A behind-the-scenes memoir offers a bouquet of memories about the fragrance industry.
Maybe it was fate when, in the early 1920s, the author’s pregnant mother went into labor in the perfume department of Wanamaker’s department store. Then in the ’50s, Green (co-author: Secrets of Aromatic Jewelry, 2001) worked as a young reporter for the Hearst Corporation’s American Druggist. She was assigned a column exploring how drug stores could profit from the expanding teenage beauty market. The column’s success spurred her interest in the beauty and fragrance industry, and she ultimately opened her own marketing agency, producing creative campaigns for clients like Breck Shampoo. In the early ’60s, Green became executive director of the struggling Fragrance Foundation, and in 10 years’ time, she developed it into a highly successful nonprofit organization. Though the perfume industry was male-dominated, the author helped shape it for more than 40 years. She also established an educational program at the Fashion Institute of Technology in the early ’80s. This chatty career story—complete with many photographs of Green rubbing elbows with glamorous notables like Elizabeth Taylor—takes a historic look at fragrance trends, such as Revlon’s Charlie perfume for pantsuit-wearing career women in the ’70s. It’s easy to lose track of time while reading the author’s smooth, footnoted prose, which is chock-full of compelling anecdotes. For example, she writes that Jovan’s Musk Cologne for women was inspired by hippies who created powerful fragrances to hide the scent of pot. Encouraging women to wear a “wardrobe of fragrance” and not just one signature scent, Green writes that one of her biggest challenges was that most American women only used perfume on special occasions. In this who’s who of the perfume world, the author doesn’t describe a step-by-step business model. But her upbeat account gives budding entrepreneurs glimpses of colorful insider projects, like how she started an annual honors event, which later became known as the FiFi Awards. Combining creativity with a strong work ethic, Green delivers ideas—such as approaching a museum with a proposal for a fragrance exhibition—that are inspirational.
A sweet and entertaining account of the scent industry’s metamorphosis.