Thursday, January 10, 2013

Laura Ashley- Emma (Vintage Perfume)


It's easy today to make fun of Laura Ashley's design. It's Death By Pink Flowers. An overkill of preciousness. And have I mentioned pink flowers? It's many people's home decor nightmare (mine too) and possibly the least sexy choice one can make. But when you actually look at Ashley's original work and prints they aren't really that cutesy despite the Victorian flavor; they were definitely not ridiculous, just really really feminine. I still remember Laura Ashley stores in the 1980s and some very pretty and dresses they offered.

Pretty. That's the main thing about Laura Ashley's work.



Back in the day there were several Laura Ashley perfumes. They were discontinued and became very collectible. Some of them were recently relaunched in the familiar flower decorated bottles, but Emma wasn't among them, which is a real shame. I was thrilled a few weeks ago when I found a partial bottle of Emma at an antique store. It's a clear splash bottle with a glass stopper decorated with an etched "E". Pretty but definitely not overdone.

The very top notes are a bit wonky. It smells like a light citrus that hasn't aged to well, but within seconds it becomes all better and the true floral nature of Emma is revealed. I smell green stems and leaves along some freesia, narcissus, hyacinth and rose, before the spring breath of muguet comes along. I think I also smell a heady hydrangea, but who knows? The overall impression is an almost abstract floral, a little sweet, somewhat green, and-- you guessed it-- very pretty.


I definitely smell oakmoss in Emma's dry-down. It adds not just to the green and clean impression, but also to the fragrance's backbone. Emma is not a wimpy perfume, despite its sheerness (and the questionable longevity of the old juice in my bottle). It's light and lacks any earthiness that could have been there from the suggested notes (below). I guess it's like the pretty stylized flowers of Laura Ashley's prints, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Notes (as found online. No guarantees whatsoever) : Bergamot, Freesia, Hyacinth, Bulgarian Rose Absolute, Honey, Honeysuckle, Lily of the Valley, Amber, Brazilian Vetiver, Moss, Musk, Sandalwood.

Top photo: Gwyneth Paltrow as Jane Austen's Emma via IMDB.
Second photo of my own bottle features crocheted lace handmade by my great-grandmother, Denise, in the early 1920. Wrong era and wrong country (she grew up in Bucharest, Romania), but I thought it's pretty.
Photo of Laura Ashley fashion by Jane Ashley via lauraashley.com.

12 comments:

  1. I love pink! Really, really shows femininity. I'll never get bored of this color.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You've brought back memories! I used to wear this all those years ago, preferring it to the other LA fragrance, No 1 which was lighter and more flowery. I used to think that Emma smelt a little like Nina Ricci's Fleur de Fleurs, but am not so sure now, and wish I had them both to compare. I am now regretting throwing away (yes, I know, so wasteful and stupid) a nearly full bottle of their L'Eau. I now think I would appreciate L'Eau's bitter greenness, and also am shocked at the price commanded for this and Emma on auction sites!
    Jillie

    ReplyDelete
  3. Laura Ashley No. 1 was my signature fragrance for years! Ah...memories! I still have an old bottle and a jar of the body creme. I can't remember why I didn't wear Emma - perhaps it turned too sweet on me? (That's my big fragrance issue.)

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  4. Most definitely Laura Ashley is not ridiculous. I miss the traditional firm,and have not even hoped to find today anything like the goods that they used to offer. That is the ridiculous part: there is no choice in clothes today or a lot of fragrances either: they are all pretty much the same unless you stick with the classics. And even some of them have changed. It is not the same world anymore.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HopFlower, I share your sentiment. I shop vintage or consignment shops and find gently used clothes that are inexpensive and the quality of the fabric and workmanship are amazing. And not everyone will be wearing the same outfit. Favorite find to date, a vintage wool/tweed Balmain dress, I think it cost $40 U.S.

      Delete
    2. Yes; as you pointed out, much of the craftsmanship in almost everything today is lacking. It seems that it is all made to be thrown out quickly so we can buy a bunch of stuff again!

      It sounds like you are one of those lucky ones who find really good treasures. I look and look, and rarely find anything of any real worth.

      Delete
  5. I used to wear Emma and Anais Anais in H.S. back in the day. While florals don't normally intrigue me, it's the oakmoss backbone that gave them personality and longevity.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ooooh, blast from the past. I used to love L'Eau by Laura Ashley back when I started studying at university. I still have empty bottles and a half-full bottle stashed away somewhere. My mum used to love #1. I think Laura Ashley's original designs are lovely and I think even their clothes were nice (so British), but they went downhill at some point in the 90s (as did the quality). LA reminds me of the UK TV series I used to watch when I was small... I'm getting all sentimental and warm and fuzzy right now. :D

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm interested to hear that Emma has oakmoss. I smelled my old bottle of LA#1 recently and was amazed at the oakmoss that leapt out of the bottle as soon as I lifted the stopper. Despite that, it is still a clean and very feminine fragrance. With backbone, to use Elizabeth's word. Estee Lauder's Beautiful achieve's a similar effect, in my opinion, while perhaps being a tad more mature.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Laura Ashley perfumes are hit-or-miss. Some are great and some are really not worth mentioning. I actually like Dilys. It has a citrusy scent that reminds me of Roger and Gallets Bouquet Imperial. Not to mention those sweet and fruity plum, peach and jasmine notes. Brings back so many memories just thinking about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I, too, liked Dilys.

      Delete
    2. Replica,
      I LOVE Bouquet Imperiale, I've worn it for years! Have you tried Clarins Eau des Jardins? A bit more floral than Bouquet Imperial, but same idea with a touch more sillage and great longevity.

      Delete

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