Cassini Eau de Parfum (Oleg Cassini)

No, you're not dreaming-- that's Alice Roosevelt, all right. Why, you ask? Well, since it takes only six degrees to get to Kevin Bacon, I'm going to see if I can't reach Alice's side in three spritzes of perfume.

The scent in question is the original pre-reformulation Cassini Eau de Parfum (1990). The name behind this perfume was Oleg Cassini, the couturier famed for clothing Jacqueline Kennedy during the Camelot years. Oleg Cassini was the son of Marguerite "Maggie" Cassini, a countess of mixed Russian-Italian descent and morganatic birth. When her father, the Marquis de Capuzzuchi di Bologna, was posted to Washington D.C. as Tsar Nicholas II's ambassador to the United States, it was only a matter of time before she fell in with President Theodore Roosevelt's sulky and disaffected eldest daughter.

Though known as the Progressive Era, Roosevelt's two terms were still ruled by deeply conservative societal standards which prized public decorum over all. But the "Three Graces" -- Alice, Maggie, and their bosom pal Eleanor Josephine Medill "Cissy" Patterson -- had no patience for Federal City etiquette. Fun-loving, rebellious, and contemptuous of their elders, these three prodigal daughters shopped, smoked, gambled, chewed gum, drank whiskey, flirted, danced, and raced around the District in Alice's own "red devil" speedster. Even when admiration came their way, they devised fiendish ways of turning praise into damnation. In one notorious incident, electricity scion George Westinghouse invited the Graces to dictate the guest list of his next ball. They invited so many people that Westinghouse was forced to build (in great haste, and at fearsome expense) an extension onto his ballroom. On the day of the soirée, the annex was still only half-complete-- so Westinghouse ordered in truckloads of costly orchids to festoon the unfinished walls. The Graces walked in, wrinkled their noses, declared the scent of the orchids as gloomy as a funeral... and did not deign to stay.

What glorious, scandalous, Olympian brats they were! Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton seem anemic and boring by comparison. So it is that when I wear Cassini, the Three Graces -- those miscreant young Misses! -- are duly summoned, pouting and fingering their gold cigarette cases out of deadly sense of boredom.

In her wonderful review on The Vintage Perfume Vault, Amelia declared that Cassini "smells most distinctly of strawberry incense and bubble gum". It's so true-- and even the mini-bottle I own is adorably shaped like a berry, plump and round, with a red translucent button for a cap. The nectar inside wallops one upside the head with the force of its sticky sweetness, but real joy can be found in the notes bookending all that fruit. On one side, you've got an angelic orange blossom, promising to behave like a proper young lady; on the other side, you have a tobacco-smoke chypre that has just spent the day at the racetrack and cares not who knows it. It's a Pushmi-pullyu of a fragrance, teetering between a childish taste for candy and far more mature peccadillos.

And though she'd sooner die than say something agreeable, I bet that Alice would approve.

Scent Elements: Orange blossom, mandarin, bergamot, osmanthus, freesia, gardenia, carnation, tuberose, chrysanthemum, jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose, coriander, patchouli, oakmoss, vetiver, coconut, incense, amber, leather, musk, civet