It’s nearly the end of the second week of Wimbledon here in London and for once the weather is sunny and unbelievably warm…
So far so good, but what has it to do with women’s perfume, the 1970s or for that matter America?
Well quite a lot as it would happen.
For this year the Women’s Tennis Association, the body that runs the female professional game, celebrates 40 years since its inception at a meeting in a London hotel just before the All England Club‘s championships in June 1973.
The WTA was more than just an exercise in sports management power politics, it was an important stepping off point in female emancipation.
The organisation was founded by women players, led by the iconic Billy Jean King, for women players.
It saw as its purpose nothing less than achieving something that had never been done in any other sporting arena: gaining equal pay and equal status for female athletes.
Their battle would be hard in a world where newly commercial competions were dropping ‘the girls’ game altogether, and in those tournaments that remained open to all men could earn twelve time what women did.
But these were women as determined to win their battles off the court as their matches on it.
No perfume captures the independence of spirit and sense of purpose embodied by the stars who formed the WTA better than Esteee Lauder’s Alliage.
Marketed as the first ‘Sport Spray’ this is a verdent green and grassy, vigouros, coniferous, vibrant and unappologeticaly mossy affair.
What’s more Alliage acts as an immensely effective olfactory air conditioning unit for the athletic human form in motion.
It is tennis played by Amazons on sweltering Summer days without a bead of sweat arising from foreheads creased in sporting concentration.
It is sport as scent and the scent of sport.
Just as the WTA was a touchstone for the struggle of women across America, acoss the world indeed to gain better conditions in and in some cases even access to the workplace; so Alliage, launched just one year before it in 1972 was the poster woman of a dynamic new begining in fragrance.
Scents that made sense for women on the move, ‘girls who were going places’ suddenly became the new vogue.
Fresh, feminine yet assertive, sexual but intellectual, at once playful and serious these new greens led by Chanel 19 and followed, by Silences and Scherrer and ultimely by unisex Eau de Campagne reflected a decade in which the first steps toward female empowerment became a march.
The Dandy could have chosen any of these sprays to represent the era, but it is Wimbledon fortnight, the weather is sunny and even warm and Alliage makes me think of tennis and America in almost equal measure.
The great news is this ‘bottled summer sport’ is available and appropriate all year round as I concluded in my full review.
And by the way it took until 2007, but now, at Roland Garros and Wimbledon at least, men and women do enjoy the same status and cash rewards.
Game, Set and Match Ms Billy Jean King and Mrs Estee Lauder.
Until we play again…