Sunday, December 8, 2013

Carrying Her Heart Away

During the war, it was considered un-Patriotic for a Homefront Honey not to care about her appearance.  Even Rosie the Riveter wore lipstick while she riveted.  Many of the red lipsticks at the time were called Victory Red.  The philosophy was that the soldier enjoyed thinking about his pretty woman back home waiting for his return.  It kept his spirits up.

Even while a vicious war raged, the Homefront Christmas was still romantic because of the wishes and imaginings of separated lovers who communicated only through letters that were filled with hope and longing.  I once came across a soldier's letter telling his new bride to buy a White Shoulders perfume gift set for herself and sign a card with his name.  He had tucked a five dollar note in along with his missive and instructions.

Gift sets have always been popular Christmas presents and perfume houses and cosmetic companies still create them today.  Growing up, our local Rexall carried many of them:  Chanel #5, Jean Naté, Coty.  They were always outfitted in foil boxes with clear plastic covers so that one might see the delightful offerings inside which nestled luxuriously on pastel felt or silky satin.  A bottle of scent and matching bath powder or scent with a matching fragrant soap were the gift sets I remember but today they may include matching shower gels, purse sized spritzers, or body lotions.

One of the loveliest sets I remember was Coty's Muguet de Bois with the beautiful watery fragrance of lily of the valley.  Packaged in pretty pink and green, it was the advertisement for the gift set that I loved so much.  Coty always illustrated Muguet de Bois with a lush illustration of a romantic couple and at Christmas, the pair were housed in a  snow capped gazebo holding hands.  The copy read, "Flowers for Christmas.  Wouldn't that be nice?"  Flowers in deep winter.  How very nice indeed.

Gift sets were not just for husbands and lovers to give;  they were also welcomed gifts from fathers to daughters.  My father gave me a box of Revlon's Moon Drops perfume with talcum powder and the moody scent carried away my heart during the second half of my senior year of high school.  My best friend's heart was stolen with a Charlie gift set that included a small deodorant.  And although they may be considered easy no-brainer gifts to give, they feel abundant to the receiver, especially if the perfume is a cherished signature one.

This Christmas, although still austere, seems to have some fresh bling in it.  And I love seeing all the  new shiny sets in the shops.  They can be found everywhere, even discount stores.  It's fun to check the aisles for sets of special nail colors, hand creams, and even collections of makeup brushes.  It's even more fun when the sets have touches of Christmas whimsy like frosty ribbons and bows or snowflakes and snowmen. 

I wonder if the young letter-writing soldier was able to carry his bride's heart away from such a great distance with a mere five dollar perfume gift set.  I like to imagine it was as welcome as fresh cut  flowers. In winter.



  1. Sweet. I love the advertisements of the era. Romantic prose is never wasted, even on a present from the drugstore.

  2. So true, Jacqueline and Donna...we romantics love to hear our thoughts documented and attached to scented whimsies...Love this post, Donna! My favorite Xmas gift set was Love's Soft Lemon, in the early 1970's. The foiled packaging was silver and yellow, the set included mini-versions of toiletries with that singing lemon scent; my favorite was the pearlized lotion/body splash. It felt indulgent, cool and glamorous to teenaged me! Thanks for this lovely reminder that one's heart can be carried away by the simplest reminder that one is a woman! Love, Kay

  3. I loved this post! The first scent I chose for myself was Muguet de Bois, and then my future husband bought me a gift set in the early 70s. It all makes me want to check out the *5 sets!

  4. My mom had Muguet de Bois, my sister White Shoulders. One or the other of them would often give me a set of Wind Song or Cachet for Christmas or my birthday. In later years my sweet mom kept me in Jessica McClintock... Great post! Brings back a lot of memories of browsing the perfume counter and case as a young and older teen in the late 60s and early 70s.

  5. My husband's first perfume gift to me was Aliage, a fresh "sports" perfume from Estee Lauder. It is a fragrance that feels and smells warm to me, and it will always remind me of the hope those early days inspired. My father always gave my mother fragrance for Christmas. It's a great gift, any time. Thanks for this lovely reminder.