8/9/12

Agua Lavanda Puig (Antonio Puig)



In the early 1940s, America was a strange country to live in. The majority of its male population was overseas, fighting on any one of several fronts in Europe and Asia. Left behind were women, children, and the elderly. Perfume releases were few and far beteween; men had no women to impress, and women had no men. Those who wore perfume were wearing it for nostalgia's sake, for love of husbands battling the enemy, or to celebrate their successful avoidance of conscription. Many Hollywood actors were given the generous option to enlist, and I imagine more than a few of them lived it up while their fellow countrymen got shot at. One of the many reasons I admire Jimmy Stewart is that he was willing to serve his country, when he could just as easily have kicked back at home and enjoyed his money. Fragrance was probably something he had no interest in at all.

Agua Lavanda Puig was released in 1940, which makes it a bit of a mystery. Who was it marketed to? Was it strictly a European release, worn by the war-torn men and women of Spain and France? Not likely, although I understand it is currently very popular in Spain. Was it imported into America for the Left-Behind generation? Perhaps, but I can't figure out exactly why. There were certainly some middle-aged men left in America, mostly successful businessmen in the upper middle class. I suppose they might have been given to wearing something like Puig's lavender water. The thing is, it doesn't smell like something any American male of the 1940s would wear. It is unremittingly Mediterranean. It is fresh, mossy, loaded with lavender, basil, and a beautiful woody lime note, which became much more popular in the 1960s. Agua Lavanda is, without exaggeration, the greenest example of early twentieth century perfumery, save for Coty's Chypre, Guerlain's Mitsouko, and Green Water by Jacques Fath. It does not get any greener, fresher, or southern European than Agua Lavanda Puig.

Puig's original formula has survived the decades and can still be had today at a whopping $20 a bottle. However, a word of caution: the fragrance comes in two different forms, one in a plastic shampoo bottle, the other in a seven ounce glass flask. Get the one in glass; the plastic version smells like a 33% concentration.














4 comments:

  1. I don't think I've ever seen this! Can you say more about what it smells like? I'm really intrigued by your description of green, fresh, southern European ... is it super dry? Herbal?

    (Sorry for the interrogation - trying to decide if I need to attempt to track this down, or just watch for it casually.)

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    1. Rumor has it this was Frank Sinatra's everyday splash. No idea if that's even remotely true or not. But it sounds good.

      It's basically a lavender cologne, with a solidly aromatic Spanish lavender note sandwiched between very dry woody citrus (similar in tonality to that in Grey Flannel, only easier on the nose), and mossy/spicy/woody notes in the base. It is definitely unisex, very widely used in Spain, southern France, and parts of Italy. It smells very cool, like being in a shady, mossy grove, somewhere south of La Mure. Or perhaps even Saragossa. For an inexpensive cologne splash, it's surprisingly good, very green, crisp, but with a soft herbal drydown. You might very well like it. One of the better lavenders out there.

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  2. There is a bit more than rumour. Ava Gadner lived on Madrid during a lot of time, married with Frank Synatra, time of sex scandals with toreros, Dominguín, etc and Frank Synatra filmed on Spain horrible film with Sophia Loren about Independence War on Spain. Frank Synatra was on my country a lot of times more jelous and really in love of her wife Ava, and Why not use this scent?? Was popular and not strange.. Could it happend, really I don't Know and I don't mind it. On the other hand in other times Spain was visited my country becouse was cheaper filmed Western and historic(Dr Zivago, 55 days on Pekin ... etc and a lot of Sergio Leone of course spagetti western..) But only Ava lived as spaniard a lot of time and was in mess to insult Peron with her house maid..
    About Lavanda really "a granel colonia" usual on spanish homes and to men.

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