ofQuelques Fleursdistributed by Houbigant's Mexican
representatives, Las Parfumas de Francia, S.A., Mexico City. The
fragrance in this bottle retained its glorious original aroma.

—— ## ——

If you have any information on Quelques Fleursor Houbigant, please
share it with us using the message sender below.

Philip Goutell,
Lightyears, Inc.

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors:,
Visit Zembla:
View Nabokv-L policies:
Visit "Nabokov Online Journal:"

Manage subscription options: