Chatillon Lux 1904, photo courtesy of Chatillon Lux
Meet me in St. Louis, Louis
Meet me at the fair
Don’t tell me the lights are shining
Any place but there — “Meet Me in St. Louis,” by F.A. Mills/Andrew Sterling
On the Pike, World’s Fair, 1904, image via Flickr
It is April 1904 in St. Louis, Missouri during the most marvelous event of the new century. Across electrical wires, disembodied music and voices travel like spirits from the Palace of Electricity to a telephone receiver in the grand courtyard. Wide-eyed audiences consume exotic edibles, such as an odd, mouth puckering citrus entertainingly named “kumquat” and clouds of spun sugar on sticks, washed down with a curious beverage called “Dr. Pepper.” Under a night sky newly illuminated by thousands of lights glittering like strands of topazes is the Pike; a mile of vendors and amusement park rides, great halls and palaces house inventions such as x-ray machines and infant incubators, Philippine, Swiss and Chinese villages, caged exotic birds and lagoons dotted with gondolas. Across it all drift the aromas of familiar and strange – roast coffees mingling with the cuisines of a dozen nationalities. Within the space of a few hours, a passerby at the St. Louis World’s Fair – the largest ever dreamt up – might have felt they had traversed the very globe. And included in the throng are the grandparents of Missouri native and Chatillon Lux founder, Shawn Maher.
Shawn Maher, photo courtesy of Shawn Maher
Maher celebrates the great Fair – the largest and most expensive ever dreamt up – with a new fragrance, Chatillon Lux 1904, that parades vibrant, contrasting notes like an array of fairground attractions, setting burnished, pungent coffee and creamy woods against zingy fruit notes, all wrapped up in a flowery jasmine bow. Although he originally set out to make a coffee-centric fragrance, Maher soon changed course: “Coffee may have been the original inspiration, but in working with it, I realized that I found it worked so much better in tandem with other notes than as the star of the show. With that in mind, I created something that was vibrant, with contrasts in scents and textures to bring out the best in each with this diverse array.” Starting with a full-bodied coffee bean essential oil, he tamped down its innate bitterness with some carefully chosen aroma chemicals that brought a nutty, fruity quality to the composition … “This composition may not be as intricate as others,” Maher says, “but the materials were carefully selected to work both in tandem and in contrast. I wanted to reflect that feeling of discovery and realization that the world is bigger and more amazing than you ever could have imagined.”
Poster, World’s Fair 1904, image via Public Domain Pictures
The opening is a photo-realistic coffee note uncannily like a handful of French roast with its characteristic smoky tinge and hints of charred wood and petrol. For just a second or two, jasmine flutters in, reminding me of Ayala Moriel’s beautiful floral coffee fragrance, Finjan. But it is fleeting, giving way to cardamom, which adds its dusty, sweet spice and eases the coffee’s bitterness. A red fruit note drips in next, and the combination soon begins to smell like a breakfast café table of espresso sitting next to toast and strawberry jam. Strawberry is nearly always an old-fashioned odor to me, conjuring memories of childhood stories about poky little puppies and shortcakes and baskets of sweet fruit set out on tea tables. Its presence sends the coffee note on a detour from urban brulerie backward in time. One of my favourite aspects of 1904 is the way the coffee accord is bridged by jasmine to an old-fashioned lime cordial note in the mid-section. The flowery jasmine is so pure and gentle that it needs a warm breeze and white lace curtains to flutter through, and the lime note, while subtle, lifts the fragrance. There’s a subtle interplay between sharp and sweet, pungent and soft. 1904 rests here awhile.
Vintage 1904 St. Louis World’ Fair postcard, image via Flickr
Maher used a generous amount of cashmeran, and its smooth, woolly aroma joins harmoniously with the cardamom and sandalwood to temper the acerbic bite of the coffee. The combination smoothes out the fragrance so that its creamy elements become more pronounced in the dry-down. The brightness of the fruit and the coffee bean remains, but muted, just keeping everything percolating. As I breathe in the Chatillon Lux 1904 again, I feel a bit like I am weaving between two time periods and places; a modish urban roastery and a worn, white summer porch in a middle American town long before I was born. And I imagine what it must have been like to taste iced tea for the very first time, watching the lights glinting in Paris just there, past the Japanese teahouse and Venetian lagoon, listening to the gondoliers singing love songs in a language I’d never heard before.
Notes: Cardamom, coffee, sandalwood, jasmine, lime, cashmeran, musk.
Disclaimer: Sample of Chatillon Lux 1904 kindly provided by Chatillon Lux. My opinions, as always, are my own.
Lauryn Beer, Senior Editor
Bottle of Chatillon Lux 1904, photo courtesy of Chatillon Lux
1904 was just released on September 28, 2021 but thanks to the generosity of Chatillon Lux we have a 60 ml bottle of Chatillon Lux 1904 to give away to one registered reader in the U.S., EU and Canada. To be eligible please leave a comment saying what strikes you about Chatillon Lux 1904 and if you have a particular favourite in the Chatillon Lux or Maher Olfactive lines. Draw closes October 2, 2021.
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