Is there anyone over 40 who hasn't worn - or at least tested - Quelques Fleurs? Introduced in 1912 and translated as "Some Flowers," Quelques Fleurs Eau de Parfum is a blend of soft, sensual florals that has over 250 different raw materials and more than 15,000 flowers in each ounce.
Its continuing popularity was brought home to me last week when I was hanging around with Loyd at Saks in Chevy Chase, looking at Armani's new holiday sets (more on those later). A woman approached and wanted to know if he could help her find Quelques Fleurs for her mother. She also asked about value sets. Take heart, shopper, I found a set at Neiman Marcus, and an online search turned up plenty of sets at discounted rates! My fragrance counter expert at Nordstrom is expecting to get sets for the holiday season, and she's taking reservations. They're that popular!
Jean-François Houbigant (1752-1807) launched his perfume business in Paris in 1775, originally selling gloves, perfumes, and bridal bouquets. His business grew to cater to royalty and the wealthy class. Fast forward from that rich history to the year 1912, when Houbigant perfumer Bienaimé picked up the ball and introduced Quelques Fleurs, one of Houbigant's all-time great fragrances. Unfortunately, during the 1990's, the company filed for bankruptcy, changed hands multiple times, and it's not at all clear to me that Bienaimé's Quelques Fleurs is the exact fragrance sold today. However, I have read that the fragrance is being manufactured today under the original specifications.
I'm a little confused about what some refer to as "Vintage" Quelques Fleurs vs Quelques Fleurs L'Original. Maybe one of you can help out? It appears that sophisticated noses detect a difference. I have asked countless fragrance experts, and I have not received a consistent answer. Most of them say that Quelques Fleurs L'Original is the real deal. So, comment please if you know!
Here's what we do seem to know. The top notes are orange blossom, green notes, tarragon, bergamot, and lemon. The middle notes are carnation, tuberose, orchid, lilac, orris root, jasmine, heliotrope, ylang-ylang, lily of the valley, and rose. The base notes are sandalwood, tonka bean, amber, musk, civet, and oak moss.
So many fragrances come and go, driven out of the market for any number of reasons (they "stink," they aren't distinctive, their celebrity namesake went to jail...so many reasons). Quelques Fleurs' longevity and timeless popularity are indisputable.
You can find it at hundreds of sources and at wildly varying prices. Do your homework if you're looking for it. And if you want one of those value sets from your local department store, get on the list!
Photo courtesy of Fragrance.net