Beginning in the mid 1930's, the Austrian Baron Walter Langer von Langendorff and his British born wife, Evelyn Diane Westall, known as Lady Evyan challenged the French perfume industry with the launch of the Evyan perfume line in New York. The Baron, also known as Dr. Walter Langer, was a very well-educated chemist, who was very deeply in love with his wife, and subsequently named their fragrance house after her, in addition to it becoming a holding company comprised of Dr. Walter Langer Co, Westall, Westfall, Estall, Felice Co and Hartnell.
It is reported that at a dinner party, a guest told Lady Evyan, who was wearing an off the shoulder evening gown, "Your white shoulders are beautiful". It was after that famous compliment that the classic perfume of White Shoulders was born. Another report is that the Duke of Marlborough raised his glass during a dinner party at the Lady Evyan and toasted " to the whitest shoulders I have ever seen".
The Langers were looking to create a perfume for American women with no pretentious connections to France. The couple made every effort to have every part of the fragrance, as well as the packaging made in America. The Evyan perfume company viewed fragrance as art and employed only the finest of ingredients to be used.
So what does it smell like? It is classified as a floral fragrance for women. It begins with a fresh floral top, followed by a multi faceted floral heart, resting on a feminine, subdued, powdery floral base.
- Top notes: neroli, aldehydes, leafy green notes, peach, bergamot
- Middle notes: tuberose, clove bud, gardenia, lily of the valley, lilac, narcissus, jasmine, orris, rose
- Base notes: sandalwood, civet, oakmoss, amber, benzoin, musk.
A 1947 advertisement read: "To Keep the Exciting Shadow of Romance Ever Over Your White Shoulders". It also made mention that the perfume was housed in etched bottles encased in lace and satin bandboxes. The prices for the perfume ranged from $3.00-$110.00. It is still possible to find these original round peachy pink rayon satin and chantilly lace presentation boxes with or without perfume. The elegant lace motif was a direct homage to Lady Evyan's signature off the shoulder lace evening gowns and her collection of heirloom laces.
Fate of the Fragrance:
The ultimate success of the White Shoulders perfume attested to the fact that American companies could compete with those from France. White Shoulders was originally sold by the company Hartnell, which was an early name for Evyan. This name has no relation to the Norman Hartnell perfume company of England.
Evyan also traded under the early name of the Evelyn Westall Company of New York. The company also used the name Estall and launched a fragrance in 1948. Later Elizabeth Arden released White Shoulders under her name.
Since 1988, the perfume has been sold by Parfums International Ltd. You can find eau de parfum, eau de toilette, eau de cologne, parfum, bath & body wash, satinglide lotions and dusting powders. The fragrance has suffered from reformulation throughout the years, but I still think it smells very nice.