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The Legacy of Adolfo Sardina

Though he formally closed his salon decades ago, back in 1993, Adolfo Sardina, professionally known simply as Adolfo, has left a lingering mark on the world of fashion. He started as a hat maker, but ended up as a fashion designer for First Ladies, international nobility, and other famous personages around the world.

The Milliner

Born in Cuba, Adolfo began his fashion career in New York, in the opening years of the 1950s, eventually opening his own hat salon in 1963. He had a great reputation for his hat making skills, but at first he intended to follow a career in law. It seemed to be fate that brought him to a career in fashion – or at least the inspiration of his aunt, Maria Lopez.

Adolfo’s Aunt Maria took him from Cuba one year to New York, when Adolfo was still a teenager. It was there he discovered a love of fabric and design. He followed his aunt as she shopped for new clothing and discovered a whole new world.

His career began in Paris as an apprentice to Balenciaga, a famous milliner of the time. Adolfo rarely saw his employer, and spent much of his time sweeping floors and running errands. He still had time, however, to do his own work, which gained notice from American buyers, as well as senior designers. By 1955, Adolfo had already earned his first Coty Award.

By the time 1965 rolled around, Adolfo had his own business. He was a great hat maker in his own right, but hats were not really want he wanted to focus upon. As hats became less popular, he began to design his own suits and evening gowns, assuming that if he could design hats, he could design anything. Some of his first dresses were worn by the Duchess of Windsor. Soon, other prominent women, like Betsy Bloomingdale and Nancy Reagan took notice. By 1969, Adolfo had earned another Coty Award.

He didn’t turn to making men’s clothing until 1976, but when he did, he made just as big a stir with his men’s fashion as he did with gowns and dresses. It was at that point that he truly branched out, from slacks to luggage to hats and scarves, to shirts and shoes, and even perfumes.

It was his belief that people could look well, without looking overly formal. They could use different types and styles to create a whole new style unique to their personalities. This same idea applies to everything Adolfo put his name on, including the fragrances. A scent is a very special personal touch, especially since a given scent can smell entirely different from person to person, while still retaining the essence of the one who made that perfume.

Adolfo Perfumes

Based on the idea of individual style, Adolfo released the perfume named after himself in 1978. It is a flowery and feminine fragrance. It has a mossy overtone with hints of wood, and is great for a night out on the town. The Adolfo perfume also comes in body lotion form, but with some subtle changes that make it perfectly suitable for day-to-day wear, with a woody and refined aroma.

Just as he branched out to men’s clothing, Adolfo also helped create a men’s aftershave with his name. Like the female scents, it is refined and woody, but has a stranger more masculine scent to distinguish it from the women’s perfume.

Forever a Classic

Adolfo left the public scene in 1993, closing his salon to work on his licensing deals. His name alone was worth millions at the time, just for his perfumes. After decades of working out of his New York salon, the always somewhat shy designer moved on to more quiet work.

Sixty years old at the time, he had just returned from touring stores which sold his fashions, like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, where he had gone personally twice a year for quite some time. His last trip there as a seller of fashion was particularly successful, which was a good note to end on for Adolfo. To him, it was better to close this chapter of his life when it was wildly successful, rather than being forced to do so by circumstance.

Today, it is often difficult to find Adolfo fashions, but his fragrances still remain, if one takes the effort to search. Many believe it is well worth the time to find them.