When the news first broke out about a 150 years old perfume being discovered in a shipwreck and commercialized, a friend teasingly asked me if this was some cunning marketing ploy on my part. To explain a little: I am currently touring a poetry-theatre show called The Shipwrecked House which happens to use two different perfumes on its audiences to respectively evoke the scents of home and the sea.
If only! The Mary Celestia, named after the ship the original perfume was found in, is being reproduced for modern tastes by the Bermuda Parfumery (about 80% of the ingredients match, as I understand it). It’s hard not to see this shipwrecked perfume as a symbol for our own memories: carefully preserved, sometimes for decades, never quite accurate but almost always potent.
If you find the concept interesting, then here is my attempt to make my friend's tease a reality: come and see my show! We're off to Norwich tomorrow and then have a few dates coming up in Leeds, Newcastle, London, Bridport and Oxford. The perfumes have been specially created by Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesday and might shake loose long forgotten treasures of their own too...
"A small box, its lid gone, lay on its side on the deck inside the bow," Delgado wrote. "Close to it, a small bottle emerged. It was sealed with a glass stopper and filled with a clear liquid." Markings on the intact bottle indicate the perfume is from the now-defunct Piesse and Lubin perfume house in London. Perfumer G.W. Septimus Piesse wrote "The Art of Perfumery," the first book on modern fragrance-making in 1857. "When we got the bottle (from Delgado and fellow diver and anthropologist Philippe Rouja) I wanted to open it in an environment that would allow us to find out exactly what the fragrance is," Ramsay-Brackstone told CTVNews.ca on Wednesday. So she took it to drom perfumer Jean-Claude Delville at a lab in New Jersey. "In perfumery, opportunities like this don't come along too often," said Delville in a statement. He conducted scientific analysis of the original perfume to recreate the new fragrance. "It was kind of a surprise," Delville told CTVNews.ca about when he first opened the bottle. "When the fragrance has been sitting at the bottom of the ocean and aging for so many years you expect something that is oxidized or damaged. But my first impression was 'wow'."