Fragrance Reviews Krasnaya Moskva or Red Moscow by Novaya Zarya

Krasnaya Moskva or Red Moscow by Novaya Zarya

10/19/08 01:35:25 (16 comments)

by: Fragrantica Team

Few  fragrances are as well-known or are as closely associated with the era and the political regime they were launched in as is Krasnaya Moskva (we can translate it as "Red Moscow" and "Moscow the Beautiful" since the word "red" was often used as "beautiful" in old Russian usage, but for the early Soviet time when the perfume was launched, the meaning "red" is more correct).

Krasnaya Moskva was the very first "Soviet" fragrance and certainly the most popular.
According to the perfumers working for Novaya Zarya (a perfume and cosmetics factory in Moscow, Russia), the fragrance was created by a certain Auguste Michel, but the year the composition was launched remains obscure: it either happened in 1913, at the then Henri Brocard’s factory in Moscow (i.e. before the Revolution in 1917) or later, when the factory was nationalized and given a new, Soviet-like name—Novaya Zarya ("The New Dawn?).      

Auguste Michel, a Frenchman, was the teacher of Pavel Ivanov, a Russian perfumer working for Novaya Zarya, who, in turn, educated Alla Belfer —a perfumer representing a later generation of the factory perfumers. Pavel Ivanov, whose style is associated with classic carnation-based florals and ambery orientals, is the author of a famous fragrance called Kamenny Tsvetok ("The Stone Flower," 1955).

Some of his other creations can be researched using the Osmotheque’s official site—osmotheque.fr

According to the Osmotheque’s files, Krasnaya Moskva was created in 1925, which technically seems to be right. Abroad, the fragrance is also known as Red Moscow or Moscou Rouge.

Other sources insist that Krasnaya Moskva was actually just a new Soviet name for a fragrance once known as Le Bouquet Préféré de l'Impératrice ("Empress’ s Favorite Bouquet"), a composition created in 1913 at Brocard’s factory  in Moscow after he had died.

Henri Brocard came to Russia after his father Athanase Brocard’s failed attempt to strengthen and further develop his  own cosmetics and soap-making family business in France and later in the U.S.  The competition there was too strong, yet Russia, with its aristocracy and its emerging luxury-craving bourgeoisie, seemed to be a vast and highly attractive market. 

Henri Brocard started his own factory on Moscow’s Nikolskaya street in 1861: he began by producing mass cosmetics merchandise, such as soap and tooth-powder, for the lower class. His soap was an instant hit due to its attractively low price: before that, even factory-produced soap was quite expensive.

His merchandise was supported by clever and humorous advertising: people on the posters were either simple civilians or peasants and the scenes depicted were often quite comical.  Sample slogans in Russian-announced products like "The National Soap."

The Russian cosmetics market existed long before Brocard’s arrival on the scene: a huge French factory, A.Rallet & Co., founded by Alfonse Rallet in 1843, had already successfully operated in Moscow. However, Rallet’s factory mainly produced costly pomades and fragrances.  After the Revolution, the factory was nationalized and got a new name as well, Svoboda ("Freedom"), and it is still in operation.

Brocard, happy with his initial success in Russia, started to produce high-quality cosmetics, adding essential oils and glycerine in hopes of winning a more high-profile clientele.  Among others, he received shipments of the aromatic raw materials from Roure Bertrand Fils, a company based in Grasse, France.  

Brocard’s merchandise caught the interest of the royal family and quite soon the factory became the official supplier to her Royal Highness Alexandra Fiodorovna, the wife of the last Russian tsar, Nicholas II. The luxurious soap that he started producing wasn’t simply high-quality, it was also highly attractive: oval or round in shape, with carved letters on each bar. The soap was even suitable for small children. It is highly likely that his wife, Charlotte Ravey, who grew up and studied in Russia, but was actually of Belgian descent, helped him a great deal, since she was familiar with the peculiarities of life in Russia and the psychology of the Russian customer.

In Russia, the company listed itself as The Brocard Association, which was highly typical at that time (the last name of the owner was spelled with intended omission of the final silent consonant D but with the obligatory Ъ in the end). The factory later added fragrances to its list of products. The merchandise won numerous prestigious awards at various shows and fairs, such as the ones held in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia and even Paris, France. Henri Brocard died in Cannes, France in 1900.

The factory was nationalized in 1917, after the Communist Revolution, and was assigned a meaningless name "Soap factory # 5." Only later, in 1922, it was given the new name Novaya Zarya, which it bears still. Interestingly, Polina Zhemchuzhina, the wife of a famous Soviet politician Molotov (and a close friend of Stalin’s wife, Svetlana Allilueva), was the factory’s CEO for two years (1930-1932).

During WWII, the factory, like many others, was evacuated to Sverdlovsk (formerly and recently Ekaterinburg), in the Ural area. While stationed there, the factory also gave birth to a new company, a factory called Kalina (it was renamed Uralskye samotsvety in 1974, but later returned to its original name).

The factory is now being developed by its perfumer and CEO, who truly believes in the future success of Russian perfumery in general.

It is obvious that the broad availability and the steadfast association with Soviet merchandise and Soviet quality, which were at first a source of great pride and later something to be ashamed of, are the reasons why Krasnaya Moskva became so notorious and so odious to most at the end of the 20th century. Once glorious and super popular, it was shunned as a leper among the Russian people.

Krasnaya Moskva is known to every citizen of the former Soviet Union and its name is rife with emotional associations. The fragrance is a classic example of a soft floral chypre , with a cool head note (bergamot, coriander, neroli, aldehydes), a spicy floral heart based on carnation, rose, jasmine and ylang-ylang and a base made of woody and balsamic notes such as iris and Tonka bean.



A typical scent of its time (a spicy floral), the composition combines cool, almost metallic notes with warm floral and woody powdery accords. It is pleasantly hefty, a bit tangy and it develops beautifully on the skin.  Krasnaya Moskva (in perfume strength, as well as others) and other fragrances by Novaya Zarya are available for purchase in the factory’s boutique on Nikolskaya Street (in the shop center of Gostiniy Dvor), as well as via Internet.

For those who wish to find out more about the Brocard family and company, and to see the soaps and commercials I've mentioned, I suggest visiting the Histoire de Brocard blog.

Sources: Novaya Zarya, Histoire de Brocard blog
Photos: Richard Seaman

 

Author: Jeca (jeca)
Fragrantica Member

 



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Leonie Sophia
Leonie Sophia

Thank you for the interesting and informative article!
I don't think the perfume has lost all that much in quality, but then I only tried the new version briefly, and have never owned the original.
I also don't think that Russians stopped loving this scent, it is more of a generational issue -like some teenagers who say they hate Chanel N 5 because it smells like an old lady.

Mar
19
2013
VanillaTabbyCat1963
VanillaTabbyCat1963

Very interesting to read about the history of this famous Russian fragrance, and that it was developed by a French enterpreneteur and his Belgian wife developed for the Russian preference in taste. I am interested in how it contrasts with that of other cultures. I wonder if the qualty has declined all that much, or is it simply present generations' negativty surrounding this Russian branded item that makes it so undesirable to many Russians.
Thank You, Jeca

Mar
19
2013
Natalie05
Natalie05

Thank you for the article! And the perfume "Krasnaya Moskva" is very beautiful! who would argue?! Modern version is quite more wearable and closer to modern tendencies. It's softer and very tender, and of caurse. it's not suitable for the role of insects repellant! (such thought is terrible!!!)

Mar
18
2013
nikoleta1
nikoleta1

It is a nostalgic for Russians, but perfume smells terrible, good only for as insects repellant.

Mar
18
2013
anait.markosian
anait.markosian

Interesting article - thank you, Jeca!
Kamenny Tsvetok was my mom's favorite perfume, and as I just have learned today, it has been given as a present to Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961 by Nikita Khrushchev. Unfortunately I can't find anywhere any information or review on it: from my childhood I remember that it was definitely amber based, and had some oriental mystique too, but I'd like to get some more info on its composition. Do you know something about it, Jeca?

Mar
18
2013
lakkiirfan
lakkiirfan

SPASIBA JECA !
LUBLU VSE HOROSHIH VESH TO SHTO OTNOSITSYA K ROSSIA.

Feb
17
2011
perfumecritic
perfumecritic

Oh how I love Red Moscow, like a somewhat more subtle version of Guerlain L'Heure Bleu. And I am dedicated to their Patchouli Magique!

Feb
17
2011
nada
nada

my granmother used krasnaya moskva... that was top perfume in soviet era. I wish i couod get it now.

Feb
17
2011
krmarich
krmarich

Very informative and well researched article! This one is on my wish list just to sample a part of history!

Feb
16
2011
passionata20
passionata20

I find "Paloma Picasso" to be very similar to "Красная Москва". To me they are very much the same. At least the older version of "Red Moscow", don´t know much about the newer one. My mom always asked to bring her the foreign "Red Moscow" as she referred to "Paloma Picasso"

Feb
16
2011
ElenaLondon
ElenaLondon

Brilliant article!! Very informative . Thank you very much, Elena. I have to admit I am ashamed I knew very little before about "Krasnaya Moskva" history.

Feb
16
2011
LIN
LIN

Can someone tell me please.. is the bottle in the picture at the right side of the page is the new version of this perfume and the other one is the classical version? Are they the same??

Feb
16
2011
Vickalena
Vickalena

Thank you for wonderful article, Jeca!

Would be very interesting to compare modern scent with "classical" one, which was really very strong, spicy, oily, carnation was quite dominant, as far, as I remember.
And it was really beautiful!
New version for my nose feels different from an "old" scent, but it is still KM in the base. I would say it is even better now - softer, warmer. In my opinion, perfume is perfectly updated: it became modern and wearable. I'm not sure that nowadays I would wear that very strong classical Soviet perfume. But still I'd be happy to have it - just for myself.

Jan
18
2009
irinka
irinka

my grandmum from Russia was using... very strong floral rose and jasmine smell, for winter time will be fine...

Jan
15
2009
kim white
kim white

This is a very interesting, historical article.Its nice to hear about a fragrance that is not the same old story about a perfume from France, Italy, or the Orient. Very cool story, and beautiful bottle as well.Thankyou Jeca

Jan
14
2009
F_A
F_A

Thanx for a nice article!:)

Jan
13
2009

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