Heart, Family, & Fragrance: Treasures of Hové

The street on which you find Hové Parfumeur is Chartres. It’s not shar-tres or charts— it’s chart-ers. So much of the city is French influenced, yet have taken on a life of its own to become more Nola and less of the former. It’s the same with Hové. A legacy business of sorts in the French Quarter, inspired so long ago by the sweet smells of the south and now a fresh-faced facade filled with welcoming and sweet smells– old and new, and yet all comforting to those who wander in.

via Heart, Family, & Fragrance: Treasures of Hové

When Diana told him she had plans to visit Preservation Hall for a late show one evening, Amos insisted on meeting her there. He walked over from his house and joined her in the line that snaked down St. Peter Street. Once inside, they sat on the floor cushions in the very front, listening to traditional jazz played by some of the finest musicians Diana had ever heard. When she whispered that her back was bothering her a little, Amos moved closer so that she could lean against him. He put an arm around her waist and she settled in with a sigh. She was close enough now that Amos could smell her perfume, which was subtle but intoxicating. He recognized it as a signature scent from a French Quarter perfumer on Chartres Street; it was perfect for her. And it made him realize how much he wanted to make love to the woman whose head rested on his shoulder. — Bayou Fire


I admit, today’s post is a bit of a cheat. I saw this article about Hové Parfumeur yesterday and realized it would be fun to share with you. Why? Because that’s what this paragraph is about. And what, you might be wondering, is the name of the scent?

Kiss in the Dark.

Blogging from A to Z: Y is for Yellow

AtoZ2019tenthAnnFor entertainment, Erik, Gilbert and I frequented the nightclubs of Montmartre. I had never been to a follies and seen the singers and dancers there. Again, no one seemed at all shocked at a woman with two men, let alone that one of those men was masked. It was a rather more dissolute world that we inhabited by virtue of avoiding the Opera Quarter. Erik began an occasional indulgence in opium. I developed a fondness for absinthe, amused and intrigued by the so-called ritual that turned the strong-smelling yellow drink into a pale green treat called louche. I even had my own special sugar spoon after a while, shaped like the Eiffel Tower in honor of its opening. Gilbert was the only one in our trio who abstained; that way, he knew we would all get home safely. — Excerpt from In The Eye of The Beholder

Back in 2017, the first year I did this challenge, I also used Y is for Yellow. Today’s look at the color is based not on a dress, but a drink.

Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons

Absinthe verte (green absinthe) starts out as a clear yellow or green liquid that smells strongly of licorice/anise. It is entirely too strong to be drunk at full strength. When you add water, it becomes what is called a louche … and it changes color to a pale, cloudy green. Absinthe blanche (white absinthe) is a clear liquid that louches blue.

By now, you know that I prefer primary experience whenever possible in my research. So yes, I’ve taken absinthe. I’ve had both types, and prefer absinthe blanche.

The ritual described in the passage above may be found in its entirety here.

Note: quality absinthe does not need to be sugared, but some people louche through sugar as a matter of personal preference.

It is worth noting that, despite its reputation, absinthe does not cause hallucinations.

There is an interesting timeline of absinthe history here.


Blogging from A to Z: W is for Walking Suit

AtoZ2019tenthAnnOn Friday afternoon, Antoinette stopped by with a package for me: yet another box from my favorite modiste.

“A gift from Erik,” she explained, “which he hopes you will wear tomorrow for the performance.”

Inside was an elegant ivory moire walking suit. I was glad that I had a duster coat to wear over it; I would not want such beautiful garments to be travel-stained.

“I will see you tomorrow, my friend,” Antoinette smiled as she departed. “Sleep well.”

There was a rare joke! It was far too long since I’d last seen Erik, and all I knew was that he was giving a mysterious concert in another town. I doubted I’d sleep a wink. Nevertheless, I would try. I wanted to look my best at this performance, knowing Erik would be there somewhere — perhaps hidden, perhaps not — and would want to see me looking well in the beautiful clothes he had sent for me. — Excerpt from In The Eye of The Beholder

Victorian walking suit, circa 1888, via Antique-gown.com

A walking suit was an outfit that a lady might wear for a stroll in nice weather. It usually had weights in the hem in case a breeze blew up; one would not want to show one’s ankles! The skirt was also usually a little bit shorter to keep the hem out of the dust, and there were not a lot of frills or trim.

The blog at Lily Absinthe informs us that these suits were sometimes called “tailor-mades.” (If you’re interested in historical attire, you really must be following this blog, by the way.)  Many couturiers of the day did not like the more simple lines of the walking suits. They claimed that the simpler styles were for younger women only, as older ladies would look better surrounded by frills and ruffles.

Blogging from A to Z: V is for Visiting Cards

AtoZ2019tenthAnnWe had barely settled in to the house when neighbors began calling, leaving visiting cards in a salver on the foyer sideboard. I dreaded the afternoons when I was “at home” to guests. Our first caller was Lady Alice Harrington, who lived two houses away; she had iron-colored hair, a jaw to match, and a bosom like the prow of a ship. She left a calling card, and invited us to a musical evening at their home just a few nights hence. Lady Harrington informed us that her daughter, Olympia, would be performing several songs and asked that we prepare something ourselves, should we be so inclined, to share with the gathering.

I purchased my own visiting cards, which proved to be something of an ordeal. At the stationery counter at Selfridge’s Department Store, I ordered my two sets, plain ivory stock with “Madame Erik LeMaître” on the front and an address on the back of one set. The other set was blank on the reverse; those were for people to whom I did not wish to be at home. I thought the custom unspeakably impolite, but was told by the shop girl that this was what was done. She also explained, in an exasperated tone, that I could only have my own name, Claire, on the card if I were widowed. — Excerpt from In The Eye of The Beholder

Visiting cards, also referred to as calling cards, had a rather complicated etiquette. They were about the same size as a modern-day business card, and were left at homes or handed out for various social purposes.

Example of a lady’s visiting card, giving her “at home” day. Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons

Some of the etiquette I described above; for example, a lady might have two sets of cards, one with her address and the other with only her name. Married women were Mrs. Husband Name, not Mrs. Her Name. If you were “at home” to someone, they would have your address because you left a card for them, and could come to visit during your “morning calls” (which were actually in the afternoon.

Another complicated custom involved bending the corners of visiting cards when handing them to a butler. This meant the card was left in person, rather than by a servant acting on their behalf.

In France, a photographic carte de visite was also popular. They were similar in size to visiting cards and carried the photograph of the bearer. They were considered highly collectable.

Blogging from A to Z: U is for Underpinnings

I’m reblogging this 2017 post on historical underpinnings; Claire’s corset from In The Eye of The Beholder is referenced. Enjoy!

Sharon E. Cathcart

uAs I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, I primarily write historical fiction.  This means researching not only social mores, foods, and events, but also fashion.  When you are looking at the various women’s silhouettes that were en vogue throughout history, you have to also look at the underpinnings that created them.

2009.1.1_20140317_03_web Fashion Institute of Technology

I’m not going to lie; women essentially wore two full sets of clothing throughout most of history.  The underthings were almost as heavy as the outer garments.  Corsetry and petticoats were made to fit a given woman’s shape into the styles of the day.  Let’s go back to the earliest period in which I’ve written:  the Regency, which is when Clytie’s Caller is set.  Clytie’s stays (like the ones at the right) would have kept her figure pretty straight, in line with the Empire-waisted dresses that were in fashion at the time.

romantic era Fashion Institute…

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