Last year, Lubin Paris Creative Director and President Gilles Thevenin launched a new men’s fragrance called Upper Ten composed by Thomas Fontaine. The fragrance took the conventional tenets of men’s perfumery, namely power, success and virility, and it wove them into a story about America’s coming of age. The “upper ten” was an abbreviation coined by 19th century poet Nathaniel Parker Willis who referred to New York’s elite as the “upper ten thousand.” These men were responsible for leading the country into a modern era and the First Industrial Revolution.
Two months ago, Lubin debuted Upper Ten for Her, the feminine counterpart of the masculine Upper Ten. The new perfume picks up the story just over a half-century later. Having lived up to its promise as the land of opportunity, many of the immigrants that came to America in search of fortune were now living what would later become known as the American Dream. Upper Ten for Her is set in New York’s Roaring Twenties. This time in history has been referenced many times by contemporary niche perfume houses that are inspired by the decadence and style of the Gilded Age. The 1920s was a playground for people that writer F. Scott Fitzgerald described as “flappers and philosophers.” The human cost of World War I made many Americans re-think their approach to life and a booming economy made enjoying it easy.
Silent Screen Actress Colleen Moore In Why Be Good 1929 was known as Hollywood's most famous flapper
Women of this time were described as forward thinking, revolutionary “flappers” who embodied modernism. The newly ratified Nineteenth Amendment now guaranteed their right to vote. Other law reforms unwittingly encouraged a new culture. Prohibition laws created an exciting underground social scene of speakeasies and jazz clubs. Jazz’s frantic tempo mirrored the buzz of the sprawling city.
Blues by Archibald J. Motley Jr.
Lubin’s description of Upper Ten for Her reads like a scene from The Great Gatsby. Our lead character is a Turkish cigarette-touting flapper who we first meet at Broadway’s famous Ziegfeld Follies. She is sipping bootleg cocktails as she takes in the opulent revue inspired by Paris’ Folies Bergère. Later she ventures uptown to Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom, the birthplace of the Lindy Hop. Here she dances in what must have been the country’s most liberal social club of that time. At the Savoy people of all classes and ethnicities mingled, united by music and dance.
M. Montedoro, Art Deco postcard 3, 1920s
Upper Ten for Her begins with a mellowed bergamot note that has been cut with elemi resin and aromatic artemesia. One of the interesting aspects of the fragrance is the imaginative Isabella grape accord that fills the top notes. It’s a watery green accord that adds a subtle fruity facet to the Bulgarian rose extract in the heart of the fragrance. Sichuan pepper creates texture and heat; raspberry liqueur adds density and a jammy fruit note that lingers in the background as the fragrance dries down.
Tamara de Lempicka Portrait de Madame Allan Bott.
Upper Ten for Her ends with exotic woods, frankincense, amber and chocolate. Some wearers may like the beginning of the fragrance, which is filled with a clash of angular textures. My favourite part is the dry down once the fragrance settles on skin. Smooth woods veiled in pale rose are laid bare and there is a lovely contrast between incense and chocolate that holds as the fragrance fades into nothing.
Eva Longoria for Harper's Bazaar Singapore 2009 Photographer Simon Upton
Anyone expecting a nostalgic journey back to the powdery classics, which houses like Chanel, Coty or Caron were creating in the 1920s will be disappointed. Upper Ten for Her is an entirely modern creation that offers some novel accords whilst still maintaining a modicum of being orthodox. In many ways the fragrance transcends the story it has been paired with.
Notes like frankincense, Sichuan pepper, chocolate and precious woods take Upper Ten for Her’s wearer away from 1920s Manhattan in search of exotic locales around the world. I suspect this feminine version of Upper Ten will also attract a following of male wearers. The notes are very versatile in relation to gender.
Notes: Grapes, elemi, bergamot, wormwood, raspberry, rose, sichaun pepper, dark chocolate, amber, precious woods, incense
Disclaimer: Review sample provided by Lubin’s Australasian distributor, Agence de Parfum.
Guest Contributor, Clayton Ilolahia and Author of What Men Should Smell Like
Art Direction: Michelyn Camen. I mixed vintage flapper photos and paintings with modern day re-interpretations
Upper Ten For Woman photo by Clayton, Digitalized by Michelyn
Thanks to Lubin Paris (check out their new website) we have a worldwide draw for a registered reader of a 50 ml bottle of Upper Ten for Women. To be eligible please leave a comment with what you enjoyed about Clayton’s review, where you live and your favorite Lubin fragrance. Who is your favorite flapper? Draw closes 5/4/2016
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