Hey crew, Back in 1985/6 I studied Fashion. Not the big, flash Fashion Design course at East Sydney TAFE or an Arts Fashion Degree. Nope. I went to a North Shore TAFE (Technical and Further Education) in Hornsby to do a Fashion Technology\y Certificate. We were taught the production of fashion with a very small design element. So the aim was to create someone with the ability to take a garment from drawing to product. Someone with the knowledge of procedure, pattern making, grading, fabric, fastenings, creation, sewing and the ability to interpret pictures. The fashion designers are notoriously inept at this. They have visions, we make them reality. We were perfectly trained to go into business, become a 2IC, sample machinist, pattern maker/grader, cutter or any number of jobs in the industry “FASHION” or even costume creation in the arts. At the time, with an extra short course a few of our crew went on to become important in the new computer world of laser cutting and design, just becoming reality. I was lucky enough to work as a Costume Designer for Children’s Theatre, Pattern Maker/Grader/Cutter for a menswear company and then a Machinist for a small, high end fashion and bridal store in Sydney’s uber trendy Paddington for a while. It was at this point that I realised I was generally too lazy and imperfect to ever want to make my own fashion house a reality and that working for other people was never going to make me happy or rich. Bye fashion. Hello DRAG! Still never made me as rich as I’d dreamed but the fun it has brought, the chances, friends, opportunities, unbelievable life has more than made up for it. It also presented an opportunity to make fabulous clothes without the need for perfectly straight hemstitching, the hand sewn finest zippers or any restrictions on reality. So that was an incredibly long preamble into Vivienne Westwood and Boudoir.
Yes, Vivienne Westwood died last week, most of you will already know. In the mid 1980s she was any fashion student’s obsession. We were taught that Vivienne Westwood always did it first, but she always did it worst. Her ideas would make big splashy headlines for their brilliant reconstruction of shape, size, fit, pattern and wit. Then that idea would filter to the luxurious fashion houses and be done perfectly. The 1970s Punk, chains, safety pins, hobble skirts, slashed and sloganed T Shirts. 1980s New Romantic, super platform, mini crini, tartan, and who can forget her Buffalo Girls look and McLaren’s song? By the time I got to London in 1994/5 Westwood was old guard fashion and the still functioning World’s End store on Kings Road had basically become a merch store with some fashion.
Boudoir by Vivienne Westwood 1998
Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Aldehydes, Marigold, Hyacinth, Orange Blossom, Bergamot
Heart: Carnation, Rose, Cardamom, Coriander, Narcissus, Orris Root, Jasmine
Base: Vanilla, Tobacco Leaf, Cinnamon, Sandalwood, Patchouli
This then brings us to 1998. The name Vivienne Westwood had been in newspapers and on TV for 28 years. It was part of our psyche and much of the outrageous and rebellious past had been wallpapered over with glamour. The remnants of naughtiness even gave it a cachet for the cashed up rebels without a cause and trustafarians. What better way to celebrate her elevation into mainstream that create a perfume? One that has most of the hallmarks of a modern aldehydic floral and some funk underneath. Boudoir was not outrageous or even over the top, A gentle, sweet, hark back to the perfumery of bygone eras but cleaned up for modern sensibilities and much more importantly; SALEABLE! Boudoir became de rigueur among the fashionista party set for a while. It was so popular that many Mugler Angel aficionados made the change, or added this to their spritz list.
I only have the extrait and it still smells unbelievably good.
My bottle is old. Over time Boudoir has stopped being notes to my nose. It is itself and no other. A sparkling, soapy, white/yellow floral with some sweaty greenery underpinned by a warm, rich breathy base, lightly spiced all the way through. Just a swipe with the glass stopper and the room fills with Boudoir in seconds. Happy memories. Longevity is right up there with Vivienne Westwood herself. Unless I swim or bathe this single swipe will continue through till tomorrow morning.
“The only way to halt Climate Change is to work with governments but that is impossible because governments are the problem” Vivienne Westwood
In honour of someone who has been instrumental in my life through music, design, fashion, and myriad other ways. Goodbye Vivienne Westwood and thank you.
Do any of you have a Westwood story you’d like to share?
Pirate boots. Flat, black & tan pirate boots. Craved for them since 1981. Wearable at 19 & wearable now at 60.
Boudoir was never my thing. Too dense & dirty sweaty for me. I’m sure it smelt great on some but on me it smelled like Tracey Emin’s Bed!
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HA! So funny alityke.
Yes, PIRATE BOOTS!
When I was doing my art certificate at Seaforth TAFE in the 80s, my best friend was there doing the fashion technology certificate. She could construct and sew anything, often running up an outfit in the afternoon to wear that night, much to the envy of us off-the-rack girls. I’ve always been attracted to the technical/ craftsmanship elements of art and design over the creative genius stuff. Maybe I’m a plodder. I worked in the photographic and reprographic industries for many years and it was the long suffering draftspeople and engineers I related to, interpreting the scribbles of some famous architect and turning them into legible designs. And I much preferred being in the darkroom than behind the camera.
As for Boudoir, I liked but didn’t love it due to honing in on a cinnamon note and also expecting it to be what it wasn’t. Hung onto it for ages because I loved the bottle but eventually sold it to someone who would appreciate it more.
I read lots of reviews where it’s described with terms like skank bomb, ladies underwear etc. either I’m missing something, or my frame of reference for skanky perfumes is quite different, or perhaps it’s the perfume name and power of suggestion? I find it very pretty, sparkly, a little spicy. What a shame it’s so hard to find now.
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Oh yes Clare, I have also been known to run something up in an afternoon for the night. It was a really good course.
I didn’t know you were photographic. interesting.
Not everyone’s cup of tea. Bummer you miss out on the sweaty parts.
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I’ve always wanted to learn pattern making. You’re so talented, Portia! I’ve never been a fan of Boudoir. It smells skunky on me, unfortunately.
Thanks RR but pattern making is not a talent, it’s a skill. You can learn it. It’s a few very basic principles. Tailoring moves into the realm of talent because it takes heart to really make it work but mostly it’s formulaic.
Bummer about Boudoir.
Lol at “skunky”! Never smelt skunk but I’m guessing we’re in the same ballpark of how Boudoir smells to us.
I imagine Tracey Emin’s My Bed art work smelt pretty “skunky” too.
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Can’t let the topic end without saying how much I love the bottle – your extrait version, especially! Thanks for sharing your review and the picture of it.
Yeah, the bottle is gorgeous. I’ve had its hidden away for years and it comes out very occasionally for some skin time.
I loved your story (and was a little sad when it ended – I could read and read it :) ).
My whole life I hated sewing with passion. I struggled through the school course where we were supposed to make growing complexity garments. First it was an apron. Then I remember skirt. I’m sure there was something else, but I probably blocked it out ;) I got my high grade but only because I cooked well (the second part of that special course).
Being from another universe, until I was in my late 30s, I had no idea who Vivienne Westwood was. So, no stories from me.
I know that I tried Boudoir and even had a sample of it. I don’t remember much, but I’m sure that I didn’t like it much back then.
Thank you Undina.
Sewing and cooking seem to be either loves or loathes. Fortunately I loved both.
I cannot even imagine your growing up years, no matter how much detail I read or hear from you and others. it is so alien to my own experience. I’m so glad you get to the USA and became a perfumista. It’s meant you are in my life and makes me glad.
Ha! Boudoir isn’t for everyone.
I enjoyed hearing about your fashion past! That training will have stood you in very good stead. I can barely sew a button on these days, though I could make little dolls’ clothes as a child. Lost my nerve / the knack somewhere along the way. Huge respect for VW, and I have met Jordan a couple of times (also sadly gone). I wasn’t too struck on Boudoir when I tried it, but would definitely give it another whirl if I had a sample still. I kept a perfume diary at the time and wrote:
“a huge, peppery, spicy, sweet, pyrotechnic powderfest, that catches you offguard with a shocking blast of civet as you stand there open-mouthed, watching the fireworks.”
WOW Vanessa, no wonder you started the blog. That description is exactly the feeling of Boudoir. So succinct.