Sunday, January 13, 2008

Caswell-Massey Number Six

If you take a look at Caswell-Massey's timeline of fragrance history, you'll see that the first (modern) perfumery was established in London in 1700 by Charles Lillie. Jean-Marie Farina began making eau de cologne in Koln, Germany in 1709 but the House of 4711 wasn't established until 1771. Floris of London was established in 1730 and not long after, Caswell-Massey was founded in 1752 in Newport, Rhode Island, USA. Caswell-Massey is actually older than French perfume houses, of which L.T. Piver would be the first one, founded in Paris in 1767. Today, the flagship Caswell-Massey store is located in New York City.

Back when they first launched, Caswell-Massey offered 10 colognes of which Number Six, an eau de cologne (a lemony, light scent) was the bestseller. Six has notoriously been the favorite among many American presidents from Washington to Clinton (and on various sites, I've seen both Bill and Hillary named as fans of the fresh, easy-to-wear cologne). I've had the chance to try many Caswell-Massey fragrances in the past couple of weeks, and I think my personal favorite to wear is Number Six, even though it's listed on their website as a Men's fragrance. If you like Guerlain Imperial or the famous 4711, this is in the same vein, but with a very subtle spicy kick. It's very clean, as I find many of the Caswell-Massey scents to be--perhaps they're closer to English style than French style, although some of them smell very French, indeed. Casma (1922), now discontinued, was a creamy Aldehydic Floral following the success of Chanel No.5 (1921). Tricorn (1941), a Men's scent, is sweet and powdery, and smells like Guerlain Shalimar to me. I like Tricorn very much but I must say I was surprised by the similarity. Anyway, if you want something simple and nice that'll take you everywhere in style, try Six--it's well-mannered enough for dignitaries and if you're not into smelling flowery and typically "feminine", this type of citrusy scent is the perfect alternative. I like these Caswell-Massey masculine bottles way better than the feminine bottles, too.

Here's some more perfume history for you--Charles Lillie, the perfumer in the Strand, is mentioned in this article: Spectator, April 23, 1711.