An Olfactory History Lesson with Victoria Christian

By  July 05, 2012

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the most expensive fragrance is Clive Christian No. 1. Crafted to complement the love story of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the fragrance was made to reaffirm the gift of the crown that Victoria had bestowed to the original perfume house, the Crown Perfumery, when it launched publicly in 1872. Glam got learn this and much more about the history of fragrance from Victoria Christian, the daughter of Clive Christian and the brand’s ambassador.

Perfume was a true luxury in the Victorian age and served multiple purposes. After popping the top, the triple extracted fragrance would easily permeate a room to decorate it. A simple pinprick of the concentrated, waxy substance held 170 roses that society’s elite would put on the bones of their corsets, the hemlines of their skirts, into cuffs and collars, and tuck their perfumed handkerchief into their belts or the tops of their corsets. The fragrance warmed as you went about your day and served as a means of personal expression.

“Perfume played a really crucial role in two ways: first, smell,” Christian explained, “And second was the expression of your heart, your soul, your emotions. So the perfume had a big job to do!”

Prior to Clive Christian launching in the states in 2001, the brand faced trepidation from retailers and consumers who worried about a strong scent but it didn’t stop the brand from moving forward.

“Bergdorf’s was the first [U.S.] store to take a dive with it and say, ‘Ok, Let’s go,’” she said. “And nose by nose, drop by drop, it’s become what it was supposed to be: timeless.”

The epitome of timelessness was marked when the record setting fragrance, No. 1 was released. The most expensive fragrance in the world, creating a love poem using the Victorian language of flowers to honor the queen who gave her crown to the brand and are best when the men and women’s fragrance are worn together.

“Like the partnership between Victoria and Albert or a great partnership, one pulls out the sandalwood from the men’s, pulls out the sandalwood from the women’s, the jasmine, and it just draws them together,” Christian said.

A fragrance with a heart that resonates instead of unraveling in a normal three-layer process is more likely to be a sensual scent like Clive Christian’s X. Christian explained that it’s perfect for a hot date as the heart of a scent carries the most powerful, natural aphrodisiacs.

“The jasmine in X for women is Egyptian jasmine, and that’s written throughout the pages of time as it was used by the original Angelina Jolie, Cleopatra,” she said. “She used it when she met Marc Anthony and capture his heart.”

The brand’s Definitive Collection comprising of No. 1, 1872, and X closed off in 2009 but launched the Private collection with the flirty fragrances for men and women, C. In keeping the focus on the fragrance, don’t expect to find any of the perfumes diffused in a soap or lotion.

“Why do you use a body gel; why do you use a soap; why do you use lotion in a fragrance?” she asked.  “Why do you do that? So that it lasts. Well, we just saved you some extra time. Because in Victorian England, when the perfume house was created, they didn’t have a shower with the shower gel and then a lotion – they had a bath. If they were a queen, it was once every two weeks, and they still had to smell good.”


Clive Christian luxury perfumes are available at BergdorfGoodman.com for $310 -$865.