Fidji (1966) by Guy Laroche was the first perfume to associate a couturier’s name with an image – the image of a ‘happy island’. As Guy Laroche was not as prominent as Chanel and Christian Dior, they made a bold move by using American-style marketing techniques, which had never been used to launch a French perfume. Previously, it was suffice to launch a French perfume with a famous name and it was soon evident that marketing could determine the success of a fragrance.
Perfumers were briefed to create a modern version of the floral L’Air du Temps (1948) that was fresh, very floral and easy to wear. The commission was awarded to perfumer Josephine Catapano of International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF), who elaborated on the woody notes of L’Air du Temps. To enhance the naturalness of the fragrance, she injected green notes and a fresh, flowery note. There is a unique airiness to the scent, which is a result of a combination of naturals and chemicals exclusive to Fidji.
Fidji opens with notes of galbanum and ylang ylang, after which the heart of jasmine, Bulgarian rose, tuberose, clove, iris and spices emerges. The perfume concludes with a base of ambergris, musk, patchouli, balsam and sandalwood.
An accident led to the creation of Fidji’s flacon. Robert Salmon, who was in charge of Fidji’s development, had taken the cap of a discontinued Lancôme fragrance, Tropiques, with the intention of using it as the cap for Fidji. He dropped the cap, and it landed on the floor upside down; he thought it was a nice shape and used it to make the bottle.
The name Fidji was chosen to invoke a sense of exoticism and mystery of a faraway island. Salmon explained, “We used the slogan ‘A woman is an island, Fidji is her perfume’, because we felt that every woman is unique. By linking the two, we made Fidji the perfume of the unique island, and the unique woman.” (Edwards, 1996)
Perfume Legends: French Feminine Fragrances by Michael Edwards (1996), p. 135-138
The Essence of Perfume by Roja Dove (2010), p. 144