If you were called (ahem) Amanda and were a teenager in the 70s, there was a very high chance that you’d find a bottle of Aqua Manda bath oil or perfume in your Christmas stocking or birthday present pile. It was nowhere near as chic as Charlie (my best friend was actually called Charlie so that made it completely off limits) and less sugar-floral-hippy than Anais Anais (launched 1978), but its spicy orange fragrance, tinged with warmth rather than glamour, was my very first perfume love.
I wallowed in the bath oil, dusted the talc and did a teenage strop if anyone else in the family used it. The perfume came only rarely, so was used sparingly and is my link to many teen moments, many of which flashed by in a rush when I smelled it again at Odette Toilette’s excellent Rebel Cake and Perfume Club lecture on Nostalgia this weekend. it instantly pushed me back to flares, cheesecloth shirts and sitting at my dressing table, curling tongs hot and fragrant as I attempted flicked front hair.
She mentioned it because, joyously, it is being re released and Odette had a sample of the new mix for us to try -the only bottle of it in the country apparently, what a well connected girl. Equally joyously, it smells very like the old one -possibly better as memory is an unreliable thing when messed up with nostalgia. it’s launching in November and Christopher Collins, who originally owned Goya and the Aqua Manda brand, is involved. For more information the launch website is here.
The original packaging was spectacularly sophisticated for the times, there were orange and brown bottles with curls of flowers and fruit embossed rather beautifully in the plastic lids (below left). The boxes were a visual treat for any teenage dressing table desperate for a bit of non-starchy modern-ness. The new packaging and bottle (right below) is a close match to the old, but no sign of the lovely lids.
I wish the white bottle was an orange one and in the gorgeous shape of the the original, which you can just see in the top advert on the right, but apart from that, not a bad revival job.
Odette and Leonie Sooke’s six part lecture involved a different perfume and delicious cake, cooked by Leonie, for each section-it’s the only lecture I’ve ever been to where I wanted to hear more- and was an informative and fascinating trip through the emotive link between food, fragrance and nostalgia.
it took us from the launch of Ionones -the synthetic for Parma Violets- in 1893, to US research from Dr Hirsch in 1994 claiming the way to better sex was the smell of pumpkin pie and lavender, with many interesting fragrances and cake in between.T
There were many insights, but one that resonated was from Odette, who wondered how the current perfume climate -with hundreds of new perfumes launched each year – would affect how we remember this period…or not. Will too much choice just confuse our memory? Perhaps the attachments wont be as strong as mine to Aqua Manda because we’re passing through fragrance so much more quickly today. Who knows.
What I do know is that i loved the Rebel Cake and Perfume Club, and if you are fond of either, or are keen on an adventure in fragrance, then seriously consider attending future events. More details here, the next one involves many types of chocolate….Leonie Sooke’s GossipBowl website is also worth a look.