Saturday 13 June 2015

La Maison WORTH est de retour

The House of Worth, still most famous for the fragrances Je Reviens and Dans La Nuit, has in recent years seen the lustre start to fade on this diamond in the crown of perfumery, but could it be about to shine once more? Founded by Charles Worth, an Englishman, and his business partner Otto Bobergh in 1858 on Paris' Rue de la Paix, he was to become one of the greatest names in couture fashion, but the fragrances wouldn't arrive until 1924. By this time the company was being run by Charles' grandson, Jacques Worth, and he saw the potential for a fashion house also venturing into the perfumery market

The perfumer Maurice Blanchet was chosen to create the first fragrance, Dans La Nuit, which was originally given as a gift to selected clients. He went on to produce further perfumes including Vers Le Jour, Sans Adièu, Je Reviens and Vers Toi, which together with Dans La Nuit became known as the Love Poem, and were released as such in a heavily re-formulated set in 1995. Je Reviens was the one that grabbed the public imagination when in launched in 1932 and was the only one that would constantly remain in production.

Subsequent sales of the company to the Lamotte Group and then David Reiner, operating as Worth Fine Fragrances PLC, saw the beloved formulations reduced to a shadow of their former selves with massive overdoses of synthetic jasmine, sections of the formulae removed completely and also the introduction of marine and melon notes! Even the new fragrances, Miss Worth and Worth Pour Homme (one of my all time favourites), couldn't stop the brand slipping from premium department store to chemist counter, and the end looked in sight.

Enter Dilesh Mehta, a knight in shining armour or just a shrewd businessman? In 1999 Dilesh's company, Designer Parfums which is part of the Shaneel Group, saw the potential of the brand name "Worth" and also saw that it sat nicely alongside their other "past-premium" brands Jean Patou and Lentheric. With Je Reviens still the most famous of its fragrances, Dilesh asked Pierre Bourdon to create Je Reviens Couture, with the aim of it being as close as possible to the original fragrance. It is interesting to note that the 1995 David Reiner version, which is still in production by Designer Parfums, now smells very eighties when compared with Je Reviens Couture, but I am still very fond of that version.

So what does the future hold for the House of Worth? With the retirement of Pierre Bourdon in 2007, Dilesh Mehta appointed Thomas Fontaine as its new in-house perfumer. Recently responsible for the restoration of the Jean Patou fragrances, it is likely he will be involved in the rumoured re-release of the Worth catalogue, and I will be in the front of the queue when they do.

Both versions of Je Reviens are currently available from the company's website, along with Worth Pour Homme and Courtesan.

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