Beauty Buys Inspired by Newport

Saturday, July 14, 2012


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The romance of Newport's Gilded Age is captured in these three fragrances. Channel the romance this summer.

While excited sailing and music fans flocked to Newport for this summer's America's Cup, Tall Ships flotilla, and now the renowned Newport Music Festival, why not slip away to another time and tour the city’s famous (and infamous) castles by the sea? Once owned by the Gilded Age's wealthiest entrepreneurs, steel and oil barons left behind grand interiors reminiscent of privilege and still redolent with the scent of flowers and soft sea breezes. What perfumes did Newport's aristocratic wives choose for their toilette while summering during that fascinating age of opulence?

The House of Houbigant's Quelque Fleurs was launched in 1912 and became an immediate sensation with the moneyed set because of its complex floral blend. Victorian women before this time wore only demure single note florals until Quelque Fleurs burst onto the scene with a blend of over 15,000 hot-house flowers. As elegant and distinguished as a beaded evening gown masterpiece by that era's premier designer, Charles Frederick Worth, this regal, romantic fragrance is still available for purchase at

Narcisse Noir by Caron is a heady blend of Persian black narcissus, jonquils, jasmine, and bergamot.  A dark and smoky scent, our Gilded Age ladies would have desired it on their skin as they waltzed across their mansion's parquet floors or on star-lit, palm-lined terraces.  This stunningly beautiful perfume, created in 1911, is still available at for your own dreamy Newport summer night. Wear it as you stroll Bellevue Avenue after dark or sip a midnight aperitif outdoors on Bowen's Wharf.

French perfume house Guerlain had yet to take America by storm with its famous and enduring Shalimar, but it tempted Gilded Age ladies with L'Heure Bleue, a synthetic blend featuring frankincense and balsam of Peru. This enthralling perfume is not soon forgotten and even today enjoys lasting appeal.  Created in 1912, its name refers to the hour of twilight when it is neither light nor dark and thus, the perfume is sometimes called moody or atmospheric. It was perfect for the intimate parlor parties and dinners at Edwardian manor houses; it's still ideal for your cozy dinner for two in one of Newport's old world style restaurants.  Find L'Heure Bleue today at .

To put you even more in the mood, take in one of Newport’s storied manions. A schedule of tours and special events can be found at

Photo: Andria Bird Bride

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