“Hi ya Lil!” The news boys along Market Street would shout out to her as she gloriously and most spectacularly passed by each day.
“Looking like a queen Miss Lily!” Little Bobby Thomson would say every day as he gave her a newspaper “On The House!” He thought she was “swell”.
Always holding her signature Goldband Lily bouquet, Lily de Marché would smile, laugh and blow kisses to the boys knowing that in just a few short years they would join there fathers and older brothers as her audience at the Hippodrome on Pacific Street. She was the toast of the town, the belle of the ball and the queen of the Barbary Coast. The only woman the Great Caruso wanted to hear sing when he came to town. She was her own woman. She owed no man anything more and nothing less than a beautiful song presented along with her famous cool smile from the footlights between 9 and 11 every night but Monday.
In the city by the bay Lily was the most famous beauty of her day. She rode every afternoon down Market Street in a black carriage burnished with gold leaf drawn by four black Arabian stallions. Each prancing horse sported a gold hat of plumed red ostrich feathers that danced in the afternoon wind that came in like clockwork at 3 P.M. off the Pacific Ocean. The horses and their ruby crowns were the delight of every newsboy along the Market and Lily was a fascination to every man who caught a glimpse of her.
Each day she wore a new Paris dress with a matching parasol and hat; these along with her more spectacular evening gowns were imported by ship and then transcontinental train at great expense by her charmed patrons from Nob Hill. Once a dress was seen in public the garment was packed in tissue paper, returned to its Parisian box and delivered by her Chinese maids to the prostitutes on the Barbary Coast. Nearly singlehandedly Lily was responsible for maintaining the tradition of San Francisco’s ladies of the night as being the influential fashion plates of the West. The society ladies of the city looked to the bad girls of town for the latest trends in fashion and followed them slavishly. If it were not for her voice and exceptional beauty Lily knew she would have, most likely been working a crib at Madame Sally’s on Gold Street. Lily liked to help the girls when she could and thank her lucky stars that she had a voice.
(Ladies of easy virtue in Lily’s hand me downs on an outing in Golden Gate Park)
This charmed rather superficial life would have gone on forever if it hadn’t been for one little thing.
Lily awoke at 5:12 on that Wednesday morning of April 18th to the alarm of the Saint Ignatius church bell ringing madly. Just as she wondered why the 6000 pound bell was banging away at such an early hour it suddenly stopped ringing followed by a huge crash. At that moment she was thrown from her bed as the wall of her bedroom peeled away from the house leaving the room exposed to Hayes Street. Only then did she realize that an earthquake was ringing every church bell in the city. By the time the fires started she had the presence of mind to gather up her jewels and call for her carriage.
On her way to the safety of Golden GatePark she made her driver stop to picked up a newsboy she recognized from Market Street. He was standing in the middle of Oak Street in his nightgown with a stunned look on his face. She pulled him into the carriage and away from the pile of rubble that was once his home and now the tomb of his parents. Bobby Thompson never once shed a tear but let her hold him in her arms for the rest of the ride. Over the following days in the makeshift refugee camps in the park Lily found more children who were orphaned and brought them to her tent to take care of them.
(No photos survive of Miss de Marché, so Lily Langtry is filling in for her.)
Lily never performed again at the Hippodrome after the fire and earthquake of 1906. She was much too busy with her new life as the founder of the De Marché Orphanage (and home for wayward girls) in the Hayes Valley. That is not to say she never sang again. Indeed every evening after supper she sang for the children that she loved more than she ever had for fancy Arabian stallions or Paris gowns.
A TRIP DOWN MARKET STREET 1906
(Can you spot Lily in her carriage?)
Gilded Lily by Ineke I find to be incredibly lovely. It opens my mind to another era, a time when life was at a slower pace or so it seems in hindsight. An age when women who could afford it only wore perfume from France, dressing gowns and silk pumps in the morning while they powdered themselves under gaslights before ornate mirrors at their dressing tables. It is a gilded age perfume to perfection. It has a touch of Paris in it and speaks of glamour, seduction on a refined and delicate level.
The perfume opens with a fruity blend of tangy pineapple, sharp sweet rhubarb, a zing of grapefruit. These bright notes sparkle like champagne on the skin. This bubbly blend is smoothed and soothed by a touch of aromatic elemi. The pine elements of this note tie the opening together most elegantly and prepare the nose for what is yet to come.
There follows the beauty and glory of the perfume as it blooms within moments of these opening notes. The gorgeous Goldband Lily makes its entrance and sings its aria of pure lily loveliness in the most captivating lilting manner. This sublimely fragrant lily is lush and full-bodied and gives the perfume a deceptively delicate aura. It is the backbone of the fragrance and has the strength and staying power of a star note that has the singular job of carrying the perfume forward to the dry down.
Ineke in her garden smelling the Goldband Lily
(photo stolen from Fragantica)
The dry down is classic in blending the notes of patchouli, oak moss and labdanum. To me this is what gives the perfume a classy, classic French feeling. Louis XV and his mistress Madame de Pompadour loved labdanum so much as to practically bath in it. This royal note along with a rich Patchouli and the beautiful oak moss carry the fading notes of the lily to a beautiful conclusion. The life of the perfume is moderate lasting on my skin about six hours. It is close to the skin after the opening with occasional glorious bursts of scent like a small fireworks display. It is truly the beauty of its day.
GILDED LILY by Ineke 5 gold stars *****