Lightyears Collection
Quelques Fleurs

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older Quelques Fleurs bottle

Older Baccarat Quelques Fleurs perfume bottle. "Stock" bottle and stopper were common to many fragrances of the era.

In creating Quelques Fleurs, Houbigant perfumer Robert Bienaimé "joined the early users of methyl nonyl acetaldehyde" (aldehyde C-12 MNA) — a synthetic aroma chemical isolated by professor Georges Darzens in 1903.

In 1912, Quelques Fleurs was a great fragrance — a "prestige" fragrance, was we would say today — a fragrance Houbigant could be proud of. In fact, the name itself mirrors the original sign over Jean-François Houbigant's Paris shop — the "Basket of Flowers".

In 1935, Bienaimé left Houbigant to found his own fragrance house. Quelques Fleurs continued to be a top seller for Houbigant worldwide but, over the years, the formula and "positioning" of the brand mutated. By 1993 Houbigant had split its licenses, trademarks and manufacturing rights among various licencees in various countries; quality control became less important than cash flow. Quelques Fleurs became more of a name (trademark) than a fragrance. By the 1990s, it is likely that most buyers of Quelques Fleurs had no knowledge of the fragrance's proud origins and it would more likely be found in a chain drugstore than an upscale department store.

Today Quelques Fleurs can be credited as providing a good part of the inspiration that led perfumer Ernest Beaux to create Rallet's Bouquet de Catherine (1913), which, after its failure in Russia, was renamed Rallet Le No.1, and led directly to Beaux's creation of No.5 for Chanel.

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photo of older bottle of Quelques Fleurs

Older bottle of Houbigant's Quelques Fleurs perfume.

Also studying Robert Bienaimé's use of aldehyde C-12 MNA were perfumers Henri Alméras (who created Joy for Jean Patou), Vincent Roubert (who created L'Aimant for Coty), and Henri Robert (who went on to become Chanel's perfumer in the 1950s and creator of Chanel's No.19).

When it was launched in 1912, Quelques Fleurs was hailed (by perfumers in particular) as a modern fragrance — and indeed it set a course which 20th century perfumery followed for many years.

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photo of 'Quelques Fleurs' from Mexico

An older bottle of Quelques Fleurs distributed by Houbigant's Mexican representatives, Las Parfumas de Francia, S.A., Mexico City. The fragrance in this bottle retained its glorious original aroma.

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  • Cheryl Monteiro, 01/14/2017. Hello: I'm trying to estimate how old my large, round bottle of Quelques Fleurs Refreshence is. It has the blue plastic lid. It's almost full and still smells amazing. Hard to think it's from 1912! The bottom on the front tag reads: CONT 8 oz, New York, Printed in France, Comp'd in US. The back of it has a little clear plastic tag which reads: Apply this after every shower, etc. What era is it from??? Would so appreciate knowing. Thanks so much for your wonderful Houbigant site!