The Soviet "Ballet" Scents, Part 1

The Soviet "Ballet" Scents, Part 1

The art of ballet inspired perfumers from different countries to create their fragrances. A lot of "ballet" perfumes appeared in the Soviet Union too, and many of them became symbols of the era.

Red Poppy: an oriental legend

The perfumery factory Novaya Zarya (Nouvelle Etoile) released this perfume in 1927, two years earlier than their famous Krasnaya Moskva (Red Moscow). The ballet of the same name to the music by Reinhold Glière and libretto by Mikhail Kurilko premiered on June 14, 1927, at the Bolshoi Theater. 

Red Poppy was the first Soviet ballet fragrance. 

Packaged in a yellow box with a red flower framed by hieroglyphs, this perfume turned out to be a real long-liver. It was produced until the 1980s. 

The ballet begins in a Chinese port, and the scent of the same name is filled with oriental notes. We know that the perfumer David Graber was inspired by the ballet libretto, where the main character of the production Tao Hao (her name is translated as Red Poppy) represented exotic gardens full of bright red flowers, and the movement of their petals reminded of a dance. The fragrance had the notes of amber and spices: you could sense cloves and cinnamon in it. Thanks to these features, the Red Poppy perfume had an enveloping and warming effect; its trail was similar to Chinese silk.  

Giselle: a perfume anthem to youth 

This floral perfume was produced by the Riga factory Dzintars in 1978. Its compact slender bottle was made of figured glass and decorated with a bright blue cap with flowers on it. The perfumer Bronislava Shvartsman was obviously inspired by the image of the title character of the ballet of the same name. Giselle first appeared on stage in 1841. Since then this "fantastic ballet" to the music by Adolphe Adam, based on a legend, has become a classic for centuries. The St. Petersburg audience became acquainted with this plot in 1884, thanks to the choreographer Marius Petipa. The stage life of Giselle culminated with Mikhail Fokine's production for Diaghilev's Russian Seasons. In 1910-1911, the ballet was successfully performed on European stages, with Tamara Karsavina and Vaslav Nijinsky performing the main parts in it. 

The Giselle scent opened with a union of lily of the valley, tuberose, freesia and geranium; its heart was also floral, having iris, violet and tea rose in it.  The base was formed by white musk, sandalwood, vetiver and pink pepper notes. The perfumer managed to create an aromatic portrait of the gentle and feminine heroine, and this image turned out to be close to many women of the era. 

Ballet: a bouquet for dancers and art lovers

This fragrance dedicated to the finest art was created in 1952 by the Novaya Zarya factory. The first thing you felt were the floral notes of lily of the valley and mock orange combined with lemon. Then vetiver and leather were added to the scent. The base was made of patchouli, musk and amber. 

It was critical for the perfumers to convey a combination of sublime weightlessness and feeling of hovering over stage with daily painstaking work, a ballet dancer can’t be imagined without. The bottle resembled a figure whirling in a dance. Made of light-colored glass and packed in a red and beige box with a hinged lid, it evoked associations with something elegant and luxurious. The perfume was very popular in the USSR, and these vintage bottles with floral fragrance are still in demand on the forums of perfume connoisseurs. 

Pirouette: an evening fragrance for the ballet connoisseurs

Another ballet fragrance was released by the Novaya Zarya factory at the turn of the 1950s-1960s. It opened with the scents of bergamot, sage and rose. Then they were complemented by vetiver, rose and iris. The tangy notes of patchouli, sandalwood, amber and musk could be perceived at the base. Thanks to this complex and ornate kaleidoscope of scents this perfume was considered "evening": it could often be felt in theater boxes. 

You can see a reference to one of the most recognizable ballet technique elements in the design of the bottle already. The spiral-shaped relief conveyed the dynamics of an artist rotating on stage, the elongated shape of the bottle was associated with a dancer striving upward. Moreover, Pirouette was produced in two cases - black and white; for ballet fans, this was always an obvious "hint" to the costumes of Odette and Odile in Swan Lake. 

By the way, one of the main lyrical heroines of the ballet - Odette - had a fragrance of the same name dedicated specifically to her. We are going to tell you about what it was like and what other Soviet perfumes were created thanks to the art of classical dance in the second part of this article.