This Baccarat perfume bottle contains Ecarlate de Suzy, a perfume that was described as heady and provocative. In the shape of head and neck topped with a red hat, it has the same whimsical quality shared by many of the mid-twentieth century perfume bottles in our fragrance archive. The Suzy referred to in the name of the fragrance is Madame Suzy, a prominent Parisian milliner. This late 1930s Madame Suzy red and white hat is reminiscent of the hat perched on the Ecarlate de Suzy bottle.
By the time Ecarlate de Suzy was launched, Madame Suzy already had an international reputation. Based on media coverage, her career began sometime in the early 1920s. Her studio was located at 5, rue de la Paix, the most fashionable street in Paris. One early English language reference to her work promotes a 1922 early fall showing of Paris millinery at the Gimbel Brothers department store in New York. Even at this early date, Madame Suzy was grouped with the most distinguished Parisian milliners (Caroline Reboux and Suzanne Talbot), suggesting she probably had been working in Paris for a few years before making her American debut.
Ecarlate de Suzy was launched in early 1940. English language advertisements translated the name of the fragrance to Scarlet de Suzy. According to a March 1940 advertisement for the perfume, "Scarlet, [Madame Suzy] believes, is the best word to signal courage, high hopes, gallantry, joie de vivre."1 In the ad, it isn't clear if the name of the perfume refers to the color scarlet or to the woman's name Scarlett. Film buffs may remember another famous Scarlet who appeared on the scene in 1939/1940--Scarlett O'Hara, the plucky heroine of Gone With the Wind. Although there's no direct evidence that Ecarlate de Suzy was created to coincide with or commemorate Gone With the Wind, the casting and production of the film received intense media scrutiny. The film premiered on December 15, 1939 in Atlanta, GA after three days of festivities, including a parade and a formal ball. To commemorate the film and its premiere, many Scarlett O'Hara and Gone With the Wind products also premiered. These included jewelry, stationary, chocolates, dusting powder, scarves, slips, and even Scarlett O'Hara raincoats.
It will take more research to determine how closely Madame Suzy was involved with the creation of Ecarlate de Suzy. Did she have input into the design of the Baccarat bottle or the character of the scent? Madame Suzy may have had some input into aspects of Ecarlate de Suzy, but it seems more likely that she licensed her name to a perfumer who saw an opportunity to capitalize on her fame. In subsequent years, three other Madame Suzy perfumes appeared: Madrigal, Bandbox and Golden Laughter. All four fragrances appear in advertisements through the late 1940s. Their disappearance possibly coincides with the closure of Madame Suzy's Paris studio sometime in the 1950s.
1 Advertisement. The New Yorker 2 March 1940: 29.