Elizabeth Taylor Black Pearls 1996

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Post by Azar

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Hi there, Perfume Pals!

It’s time for spring -cleaning! Well…I’ve actually been at it for over a month now! While rummaging around in the chaos of the perfume storage I discovered mass quantities of back-ups bottles http://australianperfumejunkies.com/2016/02/15/back-up-bottles/. This stash includes a surfeit of vintage Elizabeth Taylor Black Pearls, in various concentrations, totaling approximately 400 ml. At one point I must have been grooving on Black Pearls, but for some reason I forgot all about it. 2016, the 20th anniversary of the Black Pearls fragrance, seems to be a good year to resurrect this old beauty and re-discover –

Elizabeth Taylor Black Pearls 1996

The Power of the Peach (Part I)

Black Pearls Elizabeth Taylor FragranticaFragrantica

When I sat down to write this post I wasn’t surprised that the name of the individual perfumer or team responsible for creating Black Pearls has vanished in the mists of time. I did learn that the fragrance was concocted and distributed by the Elizabeth Arden division of Parfums International, the same company that put together Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds, the fragrance that is, arguably, the best selling celebuscent in the world.

The creation of the Black Pearl fragrance, like most ventures associated with Elizabeth Taylor, has a romantic back-story featuring gifts of precious gems. Elizabeth Taylor was a client of Salvador Assael, the flamboyant New York pearl trader and marketing genius who single handedly transformed what were once considered “junk” pearls grown in the black lipped oyster into precious Tahitian cultured pearls, creating new multimillion dollar pearl farming businesses in the process. It is rumored that Assael was infatuated with Elizabeth Taylor and courted her with a perfect pair of very large Tahitian pearl earrings. It is also said that he claimed to have inspired the creation of the Black Pearl fragrance. In addition to Elizabeth Taylor, Assael’s client list included many other celebrities, politicos, industrialists, their wives and mistresses, including Margaret Thatcher, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Rosalynn Carter and Evelyn Lauder. Several of the women were also recipients of precious black pearl earrings.

Black Pearls Elizabeth Taylor ASSAEL NYTimesNYTimes (If there’s a problem using this photo please get in touch)

Elizabeth Taylor’s Black Pearls perfume seems to have been designed to appeal to a consumer who wanted to associate herself with the 1990s NY celebrity scene and the glamorous excesses of Assael’s clients. I have to admit that it is hard for me to understand how spritzing a cheap fragrance created by a big mass-market firm could create the illusion of exclusivity, wealth and glamour. It may very well be that the power of the press, featuring print ads of the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor and the power of the fragrance itself, rife with luscious peach, amber, lotus and vanilla contributed to a public image of sexy, sensual entitlement.

I’m running out of room here and will have to reserve my actual review and a give-away of the vintage version of Elizabeth Taylor’s Black Pearls perfume for my next post. I do have a couple of questions this week. Can a fragrance make you feel like a celebrity? Do you ever wear a perfume that is over the top sensual or one that gives you a sense of entitlement and privilege?

Azar xx

31 comments on “Elizabeth Taylor Black Pearls 1996

  1. willa says:

    Yes, yes and yes! Shalimar is my go-to to smell expensive…

    • Azar says:

      Hi Willa,
      Do you have a preferred concentration or formulation? I have never been able to really connect with Shalimar. I have perfume from around mid 20th century that is still good and some other concentrations from the 90s. Perhaps I need to find a different vintage?
      Azar xx

  2. Bernadette Winfield-Gray says:

    Not sure it is still around, but Jean Louis Scherrer always had me standing a bit taller.

    • Azar says:

      Hi Bernadette,
      Jean Louis Scherrer! I vaguely remember her – aldehydes and the 1970s? I understand there is a modern version but don’t know how it compares to the vintage. I could stand to be a bit taller 🙂 …
      Azar xx

  3. Portia says:

    Hey Azar,
    I always found Trouble by Boucheron a perfect dress up my attitude scent.
    Willa, Shalimar works for me too.

    • Azar says:

      Hello Portia,
      I love the photo of Assael and all the pearls. My lord! I am a bit of a pearl fanatic and can almost feel those tahitians. Do you think there is still any Trouble to be had at the discounters? I’m going to check and see!
      Azar xx

      • australianperfumejunkies says:

        Heya azr.
        Imagine what that table would be worth now Azar. It beggars belief.
        Trouble is gone, sorry. Everyone else thinks it’s a hot mess anyway. I love it and wafting it makes me happy, they are all wrong. He He He.
        Portia xx

  4. FeralJasmine says:

    When I urgently need some entitlement I wear a touch of vintage Fracas parfum. But when I want to revel in deep luxury I wear something by Sultan Pasha, and float about in a cloud of purest indulgence. They are so expensive that I can’t afford more than a dab once or twice a month, but there is nothing like lashings of true ambergris to make one feel like an empress. The nice kind of empress, if there is such a thing?
    FeralJasmine recently posted…Wild or Cultivated? Both. Also Delicious.My Profile

    • Azar says:

      Hi FeralJasmine,
      I never thought about it before but vintage Fracas does suggest entitlement – I should say “scream” entitlement. Only the “entitled” would be so bold! 🙂 I think I may give myself a touch of that today and see what happens! As for luxury I gravitate to a really good Oud – I mean really good or an attar made from the really good oud and other really good things, along the lines of fragrances by Sultan Pasha that you mention.
      Azar xx

  5. Tim says:

    Hi Azar,
    I don’t know what being celebrity is like so I can’t comment if any perfume can do that to me. 🙂
    That said Privilege and exclusivity are what, I believe, drive all the limited editions.
    Personally I rely on Amouage or hard to find fragrances to make me feel a little different from the crowd. I don’t necessarily feel entitled but some can make me feel special and sexy (Jubilation 25, Scent by Theo Fennell, 2 Man by CDG, Duel by AG just to name a few).
    I enjoyed your post even though I can’t remember if I’ve ever smelled Black Pearl.

    Tim

    • Azar says:

      Hi Tim!
      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post.
      Re celebrities: I think that Portia is a celebrity! If I want to feel like a celebrity perhaps I should try Portia’s suggestion – Trouble – (if I can find it discounted :)!
      I totally agree with you about Amouage. There is something so finished, polished and alluring about almost every one of their scents. I have not tried the Theo Fennel or the 2Man that you mention.
      Azar xx

  6. Neva says:

    Once upon a time before the hypreproduction of scents I used to feel like a queen every day. I had only one perfume at a time and it was carefully chosen among the ones in the market which were affordable to me. Today nothing makes me feel like that anymore except maybe my vintage beauties from the past: the first Armani for her, the old Trussardi Donna… maybe it’s the fact that the juice is slowly running out or that I feel young again when wearing them? I don’t know 😉

    • Azar says:

      Neva! I think those were the “good old days”! When I had just one perfume to choose from it seemed so much more precious. And, as difficult as it is for me to imagine, there was time when I had only one…well, come to think of it, I don’t think I ever had just one! Even when I was in my early teens and babysitting, the parents of my charges would give me fragrances as gifts. But to this day the perfume that makes me feel young again is still vintage Fidji!
      Azar

  7. Laura Keller says:

    Great post as always. “I have to admit that it is hard for me to understand how spritzing a cheap fragrance created by a big mass-market firm could create the illusion of exclusivity, wealth and glamour. It may very well be that the power of the press, featuring print ads of the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor and the power of the fragrance itself, rife with luscious peach, amber, lotus and vanilla contributed to a public image of sexy, sensual entitlement.” Your last sentence sums it up. When her stuff first came out it was well presented. The world was so different for us then. We didn’t have the information at our fingertips that you do now. Although they were advertised with television commercials that seem cheesy now, Taylor’s fragrances at first were sold in the department stores at counters right next to Chanel, Guerlain, YSL, Dior, Cacharel. There wasn’t the history that exists now of celebrity scents being ‘cheaper’. If niche existed, very few were aware or interested. We had ultra high end, high end and drug store, period. Wal-Mart and similar massive discount stores were still in their infancy and considered as poor, suspect sources for beauty products… and when Taylor’s frags started showing up there in the early-mid 90s it really sealed them as ‘cheapies’ for many. Being sold in Wal-Mart pretty much destroyed any possibility of exclusivity or coolness. Flankers were not a thing back then either – Taylor is really one of the first that I can recall who did that. I’m sure it’s part of what tarnished the brand in eyes used to the One Perfume Method. Every time you looked there was another Taylor perfume. It had become a bit of a joke by the time Black Pearls came out.

    As a younger woman my main thoughts were that Taylor’s fragrances were not energetic, sexy or hip enough but that if I were ever going someplace elegant they would be considerations. I bought Passion for my aunt (I now own it for myself too) I owned White Diamonds and liked it well enough but gave it to my sister in favor of Opium, Shalimar, Youth Dew and others that I had actual occasions and places to wear.

    • Azar says:

      Hi Laura,

      Your comment has got me thinking about just WHY I wear a fragrance! When the Taylor perfumes first appeared in the late 80s/early 90s I was still grooving on my favorites from the 70s (Opium, Fidji and more) and enjoying my new loves (L’eau de Monteil, Samsara, etc.). Even though I bought White Diamonds and later Black Pearls, I might have been influenced NOT to wear them by the sadly misplaced mass marketing that you talk about and by all the flankers that eventually appeared. That being said, I must have had a secret love of Black Pearls and many of the other ET fragrances. When I was organizing I found, in addition to all the Black Pearls, 30ml perfumes of White Diamonds and several of her flankers in their velvety clam-shell boxes. I dabbed on a bit of the old White Diamonds. That day Brad made a point of asking me what wonderful perfume I was wearing!

      We all know that packaging, logos and marketing often define a fragrance more than what is actually in the bottle. I like to play the “re-package it” game with perfumes – and cars. I imagine Honda and Mercedes switching logos and then I pour something by Harvey Prince into a bee bottle. Far fetched? These days, maybe not!

      Azar xx

      • Laura Keller says:

        Yes, your article really made me think about it. I don’t see myself at all as an elitist – but I realize there *was* some of that with my thinking about the Taylor perfumes and also with any fragrance that could be sold at K-Mart. I really love Passion, Lady Stetson, Tabu, Houbigant Chantilly and so many fragrances this thinking would give black marks to. In 2014 I bought a bottle of Faberge Babe perfume (not cologne) for sentimental purposes, thinking I’d laugh at how cheap-smelling my early teen drugstore love was…and the first thought I had on applying it was that if it was in a nice bottle it could easily be sold for way too much by someone niche. I unfailingly get compliments when I wear it out. Still, I wouldn’t consider it if I was going someplace ‘nice’ until a few months ago when Dear Husband asked why I didn’t wear ‘that 70’s one that makes you smell so good’. I guess even now I’m still more of a perfume snob and am affected by advertising and marketing more than I realize.

  8. Fazal says:

    I had never heard about this perfume before. Now on to googling it!

    • Azar says:

      Hi Fazal,
      When you google this I’m sure you will find mention of frosted versus clear bottles. The clear bottles came out with the reformulation. The frosted bottles should be filled with the original version of the fragrance. It is true that the original is better, at least to my nose!
      Azar xx

  9. annemariec says:

    I’d have to say no to your questions. Perfume makes me feel great, but a sense of entitlement and privilege? Not really. Perhaps I have a dim, old fashioned view that those things have to be earned … ? Dunno.

    I do like White Diamonds though. And that bottle for Black Pearls! Is it as lovely in reality as it seems in the pic?

    • Azar says:

      Hi annemariec!

      Sadly, the larger Black Pearls EdPs are rather clunky. The smaller 30ml sizes are better proportioned. The 15ml parfums are glitzy and cute with crystals and faux black pearl stoppers in the manner of the White Diamonds parfum bottle.

      Also, sadly, around here entitlement and privilege are too often simply “purchased” and not “earned”… In that light I probably should have rephrased my last question. 🙂

      Azar xx

  10. Sun Mi says:

    Hi Azar! Hmmm… I don’t know if I have any fragrances that make me feel like a celebrity… I used to think of Gold Leather (Atelier Cologne) like that but now I don’t seem to like it as much as I used to. So I guess I’m still looking for a diva scent! 🙂
    Sun Mi recently posted…Seattle Series: Olympic Orchids – Blackbird (perfume review)My Profile

  11. poodle says:

    I’d be happy to not feel like a frumpy, hot mess never mind a celebrity.
    I have a bottle of Black Pearls. I sometimes wear it to bed because it doesn’t last at all on me.

    • Azar says:

      Hi Poodle!
      Do you have the new or the reform version of Black Pearls? I only have the vintage but I have heard that the reform is a “paler” and weaker version of the original. Do you get a lot of peach in yours?
      Azar xx

  12. Lauren says:

    Hi Mom – I don’t think I have any perfumes that really give me a sense of privilege – I’ll have to investigate further. In the mean time I’ll give myself a spritz of Black Pearls when I get home and see if I feel entitled:D! I’ll let you know!

    • Azar says:

      Good answer, Lauren!
      Following this line of thought – do you have a handbag that gives you a sense of privilege…or a car that gives you a sense of privilege…or a dachshund? 🙂 Now Following that – It seems that Olga is quite the celebrity these days. How about a new fragrance called La Chienne. Now that reminds me of a really old movie by the same name: http://sensesofcinema.com/2013/cteq/la-chienne/…but I digress. Let me know what Black Pearls does for you. Do you perceive the power of the peach?
      Love,
      Mommy Azar xx and X

      • Azar says:

        I just read this over, Lauren, and it sounds “bitchy”.
        I’m sure you know that I did not intend it that way. I was just “free associating”… I’m going to spray or dab on some Black Pearls too and (like Poodle does) wear it to bed. I know I will have sweet and peachy dreams. Stay tuned for the Black Pearls give-away in a couple of weeks.
        Mommy Azar xxx

      • australianperfumejunkies says:

        I didn’t read that as bitchy at all Azar. I read it as love. 2 people chatting over the net. It made me a little winsome for my Mum who would have said stuff like that too.
        Portia xx

      • Lauren says:

        You’re funny mom… you definitely didn’t sound bitchy:)! But to answer your question… my old coach bag that I bought for $50 from my boss and my 2012 Honda Civic don’t give me a sense of privilege. But Olga says I am privileged to own her – LOL! And yeah… she has lots of twitter friends. If only I had more time to keep up with them! But about the Black Pearls… I’m getting over a cold so maybe this morning wasn’t the best time for me to be putting on Black Pearls, but I did anyway. It was a little overpowering for me. I’ve put it on before and liked it but I think it was just bad timing for me. I forgot to check for peach this morning and can only smell it a little now.

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