Vintage late 1940s ad via flickr
In the late 1940’s and throughout the 1950’s the electric cobalt blue bottle of Bourjois Evening In Paris, (or Paris Soir/Paris De Soir as it was marketed in France), was as ubiquitous and recognized in America as the curvaceous Coca-Cola bottle. Sold throughout the nation at every Woolworth’s, Kresge’s, Ben Franklin, and other “five-and-dime” stores and drugstores, Evening In Paris was the sin qua non of down-market sophistication that any woman could afford and proudly display in their powder rooms and on their vanities. Originally created in 1928 by Master perfumer Ernest Beaux (Chanel 5, Chanel 22, Chanel Bois des Iles, et al) for the French Bourjois Cosmetics Company, famous for their face powders and make-up, Evening In Paris became known as “The most famous perfume in the world”, and “the fragrance more women wear than any other in the world”. Those blue flaçons became especially popular with G.I.s returning home from the WW2 European theatre, who would grab bottles to bring back to the states for their girlfriends and wives. Despite the millions of bottles sold, the perfume fell out of favor and was discontinued in 1969.The now-famous electric blue bottle and packaging in blue and silver were based upon the Bourjois Company’s CEO’s racing colors and were (and still are) immediately recognizable world-wide.
Vintage "Soir de Paris" ad circa 1957
In 1992, Evening In Paris was commissioned to, and reborn and revamped by Perfumers Francois Demachy (Dior, Givenchy, Acqua Di Parma) and Jacques Polge (Chanel), using the original formula as inspiration but recreated for a more contemporary (read younger) consumer. Named Bourjois Soir de Paris, the new formulation is recognizable as using Evening In Paris as its genesis, but is also miles apart from the original. Regardless, it is a perfume worth having and wearing in its own right.
Collage of vintage Evening in Paris and Robert's bottle of Soir de Paris
I personally own both a vintage1959 Evening in Paris and a reformulation Bourjois Soir de Paris and I love them both for completely different reasons. The older1959 is in fact richer and deeper with more of the vintage skank that makes my eyes light up with glee. The Chanel vibe is stronger and you can feel the influence of Chanel 5, just less so. Bourjois Soir de Paris is beautiful, more compact, less fussy, streamlined if you will; perfect for wearing all the time. The violet still stands out, the powdery heliotrope puts a furry edge on any sharpness and for heaven’s sake it’s a Demachy/Polge creation so you’re almost guaranteed to like it. Both vintages are still widely available, not quite as cheap as chips as they were a few years ago, but still less than a good lunch in a nice restaurant (and the lunch doesn’t last as long as the perfume). So I save the original for long languid sniff sessions alone at home, and the newer one for wearing out and about and that suits me perfectly! Notes: (2002) Bergamot, apricot, peach, violet, green accord, jasmine, heliotrope, Damascene rose, carnation, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley, iris, vanilla, sandalwood, musk, amber
Bourjois Soir de Paris and the opinions are my own.
-Robert B. Herrmann, Senior Editor