Gloria Swanson, photo by Edward Steichen, 1924. Source: galleryhip.com
Love and marriage, virginal propriety and lusty naughtiness. Marrions-Nous runs the olfactory gamut from the virginal, cool aloofness of an aristocratic aldehydic floral, through the consummation of lust with darkly skanky notes, before ending with a sigh as creamy smoothness. The fragrance was released by Oriza L. Legrand (hereinafter just “Oriza“) in 1928 and feels very much a product of its time, a decade when the cool hauteur of Chanel No. 5 had become a runaway hit that revolutionized perfumery, but one in which Josephine Baker also ruled the stage and naughty, animalic seduction was in the air. I find Marrion-Nous to have been influenced by both competing trends, resulting in an elegant fragrance that is one-part aristo in white, one-part Mae West and a Folies Bergère showgirl doing the can-can in black.
Source: Oriza L. Legrand.
Technically, however, Marrions-Nous was inspired by “Gai! Marions-Nous” [“Great! Let’s Get Married”], a successful 1927 novel by Germaine Acrement that later became a famous play. As Oriza explains on its website, the perfume house was moved by the play to make an eau de parfum that was meant to be “an expression of sensory playfulness.” The various notes were intended to be symbolic parallels to the various stages of the romantic process:
Inspired by love and marriage, which are not always related to each other, “Marions-nous” offers the virginal touches of orange blossom, rose, jasmine, and hyacinth.
Charlotte Babcock Brown, gown by Jeanne Lanvin, photo by Edward Steichen 1928. Source: onewed.com
In an interplay of propriety and informal understandings, the marriage reaches its peak as the heart succumbs to the essences of carnation and iris and the comforting accents of aldehydes and Ylang Ylang.
On the chessboard of Love, mutual consent seals the arrangement… and we slip into the gentle clutches of sweet emotion.
Tonka Beans, Musk Tonkinese accord, Civet, and Sandalwood add their fragrances to the happy ceremony… “Gai! Marions-nous!”
Marrions-Nous bottle and box via Oriza L. Legrand.