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.