Lightyears Collection
Mary Garden

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'Mary Garden' perfume bottle, by Rigaud

Mary Garden perfume by V. Rigaud

Rigaud's Mary Garden perfume is probably more significant for the use of Mary Garden (1874-1967) than for the fragrance itself. Her family had emigrated from Scotland and settled in Chicago and, when she was nine years old and showing promise as a singer, she was sent to Paris for training. She made her European operatic debut in 1900. An American debut followed in 1907 in New York. From 1910 through her retirement in 1931, she performed with the Chicago Civic Opera.

Hers was a celebrity fragrance in the exact sense in which the term is used today. Additionally, Rigaud brought out an extensive line of Mary Garden products to take full advantage of her fame. Rigaud later ran into trademark problems when they registered her name as a trademark without the singer's written consent, which was required under U.S. trademark law. (Garden v. Parfumerie Rigaud, Inc.)

Mary Garden portrait
Mary Garden in the title role of Massenet's "Thaïs"

Selecting Mary Garden as their celebrity was a smart move for Rigaud as they worked to expand their business in the United States and Canada. Garden was respectable but not too highbrow and thus had an appeal to middle class women. Rigaud's advertising for Mary Garden products ran in Vogue, Dress and Vanity Fair, The Criterion of Fashion, and other publications. Window displays featured a full length photograph of her as Salome. Booklets, folders, envelope inserts, counter cards and smaller window cards were also used to promote Mary Garden products — which is why so many Mary Garden items continue to pop up today.

To hear Mary Garden sing, click here.

To read more about Mary Garden, click here.

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Photo of Phil Goutell
Philip Goutell's Signature

Philip Goutell
Lightyears, Inc.