domingo, 25 de octubre de 2015


Agua de Florida Cologne was the American name for the Eau de Cologne created in 1709 by the Italian Johan Giuseppe Farina, in the German city that gave its name to this first perfume. The base of this Eau de Cologne was citrus and ethanol and the complete formula is still a secret.

It was introduced to New York in 1808 by a trade perfume company that still exists today: "Murray & Lanman".  The American version has a spicier element or note than the Europoean variety, which includes clove and amber. The American brand name: Florida Water was derived from a Spanish conquistador called Ponce de León, who followed a utopian dream to find the Fountain of Youth in the new continent, Florida was the first place he visited on the continent.

Since the appearance of Florida Water in the American market as a luxury product, people have also used it as a household remedy (medicinal and spiritual, ..) not just for beauty. The Agua De Florida nowadays comes in a plastic bottle, but retains its old shape and label. 

Florida Water has been part of the material culture of the USA and beyond, it has been exported to most Latin American countries. In Arequipa, Peru, it started with a cosmetic company which bought the patent and they have been selling it ever since.

In Hong Kong, they made a version of Florida Water for Chinese population not only in Asia, but also for Chinese inmigrants in the USA. The Chinese Version is called: "Two Sisters".

We find Florida Water disguised as a fictional perfume called: Eau de Cologne Cheautard in the film: "Gone With The Wind." Scarlett O´Hara used it to hide the smell of alcohol smell on her breath and dress. In the clip below she is drinking it to hide the smell of liquer, that she takes to ease her guilt over the death of her second husband. Rhett Butler is waiting for her downstairs and of course, to the canny Rhett, the Cologne doesn´t hide the obvious fact that she had been drinking.


The Agua de Florida is used for many purposes, Mexican and Peruvian healers and shamans have used it for protection, cleansing and blessings. From baths to rituals, its been used to activate sacred artefacts and is often more easily available in esoteric and spiritual shops, than in Cosmetics outlets.

Florida Water as a cultural commodity in 19th century America, was a novelty for the upper classes and used as a refreshing tonic and ´decent´ perfume for women and men of that status. It was a world apart from the strong perfumes that prostitutes used. With the advent of advertisements and mass production however, the Agua de Florida became popular to a wider spectrum of households. Lower social classes, if they could afford to buy it, then began to use it for other purposes such as a medicine and for protection against bad energies and spirits.  It was like gold. There were even times that when there was no alcohol in the house, people drank Agua de Florida instead, as recounted to me by Peruvian friend, remembering her Grandmother´s fondness for a nip of the water of youth.

More Victorian and Edwardian adverts for Agua de Florida:

It is used in rituals in Peruvian and Mexican shamanism, Voodoo, hoodoo, etc. Healers drank, gargled and blew Agua de Florida over the clients. 

To Be Continued.

Sonia Bartol

domingo, 23 de agosto de 2015


Willow Pattern.

I have been always fascinated by the Willow pattern China porcelain and I have been always buying a few cups and dishes in car boot sales. I always though it was a China product, however it is a Victorian product due to the Orientalism and Exotika derived by trade.  A romantic perspective what we have about the unknown places. Thomas Minton around 1780 designed this pattern for Caughley in Shrosphire. It was inspired by Chinese designs and using a innovative method called transferware.
"Many other factories copied the pattern, including Wedgwood, Spode and Davenport in Staffordshire, and it was even adopted by the Chinese (although hand-painted) and then exported back to Europe." (1)

The Willow pattern fable has been inspired by the people fond of this porcelain creating a fairytale in its evolution since 1780. For instance,there were not the couple of doves in the original pattern.
Willow Doves detail
Wedding Cake.

Miss Chna. 2012. National Costume.
The doves symbolised a couple in love, a princess and a peasant who made possible the transcendence of their love with the help of the gods. They felt compassion for them, due to the all the obstacles to live their love and transformed them in these beautiful doves. The Weeping Willow tree is a fundamental  and central component in the pattern, symbolising  life and death. Other elements in the pattern are a temple, figures crossing a bridge and a distand island.

The Willow pattern has neven been out of fashion, always being very popular and affordable. In old Hollywood films shows the Willow China in kitchens along western movies and classical movies. Nowadays, it has been the inspiration for fashion, furniture, jellewery and so many modern objects such as covers for mobiles and laptops. The Willowmania can go further to have it in your own skin with a tattoo.

(1) Treasures in your home. Reader's Digest. 1993.

Cavalli´s dress in 2005. Victoria Beckam made this dress very popular.
Furniture with Willow Tapestry.
Amazing socks.
A beautiful way to upcicle China.
Mobile Cover.
Vintage knitting Willow pattern 1940.

Jewellery made with broken Willow china.
Fashion Art with broken China.
Willow Tattoo.

miércoles, 19 de agosto de 2015


This blog
is about my daily research on everyday life from Jane Austen and the regency period, to the time of Marilyn Monroe.

However, as you maybe already have noticed, my interest these days is in the nineteen forties (WWII). I´m focusing on everyday life on the home front in the UK. And also on ´Timewarpians,´ people who live in their favourite era from the past. Sonia Bartol

TIME WARP: es un término de ciencia ficción que significa deformación del tiempo. Sin embargo, recientemente se le ha llamado Timewarpians a personas que no solamente se visten con ropa vintage, si no también han decorado sus casas según su década favorita y viven según los estándares de la época. Es decir, es un estilo de vida, no una moda.
WARP & WEFT: Son términos referentes al acto de tejer; en castellano, se traduce como urdimbre y trama. El hilo o la lana deben ir intercalándose horizontalmente y verticalmente para conseguir una textura.
Por lo tanto, pretendo investigar la evolución de cómo ha sido la vida diaria de las personas a lo largo de los dos últimos siglos, lo que sería la urdimbre (diacronía) y me iré deteniendo en ciertas décadas, en tiempos determinados que serían las tramas (sincronía). Ya que es imposible abarcar tanto históricamente, aunque me apasione desde el periodo de Regencia vivido por Jane Austen hasta lo último, ultimísimo definible como vintage, antes de pasar a lo denominado como retro.
De hecho, ahora, estoy investigando la década de los cuarenta en el Reino Unido. Me fascina como la gente sobrevivió durante la segunda guerra mundial y como durante años obedecieron las órdenes de Churchill y el gabinete de guerra hasta llegar a la Victoria.
Aunque, siendo este año el centenario del comienzo de la Primera Guerra Mundial; me enfocaré también el día a día de las mujeres y su rol durante esta guerra. Ya que fue el comienzo del concepto de “mujer moderna”.
Sonia Bartol