Paris Scents: Spray-by-Spray at Sephora
By Theadora Brack
Rise and shine! Fragrance fanatics, this one is for you.
One of my favorite hotspots in Paris to get beautified in a pinch is the Sephora on the Champs-Elysées. Boasting a dramatic ramp and a ruby red carpet, it’s one of the largest Sephora boutiques in the world.
A superstar since 1969, the classic French chain is a cross between a gigantic supermarket and a glitzy playground, with testers available for every product sold.
Dig a scent? Ask for a free sample. They’ll happily prepare one for you.
So where to start?
To help make-up your mind, I’ve created a spray-by-spray shopping list of some of the famous (and sometimes difficult to find) fragrances available here. Sharpen your pencil! Here’s a list of my favorite scents, along the stars who loved them. Time travel just got easier!
“Arpège” by Lanvin (1927)
Princess Diana, Rita Hayworth and Jayne Mansfield fell for its full-bodied scent.
“Cabochard” by Grés (1959)
Shaped and named by Madame Grés after voyaging to India, “Cabochard” translates to “stubborn” or “headstrong.” Gloria “Norma Desmond” Swanson was mad about it.
“Femme” by Rochas (1945)
Mae West, Joan Crawford, and Carole Lombard all found the original formula simply diva-licious.
Mae West’s curvaceous torso inspired the shape of not just one hourglass-shaped bottle, but two—for Femme by Rochas and for Schiaparelli’s Shocking!
“Fleur de Rocaille” by Caron (1933)
Ava Gardner wore the original version, inspired by Monet’s water-lily paintings.
“Jicky” by Guerlain (1889)
Not only were Brigitte Bardot and Sarah Bernhardt devotees, but so were Roger Moore, Sean Connery and Peter Sellers.
Created the same year the Eiffel Tower was built, ”Jicky” was one of the first fragrances to be made with synthetic ingredients.
“Joy” by Jean Patou (1930)
Patou launched it just after the stock market crashed, because he wanted to lift the gloom and give his American clientele something they could still afford to buy. Even so, it was immediately nicknamed “the most expensive perfume in the world” because it took 10,000 jasmine flowers from Grasse and 360 roses from Bulgaria just to make one ounce.
Grace Kelly, Josephine Baker, Vivien Leigh, Sophia Lauren, Marilyn Monroe and Mary Pickford all helped spread a little Joy around.
“L’Interdit” by Givenchy (1957)
Count Hubert de Givenchy fashioned “L’Interdit,” (“The Forbidden”) for muse Audrey Hepburn, as well as her luscious garments for films like “Sabrina,” “Funny Face,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” and “Paris When it Sizzles.”
“L’Heure Bleue” by Guerlain (1912)
“L’Heure Bleue” (“Twilight”) softly wooed both Catherine Deneuve and Wallis Simpson (Duchess of Windsor), who smartly paired it with Guerlain’s other classic, “Mitsouko.”
“Mitsouko” by Guerlain (1919)
Celebrating the end of WWI, Jean Harlow, Ingrid Bergman, Charlie Chaplin, Anaïs Nin and Serge Diaghilev all took to Mitsouko’s bold intensity. Jean Harlow’s husband, Paul Bern (MGM producer), sprayed himself with her Mitsouko just before committing suicide, only two weeks after their wedding. Talk about lingering power!
“Vol de Nuit” by Guerlain (1933)
Created as a tribute to flyer Antoine de Saint-Exupery (author of “The Little Prince”), aviators around the globe, along with Claudette Colbert, Marlene Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn, all found the scent of “Night Flight” heads above others. Its bottle evokes an airplane propeller.
Fly me to the moon!
Sephora is where I also pick up my beloved Bourjois eye shadow and blusher. Available in sweet candy-colored pots, I’m hooked. Historic Bourjois has been creating cosmetics (along with an extensive repertoire of wildly popular fragrances) since 1863. Back in the day, even actress Sarah Bernhardt was a fan!
Here’s more skinny
70 avenue des Champs-Elysées, 8th arrondissement
Open: Monday through Sunday, 10 AM to Midnight