A NEW LIFE ~ 21 Bonaparte by Vicky Tiel



Diana Vreeland looked across the luncheon table at her and put it quite plainly: “My dear at your age and with a face like yours you simply cannot be a smug Mademoiselle.”

Vivien Van Volkenburg looked up from her Chanel compact and smiled. “Diana what a thing to say!”  she snapped the compact shut.

“It is not that you aren’t beautiful, it is that you are to smart to stay here in Manhattan. You simply must go to Paris. For a newly minted divorcee like you Paris is essential, like caviar or oxygen. You simply must have it to live! And while you are there it is vital, VITAL that you have a love affair.”


Screaming horns and screeching tires brought Vivien back to the present. She opened her eyes and looked out the window at the gushing fountains of the Place de la Concord as the taxi that carried her whizzed past in a glittering shower of December rain. The mixture of the ozone from the rain and the heady fumes from the cars and taxis cutting across the Place to turn up the Champs Élysées made her delightfully dizzy. Her taxi did not turn with the others onto that famous boulevard but lurched forward toward the Seine and the 6th arrondissement. She wiped the steamy window just in time to see the Christmas lights strung for a good mile in the trees all the way to the Arch de Triomphe.

“When you get there you simply must make a Bee line to this perfectly charming boutique on the left bank. Forget Dior and Coco’s little shop behind the Ritz. This is the place for you. You have the body and the look that was made for wearing Tiel.”

“Teal is not a good color on me Diana”

Diana tilted her head upon her great swanlike neck and vermillion red lips parted in a smile. “It is not a color, it is a person.”


Just before the Pont de la Concord the taxi driver made a hard left just missing the front fender of an on coming bus and sending Vivien sliding across the well worn leather seat to slam up against the left door.

“Pardon Madame.” The driver mumbled.

“Are we almost there?”

He ignored her as they speed along the Quai Francois Mitterrand. Vivien cleared the window with her leather loved hand just in time to catch a glimpse of hundreds of little Larks wheeling up from the Tuileries and out over the river toward Notre Dame.  Despite the crazy ride across the city Vivien smiled. She was in Paris after all. It was beautiful and somehow, just as Diana had promised her, being here was as easy as breathing. It felt like coming home.  The taxi decelerated from 50 to 15 to turn onto Pont Neuf. The little finger park on the end of the Île de la Citéwas deserted yet inviting as it separated the waters of the Seine like an elegant trowel. Another sharp right onto Quai de Conte that within a block became Quai Voltaire, then a sweeping honking mad turn onto a little narrow street. Moving too fast down the street there was just a flash, a wet impression of the École des BeauxArts in passing in a jumble of stones then a sudden stop.  Vivien leaned to the window and looked out. The driver turned around in his seat.

“We arrive Madame… 21 Rue Bonaparte.



21 Bonaparte, the new perfume by famed Paris based American couturier Vicky Tiel is classified as Oriental Floral. It is more than that, it is sensual, elegant, refined, a woman’s perfume.fiorentina

Launched in 2013 its creation stretches back many years to a glittering night in the South of France.  The night Elizabeth Taylor won her second Oscar for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”  The star did not attend the awards in Los Angeles, she was on the Rivera finishing up “The Comedians” and Vicky was with her. When her husband Richard Burton lost the best actor award Elizabeth was very upset and stormed out of the villa heading down the stone steps that plunged into the Mediterranean Sea. Vicky was worried for her friend and followed  to see if she was alright.  As she followed she noticed the night was filled with the scent of Jasmine, Gardenias and Tuberose. She stopped and looked about to find that she was surrounded on either side of the marble staircase by the very flowers which filled her senses and in so weaving their white magic cemented an indelible memory. She made a mental note on the spot that some day she would make a perfume from that impression.  She then continued down to the sea to find Elizabeth. It took some time, 47 years to finally realize the perfume in memory of that night.


The name 21 Bonaparte is for the address of the dress boutique in Paris she owned with Taylor. The bottle is a regal beauty worthy of Taylor’s inspiration, the color, purple which Elizabeth loved.

The perfume opens a tad sweet and spicy with black current, Mandarin Orange and star Anise. And at first it seemed to me to be a little too sweet. But in moments that sailed away leaving the perfume to become in every way that garden on the French Rivera in 1966.

The middle notes are glorious, Jasmine, Gardenia and tuberose. Now it should be noted that true gardenia scent is impossible to extract from the flower and must be created with the expert blending of other white florals. Often times the attempt by perfumers fails to delver a believable facsimile of the scent, but in 21 Bonaparte we have a photorealistic Gardenia blooming and lush. Here in the middle of the life of the perfume these flowers are joined buy a very subtle smoky vanilla, It seems to waft into the white midnight garden like an exotic incense.


The dry down consists of Patchouli, Vanilla and smooth, woody and rich, sandalwood. The Patchouli brings a certain masculine vibe along with the sandalwood making 21 Bonaparte accessible to men. But only those who appreciate the indolic joys of white flowers on skin.

The perfume lasts a very long time, around ten to twelve hours with a heavy sillage in the fist quarter of its lifespan.  21 Bonaparte is exclusive to and only sold on HSN. I have tried other perfumes by Vicky Tiel and found Sirene to be very nice, Ulysse for Men stunning, but 21 Bonaparte to me is her grand opus, a fine tribute to her friendship with Elizabeth Taylor and quite simply her best perfume to date.


(Vicky Tiel)




  1. Wonderful cab ride!

  2. Oh i was transported back to the south of France and to rue Bonaparte. I also bought it on HSN!

    • Oh Mary how wonderful. I hope you like it. Our lovely H. flipped over it today when I let her smell it.

  3. I’ve never heard of the line and this was a wonderful introduction, Lanier! You know, when I lived in Paris I lived right around the corner from Rue Bonaparte and never knew…

    • How small is the world after all? The shop is now I think a chocolate shop ..boo hoo. But Vicky is still going strong!

      • Vicky’s boutique is in a courtyard next to the huge pastry, La Duree, where they also sell chocolates. It is presently under renovation. Vicky is an amazing person to know.

      • Ani, thank you so much for the update! Now I know where to find the boutique on my next visit to Paris!

  4. Glorious! I am sending you a quick email!

  5. Hi Lanier! I love Vicky Tiel and am so pleased to see her get a little notice. Great profile and review. I worked with Vicky for eight years running her perfume business in the 1990’s and spent a good deal of time with her in NY, Paris and in the Keys, she is just as lovely as you present, and she is also one of the hardest working designers in the business. Few have heard of her, and many a fashion designer would not exist today without referencing Vicky Tiel [Vera Wang anyone]. Vicky is actually an American producing couture-level hand stitched gowns the even the designers in the LMVH stable can’t match. She was always full of inside stories about her adventures with the movie stars, which was where she had her start. As an aside, the perfumer Hugh Spencer and I created both Vicky Tiel Sirene and Vicky Tiel Ulysse for Vicky back in the 1990’s. Great stuff. Glad to see a new “Vicky” has caught your notice. Jeffrey

  6. […] The following is reposted from Lanier – scents memory published 07/12/2014 (https://sentsmemory.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/a-new-life-21-bonaparte-by-vicky-tiel/) […]

  7. Heya buddy,
    I don’t know this line. Looks great.
    How fabulous is Elizabeth Taylor in that shot? Flawless.
    Portia x

    • It may just be here in the USA …sold only on Home Shopping Network…BUT try their website. She is fabulous in that shot… and in our memories. xoxo

  8. I was at SteinMart today (08-26-2014) and they had this perfume and samples of it on postcards. I took 2 and now I will try one. Oriental floral is my favorite group, although I am quite fickle.

    • Thanks for stopping by Deborah! Ms. Tiel is saying that the perfume is going into stores soon! So if you like it keep an eye open for it.

  9. This was a total delight to read, like being up to the chin in Napoleon pastry surrounded by ancient flowering gardens, foot bath of champagne, wowsa, thanks. Lived on Rue de Buci in the 60’s, school in London. In Big Sur now, ”Sandpiper” turf, I miss Liz/Burton grandeur.

    • Holy cowgirl thanks so much! I am thrilled you enjoyed it. Living in Big Sur like Laura Reynolds in The Sandpiper…now that is Fabuloues!

  10. Thank you for the lovely story! I love taking the journey and being a part of the memory through storytelling! If only we could virtually smell this wonderful perfume!

  11. […] The following is reposted from Lanier – scents memory published 07/12/2014 (https://sentsmemory.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/a-new-life-21-bonaparte-by-vicky-tiel/) […]

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