silver veil glass perfume bottle

The Fragrance of Christmases Past: An Assortment of Unique Glass Perfume Bottles, 1800s-Present

silver veil glass perfume bottleThe holiday season is defined by shimmering reflections and refractions; light glowing softly from strung bulbs, dancing through bubbly liquid as it swirls within the crystal, and shimmering off of colourful ornaments strewn about our homes and offices. At no other time of the year is the aesthetic influence of glass on our lives so obvious and prevalent.

One of the most precious glass keepsakes given and received during the holidays is not to be found on a tree nor in a cabinet; instead, it is frequently ensconced in bedrooms, tucked away for safekeeping in a drawer or box; glass perfume bottles.

Perfumes are a time-honoured Christmas tradition, a romantic and sentimental gift, the advertisements for which light up our televisions with ephemeral flickers of beauty and opulent symbolism, promising us visions of silk and mahogany, tropical flowers and clear waters, grace and fire. While the fragrances themselves are typically used up within a handful of years, the bottles they come in frequently last a lifetime or longer, and as such, have become heirloom collectibles over the centuries, designed with exquisite care by artists and master glassmakers, epitomizing lesprit du temps.

The holiday season is therefore the ideal time to reflect back on some of the most unique glass perfume bottles ever designed; the list below, while by no means extensive, includes many iconic fragrance vessels (and a few that are simply delightfully quirky). It is presented in no particular order, as I feel that to attempt to whittle down the incredibly vast paradise of creativity represented by glass perfume bottles into a list of just ten or twenty “best” bottles would be reductive, and far from a fair representation of what is out there. Instead, take this list in the light of a loose collection of samples, of stunning specimens plucked from around the world and from epochs old and new, meant to give one a taste of the richness and diversity represented by this unique form of art.

Hoffmann and Schlevogt’s “Ingrid” Glass Perfume Bottles

Hoffman Ingrid glass perfume_bottles

The Bohemian art glass of the late 1800s and early 1900s is some of the most celebrated and unique glass in the world, an aesthetic which culminated in the work of Heinrich Hoffman and his son-in-law H. G. Curt Schlevogt. Their perfume bottles were first imported to the United States by Max Factor, and Hollywood Cinema Art Directors fell in love with the two artists’ incredible craftsmanship and visionary designs, turning them into national sensations.

Seen here is the “Ingrid” set of perfume bottles, one of which (an undistributed Schlevogt bottle named “The Woman”) was featured in the 1939 MGM film “The Women”, which starred Joan Crawford in the role of a man-chasing perfume counter shop assistant.

Rene Lalique’s Eucalyptus, Fleurs de Pommier, and Leurs Ames Glass Perfume Bottles

Rene Lalique glass perfume bottles

No list of inspiring fragrance bottles would be complete without at least one piece by the great genius of art glass, French artist Rene Lalique. Lalique entered the world of glass through a partnership with perfume-maker Francois Coty (having been a jewelry designer prior), and over the span of his career, went on to design over 250 unique perfume bottles, largely expressing the fluid lines and natural themes of the Art Nouveau movement. Today, these works command thousands of pounds at auction, but at the time of their initial manufacture, they were quite affordable to the middle class thanks to Lalique’s belief in industrialism, the idea that beautiful things could—and should—be attainable to the common person through the wonders of modern manufacturing.

There was nothing common about Lalique’s gift, however; just looking at his designs is sure to transport one to mythical worlds populated by dryads, twisting vines, lush palms, and spectacular flowers. Seen above are his iconic Eucalyptus, Fleurs de Pommier, and Leurs Ames bottles (but truly, his entire collection is worth looking through if one can find the time to revel in it).

Ame Toscane Fantaisie Baroque by Isabel Derroisne

Ame Toscane glass perfume bottle

This limited edition perfume from 2009 features a beautiful glass bottle in the shape of a baroque female form. For an avid fan of the bottles that flourished during the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods, this return to the natural curves of the female body as part of a bottle design immediately calls to mind the divine elegance of bygone eras.

Round Silver Veil Perfume Bottle by Robert Burch

round silver veil perfume bottles

Sold without a scent, this beautiful bottle is art for art’s sake, showcasing in fascinating colour and pattern Robert Burch’s adept mastery of glass blowing. As so many of the great glass houses of Europe, from France to Bohemia to the UK, dwindled out of existence owing to the impact of the second world war and subsequent recessions, artists like Burch who carry on working with glass in the traditional ways pioneered in days long past are an invaluable treasure, preserving methods and styles of art that might otherwise be lost forever. Click Here to see our range of perfume bottles

Honorable Mention: Shades of Dusk Moro Blood Orange by Joya

Shades of Dusk glass perfume brooch

While not technically a bottle, I couldn’t resist adding Shades of Dusk Moro Blood Orange by Joya to this list; owing to its sheer creativity and the way it harkens back to the wearable perfumes of old. Looking very much like it would fit right in with the various etuis, brooches, pendants, and chatelaines of the Rococo and Victorian eras, the design of this wearable perfume container provides constant ventilation so as to subtly emit its scent, which is activated by the heat of human skin.

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