In one of the Claudine novels, Colette unflatteringly described a character as having the feral, civet-like smell of a redhead. In the 1920s, Jean Patou released a trio of fragrances, each reflecting a different stage of love and a different hair color. Adieu Sagesse (Goodbye Wisdom) is the scent for redheads, for instance. I remembered both Colette and Patou when I came across a copy of Best Hairdos, a drugstore book published by Fawcett in 1965. Besides charting curler diagrams for elaborate bouffants, the book suggests types of perfume depending on what color of hair you have. Below, I’ve culled some of the highlights for you.
If you were to follow the Best Hairdos rules, you’d best be a blonde since you’d have the most leeway:
Your perfume depends on your likes and dislikes, body chemistry, and general type. The scents that seem to go best with blonde hair, however, are light and clear. A floral compound or single floral scent, or one of the more modern fragrances for the more sophisticated blonde, are good choices.
It adds some general beauty advice for blondes, too:
As a blonde, you must decide what type you are — slim and sophisticated, ultra-feminine, cool and sporty…Steer clear of very frilly or ornate styles, however. As a blonde, you don’t need to flaunt your femininity.
And yet floral perfumes are definitely feminine. Oh well, if you want to wear leather perfumes you can always fall back on the “likes and dislikes” qualifier. Otherwise blondes are stuck with Parfums de Rosine and the gentler Carons, like Fleurs de Rocailles and Pois de Senteur.
For brunettes, selecting perfume is more complicated. This is what Best Hairdos has to say:
If you’re a deep, sultry brunette, you might choose an intense, Oriental fragrance for evening wear. During the day, choose a lighter perfume of the same type. The golden brunette might like a woodsy fragrance to go with her fresh, outdoor look, or one of the new, modern scents. The pale, fragile brunette will probably prefer a single floral or bouquet fragrance, to enhance her gentle look of femininity. The rosy-skinned, wholesome type of brunette might like a clean, modern scent or a single floral scent.
And the extra beauty tip for brunettes? “Furs, especially the tawny or spotted kind, bring out that brunette magic.” I guess we’d better mail our bottles of Shalimar to “sultry brunettes”. “Fragile” brunettes can duke it out at the perfume counter with the blondes. Who do you think is a golden brunette? What the heck is a golden brunette?
Last but not least — redheads. Best Hairdos doesn’t have much to say here: “Since redheads are usually gay, sparkling and different, the fresh modern scents seem to be in order. Avoid any sweet, flowery fragrances as they just don’t seem to go with a redhead’s bright, modern sparkle.” The book is generally complimentary toward redheads, though, and says, “Red hair spells glamour, excitement and allure.” I have red hair and I would drink Caron Tabac Blond and Guerlain Vol de Nuit by the quart if I could afford it. I wouldn’t call either of those scents fresh or modern.
I won’t be following Best Hairdos’ perfume advice any time soon, although my “bright, modern sparkle” keeps me partying most of the time rather than studying beauty manuals. Not. Maybe I’ll try my hand at one of the hairdos, instead. Watch out, Zsa Zsa.
As for Colette’s slur on redheads, didn’t she henna her hair?
Note: image of Claudine stamp via Center Blog.