The Princess with Cherry Pearls

In the 19th century, the young Hortense de Beauharnais turned many heads in Napoleon Bonapart’s court. The cause ? A slight timidity which gave to her cheeks with their porcelain complexion a flush of pink… unforgettable.
By Marine Normand

Empress Josephine’s daughter from her first marriage then adopted by Emperor Napoleon, Hortense de Beauharnais is one of the women who left her elegant mark on the French Directory period. Of incomparable beauty, she married the Emperor’s younger brother (thus becoming both daughter and sister-in-law to her mother!) and had three sons, including the future Napoleon III. In the 19th century, she led a number of salons to which thronged the intelligentsia of the day. Many men were unable to resist her charms, like General Duroc or Murat’s aide-de-camp Charles de Flahaut (Talleyrand’s son), and even the Czar of Russia, Alexander I.

All of them surrendered their arms and let themselves be subjugated by this sweet and attractive character, who excelled in the domains of music, painting and gardening.

But Hortense de Beauharnais was also a physically graceful woman, who fit the canon of beauty of the day, a beauty modeled on the Greek model, then in vogue. Slender with big blue eyes and a perfect complexion envied by every young woman. Her porcelain skin was the ideal canvas for her restrained expressions, which often produced two round, perfectly red spots on the young lady’s cheeks.

In homage to her beauty, and her unconditional love for the plants and nature that she loved to paint and put to music, today a cherry tree bears the name Hortense de Beauharnais. And it’s in the Luberon, a region with an ideal climate for those fruit trees with their fleeting and special poetry that L’Occitane went looking for these bewitchingly red cherries. With them, they have created their latest limited-edition Eau de Toilette, Cherry Princess. A subtle and feminine scent, with woody and musky base notes on top of which dance citrus fragrances of lemon and grapefruit, while at its heart, spring flowers and cherry blossom work at making this always too short season endure. An ephemeral collection that also includes a solid perfume, a silky body gel, pearlescent shower cream, and a hand cream which will keep you waiting until March 21, the spring solstice and beginning of cherry blossom season. All this in the company of Hortense de Beauharnais… what more could you ask for ?

Cherry blossom
Cherry blossom
Valensole
Photography José Nicolas

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