"I know no better secret of beauty than happiness" - Marguerite Blessington
Have you ever wondered who The New Yorker places on their front page each year? The iconic image was inspired by Alfred d'Orsay, an influential social icon of mid 1800's and early 1900's. While his fashion sense and eloquence were large contributors to his social status, his innovation and free spirit propelled him into fame and influence.
During his time, people would refer to him as a dandy, which is described as someone who explores the presentation of their masculinity or femininity and embraces ambiguity and fluidity. They exude captivating energy and value physical appearance, grooming, refined language, and leisurely hobbies. This description has been immortalized in the brand with their scent G.A. Dandy or Not, which delicately blends a bright grapefruit and woody base with a hint of spice.
The perfume house, d'Orsay, was originally crafted in secret, for a special someone - the Countess of Blessington, Ireland. A young count, named Alfred d'Orsay, crystalized his love for another by creating a fragrance for the two of them to wear.
Because his lover was already married, the two would have to meet in secret, and would wear their shared perfume throughout town to leave a sillage for the other to find them. Even if the two could not be physically together, they would know the other was near because of their scent.
Inspired by this history, the d'Orsay house has expanded their interpretation of love to span from platonic to carnal desire. Each scent is unisex and designed for any body, just like the first scent was. The inspiration of unisex scents hints at the duality in love that often turns us upside down.
PERFUME BORN FROM A HEARTBEAT
In 1830, Alfred d'Orsay, a gifted and whimsical aesthete, conceived the first non-gendered (unisex) perfume to conceal his forbidden love affair with Marguerite Blessington. 190 years later, driven by the vision of Amelie Huynh, Maison d'Orsay continues to develop its olfactory and aesthetic history initiated by Alfred d'Orsay. Love and sensuality run through its creations for the body and the home.
In homage to the history of its founder, d'Orsay evokes different states of love and sentimental rendezvous', referencing Alfred and Marguerites lost correspondences and secret meetings. A true heritage brand, the House continues to exemplify its exceptional know-how by producing each of its creations in France.
ALFRED'S LOVE AFFAIR
How did this brand come to be?
The year is 1821, and divorce has been revoked in France for about five years. Alfred meets Marguerite Blessington, he is 20 years old, she is 32 and married. However, they fall in love, irrevocably. Marguerite, originally an Irish poet and novelist, is now a Londoner and captivates Alfred as much as he seduces her. They love each other beyond all convention, created a 'cause célèbre' (a controversial public issue) during their travels between Italy, France, and England. Alfred is a gifted jack-of-all-trades, which amuses Marguerite to no end.
Marguerite was described as a self-made woman, and was passionate about literature in a family that was not too keen towards the knowledge offered to women. Nevertheless, she persisted and ended up writing her books and working for the press. We are sure this tenacity and passion was one of the reasons Alfred was captivated by her.
Because divorce was not legal at the time in France, the two star-crossed lovers had to meet in secret. This history is carried through to the brand today, with each candle representing a time to meet up in secret. In addition, the two would send secret love letters to each other that would be signed with initials to preserve secrecy. The original scent that created this brand was L.B., for Lady Blessington. You can transport yourself back in time by wearing the same fragrance from 200 years ago.
It is not until 1884 that France begins to allow divorce again; however, Lady Blessington passed away in 1849 and Alfred in 1852. While the two were never able to be together in life without consequences, the two have been buried together to live by each other's side forever.
THE BODY PERFUMES
d'Orsay perfumes echo the first fragrance conceived in 1830 by Alfred d'Orsay to symbolize his love for Marguerite Blessington, perfumes imagined to feel the exhilaration of love and potentially to be worn by the two.
Each fragrance is imagined as a declaration of love, exploring the many facets of love: thoughtful, free, paradoxical, ardent, adventerous, tender, fiery, impulsive, sincere, spirutal, secret, tactile, unfalling...
In homage to the lost correspondences between Alfred and Marguerite, each perfume name is composed like a love letter and signed with initials.
d'Orsay works with talented perfumes such as Dominique Ropion, Olivia Giacobetti, Fanny Bal, Sidonie Lancesseur, Karine Chevallier, Bertrand Duchaufour, and Caroline Dumur, just to name a few.
Discreet erogenous notes of ambrowan, moss, and cashmeran drip onto a bed of orange blossoms, iris, and fresh linen; Each drop is a guilty reminiscence, above suspicion.
Smells Like vintage, floral
Inspired By “secret love,” the original fragrance between Alfred d’Orsay and Lady Blessington.
One should never underestimate the irrepressible attraction of being hard to pin down. We expect bergamot, but it appears as blue ginger, then promises it has always been nothing but amber.
Smells Like woody, citrus
Inspired By “elusive love.”
Boosted by amberette, powdery iris notes gives this fragrance a sensual elegance, while the vibrant woody notes of cashmeran to lend structure and vitality to its radiant and tender jasmine heart.
Smells Like floral, powdery
Inspired By “infinite love,” the intimacy of a kiss.
Sunshine spiced with cardamom and a view of the ocean. On your skin, a light grapefruit and black tea splashed with orange blossom.
Smells Like aquatic, floral
Inspired By the duality of “jaunty love”
The fragrance was built around a structuring woody accord of Cypress, Patchouli and Vetiver. Grapefruit accompanies the green and very fresh effect of Vetiver, Rose Oxide modernizes the geranium and Pink Pepper spices up the leaked floral of Magnolia.
Smells Like floral
Inspired By “uncomplicated love.”
“We are lovers” blends bamboo, black pepper and ambergris in a fragrance that is animalic and sensual.
Smells Like fresh, spicy
Inspired By “carnal love.”
FRAGRANCES FOR THE HOME
Made by a Master Glassmaker with century-old know-how, the 250g candle is characterized by its gadrooned pot. its brass base and its hot-gold monogram. The 190 gram version is made in smooth glass, also decorated with the historical monograph of the House in hot gold.
d'Orsay candles are cast in France, in a wax worker workshop with four generations of experience and know-how, producing unique, covetable creations.
At Bellini's, we have taken the liberty of curating our favorite scents from the candle collection that stand out from all the candle brands we carry in the shop.
A radiant fragrance that takes us on a journey to a Riad, between the early hours of the morning and the first hints of sunshine. A triptych combining the acidic bitterness of Pink Grapefruit peel, the generosity of a still green Figwood and the elegance of Atlas Cedar.
Smells Like fresh, woody
Inspired By garden rendezvous
11:40 is a break that is both gourmand and mischievous. It has combined the natural sweetness of red fruits with the tartness of blackcurrant and the more pungent character of cedar and frankincense. The notes of moss and pine needle strengthen the fragrance while ambroxan adds radiance.
Smells Like woody, fruity
Inspired By long costal escapes
Using an overdose of cumin, cyprus, and patchouli to evoke a carnal desire, 21:30 is a chiaroscuro composition that leaves a gentle mystery as to the nature of this encounter.
Smells Like floral, spicy, amber
Inspired By skin-to-skin encounters
This carnal fragrance is primarily based on wood and spices. The intimacy of Cardamom, the tenderness and vibration of the Woods and the Incense brings a mystical form to this moment.
Smells Like amber, powdery
Inspired By an incognito meet-up at a hotel bar
REFILLABLE CANDLE & CRAFTSMANSHIP
With its almost 200 years of history, d'Orsay continues to be committed to sustainability, the future and valuing unique craft skills: the 250-gram d'Orsay candle was therefore designed from the start to be refillable.
The 250g candle is the result of exceptional know-how at every stage, created by the best French craftsmen. It all begins in a century-old glass and crystal workshop located in the Bresle Valley in Upper Normandy. It is here that the glass, characterized by its interior gadroons (fine vertical grooves), will take shape.
The craftsmen collect a mass of molten glass at the end of their glassmaking rod. They rotate the metal rod continuously to obtain a homogenous mass. They will then blow the glass, cut it, and integrate the molten glass onto a mould made exclusively for d'Orsay. The still raw glass is then carefully unmoulded, before having its edge cut and carefully polished.
Then can begin the work of lacquering on this pot until transparent to obtain the amber or dark green shade. The emblematic monogram of the house, reinterpreted from the d'Orsay archives in 2015 by jewelry designer Amélie Huynh, is then applied in a gilding workshop.
Then the brushed brass base is placed, raising the glass, bringing a luminous echo to this round and golden monogram. Have you counted how many different artisans impart their expertise to make a single candle?
Finally comes the moment when the pure woven cotton wick is placed in and scented wax is poured in.
This step is carried out in a century-old wax workshop, an atelier of the traditions and values of the wax makers and of production techniques that are no longer used today: it is the great tradition of the handmade.
The heritage goes back to the oldest techniques of the Maitre Ciries from the Ciergerie des Premontres, transmitted in 1904 by the monks of the Abbey of Frigolet to the great-grandfather of this current Maitre Cirier located in Provence, not far from Grasse - check out our blog here to learn about why Grasse is the perfume capital of the world. Each of the waxes, mineral or vegetable, is of superior quality.