Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione

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My first encounter with an image of the Countess had me staring for at least a full minute. There was something utterly intriguing about her, very creative but unforced and genuine, as if she was not trying to be something she wasn’t, she was as she appeared to be. One of her most famous attitudes was The Queen of Hearts, where she looks almost supplicating and very vulnerable.

Viginia Oldoini was indeed a Queen of Hearts, a true romantic. She married quite young, out of love to a minor noble from Tuscany. They had a son and all seemed quite well until she realized she was getting bored with her husband, and she started to have affairs with several men. The only person who didn’t seem to know about this was her husband.

She was visited by King Victor Emmanuel who asked her to plead for several things to Napoleon III of France. Of course, King Victor knew that Napoleon was a huge sucker for a willing pretty woman and so La Castiglione began to pester her husband to move to Paris and knock the old dust of Tuscany from their kid boots. That was all fine and well but her husband was beginning to feel the pinch of poverty and was less enthusiastic about moving to expensive Paris than she was. She begged and told him about the  mission King Victor had asked her to do. Reluctantly they went.

It wasn’t long before she met Napoleon III, he was married to one of my most favorite characters, The Empress Eugenie. But no matter how beautiful, elegant, and kind his wife was, Napoleon III was a real roue! He immediately started a great affair with La Castigleone which broke her husband’s heart and the move had impoverished him. She was divorced, her child taken away from her, and she hardly noticed. She was having the time of her life with Napoleon III.

Alas, Napoleon III was notoriously fickle and became tired of his pretty Tuscan trophy, he took up with an actress named Ricci and La Castiglione was left to fend for herself. Of course, she got busy collecting a string of rich lovers, conning as much money out of them as she could get, and enjoying her fame. She had become very self important, rude, and arrogant but it didn’t seem to hurt her romantic conquests.

She is well known for her great mass of photographs which she had taken of herself, in a variety of costumes and poses. They were hand tinted at her direction. She is the author of the modern selfie.

Unfortunately, she started to catch broken bits of gossip and see that her suitors were not as young, highly born, or well heeled as they had been. She could not afford to be as picky as she had once been and this pricked her considerable pride. She particularly had a difficult time enduring the laughter of other women who responded with glee to her painful slide.

Finally, La Castiglione could bear it no longer and retired from life. She kept to her apartment, took out all the mirrors in the place, dressed only in black, and went out only at night heavily veiled. Finally, she died at age 62.

How do you portray this extravagant Queen of Hearts in perfume? Capturing La Castigleone in a bottle is very hard to do. I chose to concentrate on her seductive side entirely. I have a fabulous Blue Lilac accord which smells just like the real thing, I have used that as a base to the blend. Then I add a touch of white hawthorne, it’s an innocent sort of an accord but it packs quite a sexy punch, finally I have added three white musks which are very soft, pleasantly animalic, curiosity inducing, and just lovely. I think this would be a favorite of the Countess herself!

Floral, musky, proud, and sexy.

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Weight 0.0625 lbs
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