May 29 should really be a national holiday (this year it actually is because of Memorial Day, but we digress). For it was that day in 1917 that John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born. His mark on not only America, but ‘Americana’ is a great one. From his years as King of Camelot to his effortless style from his boat to the ballroom, Jack oozed All American-ism so much that he even wore a fragrance called America One by Krigler, a fragrance brand with an incredible history that spans over 100 years.
Krigler was founded by a chemist, Albert Krigler in Germany in 1904. Why? Because he fell in love with the daughter of a French perfumer. He figured out how to make a fragrance he called, ‘Pleasure Gardenia’ and presented it to her as an engagement gift in 1879. How’s that for impressing the in-laws?
The brand then moved to Moscow, then Saint Petersburg, and finally back to Berlin in 1905 where they opened in the Hotel Victoria. Albert became known as the perfumer of hotels and palaces. Not a bad branding angle.
Later, the family opened their first store in the South of France where a certain Coco Chanel would peruse the scents heavily before launching her own Chanel No.5. But there were many more celebrities to come. Grace Kelly fell in love with ‘Chateau Krigler; and low and behold F. Scott Fitzgerald became a fan of ‘Liber Gustave,’ a fragrance inspired by love letters between a soldier and his lover during WWI. Zelda Fitzgerald picked out the fragrance for Scott while they were staying with their friends Sarah and Gerald Murphy at their now iconic home, Villa America. So smitten was he by the scent that Scott even included Albert Krigler in his novel, ‘Tender is the Night’.
When Baz Lurhman was making ‘Gatsby,’ he and his wife spent a lot of time in The Plaza Hotel where Krigler now has a boutique (Again! More on that later…) and they asked if they could provide them some content for the movie. As the 5th generation owner, Ben Krigler told us, “We provided bottles for the set and decorated the Fitzgerald Suite using our candles too. What is more exciting is that the actors wore the fragrance to the premiers in both New York and Cannes. So Baz was wearing the same scent as F. Scott and it was exactly 100 years since the fragrance had been created in 1914.” We know a martini was raised in honor of that occasion from the big bar in the sky.
Fast-forward to 1929 and Ben’s grandmother’s move to New York. In 1930 she convinced the general manager of The Plaza Hotel to give her a space to showcase her perfume. They agreed and in 1931 she launched America One, the first scent to be created stateside celebrating the American people and their spontaneous spirit. As Ben recalls, “Ernest Hemingway spent some times in the south of France on the Cote d’Azur and Antibes. He met my family there and it was in New York at The Plaza hotel that he received as a gift the bottle of America One 31 from my grandmother.”
The fragrance garnered even more attention in the 1950’s when a certain Senator named John F. Kennedy came to the South of France for vacation. When he found out this was the fragrance of Hemingway, he had to have it. Apparently he wore it only on very special occasions since it meant so much to him. With its blend of vetiver, bergamont, neroli, and citrus scents it has a fresh and spicy scent that is now known as ‘the fragrance of the leader’.
To celebrate the centennial of JFK’s birth, Krigler has launched a soap scented with America One 31 as well as a package incorporating both the soap and the scent for $290 (available only at The Plaza).
To smell just like Papa Hemingway and JFK, click here.
Happy Birthday Mr. President.