Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Burlap Children, Vintage Bags, and Guet Apens (the perfume, not the movie)

Meet Ralph and Dolores, the burlap children. We named them for the couple that had our telephone number prior to us-we get at least half a dozen calls a day for them. I suspect Ralphie and Dee weren't so great about settling their bills in a timely manner. Anyway, here they are in all their 60's glory.
When I spotted them at Hand-Me-Ups back in March, I knew immediately that I wanted them. I also knew I was alone in that desire, and that if I were patient, the children would end up in the 1/2 price room where I could pay $10.00 rather than $20.00. I liked them, but not twenty dollars worth. Week after week, I'd see they were still there, and of course, they were. Of course they were! Trust me, no one else in Omaha wants this sort of thing. Last week, they finally made their way to the room at the back of the store, and I knew it was time. I had a brief moment of panic when I could only locate Ralphie, but they just hadn't moved Dee to the other room yet, and set her down in an out of the way corner. With great relief, I forked over my ten bucks, loaded the children into the Tempo, and raced home as fast as my little Ford could drive (which honestly, isn't all that fast because the excelleration is shit when the air is on).

Ralphie and Dee were filthy. I mean, really bad. The silk flowers were easy enough to clean as they were only tacked on with pins. I applied some Dawn detergent to remove 50 years of dust, cigarette residue, and cat hair from the flowers, and I'm pleased to say they came back beautifully. The canvas I vacuumed with the hose attachment until nothing else came off, then I hit it with a lint roller. So far so good. I removed the paper from the backing as it was water stained and I was concerned their might be some ancient mould growing behind it. Fortunately, it was clean, so I gave that the vacuum and lint brush treatment as well. It was going so well, I never imagined a damp cloth on the frame would turn the paint to a glue-like wet smear. Right, not waterproof paint. I realised it quickly, so the damage was minimal, but the stink of the old, decomposing paint was really something. It was difficult to wash from my hands as well. Lesson learned-go carefully with the water on old paint.
 They're signed, "Maxine."  I couldn't find anything on the web, and maybe they were a one-off by someone named, Maxine-but they're a very good example of the style. My bedroom wall really isn't the best place to showcase them, but with a bit of imagination, I could see them in a children's playroom, or a shared bedroom over the night tables. I may move them to the upstairs hallway presently occupied by a Miller Studios swan, but for now I'm keeping them where I can see them first thing in the morning, and last thing at night, after all, I waited months to bring them home.

I've had some recent luck with vintage handbags, so I thought I'd share some of the more interesting examples.
 Vintage Ronay bag, still has the mirror. I'm not an expert, but I'd put the bag in the 50's, if I had to make a reasonable guess.
 Such a pretty thing. I have no occasion for a bag like this, but for a couple dollars I couldn't very well leave it.
 This metal bag is even more impractical. I have a metal case clutch that belonged to my mum that holds a lipstick, mirror and has room for some cash and cigarettes. This bag is less of an organiser, though I doubt it would hold much more. It had a very faint tarnish on the back, and the lovely man at the thrift store refused to let me pay full price for it, and insisted I take it for half. At $2.50. I tried explaining to him that it was a deal at full price, but I think he wanted to do something nice for me, so I thanked him, and took it home at half price. People can be so thoughtful and generous.
 Nope, not getting an Eppi-pen in this one. Forget the phone, wallet, and keys too.
 This beaded bag would be perfect for a young girl playing dress-up. My mother gave me a white handbag and an orange floral hat for dress-up when I was small. Little did she know everyday would become dress up. Someone's daughter will end up with this for a birthday eventually, maybe with some gloves tucked inside.

Now, to the matter of the Guet Apens.
Back in '99, I bought a limited edition bottle of the newly-released Guet Apens perfume by Guerlain. It was pricey being 4 ounces of perfume, but the bottle was beautiful (a copy of the 1931 Jicky bottle, though thank god it didn't smell like Jicky which could have been more appropriately named, "Sicky") and I bought it without ever smelling it (there was no tester). I got it home, opened it and sniffed-oakmoss. That was it. All I could detect was a faint whiff of an uninteresting scent, and if there was any difference between the top note and the rest, it was lost on me. Slightly annoyed at the money I had just dropped on a large quantity of perfume I didn't care for, I sealed it up and forgot about it for fifteen years.
As I've been thinking about scent of late, I decided to open it and see if I still disliked it. In the decade and a half it sat unopened the perfume has aged into something quite lovely. Now the scent of violet comes through strongly along with other sweet florals, and Tonka bean. There's still an earthiness to it, but it has receded bringing the floral cent to the fore. Well, that changed my mind-it only took 15 years to properly age! Thinking I might like another bottle to compare, I went to Ebay only to find I now own an absurdly priced bottle of perfume. No shit.

My first thought was, "decant this stuff and sell it on Etsy, you can buy a used car with that kind of money. A nice used car."  Will I? Probably not. I may indeed decant some for use, and then tightly re-seal the bottle to see what it turns into in the next decade. Perfume is such a curious thing,  but what a wonderful surprise it was to open the bottle, and smell how it transformed into something so magnificent. I feel much better about my initial investment even if it took 15 years to enjoy it. There's a lesson in this about patience to be sure, and it now had me curious to smell aged versions of perfumes I didn't quite click with straight from the box. Perhaps I could have learned to love Joy had I given it a decade or so?

Has anyone had this happen to them, liking a perfume better after it has aged a while? I honestly couldn't believe my nose.


Pull Your Socks Up! said...

Maybe cheap scents loaded with alcohol are the ones that go all gross and stinky with age. Actually, swap "cheap scents" with "Desiree" and that describes me to a tee. Except I don't drink anymore. Luckily. The burlap kids would be perfect over night tables. For some reason, most of the gorgeous kitsch in our house ends up in the bathroom. One can never have too many bags/purses that will fit only one front door key, a folded list, some coins and a lipstick. I know because I have a giant laundry bag filled with them. They are simply too beautiful not to buy. xox

Connie said...

You ate a dedicated vintage restorer and I am impressed. I give things a dusting and if that doesn't clean 'em up, out they go. What is it about old perfume? Maybe it does need to age. I love finding old hankies. Mmmm

Bibi said...

In the late 80's & early 90's I worked at the fragrance counter at Nordstrom's In San Francisco & Marin. As such I have quite a collection of 80's scents - Laura Biagotti's Roma, Realm, Lolita Lempicka, etc. Quite frankly they haven't aged well. :(
Some of the older perfumes I inherited from my mom have changed a bit, but for the better. Especially Fame de Corday '48, and Fleurissimo by House of Creed '56.
I wonder if the 80's & 90's stuff had more synthetics that degrade to something nasty over time- or perhaps my taste has changed to something more like my mom's. Oh dear, I am turning into my mother!!! Either way the 40's & 50's scents are less harsh now but still intense & have a much better 'dry down' than the 80's & 90's stuff that goes 'off' to what we posh fragrance counter gals politely called a 'rank accord'.
Anyhooo...Revlon still makes 'Cherries in the Snow' lipstick & nail polish. I still wear it & buy a few tubes & bottles from whenever I'm in the US. It's only about $8 for lipstick & $5 for nail polish. But then again I still wear strip eyelashes & winged eyeliner. ;)

Goody said...

don't be that appetite ain't what it used to be and I couldn't finish him!

...and he wasn't that dedicated anyway ;)

Goody said...


Thank you, I had no idea it was still being made-I guess I looked a few times, struck out and assumed it was gone. I'll seek that out.

Jessica Cangiano said...

Those bags are each strikingly beautiful. I love the black velvet one the most and would date it to the 40s up until the mid-50s or so myself. Don't worry about if you don't have a specific use or occasion in mind for it yet. Classic, elegant vintage bags like that are a special event unto themselves and go, I find, with a surprising number of outfits, from suits to cocktail dresses, pencil skirts + blouses to your favourite vintage winter coat.

♥ Jessica