Lightyears Collection
d'Orsay


Parfums d'Orsay was established in 1865. Its first product, L'Eau de Bouquet, was said to be a perfume created by the firm's namesake, Count Alfred d'Orsay, who had died thirteen years before Parfums d'Orsay was born.

Companie Française des Parfums dorsal was established in 1908 by a group of investors who may have acquired the rights to the name from the former company's owners or their heirs. The 1908 investors, French, Dutch, and German, were Leo Fink, Siegred and Sally Berg, and M. Van Dyck. Fink would go on, in 1922, to found Parfums Forval (renamed "Forvil" in 1923 by a new owner).

In 1916 d'Orsay was acquired by Jeanne-Louise Guérin in association with Théophile Bader. (Bader, co-founder of the Galeries Lafayette department store in Paris, would, in 1925, become a co-founder of Parfums Chanel.) Under Jeanne-Louise Guérin's management, d'Orsay flourished. By 1931 annual sales had reached 5 million bottles.

Jacques Guérin, Jeanne-Louise's son by Gaston Monteux, was sent to Toulouse to study chemistry. After completing his studies he joined his mother's company where he would work for the next sixty plus years.

In 1936 Jean-Louise bought out her investors and Jacques Guérin became director, a position he would hold for over fifty years, steering the company through the depression and war years.

By 1983 however, the company had foundered. While d'Orsay was his day job, Jacques Guérin's true passion was literature and he was both a collector of and promoter of modern French authors. Guérin, now 81 years old (he would live to be 98), had allowed the d'Orsay business to die.

1993 saw the beginning of a new age for d'Orsay when Groupe Marignan acquired the name. By 1995 d'Orsay fragrances were again reaching the market under the guidance of its new director, Claude Broll. Broll, it was said, was passionate about the company, its products and its history, but short on time and resources to develop it.

In 2007, d'Orsay was acquired by Marie Huet, a lover of perfume but, perhaps more important, a professional marketer. Under her leadership, d'Orsay is again building its reputation for elegance and quality.

Count Alfred D'Orsay

The image of the D'Orsay fragrances was based on the life and legend of Count Alfred D'Orsay (1801-1852), best known for his role in the fashion world as a "Dandy", second only in Dandyism to England's Beau Brummel.

But D'Orsay was also known to have been a talented sketch artist as can be seen in his work that has survived. He was also alleged to have been an amateur perfumer.

The amateur perfumer claim is made more credible by the observations of his contemporaries that he was known for wearing six pair of gloves a day — reindeer gloves for his morning ride, chamois gloves for hunting, beaver gloves for the ride to London, braided kid gloves for afternoon shopping, yellow dogskin gloves for a dinner party, and finally, lambskin gloves embroidered with silk for an evening ball.

The significance of the gloves is, of course, in their relationship to perfume. Glove makers and perfume makers were part of the same (French) guild — the guild which was to establish Grasse as the heart of French perfumery. (Grasse's glovemakers had begun to develop perfumes to knock the stench out of the leather from which their gloves were made.)

This possible thread of relationship between D'Orsay and perfume was enough to spark the creation of Parfums D'Orsay. But it was the long dead Count's social connections and high fashion lifestyle that powered the marketing efforts of Parfums D'Orsay. D'Orsay's fragrances were given names that related to Count D'Orsay themes, the most obvious being the 1923 introduction of Le Dandy, a direct reference to the dead Count. It is likely that other D'Orsay fragrance names had "insider" meanings not understood by the general, perfume buying public.

Bottles, Manufacturing, Public Relations, and Distribution

In 1916, manufacturing facilities were established at Neuilly puis á Puteau and a retail shop set up on the fashionable rue de la Paix.

Bottles were created for d'Orsay by Baccarat, Nancy, Brosse, Lalique, and Süe et Mare (Louis Süe and Andre Mare). In the 1920's Paul C. Delaize became a designer for d'Orsay and a number of design patents were filed in the United States under his name.

In the 1920's distribution became extensive. Antonio Puig, founder of the Puig Beauty and Fashion Gruop, distributed d'Orsay products in Spain. In the United States, "travelers" for d'Orsay placed the products in many upscale pharmacies and department stores. In addition to France, d'Orsay fragrances found their way to England and other European countries.

The beauty of the d'Orsay bottles helped insure the popularity of d'Orsay fragrances and often the bottles themselves became more prized than the scents which they held. Historically, the bottles continue to be prized while the fragrances themselves, for all their costly ingredients, have not been remarked as being of unusual originality.


Perfumes By D'Orsay

FragrancePerfumerBottle
L'Eau de Bouquet (1865)Count Alfred D'Orsay 
Rose (1902) René Lalique & Baccarat
Violette (1902)  Baccarat
Etiquette Bleue (1908)  Count Alfred D'Orsay
La Rose d'Orsay (1908)   
Chevalier d'Orsay (1911)   
Meggy (1911) Bacarrat
Ambre D'Orsay (1911) Bacarrat
Chypre (1912)  Bacarrat
Eau Du Cologne De Chevalier (1912)  
Le Chevalier à la Rose (1912)  Baccarat
Les Roses (1912)   
Leurs Ames (1912)   
Toujours Fidèle (1912)  Baccarat and Cristalleries de Nancy
Leurs Ames (1912) René Lalique & Baccarat
Chevalier D'Orsay (1912) René Lalique & Baccarat
Cyclamen (1913)  
La Flambée (1913) (1913)  Baccarat
L'Ambre (1913)   
L'Aveu (1913)  Baccarat
Le Porte Bohneur (1913)  Baccarat
Leurs Coeurs (1913)   
Nelly (1913)   
Parfum d'Antan (1913)   
Poesie (1913)  Baccarat
Leurs Coeurs (1913) Baccarat
Bouquet D'Orsay (1914)  
Les Roses (1914) Bacarrat
Les Fleurs (1914)  
Grinette (1914)  
Panier D'Orsay (1914)  
Mystere D'Orsay (1915) René Lalique
Le Lys (19??) René Lalique
Fleur De France (pre 1919) René Lalique
Camelia D'Orsay (pre 1919)  
Roses (1919)  René Lalique  
Ambre (1920)  
Fleurette Bleue (1920)  
Grace (1920)  
Charme D'Orsay (1920)  
Essence De L'Inde Mysterieuse (1922) Baccarrat
Muguet (1923)  
Le Dandy (1923)  Louis Sue
Ganika (1923) Bacarrat
Intoxication d'Amour Jasmin (1923)  
Duo D'Orsay (1928)  
Le Jardin (1931)  
Comtesse D'Orsay (1931)  
Milord (1932)  
Casino (1932)  
Trophee (1935)   
Voulez Vous (1935)  
Intoxication (1938)   
Belle De Jour (1938)  
Intoxication d'Amour (1942)   
Arôme 3 (1943)   
Pirouette (1946)  
Alarme (1946)  
Divine (1947)   
Fantastique (1953)  
Tilleul (1955) Later bottles by Atelier Dinand
Etiquette Bleue (relaunch 1993)  
Arôme 3 Tradition (1998)   
Nomade (2000)   
Femme de Dandy (2001)   
Le Nomade Pour Homme (2001)  
Eau Fringante (????)  
D'Orsay Eau De Toilette  
Eau De Cologne D'Orsay  

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Guérins, mother and son, information from Lorenza Foschini's Proust's Overcoat. Additional information from Perfume Intelligence, Cleopatra's Boutique, and Marie Huet's interview for Fragrantica.com.


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Comments On This Article
Add Your Comment
  • Federico Restrepo, 07/18/2013.
    I have redesign the whole range of bottles in 1997 i guess.
    by the way on my website
    http://restrepodesign.com/perfumes/
  • -, 09/14/2012.
    In 1923, architect (and perfume bottle designer) Louis Sue designed the new edifice for d'Orsay at 17 rue de la Paix. The job was financed by Gaston Monteux, father of Jacques Guerin, future president of d'Orsay. In the same year Sue also designed a bottle for d'Orsay's 'Le Dandy.'
  • -, 09/08/2012.
    Alain Lagier: Largely responsible for the 1993 recovery. He managed the company for Broll (who had the money).
  • -, 09/08/2012.
    Could someone please clarify the role Iif any) Alain Lagier played in d'Orsay in the 1990's?